Yes, it’s a UK tour
It was 1967 when Rock came of age and was accorded its own genre within music.
Within a year, it had developed so fast and far, it required numerous sub-categories, including Blues-Rock, Psychedelic Rock and the biggest at that time, Progressive Rock.
In 1968, two aspiring musicians met: both thought there was a gap in the music scene for a band incorporating strong and harmonious vocals with a solid rock backing. Within days, they were writing and, shortly afterwards, Chris Squire and Jon Anderson recruited three other established musicians and formed ‘YES’.
They released the self-titled first album the following year, and the rest is history. Celebrating 45 years of ‘Yes’ the band is currently touring America, ambitiously playing three of their early albums, ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Going For The One’, in their entirety, ahead of bringing the tour to the UK next Spring, I spoke to bassist Chris Squire – the only member to have played on all ‘Yes’ albums – at his home in Phoenix, Arizona, just 85 miles from where, on the previous day,19 fire fighters had lost their lives tackling wild fires.
That was the initial subject of our conversation, before moving on to talk about next year’s UK tour. ‘We’ve had quite a busy year so far; we’re starting the second part of our US tour this weekend and ,when that finishes, we’re taking a break to concentrate on getting some material together for our new album towards the end of this year, early next year.
When you come to Europe next year you’re going to be doing the Three Album Tour.
Yes, we should have our new album by then but we’ve already made the decision to bring the Three Album Tour that we’ve been doing this year in The States. It seems to go down so well, people like it so much that we thought we’d bring it to Europe and The UK when we come next Spring.
I know the albums are going to be played complete, have you modified or remixed, for want of a better word, music in any way?
No, to the best of our ability we go ahead and try to reproduce the albums. We’ve stuck to how they originally were; we’ve cut back on some of the improvised bits we’ve done on-stage and gone back to how they were. People seem to really like that: there is applause between the tracks, obviously, as they follow on. We’ve also been doing the ‘Close To The Edge’ album first, followed by ‘Going For The One’, even though ‘The Yes Album’ came before those. The system seems to work better that way, although we may try and change it around sometimes. That is what we appear to have settled on.’
In addition to those do you do an encore of the other material?
Yes, you will get an encore following on from ‘Fragile’; that’s the way the show is running.
How did you decide to feature these three albums?
The Yes Album’ was the first to get us recognised internationally, it was a No.1 album that put us on the world stage. Then, ‘Close To The Edge’ was the first time we did a recording that took up the complete side of the album, and the reason why we’re doing ‘Going For The One’ is that it was the first album we recorded outside the UK. We did that one in Switzerland: they are all seventies albums and they love them wherever we play them.’
Looking back, you were very prolific around that time, while touring constantly. How on earth did you find time to record the albums, did you write the material when you were on the road?
We started doing those long tours in 1971 around the time of ‘Fragile’ and then recording back in the UK. It is quite amazing how we managed to do all of those things, but we were all in our twenties, we didn’t write too much on the road. Maybe a bit of ‘Close To The Edge’ was done that way but when you’re on the road you’re so consumed by the routine of eating, showering, going on-stage that there really isn’t a lot of time to do anything else like write or creating fresh material: but of course you do get inspiration sometimes.
We had recorders etc., in our hotel rooms but, as I recall, they never got used much. We tended to do most of the writing in the time we would set aside for producing a new album.’
What was it like when you did the transformation to work with Trevor horn and Geoff Downes?
Well, when Trevor came in first of all, it was as a singer and drummer, which was the first time I’d met him. We did the ‘Drama’ album in just four weeks and immediately followed it going straight on the road, beginning with four nights at Madison Square Gardens in New York, a real pressure time. But the album sounded great; I always look back fondly at that, then Trevor produced the ‘90125 and stayed on to produce some of ‘Big Generator’, I always enjoyed being with Trevor. We had a good time and I enjoyed working with him in the studio, as well.
Are you looking forward to the UK shows next year?
We always love being back home playing for the fans. It may be a bit of a way off, but it’s something to look forward to, especially as it’s going to be the first time we’ve played in the UK with Jon Davison, our new singer, who has turned out to be a quite remarkable addition for us.’ The 10 date UK leg of the tour starts on April 29 next year, in Oxford, ending in Bristol on May 11, before moving on to Europe.
Full tour dates and more can be found at www.yesworld.com
Jim Stewart 2013