STYX bassist Ricky Phillips has confirmed that the band is continuing to write and record material for the follow-up to "The Mission". Released in June 2017, that disc marked STYX's first new LP in 14 years. It was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, co-produced and co-written with Will Evankovich, a longtime collaborator of Tommy Shaw's in the SHAW/BLADES band and who also plays with THE GUESS WHO.
Asked by Chasta of San Francisco's 107.7 The Bone radio station how he is keeping busy during the coronavirus downtime, Phillips said (see video below): "I'm down here [at home in Austin] doing a lot of work, writing bass parts for stuff as Tommy Shaw sends it to me. He's writing and working in Nashville, where he lives. And then he sends me stuff here, [and] I work on it. Eventually, when we all come out from our caves, we're gonna go and get in a room and carve a new record, which the material is really interesting. And I have a lot of fun. So don't feel too sorry for me. I'm actually doing what I love right here at home."
Asked if any of the new STYX songs were inspired by coronavirus crisis, Ricky said: "Well, it's a little prophetic, 'cause we started writing this before all this went down, but there's two or three songs that [I had to ask], 'Tommy, you wrote this before this happened?' I mean, it sounds like it is [inspired by the coronavirus crisis].
"STYX has always had this way, from the very beginning, before I was ever in the band, obviously, they had a way of having these positive messages, and that's part of the attraction," he added.
Speaking about the overall musical direction of the new STYX music, Ricky said: "The band has been so true to… There's one record that I would have to, maybe, give them a demerit on, but almost every single record, they've stuck to that sound, the tone, the vocals… There's a lot of proggy stuff and a lot of odd signatures, but you never feel like you're in a music theory class; it's done in a very friendly way. And as a musician who has done and recorded with a lot of people, done a lot of things, produced stuff and written stuff for various people, I need a challenge. And at this point in my life, I don't think I would be in a band if I was just kind of kicking it and playing three- and four-chord songs. So this is really fun."
In addition to Phillips and Shaw, STYX's current lineup features James "JY" Young (vocals, guitars),Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards),Todd Sucherman (drums),along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo.