Kansas band bassist Billy Greer has noticed something interesting as the band prepares to head to Longview on Sept. 1.
"It's funny that our fans are getting older and younger at the same time," said Greer, who also is a vocalist. Kansas originated in Topeka, Kansas, with its first album release in 1974.
"We see young people that are coming that are Kansas fans — either their parents raised them as Kansas fans," he said, or they've been introduced to the band through CW's popular "Supernatural" TV series, which plays the Kansas song "Carry on Wayward Son" as its unofficial theme song.
Other young people are drawn to older rock and roll sounds more than "the new stuff," Greer said.
Kansas will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at LeTourneau University's Belcher Center. The group has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, with two million-selling gold singles — "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind."
"Carry On Wayward Son" remains one of the five most played songs on classic rock radio, and the band says "Dust in the Wind" has been played on the radio more than 3 million times.
The band's inclusion in video games Rock Band and Guitar Hero along with play in the television show "South Park" and movies "Old School" and "Anchorman" have helped cement the band's place in new generations.
Today, Kansas consists of Greer, original drummer Phil Ehart, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist Tom Brislin, guitarist Zak Rizvi, and original guitarist Richard Williams.
Its decades-long career has produced 15 studio albums and five live albums — with eight gold albums, three sextuple Platinum albums ("Leftoverture," "Point of Know Return" and "Best of KANSAS") and one platinum live album ("Two for the Show").
In 2016, the group released the album “The Prelude Implicit” and in 2016 and 2017 celebrated the anniversary of the “Leftoverture” album with its KANSAS: Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour.
Greer said the band is working on a new, yet-named album that will be released next year.
At this point, there's no pressure for the band to produce radio hits. The more progressive the music, the better, Greer said.
"They’re just looking for an album of Kansas music, and Kansas music is kind of known to be not your typical, straight forward rock and roll," that relies on the same three or four chords, he said. "More importantly, I think, is the integrity of the lyrics. Most of the lyrics of the songs, in my opinion, stand up today as well as they did 40 years ago when some of them were written. We've always taken pride in working on good lyrics with a message."
He recalls people telling him about how Kansas music provided the backdrop to some of the most important events in their lives.
"That's the thing — the lyrics kind of transcend time," he said.
A couple of new additions to the band in recent years — Greer has been a member for 34 years — have added a new dimension to the band's performances and songwriting.
"It's brought our game up so much," Greer said. "People are starting to take notice again, I think."
Greer spoke as he prepared to perform for a show in Springfield, Missouri. The band tours regularly and continues to attract large crowds by performing new and old songs.
The Longview performance is billed as including "more Top 100 hits in the set than ever before," with "some classic B-Sides, fan favorites and material off the band’s latest studio album, 'The Prelude Implicit.'"
"We're guaranteed to please," Greer said.