by Jon Hunt -

photo by Jason Powell

My relationship with Styx began pretty early in life. In 7th Grade, this sci-fi obsessed kid fresh out of a childhood spent in evangelical Christianity found “Mr. Roboto,” a dystopian telling of a future in which a fervent preacher had banned rock and roll, and found it good. Since then, I’ve defended the band with bloody knuckles ablaze — if you can come away from a listen of Grand Illusion or Pieces of Eight and not come to the conclusion that they’re one of the Great American Rock Bands, I say you’re not paying attention.

I had the enormous privilege recently of speaking with Todd Sucherman, Styx’s current drummer. He’s been with the band since ’96, and is part of arguably the best live version of Styx ever — sure, they’ve lost Dennis DeYoung, the guy you probably know as the “voice of Styx” (and possibly the guy that annoyed you out of liking them, depending*), but they’ve gained a crack-shot lineup that includes Sucherman, Canadian import Lawrence Gowan behind the keys (check out his 80s solo stuff as “Gowan” — s’good!), and of course James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw, both of whom impossibly seem not a day over 50. They’re tight, energetic and musically proficient in a way even their classic lineup wasn’t.

You might also remember Sucherman as the drummer in one of the other best American bands — Brian Wilson’s excellent backing band, who are arguably one of the most musically proficient bands ever formed (if you’ve seen them precisely duplicate the arrangements of Pet Sounds, you know exactly what I mean). Sucherman brought a little bit of rock muscle to Brian’s arrangements (which I always suspected the rock-obsessed Wilson loved), and if you’ve followed Wilson’s career, you’ve heard Sucherman on such awesome latter-day classic albums as Lucky Old Sun and the underrated Imagination, two of my favorites. And if you’re a Chicagoan, you might also remember Sucherman as the drummer in the Falling Wallendas, a perennially underrated Beatlesque band featuring Wilson keyboardist Scott Bennett as co-songwriter.

Sucherman lives in Austin, TX at the moment with his wife Taylor Mills (who was also in Brian’s band, and whose gorgeous solo albums Lullagoodbye and Under The Surface naturally feature Sucherman’s drumming) and his gorgeous daughter Teagan, born just last year. Styx, by the way, are playing at the State Fair Grandstand August 27th with Def Leppard and Tesla. It’s been sold out since January (!), but aftermarket tickets are still available.

First of all, completely non-music-related — congratulations belatedly on your daughter, she’s absolutely lovely!

Aw, thank you very much!

I have to start by asking the “dad question” because I have one at home exactly the same age — how hard is it to go out on tour for months at a time?

Well, thankfully we don’t leave for months at a time. We did do a run for 40 days, and I haven’t done a run quite that long without being home in several years. But normally I’ll get to go home for at least a day or even three or four every twenty days or so. So yeah, it’s never a situation where I leave in May and say “see you in September!” I get home, but not as much as I’d like. It’s certainly harder being out on the road with a little one like that because you do miss things, and thank goodness for things like cellphones and Facetime — life would be insurmountably harder without them, but it is a little sad when I come home and go “hey, look, there’s a couple more teeth.”

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