Rich Williams says he and the other members of Kansas “don’t talk much” about the group’s various anniversaries, but hitting 35 years since the group’s “Point of Know Return” album and its biggest hit, “Dust in the Wind,” has given them pause.
“I remember doing ‘Dust in the Wind’…we weren’t apprehensive, but we were wondering ‘How’s this going to be received?’ because it was just acoustic guitar, violin and voice,” Williams tells Billboard.com about the song. “We were always outside of the box, but this was outside of the box for us. What’s funny is that, in retrospect, we took a lot of heat for ‘selling out.’ What about ‘Dust in the Wind’ was mimicking anything to do with the mainstream? That was an absolute fluke that it was a hit. We had no idea it was going to be talked about 35 years later. It was only a hit because it…was a great song. Even a blind pig finds a truffle once in awhile.”
Williams says the “Point…” anniversary will bring some of the quadruple-platinum album’s songs back into the Kansas set, including “Paradox” and “Closet Chronicles.” But it’s unlikely the group will play the album in its entirety, the guitarist adds.
“It’s been talked about,” Williams says. “We did some shows with Jethro Tull last year and they were doing ‘Aqualung.’ I thought it was a great concept. There’s something really cool about it. With us, there’s three owners. I’m all for it. Of the other two primaries, one (drummer Phil Ehart) is kind of a maybe, the other (singer-keyboardist Steve Walsh) is, ‘No f***in’ way!’ For a singer, sometimes they feel like, ‘I can’t sing this lyric anymore, ’cause I don’t believe in it.’ Well, OK…’ So it’s not in the plans, I’m afraid.”
This year Kansas will continue to mix headlining shows with collegiate symphonic dates that have become staples on the group’s itinerary — though Williams says that concept “is starting to wind down. It’s running out of steam as far as new places to play with it, I think.” That, however, might allow Kansas to start thinking about a new album, he says — its first since “Somewhere To Elsewhere” in 2000.
“We’re not recording anything, but individually people are always inventing things, working in the studio on stuff,” Williams says. “A lot of it is reinventing what we already have written and altering things, creating segues and that type of stuff for the live shows rather than new material. But I’ve mentioned to the guys before that we don’t have to do a CD; the way things are anymore we can do two songs, if that’s what we wanted to do, and put something new out there. If I were king this would be done this winter, but I’m in a democracy, so we’ll wait for everyone to be ready.”