Approaching their 45th anniversary, Yes has gone through a myriad of changes, musically and personally. One thing about Yes, however, has never changed: their bass player, Chris Squire. The lanky Englishman is no mere bass player either. Squire’s unique attack and touch, along with his backing vocals, are very much cornerstones of the Yes sound. Even when they transitioned from a proggy 70s to a more mainstream 80s style, Squire’s foundation defined the very essence of Yes. And it continues to this very day.
In more recent years, Yes has become a touring machine. Depending on whom you ask, Jon Anderson either quit or was fired from the band in 2008. They hired Benoît David as a replacement and made a new album, but they let him go at the end of 2011. Now with singer Jon Davison, Yes is planning to play three classic albums in their entirety — at each show on their 2013 Spring tour. You’ll have to read the interview to find out what they have planned after that.
In addition to his full-time job with Yes, Squire filled us in on Squackett, his band with guitarist Steve Hackett. He also shared his views on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Jimmy Page’s recent comments about music he, Squire and Alan White made over 30 years ago. And he said he stays in touch with Jon Anderson. You’ll know soon enough what else he has to say about that.
Yes have plans this coming spring to tour and play what's been billed as a triple header of The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Going For The One in their entirety. What inspired this idea?
Well, going back to last year when we were promoting the Fly From Here album and we were out doing shows around the world on that project. We were just saying, “Next year, we won’t have a new studio album, so what’s a different angle that we haven’t looked at before for the live shows?” This idea has been on our back burner for a long time to do albums in their original sequence — so the time has come for us to try this out, see how it goes.
Obviously, there are many pivotal Yes albums…why these particular three?
I I think they’re a good cross section of Yes’ career, with, of course, The Yes Album being the first ever album that really brought us to public notice. It was a Number 1 album in the UK and obviously that stimulated a lot of interest from the U.S. and other countries to listen to what Yes was doing. So, from that standpoint, The Yes Album is an important album. It launched us to a worldwide market.
A couple years later on, Close To The Edge was the first time we decided to do one whole side of a vinyl album, which in those days was approximately 20 minutes in length for good quality. That was another milestone there. As far as Going For The One, that was a couple years after that. And that album was the first time that actually we recorded outside of the UK. It was recorded in Switzerland in the town of Montreux on Lake Geneva. So that was another step in a new direction.
All of these albums marked a change in the band’s career, so we thought it would be nice to do them al together, but not necessarily in that order. We’ll most likely start with Close To The Edge, then move on to Going For The One, then probably finish with The Yes Album.
The message boards on the Internet have been lighting up with comments about other albums you should play…like Fragile. And someone said Relayer and even 90125. If this tour is successful, are you open to the idea of tackling other albums in the future?
Of course, we would. I’m not sure it will be our next tour because next year (2013), we’re going to set aside some time to make a new studio album of new material. And so the most likely tour after that would be promoting the new studio album. But the idea — yeah, sure…we could try it again in the future. Let’s see how it works out.
Are you doing anything special production-wise, such as employing Roger Dean stage props or anything elaborate like that?
The tour that we’re starting will have production, of course, but no really big extravaganza. There will definitely be good production and video that we’ve been using over the past couple of years. In the middle of the tour, we also embark on this Cruise To The Edge segment, which is where we get on one of these major pleasure cruisers from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica and go play a couple of sets on this big boat. So that will be an interesting thing for us.
That’s becoming a popular thing these days.
Yeah, it’s kind of a prog rock kind of cruise. It’s us and a half-dozen other bands on the ship. It’s a prog rock fest.
As the sole founding member, is there anything you would still like to accomplish with Yes that you haven’t yet?
Every adventure that comes around the corner really is an exciting one. We’ll see what the end of the year brings when we make a new album. There will be a lot of excitement around that, I sure, for us. Then we’ll be working on a way to present it. You know, that’s all down the line. There’s nothing I can say that we always wanted to do and haven’t done it yet because we have done most kind of different ways to present the band. We’re always working on new ideas.
You are making new music outside of Yes, such as Squackett’s A Life Within A Day album you made with Steve Hackett, which I really liked. Do these sort of outlets outside of Yes keep the creative juices flowing?
It’s always inspiring to work with different people. Thank you for saying you liked that album because making the Squackett with Steve Hackett was a very pleasurable experience for both of us. Of course, also working with Roger King, a third partner in that venture. That was very satisfying and I’m sure at some point, Steve and I will probably want to do another one. The beauty of that one was that there was no pressure. We just took our time and got it right. I look forward to another one of those.
Jimmy Page recently brought up in an interview I saw the XYZ sessions you and Alan White did with him in the early 80s, even suggesting the idea of releasing some of it. Are you on board with that?
I wouldn’t have a problem. It was fairly unfinished when we left it; it was pretty much in a demo form, mainly. So it would require some more work. There were only four tunes that were involved in that, so if there is an idea for a serious release of it, there would have to be a little bit more done on it.
Did you sing on the songs?
Yeah, I did all the singing on it. Most of the material was songs I had written actually, although Jimmy did contribute. It was a very tough time for him because John Bonham had passed away and he was very upset about that, but wanted at the same time to get back into working, so we started writing and recording. It was a time of just getting back in the saddle for him. We were thinking that Robert Plant was going to come and be involved, but it was too early for him to want to get involved. That’s mainly the reason why it didn’t go any further at that time. In a way, I wish it had, but it didn’t. Yeah, we might try and revive it in the future. We’d have to get together, of course, and welcome it, but that wouldn’t be something I’d be opposed to.
I will forego the "when will you reunite with Jon Anderson" question, and instead ask if you two, who share a long history together, still stay in touch?
He sent me a Christmas card and I will return the favor in the new year. We stay in touch on that level. I want to say that one day it might be possible we could do something again. I wouldn’t close the door on that.
Have you heard any of his new music?
Not specifically, I have to say. Has he been releasing albums?
He released an epic piece called “Open” that I really like. He did an album with Rick Wakeman a couple years ago.
Yeah, I knew about that.
Maybe some day you guys will all get together when Yes gets into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which passed you over again. Any thoughts on that?
(Laughs) Not really. It’s nothing that we stress over at all. It may be a problem because of the amount of members who have been in Yes. I’ve always said that if they do ever get around to putting us in there, it would have to be with everybody who’s ever been with the band, to be fair. And that’s a lot of people.
You’d take up half the room.
Yeah, it would be fascinating; it could be a good jam.
I’m pulling for you. I think you should be in there along with other prog rock pioneers like ELP, King Crimson…
Yeah, that whole Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has generally shied away from prog rock, although I guess Rush are going in there now. There’s just some weird relationship they have with Yes. I can’t explain all the peculiarities. I’m not losing sleep over it.
Although prog rock itself has been given a second life in recent years. It’s in a really good state of health, don’t you think?
Yeah, absolutely. There’s a lot of interesting people out there — original fans and younger listeners too who are definitely very into the style and the whole genre. Let’s hope the revival continues.