Before he ever sang a note on stage with Styx, Lawrence Gowan said he knew he made the right move, putting his solo career on hold to join the band.

"When I met them, I just liked them," Gowan said of his first impressions of his future bandmates. "I wanted to do the shows with them and I just knew that we were musically kind of locked (in)."

When Gowan joined Styx in 1999, the band was struggling to replace Dennis DeYoung, primary singer/keyboardist and writer of many of the group's hits.

"It was the right move first of all because I was very honored to be asked to join the band," Gowan said. "They saw me as the solution to the difficulties they were going through at the time. I was honored by that."

Nearly 15 years have passed since those first concerts, and Gowan and the band are still going strong. Besides Gowan, the current lineup consists of guitarist/singer James Young, guitarist/singer Tommy Shaw, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips.

Though Styx no longer lights up the charts, the group continues to be a popular touring act. They'll bring their latest show to Bakersfield on Monday.

As for stepping in for DeYoung, whose distinctive voice is heard on many of the band's most iconic hits -- "Babe," "Come Sail Away," "The Best of Times" and "Lady" -- Gowan said he hasn't received much of a backlash over the years.

"A lot of the fans were more knowledgeable than you would think," he said. "They realized that basically the band had split and needed some kind of solution, and I was the guy. And usually they were distracted by how strong the show was.

"I'm aware on the Internet there's always an ongoing debate about which version of Styx is better, this era or the past era?" Gowan said.

"And it's a very lively debate. Sometimes I actually look in on it just to take a look at what people are saying. It's amazing how polarized they can be. But, of course, that's the nature of Internet discussion, so to speak. But that's the only insight I have to it. I (only) just saw tens of thousands of people on their feet at the end of every week and they seemed to be loving the band."