Interview: Dennis DeYoung (ex-Styx) – The Return Of “The Elder Statesman Of Pomp”

Interview by Andreas Höhn

Since 2007, DENNIS DEYOUNG hasn’t offered any new original music. But now, “The Elder Statesman Of Pomp” is back with a vengeance called “26 East: Volume 1”, coming up with the best music STYX has never written since 1983. Therefore, a talk is inevitable. It took place at the start of the “shutdown” in mid march.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve read not too long ago that you would never release any new material. What happened and who is to blame (thank the person from me, please!)? 

If you hate the album, blame Jim Peterik and Serafino (Perugino – Frontiers Music) – they convinced me to do it. If you like it and it appeals to you do then it’s all my idea. Truthfully, Jim brought me a song idea that I really liked so we finished it together then wrote 8 more effortlessly.

Dennis DeYoung – (c) Frontiers Music

Thank you for not taking yourself too serious – playing fake bass and drums. To ask with the famous FRANK ZAPPA quote “Does Humor Belong To Music”? And if so – how much humor is on “26East”? 

Humor is best left to the comedians. Rock fans are far too serious about their music. I’m funny in person and in concert but the songs are not. 

I have to confess that I expected something real good as your name is on the sleeve. But „26East“ exceeds all my expectations with ease. Has this to do with the fact your good old friend and neighbor JIM PETERIK is involved in the songwriting?

So happy 26 East exceeded expectations. Jim and I collaborated on half the songs and I wrote the other half by myself. Arrangements were collaborative on co writes: You My Love, Kingdom Ablaze, To The Promise Of This Land and the To The Good Old Days was only me. 

Are the songs for the second part already recorded?

All but two songs are recorded and mixed for Vol. 2

What can you tell me about the lyrical aspects of the two CD’s?

Know these lyrics then you’ll know a lot about me. I write notes and chords then stick words on them hoping that you the listener can find himself in my story. 

Of course I‘ll flatter you when your new CD is way better than anything STYX has released since „Kilroy Was Here“ and that is more than 35 years ago.  How easy was it to get the CD together?

I don’t mind flattery. Writing and recoding is not as hard like the doctors and medical people who are working night and day to beat this virus. 
The most difficult part of this album was the amount of work I took on. Writing, playing singing, producing and mixing all by myself is a lot of work. 

The album not only is marvelous musically – it sounds fantastic as well. The pomp ascpect, the loud guitars and not speaking about the choirs shine through the production (even on mp3!). How satishied are you with the sonic transformation of the CD?

If it sounds good to you I’m certainly not going to argue with you. I did it the old way with vintage gear (that kept breaking down) and countless hours of mixing so most people could listen on their crap phones and devices with even worse MP3’s. I care so I don’t mind. Video has improved leaps and bounds and audio has gone the other way. People have made the decision that convenience is more important than quality. They want to be entertained even in the toilet. 

In my review I gave the album 9.5 out of 10 points. I probably would have given it a perfect 10 when all the songs written would be released in its entirety. How easy (or difficult) is it to know when the “cliffhanger” has to be done?

9.5 thanks. I only wish my life would be that good. It will all depend on how Volume I is received. Also the virus has certainly made all modes of life quite unpredictable. Who knows. 

What can we fans expect for “Part Two” and will it be released already in 2020 for the holiday season for instance?

Part II? See the above answer and ask again 2 months. 

The songs of the record leave the listeners speechless. Believe me, I reviewed quite a large number of records during the last 25 years but I can’t tell you about the “highlights” because the complete listening experience speaks for itself. So which songs deserve a special mention in your opinion?

You are very kind. I created it not as a song by song show but as a complete listening experience, just like”the good old days” see how I snuck that in…very clever! 

I must tell you I didn’t to hear the word “asshole” on any of your CDs before. What can you tell me about it?

It’s time for us to use “assholes” with all these pundits, fools and politicians although that might be redundant.  

I think no interview is complete these days without asking you about JULIAN LENNON. When closing my eyes I mean to hear John himself, which is the biggest compliment he can get. How did you get him to participate and will he be involved in “Part 2” as well?

The song “The Good Old Days” is magic to me and I wrote it specifically for Jules and I to sing. His dad’s band gave me everything and I wanted to share that with the very talented Julian Lennon. I sent him a demo without ever knowing him and he said yes. Holy cow.

I know your Japanese fans pay much more for a CD than the listeners in Europe. So have you recorded any bonus material for the people in the land of the rising sun?

The Japanese get a live version of “Babe“ with a symphony orchestra, it’s beautiful. 

Which of the album participating artists will accompany on the upcoming tour?

My tour will commence after the current calamity subsides, with my great touring band I have since years now. Check YouTube for “Dennis DeYoung Live in LA“ and thanks for the kind words!

Author: Andreas Höhn

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