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Interview:
Yes Finds A Positive Future Path
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Yes bassist Chris Squire has mixed feelings about progressive rock compatriots Genesis’ upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On one hand, he is happy for his friends — including guitarist Steve Hackett, with whom Squire is working on a musical side

project. And it’s another foothold in the Rock Hall for Yes’ brand of music, heretofore only represented in the shrine by Pink Floyd. On the other hand ...

“When people ask me why aren’t Yes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’ve always been able to say, ‘Neither is Genesis.’ I can’t say that anymore,’ ” Squire says with a laugh.

But he’s quick to add that, “I’m really glad for those guys.” And Squire says he doesn’t think too much about whether Yes will get its due.

“I’ve been told for so many years, ‘Oh yeah, you were supposed to get in and Metallica got 10 more votes ...’ ” he notes. “I don’t really give much credence to the stories anymore. If it happens, it’ll happen.

“And, to be honest, the logistics of putting Yes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be more complicated than you might think. Which members do you put in out of those people who have been through Yes? Who do you decide is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame worthy and who isn’t? It’s a little complex in Yes’ case.”

It’s only grown more convoluted during the past couple of years, too. Squire is, in fact, the only constant since Yes formed during 1968 in London, debuting with a self-titled set in 1969 and releasing 17 studio albums of complex musicality and virtuostic musicianship since. Some 16 members have logged time in the lineup, and in 2008, Squire and long-timers Steve Howe (guitar) and Alan White (drums) surprised fans by not only bringing in a new keyboardist — frequent Yes member Rick Wakeman’s younger son Oliver — but also replacing frontman Jon Anderson, sidelined by health problems, with Benoit David from the Montreal-based Yes tribute band Close to the Edge.

“They’re doing a tremendous job,” Howe, 62, says of

the new additions. “Yes, as a band, is built to go on. This is not the first time we’ve changed members. It would be nice if it was the last, of course, but history tells us that probably won’t be the case, you know?”

Yes did switch singers once before, in 1979, when Anderson left and was replaced by Trevor Horn of The Buggles — a radical change. Squire says that David’s tribute band credentials made for a smoother transition this time around.

“I’ve watched the progress of other various groups when they’ve gone through this transitional stage,” Squire, 61, notes. “Of course, one of the interesting ones was Queen when they hooked up with Paul Rodgers. They got a well-known singer to come in and replace Freddie Mercury, but he didn’t sing anything like Freddie Mercury. I thought that was brave and in some ways ballsy, which is kind of the direction I like to go in.

“But I’m glad in a way that Benoit was more obviously a Jon Anderson-type of singer. Honoring the music became the main focus of what we were doing, and I think the fans have appreciated that.”

Though Anderson — who’s still ailing, according to Squire — initially balked at Yes opting to continue without him, he’s backed off that position and has been, if not outwardly supportive, publicly resigned to the current state of affairs. And Squire adds that “it’s definitely not out of the question for us to do something with Jon again in the future. But we’re gonna go ahead with a new album with the new guys — that’s the next thing I’m focused on, really.”

Squire says there’s plenty new music for that project, which will be Yes’ first studio set since “Magnification” in 2001. “Yes has never had a problem of a lack of ideas,” he says. “Throughout Yes’ career, we’ve always had a problem of too many ideas. I’m sure with the enthusiasm of Oliver and Benoit added to the mix, it makes it an exciting prospect to do a new album.”

Howe adds that, “You’ve got to work in leaps and bounds these days. You have to plan nine to 12 months ahead. We built (in) a good amount of time to tour and let Benoit and Oliver warm themselves into the band. So a new album seems like a logical step.”

Squire and Howe plan to continue working on their outside projects, which for the latter includes Asia, the all-star band he formed during a Yes hiatus in 1981. Squire says Yes will likely hit the recording studio in the late spring, and he’s hoping to have something finished in time for the group to do more touring this year.

“We’re pretty evenly divided on where people live, actually, with the (United) States getting a slight bias because two of us live here and one lives in Canada,” he says. “We’re working out the details, but I’m hoping that the next tour we do, the focus will be on new music. We may do some shows in the summer, but (a new album) is where we most want to go at this point.”



Yes? Yes!

During its 42-year career, Yes has been responsible for its share of touchstone moments in progressive rock. Five of the most notable include ...

“Time and a Word” (1970) — Ringing harmonics, acoustic guitar and rich harmonies fit the times but also introduced a motif Yes would expand upon in short order.

“I’ve Seen All Good People/Your Move” (1971) — A two-part suite that moves from the lushly acoustic “Your Move” into the explosive second section that showcases Steve Howe’s acrobatic guitar work.

“Roundabout” (1971) — A Top 20 hit from the “Fragile” album that showed Yes’ multi-movement arrangements and virtuoistic dynamics could indeed have commercial appeal.

“Close to the Edge” (1972) — Taking up a whole side of the album of the same name, its four movements represent that ultimate zenith of Yes’ creative ambitions.

“Owner of a Lonely Heart” (1983) — Yes’ sole No. 1 hit breathed new life into the group after a twoyear hiatus.



Yes performs at 8 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 20) in Sound Board at the MotorCity Casino-Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $40 and $45. Call 313-237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.

Web Site: www.motorcitycasino.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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