Hi all, thought I'd share a bit of the glory days -
The following is a magazine ariticle from 1983 concerning the "Kilroy Was Here" show. This particular
magazine was based in England and was mainly a heavy metal magazine with articles on bands such as Krokus,
Motorhead and Hanoi Rocks. It was therefore a surprise to see they did a lead article on Styx. Even more
ironic was that the reviewer actually enjoyed the show! Keep in mind the sarcastic comments below are
quoted from the article - they're not mine.
MIND CONTROL EXPERIMENT No.1: You're in Hollywood, in the plush Pantages Theatre, a place dripping with velevet and gilt
statuettes. The sun has just gone down on the Boulevard, and you're waiting for a show, staring at big white screen on a black theatre stage.
There's music coming froma PA - Chuck Berry, 'come on let's hear some more'f that rock and roll music, any old way...' You're clapping along...
Out from beneath the music, faintly at first and getting louder and louder, you hear a chant. NO MORE ROCK! NO MORE ROCK! Flashed on the screen
is a fire. People, kids, are throwing rock and roll records into it and cheering. But Dennis DeYoung doesn't look so happy. He's being sentenced by a court
to life in prison. For what crime? something far more insidious thatn polluting the airwaves with "Babe"! Murder!! Dennis - alias Robert Orin Charles Kilroy -
stands guilty of whopping one of his fans about the head with a guitar as the grand finale to the Last Rock and Roll Show on Earth. Frame up!
Set in the future, the charismatic head of the Majority for Musical Morality, Dr. Everett Righteous - a kind of Mary Whitehouse with a moustache and his own
cable TV network - has become influential enough in American political circles to have rock and roll banned. no more Chuck Berry; no more Styx; you take
the good with the bad. As the law was being passed, Kilroy and his band were finishing a tour. The police drag him off and stick him in jail with all the other rock
and roll nasties.
Which is where the film screen finds him, guarded by robots with Buddah - like faces, about to be so altered by mind control that he'll never let JY play a HM solo again!
But - hooray! - he escapes. Bashes the robotos in their little steel ballbearings, disguises himself as a man of metal and goes to hide out at Dr. Righteous' nifty
rock and roll museum. A place where artificial Elvises go through their gyrations to remind you what rock and roll can do to you. A place
where artificial Styx/Kilroys re-enact the supoosed murder. Over and over and over again.
Enter a cute blond kid, who looks a lot like Tommy Shaw, called Jonathan Chance. Kilroy has been leaving him clues in "rock code" as to where to find him. They bump into
each other at the Kilroy museaum exhibit.
Up goes the screen. The stage is set exactly as we left it on film - a dummy band (no comment!!)going through the motions. Until
out steps a Mr Roboto, who takes off his mask and reveals himself to be - Kilroy! Ah-ah-ahhh, saviour of the universe!
MIND CONTROL EXPERIMENT No.2. Hard to believe but true. STYX SAVE ROCK AND ROLL.
That's what the "Kilroy Was Here" album and show - a special theatrical concept staged at small halls in just six cities around America before the usual arena tour - is all about.
Conservatives ban rock and roll. Styx save it. A bit dubious considering some of this band's past record - melodramatic middle of the road stuff of the 'Madame Blue', 'Babe',
'Come Sail Away' variety, all of which are featured in this Rock Saving show. But, you've got to hand it to them, they can be convincing.
By the time the 11 minute long film that introduced the show was finished, I was cheering and egging them on like the rabid Styx fans who'd lined up all night to get seats in this small theatre. And 'Kilroy' - not to mention the idea behind it:
the evils of censorship and the ridiculous rantings of the Moral Majority and their pals in America on the demonic nature of rock, who've even managed to get some laws passed about it -
does have to be the band's best record yet. A pretty experimental album for a group who, with four triple platinum albums in a row,
could easily have played it safe and delivered a whole LP's worth of 'Come Sail Away's'.
How experimental? There's a new wave show on American Television called 'MV3'; cool kids in polka dot
miniskirts and punk chic outfits were recently caught bopping away to the 'Mr. Roboto' video!
MIND CONTROL EXPERIMENT No.3. You're back at the Pantages in Hollywood; JY's dummy has come to life. It's soloing. It's HEAVY. The crowd is going bananas!
The main part of the Kilroy story is told as a flashback. This, what we're seeing, is the last Styx/Kilroy show, the one that killed the crowd. A Clever device to make sure that the oldies, the audience
favorites, won't be excluded, as they would if it was a production like 'The Wall'.
First, though, is the new one, 'Mr. Roboto', the catchy, Queen-ish single, complete with grinning robots. Dennis tells Tommy he was framed, the 'Paradise'
logo flashes on the stage and the show begins - 'Rockin' The Paradise', 'Babe', 'Snowblind' - with a spiel from JY saying the devil had nothing to do with it - taking it in turns to sing and star.
Tommy Shaw scampers around the stage as always in 'Too Much Time On My Hands'; 'Don't Let It End' has Dennis doing his usual
be-suited balladeer bit, too Air Supplyish for my HM tastes, and then it's intermission time.
Except, just as we're about to get up, a towering figure orders us back to our seats. It's Dr. Righteous! JY does a brilliant job
portraying the affable but dangerous maniac, his hair slicked back, his mouth in a permanent smarmy snarl, great stuff.
His army come and wheel in a giant Guitar Shredder. Instruments are broken and stuck inside. A pro-rock and roll protester is hauled off and subjected
to mind control, emerging as a bespectacled wimp. All to the raucous music of 'Heavy Metal Poisoning', which
is what the band needs JY for. As the second half shows, opening with the cotton-wool ball 'Crystal Ball' and 'Sweet (sic) Madame Blue'.
Funny how Styx showed conservative traits themselves, what with songs bemoaning America's fall as the world's greatest power, only to go right over to the other side. Funnier still how they get us to sing
'The Best Of Times' when they're saying it's the worst of times.
But back to the show. 'Miss America'is good and heavy, 'Come Sail Away' isn't, but the crowd loves it
and chants for more as the band leaves the stage.
MIND CONTROL EXPERIMENT No.4. We're back at the museum again. Kilroy tells his tale and hands over his guitar to Tommy Shaw, who starts to learn to play it.
The fight will go on. LONG LIVE ROCK! And Dennis is back in a tight black rock and roll outfit to prove it, leading us in a singalong 'Twist and Shout'.
Yes, they've done it. STYX HAVE SAVED ROCK AND ROLL!!!
For a non-Styx fan to have actually enjoyed much of this show says something about how well the production was put together. There
was always something to watch - new costumes, new stageing - and an interesting idea to think about. Sure, Frank Zappa had had a similar idea
with his 'Joe's Garage' concept, but he'd never staged it like this.
So the non-fans are taken care of. But what about the fans? There were many who thought the political overtones of
'Kilroy' wouldn't sit well with those who've come to expect a melodic middle-of-the-rock lightweightness.
Including the band. Dennis DeYoung, Styx's 35 year old leader and chief songwriter, whose idea it was, had to persuade them to go along with it. How?
"MIND CONTROL!" Dennis laughs. He's really an affable fellow and not the arrogant anti-press ogre you'd probably expect (I remember getting
a letter saying why Styx wouldn't be sending review copies of their albums to the press - you slag them off, so buy them yourselves).
"That's not unusual", he says of the persuasion process, "because in a group situation, if somebody has an idea as
encompassing as this one, obviously it will take some persuasion. And with this idea, the scope of it, for us to be stepping outside our roles as traditional players and
singers to try to become personalities other than ourselves, playing roles, there's going to be a certain amount
of apprehension on everyone's part as to whether or not it can actually be done? Like 'hey I'm a guitar player, not an actor!'
"I always thought - dare I say this? - I had seen some actors being interviewed, and I figured if they could look good on film then we could look good on film; it must be something the director does! And I just figured we'd pick a good director - so we picked an Englishman, what a mistake! - no, he did a great job."
Why not go for a complete concept like 'The Wall' or something?
"Well, in order to bring your audience along with you if you're going to take any sort of steps in a new direction, I think you should do it in a gradual sense, not ZIPPPP!, like today I've decided I'm going to have blue hair and I don't like anything we've ever done before! You owe something to your audience, you have to respect the fact that they've supported you and allowed you the freedom to do what you want to do. So that's why it was designed that way.
"In other words, we're going to do a little theatre, a little film, a little multi-media, and put it together with the old things that people really enjoy hearing. I go to concerts and I see other people perform, and I'm always most excited when I see the things that I recognise."
Has the audience understood the message behind it?
"Yes, remarkably. And let me say one thing; we've had some really good reviews on this thing and some not so good, because people are
really afraid to say what they feel when they walk in due to some preconceived notions. But the damn thing is about censorship and freedom of speech. Anyone who denies that, and looking at the
album doesn't see that or write it or think it, is doing us a grave injustice. It's not a morality play, it's a statement about freedom of speech in America."
"Oh Beautiful for spacious skies..." JY does a quick chorus of the national anthem (sic).
"They want," continues Dennis, "to say something negative about us so they're afraid to touch on the subject of censorship,
because they know if they do, as a writer, they're going to have to say something positive about it. But it is aoubt censorship - I wanted to clear that up."
It all started when Styx was branded as demonic by a group of church leaders who apparently found
satanic messages when they played 'Snowblind' backwards.
"It's not a vendetta," says Dennis, "but they want to take Vonnegut and Faulkner out of the
libraries and that kind of thing. And that Canadian film on acid rain, they wanted to stamp that propaganda. And they burn rock and roll records.
It's not the music that's in question, it's the freedom of expression."
Have they had any reaction from the religious fanatics yet?
"They've been silent. See, they are the silent moral majority!"
Was Dr. Righteous modelled on Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell?
"Honestly, when I first wrote the character in the story he was nothing like JY ended up playing him. JY developed his own stage personality...."
"His home personality!" JY interrupts.
"Yes, that's how he treats his cat! But I always said when I was writing this that it was typecasting -
that Jonathan was Tommy and I was Kilroy and JY, to a large extent was that Righteous character. He brought a real
flamboyance to the role. Originally, I'd perceived hime more as a Johnny Carson of the Right (a popular US talk-show host),
very suave, very witty, someone..."
JY: "Totally unlike me."
They didn't take any acting lessons ("I think that's pretty apparent!") and only did 11 minutes of film because "that was all we could afford. Remember WC Fields? You've got 11 minutes worth of money? You've got 11 minutes worth of film." It's give them ideas for doing a major film. "Yes, Styx Goes To Hawaii! No, give me 5 million dollars and we'd do it tomorrow."
A concept like this one costs them a fortune. The tour as it is now loses them the kind of fortune even four sell-out nights in LA can't recoup. Hence the regular arena tour afterwards. Wonder why they haven't done a Journey and invented a Styx video game, especially with the Kilroy 'roboto' concept such an ideal one to adapt. The 'Styx Save Rock and Roll' game. Fancy the idea?
"Only if it was sexual!" says Dennis. "One never knows what the future holds. there is no plan at this point to do anything like that."
Though, talking of video, the idea for the massive hit 'Mr. Roboto' came from a documentary on robotics.
"They had this factory with things going on like this", he impersonates a robot machine in a car factory, "and they make all those welds. All the lights were out in the factory and only the machines were working, nobody else was there."
JY:"Nobody was drinking on the job; nobody was laughing on the job."
"The absence of human beings - they turned the lights off and the machines kept on working. I thought that was kind of startling, all in the dark doing their work, and I don't know what that means to you pal, but when I saw it I thought there'd soon be guys writing 'Kilroy Was Here' and they'd be made of metal."<BR><P>
JY: "It was frightening."
They made Mr. Roboto look like Buddah so there'd be no mistaking his nationality.
"I told the designer Stan Winson I wanted a Japanese robot, because I was in Japan and I heard that the Japanese word for robot is 'roboto', and when I heard 'Domo arigato' I asid: 'There's a song in there some place'. I wanted to make a statement about technology and I t5hought a Japanese robot would be beautiful. I thought is hould look Japanese so nobody would be confused."
JY:"To my mind it's a message to the government and the people of the United States. We think we lead the world in tecnology, but I don't think we do anyomre...I think we're doing a positive thing for international understanding with this record, the fact that we're using Japanese lyrics - just a few of them, obviously."
While we're on the subject of international understanding, they confess that although their lyrics are "genuinely American, the greatest influences on us musically were probably English muic". They say theyre trying to plan a trip back to their roots some time soon. "It depends on the timing of the U.S. tour, which hasn't been set yet, and on how well the album is doing", says Dennis, "although I understand it is doing very well at this point in time, and we are very much trying to fit into our plans."
Back to the album. Some of the overdubbing was done on equipment powered just by solar energy, "not much more because we didn't really have enough time with it. Most of the time was spent making sure it wasn't going to blow the sudio up and set our album back a few months."
Why bother at all with it? "We really did it," says JY, "just to let the world know that we believe this is a positive thing for the future. We feel that our success has been given to us by our fans all over the world, and this is one positive statement that the five of these very different individuals could agree on to say that we want to do something in return..."
Hope you enjoyed!!