S tyx's James Young expects that touring as part of a package with Ted Nugent during a political election year will bring "an interesting and powerful new wrinkle to the whole thing" -- especially in light of the Secret Service attention the Motor City Madman is getting after some harsh comments about President Barack Obama and other Democrats at the recent National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis.
But Young tells Billboard that he doesn't expect to indulge in much political discourse backstage when Styx, Nugent and REO Speedwagon launch their summer Midwest Rock 'n' Roll Express tour on May 1 in Hidalgo, Texas.
"You know, I don't see any point in that, actually," Young explains. "I mean, Ted's made his points very clear. And this is not about politics." The guitarist adds that it's more likely the performers will share their kindred spirit for rock 'n' roll. "I don't think Ted's done too many of these sort of package tour things. He's pretty much been on his own," Young notes. "Tommy (Shaw) and Ted have their relationship from Damn Yankees, and I've said some really nice things about Ted in all the buildup to this. I think something will certainly happen (on stage), but I dare not predict what it might be. I look forward to being pleasantly surprised and delighted by it all."
The tour also coincides with the 40th anniversary of Styx's self-titled debut album, as well as the 35 years since the release of the triple-platinum "The Grand Illusion." But Young says the group isn't planning to dwell on either mark this year.
"There are certain ages that women don't want to admit to that they've reached, and there are certain ages that rock bands don't want to admit to that they've reach, too," Young says with a laugh. "I just sort of said, 'Why remind everybody just how long we've been around? Those that know it know it, but there is a whole new, young audience out there...a growing (number) of people at Styx concerts that are under the age of 25. That kind of blows my mind... and I don't want to jeopardize that. It's an interesting mile marker, and...I don't mind people saying it, but I'm not going out of my way to offer it up front."
Styx's most recent releases have been a pair of "Regeneration" albums featuring new versions of the group's hits recorded by the group's current lineup. As for brand new material, Young says that "there's always talk... but I don't see the point in making a whole album of songs that is going to be ignored by radio." Rather, he'd like to see the band "do one great song and put it out there and make a little video for it." And the fact that Styx's 2003 cover of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" "was our biggest airplay item of newly recorded music in the new millennium," Young says that might be a harbinger of things to come.
"I've had a couple ideas of doing things that would ultimately be covers," he says. "I think they would be very interesting ones, and with some collaborative participants that I can't talk about (yet). But I've got some ideas."