2017-05 – YesFANZ (Interview)

  1. Describe how, when, and why you became interested in Yes music?

I arrived rather late in the game – 1994! I had always been a casual fan of Owner Of A Lonely Heart, especially Trevor Horn’s production, and one day read a good review of Talk in the local street press. Specifically, it said that this album could teach other “dinosaur” bands a thing or two about making records. So I was intrigued and checked it out. I was suitably impressed and then got hold of the double-cd Yesstory compilation which was clearly life-changing. Immediately I fell in love with Chris’s lead bass and Bill’s drums. And then Bill, in turn, got me hooked on King Crimson. I don’t think Talk is particularly well-regarded, but for me it was the ultimate gateway drug and is still one of my favourites.     

  1. In what way, if at all, did Yes influence your music?

My primary musical teacher up to that point had been Pink Floyd. Yes made me less self-conscious about being pompous. Instead of pulling musical punches and keeping an air of icy detachment, Yes encouraged me to stretch myself, to search for instrumental parts and arrangements beyond the limits of my own ability, and not to dumb things down. So today, if I struggle to perform my own music, I have Yes to thank!

It’s also likely that those Yes albums featuring Roger Dean’s extraordinary cover artwork had something to do with my asking Roger to provide art for my own album, “Great & Terrible Potions”!

  1. If there was an influence, was there a particular member of Yes whose work influenced you – and why?

Chris Squire. Before Yes, I never knew bass guitar could be played so well as a melodic lead instrument, using the full frequency spectrum and popping out of the speakers. Perhaps the closest thing I’d heard was Paul McCartney on Sgt Pepper’s, but Chris was from a different planet. On top of that he was born to sing harmonies and the way his voice blended with Jon’s was incredible.  

Trevor Rabin has also been a particular inspiration, as an incredible guitar player whose every solo felt like a roller coaster ride, seemingly outgrowing the band and forging a career as a Hollywood soundtrack composer instead.  

  1. Tell us about your music – instrument(s) you play, style, do you sing?

I record and perform and sing the lot. I call it “cinematic rock”, which I hope is self-explanatory. Big songs with orchestral sensibilities. Other people have called it progressive rock, which is always a huge compliment. My primary instrument is guitar, but I could have just as much fun playing bass all night.

  1. Could you tell us about your most recently completed musical project – live and/or studio.

My most recent project is a live blu-ray from the launch of my last album, “Last Chance To Hear” in 2016. Fittingly called “First Chance To Hear”, it captures my full solo show from the night. It was also a great opportunity to ease back into 5.1 surround mixing and authoring, which I’ll be doing more of in the future.

  1. And what are you working on now or plan to start working on soon?

During the making of “Last Chance To Hear” I spent the whole time working on just one project. This time around, to stay sane, I’m trying to spread myself across as many projects as possible. I have two new but very different albums on the way, one prog-orchestral and one country-folk! I’m also working on high definition 5.1 surround remixes of my entire catalogue. They should keep me off the streets for a while.