Cris Cohen: Having seen you guys -- and specifically you with the band a couple of times -- I remember first seeing you and thinking back on the movie “The Greatest Showman,” with Hugh Jackman. And I’m like, “Now I’m thinking this is based on Lawrence Gowan's life.”
Lawrence Gowan of Styx: It's a little bit on my outfit actually.
Cris Cohen: Yes, exactly. But it's such a theatrical sense of fun. How much of that did you cultivate and how much of that is just your DNA when you step on the stage?
Lawrence Gowan: That's a good way of phrasing that question. I think it might just be a bit more on the DNA side, because naturally, as we all do, there's a chemical reaction or imbalance, if you want to call it that, that happens when you get in front of an audience. There's a phenomenal exchange that happens if you're open to it.
If you're too nervous or self-aware or self-conscious, that might never penetrate through to your persona on stage. With me, it's almost instantaneous. I think we are a band of extroverts to begin with. So that helps a great deal. And we're ready to kind of embrace that moment on stage. So, I think it may be more genetic than anything that's kind of… what was the other way you described it?
Cris Cohen: Cultivated.
Lawrence Gowan: Cultivated, yes. I don't think it is. Cultivated means more like how the show ends. We cultivate the show in that we reshape it over time within a couple of years, even though we may be playing for the most part 75% or 80% of the same songs.
There's a new atmosphere and a new presentation that is naturally kind of cultivated as the show progresses, as time progresses, and as our relationship with the audience continues on.
Cris Cohen: Yes. And obviously, if you look back at your solo performances, that element was always there to your performing.
Lawrence Gowan: Yes. I mean, people in the United States weren't really aware of… well, very few were aware of my solo career in Canada. It's just the way the music industry was then. I was very relegated to that part of the planet.
And I got to kind of experience playing all the biggest arenas, and the biggest venues that Styx play now. But that sense of becoming that aspect… it's funny. You want to say “become this character on stage,” but really, it's just another aspect of your own character that you're really getting a chance to kind let out at that point.
I had an album in 1985, my biggest record, called “Strange Animal”. I felt like, “Well, I’ve got to personify that in some way.” On stage, it kind of gives you a very wide playground to interpret what that could mean.
And I’m intrigued this week actually, Cris, because we played Toronto just a few nights ago, about three, four nights ago. It was amazing because it's the same venue that I headlined 12 times (as a solo artist) prior to playing with Styx a few times.
But it was amazing. We played a song from my solo career, a Styx version of “A Criminal Mind”. And to hear the audience respond to that, and the way that Styx presented it, that to me is an amazing way where, if you use that word “cultivating,” it's amazing how we have kind of melded those two aspects of my life together into one moment.
The moment that lasts for about five minutes on stage, but man is it ever… you feel a wave of gratitude, and an acceptance within the band in that moment that is really almost indescribable, as you can hear. I can't describe it.
Full interview at https://bandstofans.substack.com/p/lawrence-gowan-of-styx-interview