Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Archive Interview with Chris Squire of Yes 2003
Interview with Chris Squire
19th November 2003
Yes first came together in 1968 when Jon Anderson and Chris Squire met up at a London club. Shortly after this historic meeting the band who at the time also included Tony Kaye, Peter Banks and Bill Bruford signed to Atlantic Records. Despite various comings and goings of personnel the band made significant headway in the seventies releasing successful albums like The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge and Tales From Topographic Oceans.
In 2003 the classic mid seventies line up of Yes which included Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White embarked on a tour to celebrate the bands 35th Anniversary with the tour taking in concerts as far afield as Australia, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom and back playing in front of increasingly large audiences. The band also saw the start of a major re issue campaign with the bands back catalogue upgraded and re mastered and in many cases complete with new sleeve notes and bonus tracks and a successful double Best Of CD ‘The Ultimate Yes’ which even made the British album charts.
To end the year on a high note the band released a double DVD called Yesspeak, which was filmed throughout 2003 whilst the band toured the world. The DVD also featured interviews with each of the members of the classic Yes line up of Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe and Alan White. Jon Kirkman spoke to Chris Squire who was at his manager’s office in Los Angeles and asked him for his thoughts on the previous twelve months, The New DVD and the plans for 2004
Jon Kirkman Let’s have a chat about the current DVD, which is excellent. This last year for Yes has been a number of things really, first of all It’s the thirty fifth anniversary of the band and its been very busy in terms touring. You have been to the far flung corners of the world; you’ve had a lot of your back catalogue re-issued and finally at the end of the year we have the Yes DVD Yesspeak. Was it planned that this year was going to be a very busy year in terms of work for Yes.
Chris Squire Yeah, we got back together at the end of last year and started off with a north American tour and then we pretty much planned to do what we did, unfortunately Jon hurt his back last Christmas so we had to postpone our Asian trip then and did it in autumn but apart from that we were always planning to come to England at the time we did and the only regrets we have is that we didn’t get the chance to do the Hyde Park show because of problems with the promoters. Next time we will be able to sort it out.
JK It was a shame you didn’t get to play in London this time around, I know you played in Hammersmith but I think the Hyde Park gig would have been a really nice gig for you guys to play. As regards the DVD, I think this really caps the year for Yes. It’s been a very successful year that has seen Yes come back right to the forefront of the music business which is great for real music rather than contrived pop music. You must be very happy with your resurgence in popularity.
CS Well yeah, Rick on the tour gave us a little bit of something to hang the possibility of being able to do a come back and people who wanted to come and see that particular line up of the band and I suppose together with that overall there is a re interest in progressive music if you like and some of the younger bands are doing a sort of new wave version of progressive music these days so I suppose it is a good time for us and a good time for the business as well.
JK In terms of the current or classic line up of Yes, you have been the only member of Yes that has been in every single line up since day one. What is it in your opinion that makes this particular line up so special?
CS I guess it is because we are more empathetic with each other, we’re all around the same age and we grew up in the same time and in England as well; obviously some of the people we have played with have been Americans and Trevor Rabin who is South African of course. So I suppose there is a sort of music empathy that comes naturally to this particular line up because of our growing up at the same time and in the same country. Whatever that X factor is that goes into that way of development, scoring and whatever we went through, being post-war babies I guess. It somehow becomes regurgitated and affirmed when we play music together.
JK So, with thirty-five years under the collective belt, how do you choose which material to play live because there’s not been a new album since Magnification so the last couple of tours have concentrated on some of the classic material? I think I have asked you this before! It could turn into a marathon; you have to draw the line somewhere I guess.
CS Well, there’s obviously our most popular songs, which come from around the Yes album, Fragile, plus the Close to The Edge Era, you know that people always want to hear. We try to vary other stuff around that and when we had Magnification we always try to present at least two or three songs from the latest album or most current thing we’re involved with and apart from that we maybe suggest something that hasn’t been played for a while, that’s all it is.
JK One of my favourite Yes songs has made a re appearance in the set and it’s featured in the Yesspeak DVD and that’s South Side Of The Sky. I never actually thought I’d hear Yes perform that song because it wasn’t a song that was played a great deal when Fragile came out. Is there a particular song of yours that Yes haven’t played for a while that you would maybe like to see back in the set?
CS That definitely was one of them and you know for a long time on our website YesWorld and other websites it had been requested by the fan base so I guess we found a way of doing it. We had tried it on a few occasions but it had never quite taken off and I don’t quite know why because when we finally got round to rehearsing it on this particular tour it seemed to be ok and it got better as we went on.
JK Something that was mentioned to me by a fan of your later period in other words the 90125, The Drama, Big Generator Period, they were a little disappointed that Yes this time round weren’t playing too much of that material. But I guess it must be understandable with the particular line up that you have.
CS Well there is that, obviously it makes sense to play more songs that Rick and Steve were involved with. We sometimes play Owner of a Lonely Heart, which is something that Steve had resisted for quite a while you know but now he’s kind of ok with it but it’s hard for me to answer this question because I’ve always played everything we’ve ever done! It’s not really a good question for me because obviously I will play anything that we have done from whatever.
JK I’ve noticed that for a few years you’ve played Tempus Fugit, as part of a solo would there ever be any likelihood of the current line up of Yes ever touching anything from Drama?
CS That’s one of those circular situations. We’ve mentioned it to Jon on a couple of occasions you know, “How about doing that?” and he goes, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” And that’s as far as it goes.
JK Well I asked him that once and he asked me which songs I’d like to see you do and I said, “Well, I’d like to see you do Into The Lens and Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah” and he said, “Maybe we’ll do those.” But that’s about as far as it went, he was quite diplomatic!
CS Well, exactly, you got a diplomatic answer but let’s face it it’s quite wordy Tempus Fugit and Jon doesn’t like those words so if he ever got round to doing it he would have to do some studying of someone else’s lyrics. I don’t know, it’s possible, when we do touring next spring we might try and do a couple of things we haven’t done before and I imagine we could do that but we’ll just have to see how it works out.
JK As a fan I would like to see a new studio album from this line up and I would imagine record companies might be interested now they’ve seen how popular Yes is again. Would that be the case?
CS Most likely so yeah. Unfortunately they’re going through their own troubles right now. I’m not ever sure whether Warner Bros. is going to exist for much longer so we’re just keeping an eye on what’s going on. We haven’t made any deals yet but obviously we would like a new studio album, which we will be doing next year. We’d obviously like it to be with one of the major companies and there’s a good chance that that could happen.
JK On the Yesspeak DVD, each of the band members has their individual chapter. One of my favourite quotes from the DVD is from your chapter when you were talking about Fish Out Of Water and although you’ve worked with Billy Sherwood in the Conspiracy line up you haven’t actually released a solo album but as you said, “It’s only 28 years!” Is there a chance that there will be a follow up to Fish out of Water?
CS Yes but I don’t know whether it will be the same kind of an album or not. I was hoping one day to work again with my very good friend Andrew Jackman, unfortunately he passed away earlier this year, which was very sad, and you know it was really a bit of a shock to his family and everyone who knew him because he was a vibrant and healthy type of character. He suddenly passed away because of a stroke. So that is something that for now I have had to rule out because Andrew was very much a part of the whole Fish Out Of Water project in the way that he orchestrated arrangements and he worked very closely with me doing that. Obviously a second solo album would be probably different. I definitely had planned to do it and I probably will be starting work on it quite soon.
JK In wrapping up the interview, next year looks to be as busy for Yes as the last twelve months. Looking back over the last thirty-five years, it must give you an enormous amount of satisfaction looking at the body of work that Yes has produced and the fact that thirty-five years later you’re still together.
CS It is surprising that we are still together after thirty-five years and with basically the mid-seventies line up. I’m very happy that everyone is alive and well and still enjoying playing music with each other.
JK Take care and keep doing what you’re doing because to my mind and to my ears, it’s wonderful.
CS Ok Jon Thanks.
© Jon Kirkman 2003 and 2011
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