by Jordan Liffengren

Todd Sucherman, best known as Styx's drummer for the past 20 years, speaks and writes eloquently about taking his job seriously and appreciating what he does for a living. Not only is he an award-winning, best-selling musician and clinician, but he has recorded more than 1,000 radio and TV spots and worked with artists as diverse as Peter Cetera, Brian Culbertson, Spinal Tap, Michael Bolton, The Falling Wallendas, Eric Marienthal, and Brian Wilson.

In this Q&A, we caught up with Todd before the Styx show this March in San Jose, located just a few blocks from DRUM! Magazine headquarters. He told us what fans should expect from the upcoming Styx shows, and taught us how to be successful in the music industry with hard work and integrity.

DRUM!: It's been 20 years since you joined Styx this year. What was your expectation when you started?
SUCHERMAN: My expectation was that it was just going to be 72 shows and that was it. Well, I had nothing else better to do in the summer of 1996, and it sounded like an exciting proposition to do a big-scale tour. I was from Chicago, and they were a Chicago band on the radio all the time (they were hometown darlings as it were), and I grew up with their music and had Styx records. They were part of my DNA, so to speak. I did a couple of recording sessions for them in 1995 and 1996 when they were doing the extra tracks on their Greatest Hits record. It was about two days after that first session that James Young had asked me what I was doing that summer, and if I would be interested in doing this. At that point, if [founding drummer] John Panozzo got better, the gig would still be his and I said, "Of course." That summer during that first tour is when John Panozzo ultimately passed away, and I've sort of stuck around ever since. But when we finished that very first tour, I said goodbye to everybody feeling that I might never see any of these people again. But I got a call in Spring of 1997 and it was like, "Hey, we need you again for a couple of months, would you be able to do it?" And I said, "Sure. That was fun the first time, let's do it again!" And once you get that train rolling, it's kind of hard to stop. Suddenly 20 years have flown by.