After reporting on the Yes splinter group under the aegis of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman in December, Steve Howe, who presides over the "official" Yes with Alan White, Geoff Downes, Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison, now has his say. The last sign of life of his band was the concert recording "Topographic Drama - Live Across America". It was released in November 2017, two months after Yes had to cancel the pending concerts of the "Yestival" tour due to the sudden death of Howe's youngest son. Since then the visionary guitarist had retired. Now he is back in the public eye and gives information about his plans.
eclipsed: Your son Virgil's death was a disaster. Even if it is difficult, how do you cope as a private person and as a musician?
The story of Yes is a story full of surprises and imponderables. This includes the separation into two autonomous fractions. First happened in 1989, when Jon Anderson moved away from "Yes-West" (the pop-oriented group led by Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin) to revive Yes's classic seventies sound with ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe). When the band - long again in a singular incarnation - continued in 2008 with a new singer due to health problems of Anderson, the former members Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman announced ARW in 2010. The first concerts were in 2016 and since April of this year, after the name change to Yes feat. Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman, there are now also two Yes formations nominally. The following interview took place in July 2017 during the Night Of The Prog.
eclipsed: How far along are you with the recordings for your first studio album?
So far the British Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Lee Pomeroy with the South African Trevor Rabin and the US-American star drummer Lou Molino III have sailed close to Germany since their new formation about two years ago. After a US tour last fall, an extensive UK tour and one gig each in Holland and Belgium in spring, we caught the band shortly after the end of a successful Japan off-shoot, their first tour under the name Yes feat. Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman.
eclipsed: Why did you change the band name to Yes feat. ARW now?
In the spring of 1972 Yes returned home after giving a series of concerts in America to promote the album "Fragile". Immediately afterwards, Jon Anderson and Steve Howe worked out the material they had gathered at soundchecks, in hotel rooms and backstage when the band toured the Northeast and Midwest. They had eagerly exchanged ideas and recorded their writing sessions. The community spirit that had shaped "Fragile" reached its peak on "Close To The Edge". […]
The records "Fragile" and "Drama" were milestones in the long career of Prog-Urgestein Yes in very different ways. While with "Fragile" Keyboardass Rick Wakeman joined the group and gave it from now on decisive impulses, it was nine years later with Geoff Downes again a virtuoso keyman, who provided for a certain reorientation of the exceptional group with "Drama". Now Yes perform exactly these groundbreaking works in a double pack.
A lot's happened to Yes in the last few months. The formation, founded in 1968, was hit hardest by the loss of bassist Chris Squire, who died of leukaemia on 27 June 2015. His place is taken by his confidant Billy Sherwood. And with Jon Davison, Yes has established a singer who is at least favourably regarded by the fan community. We are curious whether the concerts in spring will conjure up a new band spring.
eclipsed: Why do you bring the quite different albums "Fragile" and "Drama" completely on stage within one set?
A thoroughbred musician, a workhorse, a relaxed, likeable guy, a sensitive giant - that's how companions, friends and journalists remember Chris Squire. The co-founder of Yes was not only a formidable bassist, but also a great human being. Squire never let the rock star hang out. He was never dismissive, seldom in a bad mood. When it became known in May that he was suffering from leukaemia, recovery wishes trickled in from all sides and through all channels. But already on June 27 Squire succumbed to the disease at the age of 67.
In 1972, Yes were big in the live business. More than 100 shows in Europe, USA and Canada. The "Close To The Edge" tour with Alan White's official debut on the drummer's chair was also the beginning of a meteoric rise of Yes in the big US live arenas (partly supported by the Eagles, Edgar Winter or the Mahavishnu Orchestra). Together with "Seconds Out" by Genesis, "Yessongs" is considered the ultimate live statement of a prog band. What the 14-CD-box "Progeny" has to add to that and how the live year 1972 went for Yes, we get to the bottom of it in the roundtable with Chris Squire and Alan White.
eclipsed: How did the "Progeny" project come about?
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eclipsed is a music magazine based in Aschaffenburg and has been on the German market since 2000. It is aimed at friends of sophisticated rock music who want to go on a new acoustic voyage of discovery month after month.
eclipsed deals in detail with the rock greats of the 60s and 70s in the areas of art rock, prog, psychedelic, blues, classic, hard rock and much more as well as with the current scene in these areas.