Rolling Stone interview series Unknown Legends features long-form conversations between senior writer Andy Greene and veteran musicians who have toured and recorded alongside icons for years, if not decades. All are renowned in the business, but some are less well known to the general public. Here, these artists tell their complete stories, giving an up-close look at life on music’s A list. This edition features backup bassist Billy Sherwood.
If you saw Yes on the 1994 Talk tour and then again anytime during the past seven years, you were essentially seeing two different bands. The only musician in both incarnations of the band is prog wizard Billy Sherwood. He was a utility player on the Talk tour that stood unobtrusively near the back of the stage, helping out on rhythm guitar, percussion, and keyboard. And he returned to the fold in 2015 for the near-impossible task of replacing the late Chris Squire on bass.
For the 58-year-old, whose love of Yes goes back to his childhood in the Seventies, the gig remains a dream job even after all these years. “It’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted,” Sherwood tells Rolling Stone via Zoom from his home in Las Vegas. “There are nights onstage where I look over at Steve [Howe] when we’re playing a song like ‘Going for the One’ and I’ll think, ‘How many times did I listen to that record as a kid?’ I’d play it over and over and think to myself, ‘How is he doing those guitars parts?’ And now I can see how he’s doing it every night.”
Sherwood has been in show business as far back as he can remember since he’s the child of big band leader Bobby Sherwood and singer/drummer Phyllis Dorne. He grew up in Las Vegas where his parents spent their nights headlining in the Landmark, the Sahara, the New Frontier, the Dunes, and other casinos across the town. “The town was really like the [Martin Scorsese movie] Casino back then,” he says. “One of my earliest memories is playing with my Hot Wheels cars underneath my dad’s grand piano in the living room while he was rehearsing with my mother and his Dixieland jazz band. They were working all the time.”
He was originally drawn to R&B acts like Earth, Wind & Fire and Chaka Khan. “My first concert was Earth, Wind & Fire at the Sahara Hotel,” he says. “It was the original lineup, and they just blew my mind as a young kid. My brother Michael actually had tickets to see Yes on the Relayer tour that night. He said, ‘You’ve got to come with me.’ I said, ‘I think I’m going to see Earth, Wind & Fire.’”
The next day, Michael’s childhood buddy Jimmy Haun came over. They told Billy he made a big mistake missing out on the concert, and they played him Close to the Edge in its entirety. “I said, ‘I don’t get what you guys see in this,’” he says. “‘This is confusing and chaotic.’” But the music stuck in his head. A couple of days later, he asked to hear it again. “From that moment on forward, I just became a lifelong devoted Yes fan,” says Sherwood. “They became my favorite band. Jimmy and Michael led me into all those other progressive things that were out there to discover. And once I started going down that path, I just never looked back.”
Sherwood’s parents divorced when he was a teenager. He moved to L.A. to live with his mother. She’d taught him how to play drums, hoping he’d follow in her footsteps. By that point, Haun and his brother Michael had put together the rock group Lodgic. Billy sat in on their early rehearsals. “Jimmy kept stopping me since the drums were too loud for them,” he says. “He said, ‘Get rid of the drum kit and buy a bass. I’ll show you some stuff. And play along to Yes records. It’ll help you a lot.’” [Haun became an accomplished prog rock guitarist that played on the 1991 Yes album Union.]
Sherwood joined Lodgic as their bass player, never even contemplating a career outside of music. “My brother was a musician and he went on tour with Tony Orlando when I was a younger,” Sherwood says. “He also had his own band with Lodgic and they would play at various Vegas hotels and revues where they served as the house band. I just never questioned it. I knew it was the path for me.”
Lodgic toured hard throughout the early Eighties and opened for Supertramp at a handful of California shows, but they dissolved after their 1985 LP Nomadic Sands failed to find an audience, and their label dropped them. In the aftermath, Sherwood formed the new group World Trade and signed a publishing deal with Warner Bros. Their demos captured the attention of former Gentle Giant singer Derek Shulman, who was working an A&R job for Polydor. “Derek played the demos to Chris Squire,” says Sherwood. “He said, ‘Check out this band I’m signing. They kind of have a Yes vibe.’”
The timing was fortuitous since Yes were in the midst of a civil war with Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and guitarist Trevor Rabin on one side, and singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Bill Bruford, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman on the other. The latter team was touring and recording under the moniker Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. The other side informally called themselves Yes West since they were stationed on the West Coast of America. They were in need of a singer.
Shulman told Sherwood that Squire wanted to meet up for dinner. “I said, ‘Oh my God, are you serious? He’s like my hero. Of course,’” Sherwood says. “So Chris and I went to this fancy restaurant in L.A. and we had an amazing time. And he said, ‘Do you want to get together and write a song and see what happens?’”
It was the beginning of Sherwood’s four-decade saga in the Yes universe that continues to this day. Along the way, he’d join the Chris Squire Experiment and Asia, work with Toto and Motörhead, record a prog rock record with William Shatner, cut tribute albums to Queen, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and Queen, ultimately becoming the only person besides Squire to play bass in Yes since the group’s formation in 1969.
What happened after that first dinner with Squire?
We got together shortly after that and we wrote a song called “The More We Live – Let Go,” which is on the Union album. That was the first song we wrote together, and it was a really good one. Chris and I looked at each other after and said, “Well, this is going somewhere. Do you want to continue this relationship?” Which we did. During that period, we wrote other songs that have ended up on the Yesyears box set, including “Love Conquers All” and “Say Goodbye.”
But during this period, what I didn’t realize was they were really courting me to become the lead singer of Yes. And that kind of started gaining speed and it started becoming an idea that the label was into, and the lawyers were into and the managers and the band, and everyone was into this concept, except for me. I just didn’t want to do it.
I was young and I’d just made my first album. I also knew in my heart that Jon Anderson would be coming back eventually. So why am I going to step in front of this train and just get completely mowed down once that takes place?
I told Chris, “I dig you. You’re my hero, you’re now my friend, but as far as a career goes, this isn’t something that I want to pursue.” And sure enough, months later, he said, “You were right. This is coming around. We are putting together the Super Yes.”
They were also talking to Roger Hodgson of Supertramp about possibly taking the job too, right?
Yes. They were talking to Robbie Nevil too. I said to Chris, “Can’t I be involved in another capacity?” Which I ended up being in terms of a songwriter and playing on those songs that are now on those records, which I’m really proud of, but it just wasn’t in the cards in my head. That was not where fate was taking me at the end of the day and I just felt that strongly.
A few years later, you were in the Chris Squire Experiment.
The Chris Squire Experiment was the beginning of what turned into ultimately Conspiracy, which was me and Chris at the core. But that was a blast. That tour was so much fun because we played all kinds of cool music, original things, some Yes stuff. Chris even let me do a double bass solo with him. I remember thinking, “How the hell did I end up onstage doing a double bass thing with my favorite bass player on the planet?”
You somehow worked with both Toto and Motörhead in 1992. Those are two real extremes in the rock world .
Yeah. I also worked with Paul Rodgers on his Muddy Waters tribute album Muddy Waters Blues as a producer. The album was nominated for a Grammy. It kicked up enough dust that I started having credibility as as producer. One thing led to another and I found myself working with Matt and Motörhead. Lemmy was an experience that is very hard to describe, but one that I cherish.
How did you wind up touring with Yes in 1994?
The first person who called me up was [Yes guitarist] Trevor Rabin. I was quite surprised. I said to him, “Yeah, I’d love to do it. Are you kidding?” I was hired as a multi-instrumentalist. I played keys, guitar, percussion, I sang, and I played bass. When we played “Endless Dream,” Chris called me to the front of the stage to play double bass with him. He played an octave, and I played an octave under him on five-string. It was an amazing moment every night. And then I’d go back up to my station and play guitar and play keys and sing.
I really, really enjoyed doing that tour. And it was my first major tour and it was a really good one. It was also my first experience dealing with Yes politics on the ground up close and personal, which was an education as well.
It was a really interesting time for the band. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” came out just 11 years earlier, but it might as well have been 111 years. The rock scene had changed in so many ways.
Yeah. The genre had changed, but Yes has always been a constant through all those changes because it stayed true to itself. I mean, we were playing Madison Square Garden, so I couldn’t complain. I was like, “If it gets better than this, that would be great. But this is fine for me.”
What did you mean about learning about Yes politics on that tour?
Well, it’s no secret that they broke up right after that tour. And so needless to say, without getting into any of the details, I saw what was happening and why it was happening and where it was leading to. And it was disturbing to me as a Yes fan to watch. But I understood as a musician how this business works, that the groove is a delicate thing. It was fracturing, and I could see it.
When we got off the plane at the end of the tour at LAX, no one really said goodbye to anyone. Everyone walked their separate ways. And I thought, “Wow, so that’s that. I guess I go back to my civilian life now.” It was just bizarre. But, yeah, I saw a lot of things that were life-changing in terms of understanding how Yes works and really seeing behind the magic curtain, as they say.
It still must have been surreal to play in your favorite band every night.
Yes. And every time I’ve ever interacted with Yes, I never sought it out. It seemed to come at me. In other words, I got the call, “Do you want to meet Chris Squire?” “Yeah, sure.” And I got the call, “Do you want to come tour?” “Yeah, definitely.” And every time that I’d have an intersection with them, when it was over, I would think, “Oh my God. Well, I’m honored and blessed and amazed that that happened and I’m good.”
And then I’d go back to my life doing things and then the phone would ring and there’d be another opportunity. And so it was shortly after that when the 90125 lineup broke up officially that they reformed what they call, the classic Yes lineup.
This is when Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye left, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman returned, and they cut Keys to Ascension.
Yeah. My buddy Tom Fletcher engineered the live recordings of Keys to Ascension. And I guess he was busy doing something else, and he couldn’t mix the record. So Squire calls me and says, “Look, do you want to mix this record for us, because Tom can’t do it?” And I said, “Yeah, I’d love to do that. Why don’t you come to my studio?” I had a big studio in L.A. at the time.
The band was really happy with what I did. And shortly after that, I got a call from Chris. He said, “Look, we’re going to make a second Keys to Ascension record, but it’s going to be a studio record. We’d like you to produce it, and we’ll do it at the studio.” And I thought, “Wow. Yeah, definitely. For sure.”
Here I was sitting there with the classic lineup thinking, “Oh my God, I’ve got the Tormato lineup in my studio. I love this.” But I was never thinking I’ve got to join this band. So we made Keys to Ascension II, which I think is a really cool record, “Mind Drive” and some of the other songs on there are quite good.
One day the phone rings in the studio and Jon answers it. I said, “Is everything okay?” He goes, “Well, Rick just quit.” And I thought, “Oh my God, I’ve not even done mixing this record yet.”
What happened next?
Jon split, and it’s just me and Chris sitting there sort of in shock. And I said, “Well, what do we do?” Chris said, “Let’s finish mixing this record.” And so we finished mixing the record, but now me being a Yes fan, it was in my heart and my soul that I felt like, “Oh my God, I’m a diehard and this band can’t end in my studio. This would be tragic.”
So I said to Chris, “What can we do here, man? We can’t just watch this thing end. Do you want to write some things and just see what happens?” And he said, “Yeah, let’s do that.” So we started writing with the notion that perhaps this could be Yes, but in the event it’s not, at least we’re heading towards a Conspiracy record and we’ll have material.
This was the start of Open Your Eyes.
Among Yes fans, I know that is a contentious record. You either dig it or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. But we wrote this material and called up Alan to come play on it. That took everything to another level. And then Jon heard what we were doing. He went, “Oh my God, this is great. I want to sing on this. Send me the tapes.”
How about Steve?
Steve was a little apprehensive at first because he was like, “I’m in England and I don’t understand what’s happening here.” And Chris was kind of the ambassador of goodwill there and was saying, “Look, we’re evolving. We’re changing. We’re just trying to keep the band going here.” And one thing leads to another. We’ve got an album. And there’s no record company at this point. I own the studio, and I funded the project since we’re at my studio and we’re making an album. I played keyboards on some of the songs.
Was there talk of you playing keyboards on the tour?
No way. A man’s got to know his limitations. And that was it for me. I said, “I’ve played a lot of rhythm guitar on this record, and Steve’s done all the leads. I’m happy to just play rhythm guitar.” And they said, “That’s kind of a good idea. Let’s get a keyboard player.” So it’s at that point that Jon Anderson found Igor Khoroshev, who was a fantastic keyboard player, and we had a lineup.
They asked me to join the band. It was at that point that I really thought, “Oh my goodness, this life is just tripping me out. Because I’m now a member of my favorite band.”
How was your role on that tour different than your role on the Talk tour?
On the Talk tour, I had a station with multiple instruments. So it was a bit different than when I was just standing there playing guitar all night. And I don’t think it’s a mystery that there was tension between Steve and Trevor back in those days. They’ve sorted it out a long time ago now, but back then it was kind of tense. Steve was really not interested in playing a lot of the 90125-era material that the band was still playing at that point.
We would start rehearsing and Steve would say, “I just don’t want to play that part of the song.” And Jon Anderson pointed at me and said, “Well, then he’ll play it.” I was thinking, “I don’t want to play it. I’m happy to play rhythm.” So I’d say, “Steve, play it.” He said, “No, I’m not interested.” So I ended up playing a lot of the solos from those eras.
They made The Ladder next and brought in Bruce Fairbairn to produce it.
The band said to me, “Look, now that you’re in this, we need you to be on the other side of the glass with us when we’re recording and let someone else take the wheel to produce and engineer.” And I said, “I understand that completely.”
Bruce was a happening producer. We went up to Vancouver and wrote that record together in this old church that we rented for quite a while. We wrote it all together and put it all together and played it live in the studio together for the most part, with the exception of a few overdubs here and there. And then we went out and toured that and had a very successful run.
Why did you leave in 2000?
I felt like I had done as much as I could in terms of my participation, and there was a lot of tension at that point in the band. I always had a sixth sense about what was coming for Yes, like Squire used to call “the crystal ball.” And I could see that the classic lineup was reforming. I could just see it on the horizon coming and I got out of the way of that train. It’s similar to why I didn’t take the gig in the first place as the lead singer. I just knew that this version with Igor over there and me onstage was going to change.
So I stepped out of it in 2000, and I had an amazing opportunity to go work with, ironically, the other producer of Union, who was Jonathan Elias. He was a really talented musician, producer, and also the owner of one of the most prestigious, popular jingle houses that there was at the time in L.A. and New York, Elias Arts.
I did the jingle thing for about two years. And honestly, not that well, because I don’t work so well in 30-second chunks. When you’ve been working on progressive rock music where the criteria is, “How long is it?” to trim that down to a 30-second jingle or four notes is tricky. And I just didn’t have the flare for that. I landed a few car commercials and some Nintendo ads and stuff, but I wasn’t hitting the bell as hard as the other guys in there.
I did that for a couple of years and then decided, “I’m going to go back to what I know and love, and that’s making records with people and artists and bands.”
Tony Kaye told me you pulled him out of retirement.
I did. Right after that jingle period, I started working with this record company in L.A. called Purple Pyramid. I did that Paul Rodgers album with so many big name guest on it like David Gilmour, Slash, Steve Miller, and Buddy Guy. That record opened the eyes for other labels. They said to me, “Can you do that same thing for me? Can you take that model and redo music, but bring in other icons and create a new album that way?”
I said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” So we started making those kind of records. One of them was a remake of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I invited Tony Kaye to play and pulled him out of retirement.
How did you wind up making a prog record with William Shatner?
Same record company and same concept. I’m sitting there in my studio and the phone rings and it’s Brian from the label, and he says, “Hey, I’ve got a record I’m thinking I want you to work on.” I said, “Who’s that?” He said, “William Shatner.” I said, “I’m in.” Then I hung the phone up and I thought, “Wow, how do you do this?”
We know how Shatner is and what he does, and it’s beautiful. So I thought, “There’s a way to do this. I can use the Pink Floyd model where I could be the calm, soothing voice of a David Gilmour to his speech and dialogue where he takes on the Roger Waters side.
You played a couple of gigs with him where Tony Kaye was on keyboards. It’s fantastically nerdy to merge Star Trek with Yes like that.
Oh my God. I’ve always said to my friends who asked me, “How was that?” I said, “When you stand on a stage and you look over to the right and your lead singer is Captain Kirk, that’s pretty cool.” I’ve never spoken about Star Trek with Shatner and I never will because I know it’s the last thing he wants to talk about, but I do have him in my phone as “Captain Kirk.”
Did you stay close to Chris Squire during these years you were out of Yes?
Yeah. Chris and I were very close through the whole thing. We had one period where we had a slight falling-out over something silly; we didn’t talk to each other for quite a while. But we always knew that one day we’d figure it out. And I’m so glad that we did, because having lost him now, I would’ve been just devastated if we hadn’t sorted that out.
Tell me about the last time you saw him.
I was making my solo album Citizen. I invited him to play on it. I drove out to Scottsdale, Arizona, to record him with my portable studio. He was still Chris. He’s still huge, and playing his ass off and just nailing it.
We went to this super posh restaurant afterwards where choreographed waiters drop the plates at the same time. I said to Chris, “Where did you take me? How much is this costing?” He goes, “Don’t worry about it, Billy. Just enjoy yourself.”
We had a lot of wine and really great food with his wife and daughter. We were laughing and reminiscing like normal. But the next day I get home and Chris calls me. He goes, “We’re doing this tour and Toto is coming with us.” I go, “Cool. I love Toto. You’re going to have a great time.”
He goes, “I’ve got to deal with some medical stuff and I’m not going to be able to do it.” And I said, “Are you okay?” He goes, “Yeah, I’m okay. I just got to deal with this, and it’s just the timing’s bad.” And he says, “We’re not going to do the tour, I guess. And that really is troubling for me because the fans have already bought tickets and I don’t want to let them down. And we’ve got the crew who rely on the work, and I don’t want to let them down.”
I said, “I understand all that and I appreciate it, but you’re Chris Squire. They’re just going to have to wait. Go get your health in order.”
So he calls me the next day and he basically says the same thing. Then he calls me the day after that and I start to get irritated. I go, “Chris, what the hell? Call them and tell them you can’t do the tour.” And he says, “Billy, you’re just not getting it — I want you to do this tour for me.” I was absolutely stunned and…[breaks down] I’m sorry.
That must have been emotional.
[Sighs] It’s heartbreaking to think about this stuff. I was in shock. I didn’t understand the depth of his medical issue. So I said, “If this is what you need me to do, of course, I’m going to do it, man. But you’ve got to make a statement in the press. I don’t want it coming out that you’re dealing with some medical issues, and I took your gig.”
He did wind up making a statement. But five minutes after that phone call, his wife Scotland called me. And she says, “Billy, he’s not telling you the full truth here. He’s got a very rare form of leukemia, and we’ve got to get him into the hospital ASAP. He’s got to start treatment.”
And then I was absolutely emotionally just devastated. Chris calls me back and says, “Well, I guess she told you, didn’t she? I’ll knock this on the head, but I’ll be back. Don’t get too comfortable there.”
We started talking all the time. I was trying to psychologically empower him to get through this. The conversations got deeper and heavier, stuff I don’t want to really go on record here. I could sense the end was near.
About 10 days before the tour started, something like that, I was taking a morning walk. I started getting this weird feeling on it. And when I came back, I checked my email and I just saw one from the manager. The subject line was “Chris.” I sat there for a minute, afraid to open it. And then I hit open, and that’s when I got the news that Chris died this morning. I was absolutely devastated.
I can’t even imagine.
It took a long time to get over. The biggest loss for me at the time was losing my dad. That was a long time ago, but that was the most painful thing to feel. This was hitting me very, very hard. And it was really difficult to get over. And it was even more difficult to think, “Oh my God, in ten days, I’ve got to go stand onstage and perform. How am I going to live up to this? This is the best bass player on the planet, and if this doesn’t work…It’s all on my shoulders.”
I did my best to get my act together and got onstage and performed the stuff. I found some way to do it respectfully and in a way to honor Chris as best I could. But that first tour was very difficult because there were moments where I’d look out there and think, “How the hell has this happened in my life?”
There was a part of me that felt extremely guilty for being there at all, because this should be where Chris is. And then the joy to play this amazing music, and intense sorrow to have to play this music that I loved…It was the strangest double-edged sword.
There were some nights I’d play the simplest little thing, like the bridge of “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and I’d just lose it. I put my head down and just turned around and started walking back towards Alan because I did not want the audience to see me crying on stage.
That was the general vibe through that whole tour. It was hard to try to find the balance. And then as things evolved, I start saying to myself, “Chris wanted me to do this. He didn’t want me crying onstage.” I slowly turned the corner, but that entire first tour is probably the hardest tour I’ve ever done.
Then you had to watch Alan get to a point where he was only to play a few songs a night.
Alan was an amazing source of inspiration and power and a shoulder to lean on for me during that period, because my relationship with Chris tied me into my relationship with Alan by proxy because they were so close that whenever I was there with Chris, I was there with Alan. He was an ally and a buddy for many, many, many years and remained so open until the end.
Jay Schellen has done a really good job filling his shoes.
Like me, Jay was also a diehard Yes fan. That’s why we’ve been bros for so long. When we first met back in the day, I said to Jay before he played a note, “Who’s your favorite drummer?” And he says, “Alan White.” And I said, “I think we’re going to have a really good relationship.”
Jay has found that way of honoring Alan that’s really respectful. But Jay also had a hard time when we lost Alan, as we all did, and still do. There’s so many moments where we’re on the road that have nothing to do with being onstage. We’ll just be at an airport where we used to gather and have a cocktail before the flight, and the silly rituals we would go through are no longer there, so we’re creating new ones. But yeah, it’s life. It’s tough.
How did you feel about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It was a weird time since there were two competing versions of Yes at that point. They had to come together and play. And I know Tony was upset you weren’t inducted.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset because Chris Squire wanted me to be there, and someone else was playing bass with them that night. Now, mind you that someone else is Geddy Lee. So I have no problem with him. He’s a monster.
Let me start by saying where we started, back in the day, where I learned Yes politics, those politics were alive and kicking. Things were very tense. It’s no mystery. I wouldn’t be sharing a state secret by letting you know that.
I wanted to dodge any bullets. As soon as I heard what was going on, I retracted my own self and said, “Look, not going to do it. Figure it out another way. I don’t want to be involved in that. It’s too intense.”
So they finally resolve who’s going to play bass. I find out it’s Geddy Lee, and I’m like, “That’s awesome, loving that.” So there we are in the green room before the show, and I’ve never met Geddy before, but I’m a huge fan. I walk up to him and I say, “Hey, Geddy, Billy Sherwood, so nice to meet you, man. I’m a huge fan.” And his first words, he says, “Why aren’t you doing this?” And I looked at him and I said, “You know how bad band politics can be, don’t you?” He goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Nail it, bro. That’s all I’m saying.”
So I took a backseat, and [keyboardist] Geoff Downes took a backseat. Tony Kaye took a backseat, which is crazy because he was there when the band started. But we all have our reasons. But at the same time, I was proud to be watching my favorite band finally be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was a long time coming. And I thought to myself, “I’m not up there playing with them, but I am playing with them tomorrow night at wherever the hell we were playing.” So it was good.
The Quest and Mirror to the Sky are both really strong records. They show how this new lineup has really gelled.
I think so too. I’m proud of the evolution. We knew that making a new album too close to Chris’s death was just not cool. It was not the right thing to even be thinking about. But as time passes and you heal and you put everything into their perspectives, the idea of a new record came about. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I almost felt that Chris was watching over my shoulder and pushing me the right direction. And when it came time to compose the bass parts for “The Western Edge,” for example,” I was picturing Steve next to me going, “Yeah, there it is there. That’s not it. That part’s good. Tweak that.”
I saw you guys late last year in Jersey. It was very cool seeing you break out songs like “Don’t Kill the Whale” and “Machine Messiah.” There were some nice surprises in there.
It was really challenging. That one riff of “Machine Messiah,” it’s just frightening. Every time that we hit that section, as I’m watching Geoff do it, I’m thinking, “Damn, I have to play this in about 30 seconds,” and I just go out there and hope for the best. It’s tricky stuff. Good set though.
Do you see a scenario where Yes could continue even after Steve retires?
Oh, boy. I don’t even know if I like talking about that. What can I say? The band evolves and has gone through some incredibly difficult transitions, and here we are. That’s really all I can say to that because I don’t want to forecast anything on this front, except to say that Steve is super healthy and his spirit is so high and lifted and inspired.
We’re making a new album as we speak. When was the last time Yes made so many albums in a row in such a short period of time? That’s driven by Steve’s inspiration to produce it and to go forward. He enjoys touring. He loves playing this music live.
Is Asia still an ongoing thing?
Yeah. Asia is still a thing. We were supposed to tour last year, but we got a little bit sidetracked because Alan Parsons, who we were going to tour with, had some medical issues. So the tour got canceled, unfortunately. But I know Geoff’s into it, and I’m into it, so we’ll just have to see where things go.
That’s another situation that I never imagined in a million years would happen to me. I got the phone call saying, “John Wetton is sick and not going to be able to tour, will you take his spot?” Wetton is one of my heroes. I produced Raised in Captivity, his solo record, and we co-wrote it together. We spent a lot of time together, so we got close during that period.
I was honored to step into his role. We did a tour with Journey that went really well. We’ve vowed to move forward in some capacity once we have the opportunity and the time and the calendars open to do such a thing.
Do you think it’s possible that Jon and Steve will ever perform together again?
That’s a question for those guys, and I’m not going to get anywhere near that one. I don’t know. You see what goes on out there in the Yes community. I don’t know of a band that’s got a fan base more divided in ways that just confuse me. That’s because at the end of the day, the music is what matters.
I am maybe the one member of Yes who’s actually experienced playing with different lineups of the band. All the other guys, they know their experience. But I have a unique experience, and it tells me that you never know in this band what’s what.
But that being said, I know that this current lineup is gelling really, really well together as far as the personalities and the music that we’re making and the music that we’re playing. I know Steve, at this point in his life, is a big advocate of keeping things simple and keeping things happy and content. We have breakfast on the road together often, Steve and I, and we don’t talk about music. We just talk about life, family things, politics, whatever.
You can sense on the road if a band’s going to see each other next year, let’s just put it that way. We all look very much forward to working a lot together more. So that’s all I can say to that.
I guess that wraps it up nicely. Thanks for taking so much time. Your memory for detail is pretty amazing.
Well, when it comes to Yes, it’s hard to forget.