STYX guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw spoke to Meltdown of the Detroit radio station WRIF about the progress of the writing and recording sessions 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 Shaw's in the SHAW/BLADES band and who also plays with THE GUESS WHO. Asked if fans can expect to hear new STYX music next year, Shaw said: "Well, we have to record it. It's all written; it's all ready to go. And now we're just waiting on transportation from Texas. And Lawrence Gowan [vocals, keyboards] has to get back into the country, 'cause he lives in Toronto. So we're working on all that stuff. The studio we use, Blackbird, an amazing studio, they've opened up. MEGADETH is recording there now. So they all have their protocols in place. And now we just have to get Todd [Sucherman, drums] and Lawrence and Ricky [Phillips, bass] here, and James Young [guitar], and we can lay it all down and get it mixed and be ready to go." Sucherman recently told Audio Ink Radio that the new STYX material "definitely leans to a progressive side with always a big, heavy emphasis on melody and lyrics. There are several songs and several 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," he said. "It's like a prophecy, some of the bits in the lyrics… There's one song called 'Sound The Alarm' that I damn 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've gotta ask him, 'What made you write that four months ago?'" During the late 1970s and early 1980s, four straight STYX albums sold at least two million copies — "The Grand Illusion" (1977), "Pieces Of Eight" (1978), "Cornerstone" (1979) and "Paradise Theatre" (1981). The band eventually replaced original singer/keyboardist/songwriter Dennis DeYoung in 1999 with Gowan.
During an appearance on a recent episode of the "Rock & Roll Beer Guy" podcast, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH drummer Charlie "The Engine" Engen spoke about how his life has changed since he was named the replacement for FIVE FINGER's original drummer, Jeremy Spencer, in the fall of 2018. "Financially, it was amazing, because it was the first time I had any sort of balance in my life," Charlie said. "I've always been 'feast or famine' my entire existence, which, on one hand, has been good, because it taught me a lot of different things. And I never gave in to 'The Man' sort of a thing, so I always kept my head on my shoulders. I had corporate jobs and whatnot, but they'd last a year before I'd be, like, 'All right. I can't do this anymore.' So as far as financially, it was just great to get some stability in my life. "Money-wise, not to beat it to death or get into details with it, at first when I joined them, it was right into a tour, so it was contract based, because they didn't know if they'd keep me around…," he revealed. "So that was contractual. Now we're just word-of-mouth agreement, essentially, because that's the way they like to operate, and I prefer that as well. You don't feel like you're getting treated like a fill-in puzzle piece. They did a great job of making me feel like a bandmember out of the gate, knowing that, obviously, from my angle, coming into a freight train that's moving a thousand miles an hour that's already now established as a premier rock band. And for them, like, 'Hey, we got this new guy on. Have fun.' They were really good about keeping it all cool, and it never felt, like, 'All right, man. Don't screw this up,' or anything like that.' He added: "Yeah, it started as a contract, and now it's just word of mouth. And it's nice — it feels good. Especially getting a record under the belt now too — it helps. It's a great situation for me." Spencer, who co-founded FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH with guitarist Zoltan Bathory, underwent back surgery in the fall of 2018 that required a significant recovery period. In announcing his exit from the group, he said: "The rigorous physical wear and tear has worn down my body to the point where I feel I can no longer deliver a performance you great fans deserve and one that brings me satisfaction and joy." Bathory previously described Charlie as "an unbelievable drummer," adding that: "The funny thing was that Jeremy kind of found him, but I followed him, so when he said who it is, I'm, like, 'Oh, yeah! That kid is fucking amazing.' So I already knew about him. So that was pretty cool. So I guess you can say that Jeremy handed down the torch." The 35-year-old Engen, who was previously identified only as "a drum prodigy" called "The Engine", played his first show with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on November 6, 2018 in Wichita, Kansas. The Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Engen had been teaching drums for more than 15 years and offered private and Skype lessons at his home studio, along with playing in the bands SCALE THE SUMMIT and IDEOLOGY. Engen made his recording debut with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on the band's latest album, "F8", which came out in February.