Interview: Kansas’ Ronnie Platt Talks Upcoming Show At Sands Event Center, Classic Hits and New Music

Photo: EMily Butler Photography

With a career spanning more than four decades and more than thirty million in album sales alone, Kansas has firmly established itself as one classic rock’s most iconic bands. Since releasing their debut album in 1974 the band’s hits, like “Carry on Wayward Son,” “Dust In The Wind,” and “Point of Know Return,” have gone on to become staples of classic rock radio and continue to be used in film, television and video games to this very day.

In 2016, Kansas released their acclaimed fifteenth studio album, “The Prelude Implicit,” and spent most of the next two years touring it as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of their landmark Leftoverture album. With even more tour dates, including performing albums in their entirety, and the talk of more new music, Kansas shows no sign of slowing down.

On Thursday, May 30, Kansas will bring its Radio Classics Tour to The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA for an evening that will feature material from the group’s arensal of hits along with a few surprises.

Kansas is: Phil Ehart (drums), Richard Williams (guitars), Billy Greer (bassist/vocalist), Ronnie Platt (vocalist/keyboards), David Ragsdale (violinist/guitarist), Tom Brislin (keyboards) and Zak Rizvi (guitars).

I recently spoke with vocalist Ronnie Platt about the band’s upcoming performance in Bethlehem, new music and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from Kansas’ upcoming performance at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA?

Fans are going to be in for a fantastic, high-energy, music-packed show. Songs from album number one all the way up to “The Prelude Implicit” and everything in between. Bring your extinguishers because the band is on fire.

What do you think makes the music of Kansas, and classic rock in general, so timeless and special?

I think it’s the depth, diversity and dynamics of the music. It also doesn’t hurt that Kerry [Livgren] was also influenced by classical music. Today, people are still listening to Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. These are guys who lived hundreds of years ago. Their music is still being played because there’s a level of musicality and intensity that makes it remain timeless. Kansas has that same element. It warms my heart when I see young kids and teenagers at our shows getting into it and aren’t just sitting there waiting for “Wayward Son.” It’s cool to see an appreciation of this music at all age levels.

In addition to regular touring the band has also been performing albums in their entirety. Where did that idea originate?

Phil [Ehart] and our agent were the ones who came up with the concept of doing a 40th anniversary show for “Leftoverture,” which was performing the album in its entirety as well as the classics. They thought we’d probably do about fifteen or so shows but we ended up doing eighty! We’ve recently finished a leg of our “Point Of Know Return Tour” where we celebrate that album’s 40th anniversary. We have that show on hold for the summer while we do Classics shows but we’ll pick it up again in the fall. It’s nice to change things up and it also gives us a chance to dive into some really deep cuts.

Did you always know that music would be your calling? Was it something you always aspired to do?

Growing up, my mother and both grandmothers played piano and my godfather did semi-professional singing. My very first instrument in grade school was trombone and then I started getting into choir. In high school, I developed a love for Prog Rock and bands like Kansas, Yes, Genesis and Rush. I had my first band when I was fourteen and have been in a band ever since. There was a time I lived a double life as both a truck driver and musician, but music has always been my passion.

You’ve now been a member of Kansas for five years. As a fan, what was it like first time you took the stage with the band?

If I ever write a book about my life there will be a chapter called “Surreal Moments” and that will be the opening subject. Being a fan my entire life, there’s no way to describe my first show with Kansas other than to say that it was surreal. Of course I had some butterflies, but the other great thing about it was being accepted by the Kansas fans.

Has the band been working on new music?

Yes. We’re about to go into the studio to start hashing out rough ideas for another new Kansas studio album. This is a band that could easily rely on their past library and wealth of music. Kudos to Phil and Rich for wanting to put new music out and keep it at the level Kansas has always had. We’re so proud of “The Prelude Implicit” and we have even higher expectations for the next one.

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

People often ask me if I’m ever going to quit music and I tell them, “Yes. When I stop breathing!” [laughs]. The truth is, I’ve been a part of Kansas for five years now and really see no end in sight. At age fifty-seven, my motivation is the same thing that’s carried me throughout my entire music career, and that’s the desire to only get better.

Kansas will perform an evening of Kansas Classics at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA on Thursday, May 30. Showtime is 8:00 p.m.