posted on June 13, 2012 00:00
*This is the second installment of a three-part series for the Midwest Rock ‘n’ Roll Express tour, featuring Ted Nugent, Styx and REO Speedwagon.
Styx will return to St. Louis for the second time in less than a year, and bassist Ricky Phillips expects fans to come out simply because they know what they’re in store for.
But this time around, fans will get a trifecta of Midwest rock ‘n’ roll as Ted Nugent and REO Speedwagon join the lineup. Phillips, who has been with Styx since 2003, talks to InsideSTL about the tour’s set list, what St. Louis means to rock ‘n’ roll and more.
InsideSTL: How did touring with REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent come about?
Ricky Phillips: Well, it’s kind of the same relationship between the friendly rivalry of REO and Styx, and we’ve toured many times. It’s been quite a while since we did a full tour [with them]. The last few years we’ve only done maybe a few dates together. With Ted, I’ve played on couple of Ted's records. Tommy [Shaw] was in Damn Yankees with Ted. It’s three bands touring together that have quite a bit of history together.
InsideSTL: What are you looking forward to about touring with Styx and REO Speedwagon?
RP: We tour a lot. We’re on the road 200 days a year. If we didn't absolutely love what we do, we wouldn’t be doing it. We love touring... It’s really what we live for. It’s one of those things when you can put a package together like this, it’s really a good night of rock ‘n’ roll... Our manager tries to do this every year. People have seen us tour with REO before, what would make it a little bit special? Ted Nugent... We love Ted. He’s the Motor City Madman. He adds an element of excitement to any show he’s on. He’s fun. I can imagine someone will be jumping up on everybody’s set.
InsideSTL: How does this tour stand out from other tours you’ve done in the past?
RP: You never know ’til you’re out there. Every tour sort of has a life, it’s like a living animal in a way... and all of a sudden, someone starts jumping on in someone else’s set... You never know what happens. I can only make a guess [as to] what it actually unveils from night to night as it grows... We usually get together and all go out some place, go visit some local establishment and get a little crazy.
We make it fun. It’s a life on the road... from one city to the next... Not everybody can do it, and it’s kind of one of those things that has to be put to the test before you really know what’s going to happen.
InsideSTL: Last time we talked, you mentioned that the band was playing “Grand Illusion” in its entirety while on tour. As far as the set list goes, do you know what that will be yet?
RP: Well, this year I think we’ll probably go out and probably start off with a couple big hits then as the set evolves a bit, I think we’ll dive into few of the deeper cuts. We’ll probably throw in a different song each night just to kind of keep it fresh for us and different for the audience.
InsideSTL: Since Styx just came through St. Louis last summer, if you could tell people one thing to get them to come back this year, what would you say?
RP: Well, you know what. I don’t think I have to tell anybody anything to get them to come back. It seems they to want to do that on their own... We love our fans. We have great fans. They know that if you want to go to a good party, come to the Styx party. Styx is bringing a band of brothers with them... so it’s a big party this time. There’s a lot going on, it’s kind of an energy that’s created, especially when you got multiple bands that get on well together. [That energy] is like a member of the band almost. It adds an element then that spreads into the audience and that becomes another member of the band. People who have seen us perform and come to our shows probably can explain it better than I can... It’s a big, big show, and it’s a lot of fun. I think if you’re wondering whether to go, you should ask someone who’s already been...
InsideSTL: What song is the most difficult to perform live, or is there a song that's difficult perform live?
RP: Well, when we did the “Pieces of Eight” and “Grand Illusion” tour, they were all hard at first and then it very quickly becomes second nature, but I think that some of the daunting tasks are to really, really — We’re a band that insists on perfection and we definitely go the extra mile to make sure the songs are as good or better than the original records. Some of the songs like “Lords of the Ring,” “Castle Walls,” some of the deeper cuts, because we don’t play them all the time like we do say “Grand Illusion” or “Come Sail Away” or “Renegade” ... Those songs we play on almost every show... [We] try to bring new life to them each night, but when we’re diving into stuff we’re not as familiar with, all of sudden we have to think. And it’s great as a musician to have the ability to perform... You basically are able to create something each night that sometimes actually grows and definitely takes you to a kind of emotional music space... To take something and to give it life... It’s different every day, every night and it’s different with every audience.
InsideSTL: If you could change anything about your career, musically or otherwise, what would you change and why?
RP: Um, Hmm... Well, the quick answer to that is no, I wouldn't change a thing because I love where I am. It’s kind of like in the movies... I change one thing in my own personal history, and it could change everything. I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be... I’ve had great career. I’ve gotten to play with a lot of great musicians and make a lot of great friends. I really think that my path is kind of a dream path, and I’m very happy with where I am.
InsideSTL: Is there anything you’d like to add?
RP: Well, I think that everyone knows that St. Louis, the entire Midwest, we’re Midwest bands. We’re Midwest guys and we relate to the Midwest... and there’s just something special about St. Louis, something special about Chicago, about Kansas City, about Omaha. Nobody knows them better than the people in the Midwest.
St. Louis has been a rock ‘n’ roll town since I can remember. I talked to Sammy Hagar about this... Even when I was in Bad English and coming back to St. Louis with this lineup, it’s gonna be, as I said, the audience [will] definitely be a member of the band... St. Louis probably [will have one of the] best energies of the entire tour.
Get tickets and more info about The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express with REO Speedwagon, Styx & Ted Nugent by clicking HERE.
RELATED: Interview - Ted Nugent
The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express with REO Speedwagon, Styx & Ted Nugent rolls into St. Louis, MO on June 22nd at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.Dont miss your chance to see these 3 staples of rock'n'roll live and in person!!
Tickets for The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express can still be purchased HERE or at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater box office.
How To Enter:
We are proud to offer you a chance to WIN 2 tickets to The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express courtesy of Live Nation. All you need to do to enter is send an email to CONTEST@insideSTL.com with the following:
- Your Name
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The insideSTL staff will pick one random winner leading up to the event who will WIN a pair of tickets to the show!!