STYX guitarist James "J.Y." Young has admitted that "fan interest" was instrumental in the band's decision to bring the song "Mr. Roboto" back into the show, in its entirety, for the first time in 35 years.
"Mr. Roboto" — which originally appeared on STYX's 1983 concept album "Kilroy Was Here" — was written by former STYX vocalist Dennis DeYoung, who left the group in 1999. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts in Canada, but guitarist Tommy Shaw's reported dislike of the song and direction of the group's concert performances — which, in keeping with the album's concept, featured bandmembers acting out certain roles — led him to leave the band at the completion of the "Kilroy" tour. He eventually returned in 1996.
Young addressed "Mr. Roboto"'s re-emergence during a recent interview with Billboard. He said: "There were young people whose first song they bought was 'Mr. Roboto', and that sent them back to the previous albums. While ['Mr. Roboto'] killed the momentum of the first huge wave of STYX, it actually spawned the next generation of STYX fans. A lot of people under the age of 12 bought it, and those people are now in their 30s, perhaps even older. It just became clear from an unsophisticated poll that there were people coming to our concerts that wanted to hear that song, so we just decided to try and do it."
According to Young, the version of "Mr. Roboto" that is being performed on the current tour is substantially different to the original. "It's reinterpreted into something much more palatable to Tommy and myself and the rest of the gang," Young said. "We were looking for something new and a curveball to throw at the audience. I can't say 100 percent of the people love it, but... we're embracing the fan requests and fulfill a yearning request form a lot of people over the years that we'd turned a deaf ear to."
DeYoung recently said that he was "totally shocked" by STYX's decision to perform "Mr. Roboto" live again. "After all this time, I'm really happy that they've just come to the realization that this is nothing to be ashamed of, for god's sakes," he said. "It was an experiment; we tried it; the show was marvelous; it was fantastic. It was wildly entertaining. And I just say, was I shocked? Thoroughly and totally, 'cause I believed, like so many of the followers of the current band — of 'TOMMY STYX' right now, people call it — those people committed to the idea that they should dislike this song and me at the same time. And I keep saying to myself why, why do this? It doesn't make sense to me. So now I look at it and I think all those people have literally been thrown under the bus by this reversal of fortune. Because they told them one thing, and now they're playing this song. But, really, I don't have any hard feelings toward those guys — I don't. If they call tomorrow for a reunion, I've pushed it; I've said it for 18 years; I wanna be in the band; I should be in the band; it's exactly what the fanbase wants."