Singer Steve Walsh’s 2014 exit from Kansas could’ve been the end of the long-running band. Instead, the roster change opened up new possibilities for the classic rockers, who are performing at Victoria Theatre in Dayton on Wednesday, March 21.
“I don’t quit,” founding guitarist Richard Williams said. “There was no thought of ending Kansas when Steve left. This is the love of my life and that makes it easy for me — but it was a struggle for Steve. He’d become disenchanted with it a while back.”
Singer Ronnie Platt replaced Walsh, and Kansas made plans for new music and a tour celebrating its breakthrough album, “Leftoverture.”
“We were handcuffed because Steve was only willing to sing a limited set list,” Williams said. “There was a lot of the old catalog he just wouldn’t do anymore and he didn’t want to get involved in any new recording.”
The addition of Platt created the opportunity for “The Prelude Implicit” (2016), Kansas’ first studio album since “Somewhere to Elsewhere” (2000).
“For 17 years, we weren’t a creative band,” Williams said. “We did recreate ourselves with symphony work and things like that, but we were done writing new material and making new records. As much as you hate to see someone leave, it opened the door for what’s going on now.”
The members of Kansas primed the pump for “The Prelude Implicit” with the “Leftoverture Tour,” celebrating the band’s 1976 LP. It not only bolstered interest in new material but turned into a hugely successful tour and spawned the 2017 concert album, “Leftoverture Live & Beyond.”
“We wanted to get our new album in front of rabid Kansas fans,” Williams said. “We decided to do a 40th anniversary ‘Leftoverture’ tour in select cities where we have a really strong fan base. We thought once we got people in the building, we could play some of the new album. We have a lot of other stuff to play too so we put together a two-and-a-half hour show.”
This is a fruitful time for Kansas. Recording sessions for another album start in January and the 40th anniversary tour for the “Point of No Return” album begins after that.
“These are my favorite times right now,” Williams said. “I’m with a great bunch of guys. It’s as good a band as I’ve ever been in. We’ve got seven guys that all love being here and can’t wait for the next show.
“Everybody on this team loves being creative,” Williams added. “It’s really fun because ‘No’ is not an answer to anything now.”