Yes Talks Tour, "Close to the Edge", "Going for the One", and "The Yes Album"
Thu, 28 Feb 2013 09:44:41
"They're like children," Yes singer Chris Squire says of his band's songs. "I love them all."
Right now, the legendary prog rock outfit is about to head out on a tour performing three of their most iconic albums Close to the Edge, Going for the One, and The Yes Album. It's an ideal experience for longtime fans, and it's also the best way for newcomers to dive into the magic that is Yes.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Yes main man Chris Squire talks the tour, reflects on those albums, discusses sci-fi, and more.
Has the idea for this tour been kicking around for a while?
Yeah, it's been on the backburner for quite a while. We've been aware that this is a format other artists have used. This is the first time we're trying it as an experiment and we're looking forward to it.
Is it a difficult undertaking?
In theory, the amount of music in the show should be about two hours plus an encore. So, it's not that long by YES standards when we're out with another opening act. Fortunately, we've played most of this material from time to time. The only song we haven't played is "A Venture" from The YES Album. We have played pretty much everything else from those three albums just not with Geoff Downes and Jon Davison, of course. It should come together fairly easily when we know the parts.
Why did you choose these three?
We looked at all of the records, and this is an interesting group of albums. Of course, The YES Album is the first one that got YES noticed. It was a number one album in the UK back in 1970. Because of that, we garnered attention in the U.S. We were able to start touring in the U.S. then. In and of itself, it's a bit of a landmark album. On Close to the Edge, we experimented on doing the longer form piece of music. It was the first time we did the whole side of a vinyl album—about 20 minutes back in the day. That was another landmark album. Going for the One was the first time we recorded outside of the UK. It was made in Switzerland. That was when Rick Wakeman rejoined the band. We thought that these albums complemented each other. Although we're going to play the albums in sequence, the set will probably be Close to the Edge, then Going for the One, and The YES Album last. That makes more sense musically. It hasn't been determined absolutely, but that's the idea on the table.
Are there themes or ideas that all three share?
They're all slightly different musically. Of course, The YES Album and Close to the Edge where from the days of Bill Bruford on drums. Alan White was on Going for the One. There's a bit of a different feel. Rather than it being about any theme between them, it was more about the difference. That's the interesting part. It's like journeying through YES's career but not necessarily in chronological order. I'm sure we'll throw in "Round About" as an encore so you'll get a piece of Fragile.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The YES Album?
It was a very enjoyable time. Of course, it was the first album with Steve Howe joining the band. He brought a lot of new color to that album. We were learning so much about the recording process and the ways to make records. We also had Eddie Offord as our engineer and co-producer. We learned a lot from him. I also remember Tom Dowd, the famous Atlantic producer, was in town. He came down to the studio, and he really couldn't make heads or tails of a lot of things we were doing. He said he liked it though [Laughs]. We were in fairly uncharted waters as far as making an album goes, but it was a fairly cohesive work.
How did you evolve as writers between these records?
Well, The YES Album was a very collaborative album. A lot of it was written in a farmhouse in Devon. Coincidentally, it was purchased by Steve Howe in later years. Now, it's where he lives. That's an interesting memory of doing that. We used to do a lot of our rehearsing in the open air. It was summer in England. That was another memorable aspect building up to the album. We were all learning about the writing process and trying to get comfortable with that. Close to the Edge was a little bit more of Steve Howe coming into being a writer. That changed the flavor it. By the time we got to Going for the One, that was a different dynamic. We were away from home for six months by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. That had its own vibe. There was an awful lot of echo. We were in echo world on that one [Laughs]. They all stand out. As we were growing and maturing as a band, we were going through different things. We were always very experimental. That's a common thread on all of them.
What encouraged that experimentation?
That's what we were into. We made music in a peculiar way. It wasn't like how a lot of people would operate. Often, people would have whole songs and the band would come up with their own arrangements. In YES, it was quite a different system. We'd all have different ideas. We'd jam them together. It didn't always work. When it did work, we got into some territory that no one composer could ever really come up with. It was exciting discovering the cohesion of the music and the vision.
Did you read a lot while making these albums?
I tend to listen to books on tape now. I read a lot of science fiction back then. I think some of our ideas came from the famous science fiction writers. Also, you'd hear a TV theme and say, "Wow, that's quite a good riff". We'd change the chords a bit, and it'd become the beginning of a song [Laughs]. I used to like Isaac Asimov a lot. Ray Bradbury was also a major read. Then, there was J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of The Rings.
What have you been listening to lately?
I'm very open-minded. I always listened to classical music. I love Stravinsky. When I was 15-years-old and The Beatles broke in England, that was when I became interested in listening to electric guitar music. Prior to that, I'd been in choirs and knew all of that church music.
What's your favorite Yes album?