Ricky Phillips has been a rockstar almost his entire adult life. He was in “The Babys”, he worked with Ted Nugent, he was a member of Bad English and now he’s a member of 80s rock icons “Styx.” Ricky Phillips is a bass guitarist who is living his American rock n’ roll dream. He was relaxed and it was a pleasure to shoot the breeze with this veteran musician. He was a guy who appreciates where he is at and the journey he’s been on. He shared some of his adventures and stories of some of the amazing people he’s crossed path and made music with. Trust me. I think one days this guy’s going to be able to write a great book. Make sure you catch Styx on tour this summer and you can learn more about the band by visiting www.styxworld.com and on assorted social media.
Chris A: Styx has been around since 1972 and continues to draw great crowds. What do you chalk up Styx continued success to?
Ricky: Probably diversity. Styx started off as a real kinda gritty rock band then shot into some prog and stayed there for quite awhile. As they went through their changes, even if it was a poppy kind of song with a lot of Top 40 airplay, there was never another band that sounded like them. What happens in music is that to get airplay bands homogenize and start sounding like everyone else. To get on the radio back in the 80s you really did have to sound a certain way, I experienced that when I was in Bad English. You want to get on MTV and on the radio and have a successful record but it got to the point where you had to follow a formula. Styx seemed to always have their own sound. I remember when I was in The Babys, John Waite and I would go down front during our tours with Styx and watch them. There was three lead singers which was unusual. It’s hard to explain Styx. There were different voices between the singers and then the guitar sounds created between James Young and Tommy Shaw when he joined the band in ’75. There was a sensibility in the band between the main song writers and a lot of bands don’t have that. That sensibility has done well for me for 12 years. When I discovered I was going to be in the band I studied every lick that Chuck Panozzo played. James Young led the band to where it is today, and makes sure we stay true to the original songs. If there is a note that is expected that people want to hear, we play that note. There are plenty of places in the catalog to stretch are legs and show off our musical skills but we do it in the appropriate place and don’t impact the song. We are very careful to stick to the original recordings but we have room to move. I really never play the exact same licks from night to night except on those “must play” notes.
Read more of this interview at HardrockHaven.net!
Photo by: Chris A.