Lead singer Ronnie Platt talks about being ‘the new guy’

ENTERTAINMENT —The rock band Kansas brings its “Point of No Return 40th Anniversary Tour” to the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, March 18. The band, founded in the 1970s, continues to rock audiences decades later. 

In 2014, lead singer Steve Walsh retired and a Chicago truck driver who moonlighted as cover rock band singer, Ronnie Platt, stepped into the role. I had the opportunity to speak to Platt about the rigors of touring, the band’s evolving fan base and it upcoming international tour with Journey and Europe.

It may be a dream to some, but touring the nation in a bus and hopping across the states on a plane can take its toll on a person. Platt seems to take the rigors of the road in stride, saying that he loves what he does. 

“It’s always been an ongoing joke that we don’t get paid to perform, we get paid to travel,” Platt said, “because the performing is the fun part.”

The rock genre is alive and well. Apart from SLO County having a radio station solely dedicated to classic rock, games like Guitar Hero and movies like Guardians of the Galaxy continue to show that the genre can reach across generational barriers. 

“Just in the time that I have been in the band,I have seen an influx of younger and younger people and not only is it the children of the original Kansas fan base from the 70s, now it’s their grandchildren,” Platt said. “It just warms my heart when I look out over the audience and I see teenagers. To see young kids embrace this music, it really does warm my heart.”

One of the bands most iconic hits, “Carry on Wayward Son,” has become an unofficial theme song to the television series “Supernatural.” The band embraced the popularity from the younger crowd. At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, they made a surprise appearance and Platt said the crowd, comprised mostly of 20-somethings, lost their minds.

“I think the average age of the audience was 25,” Platt said. “Doing that surprise visit, to me, sounded like the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. The way the kids were just screaming when we started playing, it was really kind of shocking. It was a lot of fun and just since then the younger audience has come and seen us and that’s a great thing. We call that job security.”

For Platt, singing for the rock band is a dream come true. He said that in a lot of his cover bands he sang for in Chicago, they played not only popular songs but songs that are referred to as “deep cuts” that are less commercial and rarely played on the radio.

“I have had such a close relationship with the music nearly my entire life that it was just, I don’t know how I can describe the intensity of walking on stage that first time,” Platt said. “The other element of that is to be, right out of the box, so accepted by the Kansas fans.” 

Platt said that it wasn’t just the fans that made him feel welcome, but the band did too. 

“Everybody made me feel so at home the very first minute it was like going to band practice with a bunch of old buddies, and that’s really how they made me feel,” he said.

After the “Point of No Return Tour” wraps up, Platt said Kansas will embark on an international tour with legendary bands Journey and Europe. The band spent much of June and August, 2019 in the recording studio working on their next studio album, scheduled to release this year.

“A gift that I never thought, never expected to be doing when I got the job with Kansas, that Kansas would still be recording new, original music,” Platt said, “It is just beyond my wildest dreams.”