Ax facts & Stats: Tommy Shaw (STYX) Interview

By Dave B. Roberts

Welcome once again to another edition of Ax Facts & Stats. We are
thrilled to have Tommy Shaw from the legendary rock super group STYX,
as well as Damn Yankees and his many successful solo projects. I
generally write a bio blurb about our featured artist here, but who out
there hasn’t heard of Tommy, Styx or the many Shaw songs that have
become great classics in the world of rock music?

Styx songs written by Shaw include "Fooling yourself," "Blue Collar Man" and "Too Much Time On
My Hands," and several others. Tommy’s powerful, distinctive guitar
playing technique intertwined with his exceptional song writing and
vocal skills are all major components in the Styx equation that
resulted in the iconic, legendary standing they currently embrace and
have justly earned. Tommy joins us from the road as he and STYX tour in
support of their latest effort entitled Big Bang Theory due for release
on May 4, 2005. Buy the album and check Styx out on tour, but first,
read this.

My name is: Tommy Shaw

Describe yourself in 5 words: Open-minded, hard-headed, creative,
fun-loving, loyal (I would make a good pet).

My current job is: Questionnaire answerer.

My current Project is: "Big Bang Theory" (STYX) and "Influence" (SHAW

My hometown: Montgomery, Alabama.

Former bands: MS Funk, Damn Yankees.

My guitar influences growing up were: Wes Montgomery, Duane Allman,
Dickie Betts, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton.

The guitars I use are: Gibson, Fender, Taylor, PRS, Gretsch, Dobro,
Martin, Guild, Rickenbacker.

The strings and tunings I use are: GHS, so many tunings, so little time.

My current rig setup consists of: Marshall TSL 100 and 2 Marshall 4/12
cabs in iso boxes.

The greatest invention for guitars is: The wah-wah pedal.

My normal songwriting process consists of: introspection, writing, demo,
tweaking, then reluctantly handing it over to the universe for

My Favorite STYX song is: "Renegade".

My favorite All-time solo is: Wes Montgomery's "When I Look Into Your

My Career highlight thus far is: Being this far along in this

My most embarrassing moment on stage: At a show in Las Vegas a few years
ago, I had these great leather pants on and about halfway through the
set a note got passed up from a pregnant lady at the edge of the stage
which read, "The crotch of your pants is ripped out..." She'd gotten a
lot more of a show than was advertised.

Other than my guitar, the one piece of my gear that I cannot live
without is: My SLR digital camera.

The first song I ever mastered on guitar was: "Ghost Riders in the Sky"
when I was 9.

My first guitar was: Marco Polo nylon stringed beginner guitar.

If I am only sure of one thing in life, it's: Life is good.

The one ritual I always perform prior to going onstage is: My tech and I
always give each other the high sign, which is arms crossed like an X in
front of our chest, fists closed. If we get the chance we give it to our
fellow band and crew members, but ALWAYS to each other, typically right
after he hands me my wad of picks to stuff into my back pocket.

The exact moment I knew I would pursue a career in music was: I'm still
contemplating doing this long term.

The one thing most fans don't know about me is: That I have this one
thing most of them don't know about me.

The best advice I could give beginning guitarists: Don't just be a
shredder. Be a lyrical soul man first. Sometimes that one note held
just so trumps a thousand 32nd notes played perfectly.

The CD(s) I'm listening to right now are: Green Day, Jet

My 3 all-time favorite albums are: "Abbey Road," "Buddy Rich's "Big
Swing Face," "Joshua Tree".

Best gig: Perhaps our first Superbowl performance in Tampa 3 years ago.

My favorite junk food is: Fuji apple with soynut butter.

My biggest pet peeve is: Standing on the headphone cable, and ripping
them off my head as I stand up. Never ceases to surprise me.

The word or catch phrase I say too often is: "Tippy Canoe and Tyler

The hardest part of my job is: Answering questions about which catch
phrase I say too much.

The first thing I do when I come home from touring is: Get mauled by my
two dogs as I try to hug my wife.

My previous or first day job. When: STYX is my day job.

Right after this interview I'm going to: San Francisco/Crescent City,

I couldn't imagine being on the road without: My sweet guitar

If I wasn't doing the musician thing, I could really see myself working
as: a photographer.

Favorite movie: Tombstone.

My mission in life is: Outlive Keith Richards.

My Guilty Pleasure is: the music of The Carpenters.

My first band was: The Vagabonds (Band of the South)

My next major step is 2005 STYX European tour, new STYX album and new

The greatest contribution guitars have brought into my life is If I was
a kid now, the school doctors would have me on A.D.D. meds because I
certainly qualify, even now, but ever since I first laid hands on the
guitar at nine years of age, I found an uncanny ability to focus and
commit my energy in a way that gives me such a constant sense of
self-worth and well being that I am not troubled my shortcomings in
other areas.

The coolest toy I had growing up was SnowWalkers from Star Wars.

Check out our Website at or

The one musician I would love to work with that I have not yet had the
chance would be Billy Gibbons.

If I could have three wishes, they would be
· Peace on Earth
· No more hunger
· No more cruelty to animals.

When it's all said and done, I want the world to remember me for
offering light where there was darkness, peace where there was turmoil
and some momentary distraction from everyday life.

© Copyright 2005 Dave B. Roberts - Extreme Guitars. All Rights
Reserved. All Dave Roberts’ interviews & articles are available for
use or reprint ONLY by Permission. Permission can be obtained by

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