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Photo by Scott Itter

A Strange Animal On A Mission: 
The Lawrence Gowan Interview

For some of you Lawrence Gowan is a household name, and if it is chances are you’re either Canadian or a Styx fan that has been to a concert or two in the past 18 years. For Styx fans from the 70’s and 80’s, you know Lawrence Gowan as “the new guy.” Now in his 19th year, Gowan has become one of the most important pieces of the Styx puzzle. 

Gowan filled a spot left vacant by original singer/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung, and he did it with quite a different style. Having had a multi-platinum award-winning solo career in his native Canada, he had already been working with the highest caliber of industry professionals when he assumed his role with Styx. With a solo band that included some of the greatest musicians in the business, like bassist Tony Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta, and guest musicians that included Jon Anderson of Yes and Alex Lifeson of Rush, Gowan was a well established act that had already had huge success. His addition to the Styx lineup has brought an undeniable jolt of energy to the band, and has exposed even more of the world to his tremendous talent.

When I spoke with Lawrence for this interview, it was almost like talking to one of my brothers. Being a Styx fan that has experienced their very beginnings in my hometown of Chicago, and has followed them through every phase of their existence since that time, I have seen the band somewhere around 50 times. Over the course of those years, I have had two children and have made it a point to bring them to as many of those shows as possible. They have grown up seeing Lawrence and Styx every few months. And, because Lawrence is so entirely gracious and giving of his time after concerts, we have had the chance to get to know each other and build a wonderful relationship. I can tell you that there are not too many human beings in this world as precious as this guy.

So, please join me as I speak with my very special friend, Lawrence Gowan. Our conversation found us discussing the latest Styx album, The Mission, as well as things like his solo career, retirement, new bands, and taking a job as the singer for Queen. 

The text below is just a very small portion of the full interview. You can listen to my entire conversation with Lawrence Gowan by clicking the play button on the audio player that follows immediately after this text.

Dr. Music:  Hello Mr. Gowan, how are you sir?!
Lawrence Gowan:  I’m all well. And how’s Mr. Itter and all the little Itter critters?! 
DM:  They’re doing great! 
LG:  Good!
DM:  No doubt! It’s great to see you on the road and keeping healthy. It’s gotta be rough.
LG:  You know, it’s not that difficult if you address it. I just finished my yoga routine for the day (laughs). 
DM:  You’re serious, right?
LG:  I’m dead serious, yeah (laughs), I literally finished and called you right away. It’s a daily ritual that we need to honor, otherwise we won’t have the jam that we need once we get on stage. That’s something that we just have to do. Bands that have been around this long, you have to address the fact that you really have to get yourself physically and mentally ready for every show if you want to perform at the level that we do. 

DM:  Listening to The Mission now, is there anything that you would go back and change or tweak? 
LG:  (long pause) That’s gotta remain a hypothetical, Scott (laughs). I don’t have anything on that list. I have absolutely nothing on that list. It’s a complete statement and there’s nothing I hear on the record that makes me go “ooh, that could have been better,” because we spent time doing that. 
(Listen to the audio to hear Lawrence talk about a bad note on a particular song from The Mission)

DM:  Here’s a hypothetical situation for you. Brian May calls and says, “You know, this thing with Adam Lambert just isn’t working out the way I had hoped. I want you to be the singer for Queen and tour with us for the next year.” What do you say to that?
LG:  First of all I’d say, “Brian, it’s been so long!” (laughs) First of all, I’d be extremely honored with a phone call like that, and I’d see if there was some way we could thread the Queen dates in between the Styx dates, because I definitely wouldn’t want to miss a Styx show. No, I’m a longtime member of this band, and I wouldn’t want to put this aside because it’s part of who I am now really, quite frankly. After I finish 120 Styx shows, I’m all yours Brian!
(Listen to the audio to hear Lawrence talk about a very special email he got from Brian May!)

DM:  It’s been a little over 20 years since you’ve done a Gowan solo record. Will we ever see another Gowan solo record?
LG:  You will. You will because it’s done. There’s a brand new record, but I’m very reluctant to put it out there unless I have a block of time where I can properly promote it. If JY, Tommy, and Chuck say we’re going to take a six month break, I’ll probably put that record out then.

Photo by Scott Itter
DM:  What are your thoughts on music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music?
LG:   That’s a moving target for me. My default answer for that is, anything that keeps people focused on music is good. The ultimate outcome is something that is very good, because I’m more of a disciple or evangelist on how music can enrich your life. I’m almost to a religious fervor over it. So, anything that keeps people engaged with music is ultimately a good thing. Having said that, I’m also very glad that there are those out there who are watchdogs of overexploitation of artistic works, and things need to be renumerated, and there needs to be a watchful eye on that to make sure that it’s fair.

DM:  You have room in the suitcase for one album. Which one is it?
LG:  (without hesitation) Sgt. Pepper

DM:  What’s on the bucket list for Lawrence Gowan?
LG:  There’s a lot of concerts I’d love to go and see. One thing that bothers me a little bit is when we’re in a town the next day after there was a concert there that I really wanted to see. I mentioned Royal Blood. I want to go and see these bands, but unless we have a day off and we’re in that town, I miss it. Or, if they happen to be in Toronto when I’m home for a day. So, there’s that. More travel. Travel is something that invigorates me. I could do some of that without being on tour, I suppose. You know, I’d like us to play in places we’ve never been. I’d love us to go to South America. I’d love us to go further into Asia. I’d love to go to Australia. So there’s a lot of the planet I still haven’t covered. And, of course, then we have to go and spend a couple of weeks with the Maharishi in India. (laughs)

DM:  How about a book, ever think about that?
LG:  Um, I read a lot of them. (laughs) No, I don’t know. The notion hasn’t struck me. I know what an undertaking that would be. I think a comic book would be more in line with my thinking, quite honestly. I might attempt that first.

DM:  I didn’t hear the word retirement in your list of things you’d still like to do.
LG:  Don’t know that word. I’m unfamiliar with that word, but I don’t like the sound of it at all. (laughs)

                       Photo by Scott Itter


0 - 1:40            Greetings

1:41-3:09         Lawrence discusses keeping healthy.

3:10- 7:22        Why record The Mission?

7:23-13:11       How did recording Cyclorama differ from recording The Mission?

13:12- 24:07    Were you surprised with the decision to do a concept album?

24:08-27:58     Looking back on The Mission, is there anything that you would                                change or tweak?

27:59-29:32     How familiar are you with the entire Styx catalog?

29:33-30:45     Do you remember when you first heard Styx music?

30:46-32:48     Is there a song from the catalog that you’ve always wanted to play                          and haven’t yet?

32:49-35:40     Brian May calls and asks you to be the singer for Queen and tour for                        the next year. What do you say to him?

35:41-37:52     Will we ever see another Gowan solo record?

37:53-40:58     Lawrence discusses playing with his son Dylan, and how he has                                 found a love for metal music.

40:59-41:40     What’s the best band we’ve never heard of?

41:41-44:23     What are your thoughts on Spotify and music streaming services?

44:24-44:35     You have room in the suitcase for one album, which do you take?

44:36-46:57     What’s left on the bucket list?

46:58-48:16     Ever think about writing a book? Retirement?

48:17- 52:51    Lawrence discusses the great bond he shares with fans.

Photo by Rick Diamond

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