Last updated: August 25. 2013 7:23AM - 89 Views

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LIMA — When you've been a band for four decades with a catalog of hit songs people know by heart, keeping it fresh could be a challenge.“Over the years, we've built quite a fan base — we call them repeat offenders,” said STYX guitarist Ricky Phillips in a phone interview Saturday with The Lima News. “We'll have people hold up sign at our concerts saying this is their 240th show. They'll have certain things they know will happen in the show that they'll voice with us as we sing, sort of like ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show',” Phillips said, laughing.“For those people, as well as for us, we try to change our scenery or our set list, just to keep it interesting,” he said.But something STYX would never change is the love they have for the music the band has created. Songs like “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Lorelai,” “Fooling Yourself,” and “Too Much Time on My Hands” still brings the audience to its feet on the 200 road shows the band plays yearly.For Phillips, with the band since 2003, his favorite song is always “Fooling Yourself.”“Yeah, it's just a really well-crafted and well-written song. Usually it's overlooked when people are mentioning our top songs, and it's not the first STYX song most people remember, but I think it has a great message and great instrumental interludes. Every night when we play it I can hear a surge coming from the crowd.“You know, STYX music is disguised as pop rock, but there's a lot more depth to it,” he said.Indeed, that depth has kept the band busier in the last 20 years than during its original years starting as a floundering basement band in Chicago. By the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the band had transformed into a virtual arena rock prototype where big rockers and soaring ballads ruled.“It's always interesting to me to hear what people think makes us STYX. For me, I think we have three lead singers, which in this band is Tommy Shaw, James Young and Lawrence Gowan. The other two of us also sing, and I can't think of another band touring today that has that much vocal blend. We were on the road not too long ago and a band we were touring with told me after the show they couldn't figure out which of us was the front man because one would sing one song, and then another would take over. There's a lot going on at our concerts,” Phillips said.Phillips can trace his love of music back to his childhood, when he formed his own band as a pre-teen. “Well, my first time singing was when I was 10 and it was a duet with my best friend. We called ourselves Green Lips. My first band was when I was 12 and we formed the Warlocks. It's fun to watch our first video because our eyes were fixated on our hands, watching for the next chord change. Really funny now to watch,” he said.He went on to play for Bad English and The Baby's before STYX.“My music has given my life so many highlights. I remember playing Madison Square Garden for the first time and thinking if I died that night I could go to heaven happy. Or, getting the call to play for Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck were both highlights. Just several pinch-me moments. I think one of my bigger moments came when Tommy Shaw called me to join STYX. You know, you can't make this stuff up, I joined in 2003 and I can't believe it. Of all the things I've ever done, this is a wonderful place to be for me. I think probably one of my biggest highlights is realizing that people still are coming to see us play.”And Phillips said he and the other band members reward the audience by signing as many autographs as possible at their bus following each show. Unless it's flu season.“We put on a high energy show, and we have to stay as healthy as possible. About the only time we don't sign autographs when we're on the road is during flu season. We have to be careful and do our best to stay healthy. Sure, there are times you're on the road and you're sick, but once you're on the stage, it just goes away. You go into show mode. You get that adrenalin from the audience and you tap into it, and you think that this is what we're on this planet for — to rock these people.”

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