Todd Sucherman of Styx Talks ‘Last Flight Home,’ Coronavirus + New Styx Album

2020-05-18

Todd Sucherman – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Ronn Dunnett

Todd Sucherman of Styx talks with Anne Erickson about his debut solo album, “Last Flight Home,” the COVID-19 crisis and how the new Styx album is shaping up

A band like Styx is used to touring and playing live constantly, throughout every season of the year. That said, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has turned their world upside down, as restrictions push shows far into the future.

Styx drummer Todd Sucherman says that while these are troubling times, we have to keep the faith and look forward to that time when shows are back.

“You have to remain hopeful,” Sucherman told Audio Ink Radio. “We have to get through this, and when we do, it’s going to be glorious. I’ll be sobbing like a baby the first gig I get to play again.”

In the meantime, Sucherman is keeping busy with his debut solo album, “Last Flight Home.” The album, which dropped in early May, is packed with melodic rock songs and highlights Sucherman’s honey-smooth singing voice.

Sucherman spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink about “Last Flight Home,” how the coronavirus crisis is impacting his life and what to expect from a new Styx album. Read the interview below, and listen via the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Congratulations on your new solo album, “Last Flight Home.” This is your first solo record, right?

Yes. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this at all, including this amount of writing and singing.

One things that really struck me is that you have a really great singing voice! Why did you decide to be a drummer early on and not sing leads?

Thank you! Well, my father was a drummer and I was the youngest in a musical family, so I was in love with the drums since I was an infant and have been playing since I was 2 and professionally since I was 6. It’s all I ever wanted to do, but I love songs and melodies and stories and lyrics as well as Olympic drumming things. (Laughs) So, it’s something that always interested me, and I wished I could do it the way a young boy wishes to be an astronaut or baseball player. I’ve always been comfortable singing background vocals, especially surround by people who I consider to be tremendous singers like the guys of Styx, so it’s always comfortable that way and being hidden behind a big bunch of wood and metal on a drum set, so the fact this notion terrified me, it enticed me at the same time, because it was so terrifying, so I thought, this is where I need to be.

Is it kind of vulnerable to come out from behind the drum kit and write thing kind of music and sing on it and put it out there into the world?

Yeah, the proverbial dream you have where you’re standing in your underwear in the classroom in your school days, it felt like that the first few times I played any of that for anybody! By the way, I did this record completely in secret. My mother didn’t even know I was doing this. The first time I played it for anybody, it felt like showing someone a nude scene in a movie you did! (Laughs) It was a very squirm-ish, but then when the response was as enthusiastic as it was, it made me feel better and gave me the courage to say, I can do this and to move on and continue this.

Switching gears to COVID-19, when is your best guess at when large-scale concerts might be back, just with everything that you’re hearing about from the industry?

Sadly, my opinion based on the things I’ve heard, not sharing the opinion of my organization, but I don’t think anything is going to happen until 2021.

Without getting into a whole thing, and I don’t feel like arguing with people about numbers and science, but the longer people stay out and think it’s okay to return to normal right now, that’s only going to make it longer on the back end, because it’s not. Things are still rising. You look at our numbers verses the numbers of the rest of the world, and we’re No. 1 with nobody in second place, so that tells me this is going to continue for a long time. As it keeps going, people are going to be more restless and needy to go back to work, which is going to make it last even longer. Really, the hope is some sort of medical vaccine, but in reality, that might not happen for another year, at best. But you have to remain hopeful.

When do you think people will feel comfortable going back to shows?

When music and sporting events come back, like the NBA and NFL. The general public has to feel safe about assembling in large groups again, so that’s another factor that’s on the populous.

Do you think concerts will change going forward because of Covid-19, or do you think we’ll be able to get back to where we were at?

I really don’t know. I’d like to think that we’ll be able to get back to where we were, because that was the case with the Spanish flu in 1918– things eventually returned to normal.

I hear there’s a new Styx album on the way. What can you tell me about the new music?

It definitely leans to a progressive side with a big, heavy emphasis on melody and lyrics. There are several songs and lyrics in there that — I haven’t even talked to Tommy about this — that are almost about what’s going on in the world right now. It’s like a prophesy with some of the lyrics. Part of my practice routine on the drums, because I want to stay in shape, is to rotate a few of the songs in my practice routine… there’s one song called “Sound the Alarm” that I near stopped playing and burst into tears while rehearsing, because it sounds like it was written about what’s going on today, like he wrote it today. So, next time I talk to Tommy, I have to ask him, what made you write that four months ago?

Do you have any idea when the new album might be out?

You know, I would have to say well into next year, because it might be months until I can record. They want me to record the drums in Nashville, and they want to all be there, so it’s not a situation where I’m going to record them at home and email them the tracks. They want to go into Blackbird in Nashville. and they want to do it that way.

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