Styx's Lawrence Gowan
Scottish-born Canadian singer/songwriter Lawrence Gowan has been the lead vocalist and keyboardist of the famous Chicago-based rock band, Styx, for well over a decade. After becoming of member of the band in 1999, Gowan and his band have had some of the highest grossing tours in the U.S. Under Gowan’s tenure, Styx has made appearances at several high-profile events and locations including two Super Bowls, the Tokyo Dome and Wembley Arena. Gowan, 55, has also performed with American rock band REO Speedwagon on several occasions. Two of his songs with Styx, “Field of the Brave” and “More Love for the Money,” are considered his most recognizable.
In our exclusive interview with the lead singer of the mega-rock band, Gowan talks about several topics such as the highlight of his career with Styx, musical influences, a possible U.S. solo tour and interactions with fans. He also addresses early rumors that came out when he first joined the group.
- Q: Lawrence, there have been so many awesome concerts, tours, and unique opportunities since you have joined the band, what is the highlight of your career with Styx so far? - baillie flynn
- A: It’s an ongoing question really, because I think that I’ve reached the high point, and then something else comes along and knocks it out of the park. The obvious things would be playing both Super Bowls. For me going and playing in Scotland where I was originally born was a fantastic experience. I just can’t put it down to one thing. It’s very difficult. The high point is that it just seems to be getting better and better. I think that’s the most surprising thing, is that I’m just going into my 14th year in the band. The longevity has led to us being more invigorated than we’ve ever been.
- Q: Did you ever think the band would be going strong for as long as it has? - Tamara Maddux
- A: To completely deny that previous statement, I’d say yes! (laughs)
- Q: Hi Lawrence, I love Styx! Would like to know who are your music influences? - Courtney
- A: I think the strongest influences for me were the progressive rock bands that came out in the early 70s, because they picked up on the most experimental things that the Beatles did and expanded them into full-blown careers. I can always trace back, in my mind anyway, these other bands may refute it, but I trace, for example, Pink Floyd. I know they were recording at Abbey Road at the same time as the Beatles and I trace back their experimental early pieces of music and their musical sensibility to songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “I Am the Walrus” or “A Day in the Life.” The depth of painting, musically, through one piece of music can take people in various directions all at once, almost like a classical piece of music, but using rock instrumentation. Any of that music in that area—Yes, Genesis, even Elton John when he would do things like “Funeral for a Friend,” Queen doing Bohemian Rhapsody—those are the most inspirational to me.
- Q: Is Styx going to start incorporating more of your solo songs into their shows? Also is there a USA solo tour coming soon? - Kalen Heck
- A: That’s very difficult to say. J.Y. (guitarist James Young) has made this claim, that Styx have this embarrassment of riches when it comes to choices of things to play. For example, the full-blown studio album we did, Cyclorama, we never even had a chance to play all of that live because it’s hard to wedge things in. Initially when I joined the group the very first thing Tommy said to me before I even played a Styx song was, “Let’s work up that song of yours ‘Criminal Mind’” and that’s when I felt most embraced by the band, the fact that they wanted to play one of my own pieces straight off the bat. He said, “That should be a Styx song.” We’ve done it on a couple of live things over the years. There’s still so much in the Styx catalog we’re trying to get to that it’s not something I’d be necessarily pushing for. But if they want to do it I’m always ready.
- Q: Have you ever lost your balance when climbing up to stand on your keyboard? - Kristi Kothman Mach
- A: Oh yeah (laughs). When I first came out with that it was made in 1989. I have three of them now. There’s one in the A rig, one in the B rig and one in my garage. When I first got the thing made, my soundman in Toronto came in and burst out laughing when he saw it and said, “I now know how you’re going to die. You are going to kill yourself on that thing.” And I thought “No, no I will not.” That first year I just about did a couple of times. The worst thing that ever happened, and I’ll give away a little secret here—I put a little brake on so it doesn’t go spinning out from under my feet—and the first year I had it I forgot to put it on, and I stood on top of it, and of course the thing started spinning, and that led to me careening off the front of the stage. But not before hitting my tailbone on the spinning piano, knocking it completely over, throwing the keyboard out of it, and it landed in the audience right beside me smashed to pieces and keys were everywhere. What do you think the reaction of the crowd was to that? Incredible applause. A standing ovation. They thought, “Wow! This guy trashes, like five grand worth of keyboards every night!”
- Q: A local radio station was all hyped about the costs of some touring bands out there including Styx. I phoned in and gave my two cents about the numbers hidden behind the stage, transportation, fuel, hotels, meals, entertainment cost, 401Ks, union dues, etc.... My question is: how many numbers are involved and what are some of the awesome goings-on we don't see that keeps Styx afloat and rockin' these past 16 plus years? - Jeff Staker
- A: The awesome goings on are spectacular. More and more of them find their way onto YouTube these days. You can look at those for yourself and judge them on your awesomeness scale (laughs). But there are a lot of people involved. There’s the main manager and other people in that office. We have our tour manager who’s been with the band since the late '70s. A production manager. There’s at least one crew person for every member of the band onstage, and on top of that there are lighting people and trucking people. Probably over 20 of us on the road together at any one time. It’s an extended family, and it’s a unified effort because it takes a lot of people to pull off.
- Q: Hey Lawrence! I'm a huge fan of your Lost Brotherhood solo album. I've always wondered though, how did you get a chance to work with Alex Lifeson on it? The blending of his guitar skill and your voice is absolutely flawless. - Tara Simon
- A: That’s great to hear, Tara! Yeah, there’s a solo album I did in 1990 called “Lost Brotherhood.” Actually, the video for that song was the debut of the spinning piano. Alex got to see that firsthand. He’s in the video as well. He played the fantastic solo in the middle of that song. For 14 years [while I was in Canada] my solo records were never released in the United States for unfortunate contractual reasons. But I was managed by the same company that managed Rush, and I got to know those guys early on. One day I got the nerve to ask Alex if he’d play on my “Lost Brotherhood” album, and he said “Yes.” I’ve been really lucky to work with people from bands that I’ve loved. I’ve worked with all of Peter Gabriel’s band, and John Anderson from Yes. Alex was coming into good company, and I was hopeful he would do it. And he did a spectacular job. I'ts something I’d like to visit again if possible.
- Q: You have a beautiful singing voice. Have you ever had voice lessons? - Kimberly Skrinak
- A: Thanks, Kimberly! That’s nice to hear. No, I’ve never had singing lessons. I’m an extensive piano lesson person. I’ve been through a conservatory, and I’ve heard people taking their opera lessons and stuff, but I never did that. In high school I played a wind instrument. I want to say I played. I held a clarinet and made a horrible sound come out of the other end. But it’s a funny thing—I learned about breathing while learning that instrument and that’s a huge part of the singing is just learning how to breathe correctly so you have enough wind to push your voice out. It’s a difficult thing to do right in some ways, but the best singers are the ones that you just believe them. It doesn’t matter what their range is truly, or even necessarily what their tone is like as long as you somehow believe what’s coming out of their mouth. I think it has more to do with just engaging with the lyrics emotionally and hopefully it works out. That’s the thing about rock singing: You want to take lessons but you don’t want to take lessons. You want it to be as pure and as unfiltered as possible.
- Q: You are an awesome performer/singer/songwriter who had a brilliant career for years in Canada before joining Styx and bringing your talent to the group. Have you ever had one of your fans sing one of your songs to you? - Connie Powers
- A: Yes, I have had that. I wonder if she might be referring to herself (laughs). Well with Styx obviously, every single night I do that. I do this classic rock challenge and, I see people singing those songs in the thousands. But I got emotionally choked up after my first song had made an impact on the radio. I was living in this apartment, and I was only three floors up. I remember one night hearing two or three people listening to the song “Strange Animal,” playing it outside in the parking lot. I went out to the balcony, and I remember hearing them sing it and getting really choked up about it.
- Q: I have recently heard a 'rumor' that shortly to your joining Styx, you were being considered for/or were considering the possibility of joining Genesis. I thought this was fascinating information, which I had never heard before, and wondered if you could give any further details regarding this 'other road you might have traveled' (if the 'rumors' are true)? - Armanda Liedke
- A: Well, no. Not really. Because of my solo career I’d done several tours of England in 1996, 97 and 98. What happened was, my publicist in England, before I joined Styx, she said, “You should consider joining another band, because there are a couple of bands that I’m working with that are looking for another singer. On one project I was working with Mike Rutherford from Genesis, and I would have put you forward for that.” It was in that context that it was brought up. It was that my publicist opened my mind to the idea of it, not that I was ever asked.
Jason Castro's Top Pop Picks
"I love that book... it’s a short, easy read, but I love the imagination, it really inspires me."
"It's a fantastic book… on the subject, I think it’s a great book for both married people and single people. I think that’s what I love about it, the way it’s written. It’s just really cool, asking ‘What do
"It's the last full album. I loved to listen to from beginning to end.
"Really anything adventure!"
Most Popular Videos
- Jane Lynch And Craig Robinson Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Adrien Brody Video Interview On Judging The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Film Series, Playing Houdini
- George Lopez Video Interview On 'Escape From Planet Earth'
- Thandie Newton Video Interview On 'Rogue,' Learning To Shoot A Gun
- Kevin Smith Video Interview On His New Book, 'Tough Sh*t,' Mitt Romeny, Bruce Willis
Top Comedy Videos
Most Popular News
- Magic Johnson’s Gay Son EJ Johnson Takes Relationship Public
- ‘American Idol’ Recap: Angie Miller Says Goodbye
- Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann Get Fiesty
- Will Ferrell And Chirstina Applegate Film ‘Anchorman: The Legend Continues’
- Angelina Jolie Has Double Mastectomy To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk, Shares Story
Sex & Sci-Fi: Summer's Hottest Movies & Men - Your Tango
- Celebrity Sex Talk: 6 Craziest Things Heard This Week - Your Tango
- Why ‘Man of Steel’ Didn’t Use ‘Superman’ in the Title - MovieFone
- 10 Hot Hollywood Husbands Changing The World - Your Tango
- Taylor Swift Cozying Up With Harry Styles - PlanetFashionTV