A jovial lunch conversation with the incomparable Lawrence Gowan of Styx that covers Canada, Princess Diana, and The Monkees. The gracious vocalist is just as entertaining off the stage as he is on.
StageShottz Magazine: On your bio page there is a line that says “My large head introduced itself to the world in 1956 and has been doing it daily ever since.” I’m just curious to know what you meant by that?
Lawrence Gowan: (Giggles) I think first of all it means I have a big head! And it came into the world on that day, and it’s still in the world. Every morning I wake up and it is reintroduced to planet earth.
SSM: So every day it just says “hey! I’m here!”
SSM: You have been in the music industry for quite some time and I read once where you said the biggest hurdle was transitioning from the 80′s to the 90′s and that it took you years to figure out how to realign yourself. What part of you felt you need realignment and when did you feel you had achieved it?
LG: That’s a great question and people in the states probably wouldn’t be as familiar as to what I was referring to as people in Canada would be. In Canada in the 80′s I had quite a successful run there. The videos were really the centerpiece of how we promoted our records. I had a song called Criminal Mind and I had a character on there. I had one called Strange Animal and I played a character in that. There was one in 1987 called Moonlight Desires where I was on top of a Mayan Pyramid conversing with the ancient spirits. You know, all that over the top 80′s production that I really look back on extremely fondly now because I love that it was very much larger than life and speaks very loudly of the classic rock dream which was the unapologetic rock God! However, it seems at the turn of every decade there is a seismic shift. Suddenly in the 90′s with the grunge movement and simultaneous to that was the acoustic kick back to the overblown 80′s stuff, I realized I couldn’t rely on that video image anymore. So over the next 3 years I transitioned. I am a piano player but I thought “I’m going to have to take a completely different approach to be relevant in this next decade of music.” So, I began to play the acoustic guitar and take a more straight forward approach to singer/songwriter songs and videos accordingly. That transition was tough because I didn’t want to be completely out of step with the times and I feel like I am a good enough musician to not be relegated to that video image entirely.
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Photo by Jason Powell