People originally thought of Lawrence Gowan as "the guy who replaced Dennis DeYoung," so to hear the Styx keyboardist say 2018 is his "20th year with the band" is a bit jarring.
The passage of time is not lost on Styx, a group of relentless road warriors who come to Boston next week as part of a co-headlining summer tour with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Tesla is the opening act. The tour lands at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion for a 7:00 show Wednesday, June 27.
I've been fortunate enough over the years to talk to different members of Styx, including Ricky Phillips, James "J.Y." Young and Gowan (as well as DeYoung for a solo show he did a few years ago as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series), and what stands out to me is their commitment to the live show.
"There have been days where Tommy and I had no voice an hour before the show," Gowan told me in a recent phone interview, referring to lead singer Tommy Shaw. "We'd ask ourselves, 'Should we do this?' But we lean into it, do the show, and turns out great.
"So much of that is due to the spirit that resides in the band. We take the commitment seriously. We don't take ourselves all that seriously, but our commitment to being there at the time and place we say we'll be there is important to us."
And when you see Styx live, you get a heavy dose of the core Styx lineup that includes Young, Shaw and bassist Chuck Panozzo, who have been with the group since its heyday in the 1970s. (Drummer Todd Sucherman and Gowan joined the group in the '90s, and Phillips signed on in 2003).
They lean heavily on their massive collection of hits at their shows, including "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," "Lady," "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)," "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Come Sail Away" and "Renegade."
But in a co-headlining spot on this tour, they have also made room for some songs from last year's album "The Mission," their highest-charting studio album in the United States since 1983's "Kilroy Was Here," reaching No. 45 on the Billboard top 200 album chart. A check of a recent setlist shows the band has been playing four songs from the new album in concert.
Gowan is excited to be touring with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, members of the 2015 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"I had never seen Joan Jett live before this tour, but when I looked at the idea of us touring with her, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is great,'" he said.
He's also excited to be sharing the stage with Tesla again.
"We know what they are capable of and how devoted their following is, what a legitimate, bona-fide rock machine they are."
Gowan says rock fans are in for a treat with this bill.
"We know Joan has a killer band. It's the kind of challenge we are up for. We know she will have a great show, and we know we have to be up to the challenge. It will be a ton of fun."