Dennis DeYoung maintains that above all else — Styx was just a bonafide all-American rock band. During a recent chart with Ultimate Classic Rock and explained that Styx dipping its toes into so many styles may have caused fans some confusion.
DeYoung feels that the sound of Styx was designed to be without a genre, saying, “I just think it's clearly an expression of the people writing songs not being confined or constrained by an ideology. Can it confuse an audience? For eight albums, we did that thing — I always call it a 'fake prog band.' We were an American rock band who used classical influences, but Styx was always at heart an American rock band. Most of the prog bands didn't have a Marshall stack. That's not what they were doing. But that's who we were.”
DeYoung went on to say, “When you make a transition with a fan base, it can be fraught with peril. But we had four (multiplatinum) albums in a row going from The Grand Illusion and Pieces Of Eight to Cornerstone and Paradise Theatre. If you play 'Renegade,' 'Babe,' and 'Mr. Roboto' for somebody, I don't think they'd think it was the same band.”
He explained, “When you get that ol' knee-jerk response from people, 'Oh, I don't like Styx,' I think, 'Well, you don't like a lot of different stuff then.' Because it's so broad. That's just a case of bad PR. Because the music was fundamentally what it is. If you like it, I'm happy. If you don't, the friendly skies are just filled with other airlines you can get on.”
Dennis DeYoung says that he makes no apologies for some of his Styx music being over-the-top musically: “I have a music degree, although I've tried not to let it get in the way. A lot of that Styx stuff, especially the early, the art-rock leaning stuff, was symphonic with a rock band, especially in my own mind. You know, people — 'So, it's pompous, it's pretentious, it's overblown.' F***ing-A – that's the point! Does everything have to be raw and loose and goo – y'know what I'm saying? There's gotta be room for everything.”
Although his former bandmates, guitarists Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young forced him out of the band over 20 years ago — Dennis DeYoung still yearns for a final shot at fronting Styx. We asked him what it would take to see that happen: “Those two guys. I would always have been in Styx, except for their decision — that's a fact. I don't have a grudge. I have to ax to grind. No hatchet to bury. I should've been in the band, I wanna be in the band — well, the last coupla years I've been sayin' — 'Hey! I don't wanna be in the band anymore.' But we should do one last tour — get Moe, Larry, & Curly on the stage, and show people what it was.”