Dennis DeYoung chats viral video and solo album
As the lead vocalist of Styx, Dennis DeYoung and his golden voice helped propel the band to massive success, with a 30-year catalogue of hits that included “Babe,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Show Me the Way” and “Come Sail Away.”
In mid-April DeYoung posted a video on YouTube performing the band’s most iconic song, “Best of Times,” in an effort to cheer people up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hey, kids how you doing?” the former Styx singer asked in the video. “I know, I know, me too. What’s a mother to do, I don’t know. I guess follow the guidelines and try to stay out of harm’s way. What else can we do right now? But you’ve been asking me ‘can you sing a song and make us feel better,’ and I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’ll do my best. This goes back to 1981, but it feels appropriate.”
On May 22, the power ballad icon’s new album, “26 East, Vol. 1” will be released.
Keith Loria: Why did you decide to post the video of singing “Best of Times?”
Dennis DeYoung: My fans on Facebook suggested I do it on numerous occasions, saying we need music to get us through this. I’d take a vaccine instead, but I decided to join in the long list of celebrities and do something from my house on a lark. Those who are your truest fans don’t always speak for the majority of people in the world, so I wasn’t sure who wanted to see this. I had to call up a friend because I didn’t know how to post it because I’m not on YouTube. He helped and the first day I had thousands of views and suddenly I was trending. Who am I, Taylor Swift? It struck a chord with people and I was unprepared for it. But nonetheless, I couldn’t be happier.
KL: How active are you on social media and listening to your fans?
DD: I am not one of these guys who feels the need to get attention. I have a Facebook page but I’m not on Twitter or Instagram or anything like that. I needed the attention when I was a younger man, but at this point in my life, if I have something to say, I’ll say it, and I will write everything on my Facebook page. If you want to know me, read my comments. That’s me. And I treat everyone like a pen-pal. I’m not going to keep filling people’s heads with my thoughts. I’ll only say something if I feel it needs to be said.
KL: You’re about to release “26 East: Volume 1” your first album of original solo material in more than a decade. Why was now the time?
DD: I didn’t want to do it. I had an offer on the table for years, but why would I make an album? My friend told me the world needs your music, but I said, ‘half the world detests me’ so I don’t buy it. I thought rock music was dead on the radio. I was reluctant but before I knew it, I had eight songs. I’m happy they convinced me to do it because it allows me to say goodbye to the fans and people who gave me the most incredible life. It allows me to put the period, exclamation point, wave and say goodbye.
KL: You had to push the album back from its initial April release, but you do have two songs already available, including a collaboration with Julian Lennon. Was the release timing related to the coronavirus?
DD: I’ve worked two and a half years on this album and I released the first single two days before this whole pandemic started, so the universe does what it wants and sometimes you just can’t control things. In this case, the universe did what it wanted.
KL: You mentioned that this album puts the “exclamation point” on your career and lets you wave goodbye to your fans, yet it’s called “Volume 1.” Can we expect a Volume 2?
DD: It was a mistake. We had 18 songs. We wanted to include them all, but you can’t do that, so they offered me the opportunity to split it in two. I didn’t like the idea.
KL: You are considered the king of the power ballad and your voice seems as powerful today at the age of 73 as it did 40-50 years ago. How do you keep it in shape?
DD: The best kind of luck is dumb, stupid luck, and that’s what I have. I didn’t earn this voice, but when I realized what I had, I took care of it. I don’t abuse it with alcohol, drugs or smoking. I can still sing and I’d be a liar if I said it was as effortless as it once was, but I can still do 90 percent of what I need to do.
KL: You told Rolling Stone recently that you would be interested in a Styx reunion. Where is your stance on that today with what the world’s going through today?
DD: My new tour manager is the CDC, so I have no control over any of that. Everybody knows — especially every Styx fan — what they want. They want to see Moe, Larry and Curly back on stage together. We have two very successful camps that travel around making a nice living playing the music that people love. But one last time, we should all get up there together and do it for the fans. They want it. I don’t want to be in the band. I just want to take a victory lap.