Asia started 2006 again in the original line-up with many advance laurels. John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe. Again and again great live performances followed the three studio albums that the quartet had recorded since then. But the magic of "Asia" (1982) and "Alpha" (1983) did not reach the top personnel anymore despite several good compositions. Howe's renewed withdrawal and the enthronement of Sam Coulson in his mid-twenties have the effect of an overdue fresh cell cure.
eclipsed: Without digression: Wasn't the step from Howe to Coulson long overdue for Asia?
John Wetton: I don't want to throw dirt at Steve afterwards. It was a big thing for all of us that the Ur-Asia came together again 25 years after the foundation. It had a private, human and musical dimension. To Steve: The qualities of someone like Steve Howe don't have to be emphasized. He's one of the best in his field.
Wetton: I think purely musically it never really clicked between Asia and Steve Howe. We've been in this situation before. At that time we were looking for a hard rock guitarist for "Astra" with Mandy Meyer.
eclipsed: Is "Gravitas" "Astra 2" now?
Wetton: If that's what some fans and critics call it, it's okay. But there are serious differences. On the one hand there are three decades in between, and our new guitarist, who wasn't even born then, is not a clone of Mandy Meyer.
eclipsed: But he gave you an energy boost similar to that of Meyer?
Wetton: I agree with that. We had had a number of really good songs on the last three albums with Steve, but obviously we need a guitarist who is not afraid of occasional hard riffing. You have to keep in mind that the melodic songs of Geoff and me, and especially Geoff's keyboards always play the central role.
eclipsed: But you can't just let a Carl Palmer run along, can you?
Wetton: The musicality of all four musicians is another important aspect of Asia. And Carl always brings in 100 percent, just like Sam does now. Steve didn't always give me that impression. And he decided consequently for Yes and his solo projects. I wish him the best of luck for that.
ASIA - EPK/Interview