By Jade Salazar
From singing “Hold On” on road trips in middle school to giggling to “Hearts” in my best friend’s car in early adulthood, the band Yes has always held a special place in my heart. Which is exactly why myself and other Yes fans were ecstatic to hear that they had extended their Three Album Tour to include Washington DC, AND in New York at the Capitol Theatre Sunday.
Whether they were career-changers that gained the band popularity in the U.S. or musical breakthroughs stretching songs, all three albums (“The Yes Album”, “Close to The Edge” and “Going for The One”) have meant significant milestones for the band. Brightest Young Things got the chance to speak to bassist and original band member, Chris Squire, about their current tour, upcoming endeavors and surviving in the rock industry for the last 45 years.
You’re playing three entire albums on stage. I realize you have not played an entire album live since 1973. Where did the idea come from for this tour?
It’s not an original idea. Other bands have gone and done this before. In the 90’s Steely Dan did it and I believe it worked very well for them. So it’s an idea we have been wanting to do someday when the time was right. Usually when we go out on the road it’s because we’re promoting new music. We had a new album release in 2011, “Fly From Here”, and we went around the world promoting that. Then we realized we weren’t going to have any new material ready to record in 2012, so that’s where we came up with the idea and said, “Let’s try this thing that we’ve been talking about for a long time.” We’re playing three classic albums that were originally on the vinyl and because of that limitation and the quality that you could record with vinyl, you got about 20 minutes of music on each side. Each album is about 40 minutes long so the show is just a couple of hours and then you get an encore as well.
I had heard this tour was originally supposed to be very short, why did the band decide to extend it?
Well, the original tour was supposed to be just in the spring and we went round and played quite a few places in the states. Not long after that, we headed down to South America and took the tour down there as well. That was really well received; we have loads of fans down there. They said that everyone enjoyed the performance so much and asked if we wanted to put some more shows on in the summer and of course we said, yea. Also, we can perform the whole thing a lot better now after having done it for a couple of months, so it’s definitely worth going to see. The whole concept is going down very well for us and for the audience. It’s an idea that’s come to fruition and is working very well.
Can you tell me a little bit about your new singer Jon Davison and how he came to be part of the band?
He had been suggested to me before when we were looking for a singer in 2008 and Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer that is a friend of mine, said “Oh, I went to school with this guy who would be just great for you.” So it was already rattling around in my head but we decided to go with Benoit David at the time and recorded the “Fly From Here” album with him. Then he decided it wasn’t really the life he wanted so we parted ways with Benoit. Then once again Taylor said he had his buddy that would be great, so we got in touch with him and it’s been working out extremely well.
Your “Fly From Here” album was very well received. What were your favorite parts about working on that album?
It was great to be working with Trevor Horn again. He was also the singer for Yes on one album in 1980 called “Drama.” He then went on to become a world famous producer and produced our “90125” album in 1983 that had hits like “Owner of A Lonely Heart”. That turned out to be our biggest selling album of all time. Then we worked with him a little on the album following that, “Big Generator”, but he was so busy he couldn’t finish working with us on that one. I haven’t worked with him since the mid ages so it was good to be back in the studio with Trevor again as we get along very well and I think he has great production ideas. We decided to do the long tracks of music again, which Yes is very well known for, and we turned “Fly From Here” into one of those albums. That was an exciting thing to go through. We were all very pleased with the album once we finished it.
The fact that you’re still putting out albums is incredible. Some bands don’t make it 5 years, let alone 45. What keeps Yes going?
Well, I don’t know. We just started doing this in 1968 and people really liked what we were doing and it caught on. Not only do we have the old fans but we also have the fans we picked up in the 80’s. Even these days, we have a lot of young fans in our audience discovering Yes. Maybe their parents had the record collections or CD collections or they just got into it themselves. So now we have a big cross section of age diversity in our audience. Basically, we’re still doing it and people are still coming to see us. It’s very heartening for me, that there’s still interest in what we do, especially in a younger audience.
For you in particular, I know you played at the Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Concert when Led Zeppelin got back together in 2007. Tell me about that experience.
That was very interesting. Yes didn’t play at that show but I played with Alan White, Simon Kirke and Keith Emerson. We did an ELP song, “Fanfare for the Common Man” and we actually opened the show. That was great that show. I really had a good time and to their credit, Led Zeppelin played really well that night. I enjoyed the show a lot and it was definitely an exciting evening.
You’ve been doing this for quite some time and I imagine you’re not stopping anytime soon. What are the future plans for Yes?
We’re doing this touring right now and then towards the end of the year we’ll be looking to make some new, original music for a new studio album. That’s going to be the next project and that’s going to take us into 2014. It will, of course, be the first album we’re recording with Jon Davison. We’re looking forward to that because Jon also contributes to our music since he is also a writer. That’s the next thing up.