Notes From the Edge
Conversation with
nfte #300

The scene in Alan White's hotel room after the 2007 NAMM show in Anaheim, CA, was surreal, even for this veteran of Yesdom. Here were three Yes members from different eras, gathered together to talk about a new release they were all clearly excited about: a new band project titled CIRCA: (note the colon--opening the door for album titles like CIRCA: 2007). Longtime Yes drummer Alan was joined by original Yes member Tony Kaye and latter-Yes-day member Billy Sherwood, who produced and propelled the new project. The last time these three were on a stage together was for the TALK tour.

Missing was guitarist Jimmy Haun, who was unable to attend on this day. However, an interview was conducted the next day with Jimmy, Tony, and Billy, at the latter's home (Alan was busy working at NAMM and was absent for that interview). This follow-up interview will appear soon in NFTE #301.

Yes fans hungry for the kind of progressive rock that is unique to that band won't be disappointed by the creativity, melodiousness, and instrumental prowess inherent in these tracks. Note that after these conversations occurred CIRCA: has obtained management, and a release date for the CD is imminent, along with news about an upcoming tour.


MIKE TIANO: Why did you name your project CIRCA:?

BILLY SHERWOOD: Because the music is kind of reminiscent of this era and that era, and even a future era, and it just kind of lends itself to the idea of circa being involved with a different kind of era, because that's how the word is used. It just sort of made sense. Obviously there's Yes influence, because here we are, and Alan's still in it. We've been in it; it's going to have that flavor, so there's moments that feel kind of older, and there's moments that feel very futuristic and kind of a new slant on the whole thing, so yeah.

ALAN WHITE: You're going to be surprised.

BS: You are.

MOT: Here's what I call it the "chicken or the egg" question: did you get together as musicians and the concept developed from there, or were there tunes that you had written that kind of drove that need to form this type of band?

Billy Sherwood

BS: Obviously I've known these guys and we've been friends for decades now, and after leaving the band, I wanted to kind of continue working with Alan in any way that I could, and I've been friends with Tony, and we wanted to work together, so having done THE WALL and invited both of these guys on it, and then did DARK SIDE OF THE MOON and invited them on it, it was kind of like we were discussing the idea of maybe we should do some original music and toy around with the idea of coming up with something, and that's kind of what got the ball rolling, and there was some material that was kind of sitting around, and one thing led to another, and Tony and I got together and started forming some music, and then played it for Alan and said "What do you think of this? Do you want to put your two-cents into this and get involved?" He flew down, and we started messing around and cutting tracks, and it started developing into a kind of a sound--a project, a band.

AW: It's good though, because Billy is the magician, OK? He pulled the whole thing together; he's like a magician--kind of pulls all the music in the right place at the right time, and he's done an amazing job.

BS: And it's got distinctive Tony Kaye icon flavor, distinctive AW flavor, and Jimmy's brought his stamp to it and brought his flavor on it, and it makes for a different kind of project, but obviously it brings some Yes-isms to it by just virtue of who we are and what we've done making music up to this point.

MOT: Let me have you elaborate on how this developed. You were with Tony then brought Alan in, and it kind of evolved from there--or were there other people that you called and said, hey, do you want to be part of this project, and they said 'nah' or 'maybe'...

BS: Well I had an idea after the DARK SIDE OF THE MOON project having worked with all these different guys--Bruford and Wakeman and Peter Banks, and I thought wouldn't it be kind of interesting to put together a sort of a family of Yes members and make a record like that, and I toyed around with that concept for a little while, but as the music that Tony and I were working on started forming, and then Alan put his imprint on it, it really started taking shape. That idea kind of went to the wayside, and we started thinking of this in a different way, and so it was kind of a brief moment in time where that concept was in my head; "Maybe I can get all the Yes guys together and make a record... " [laughs], but it's a tall order as I've found to make that happen...

AW: That's a tall order, yeah.

TONY KAYE: Herding cats!

BS: But in a way, that's what pushed this thing to become what it is, and it really has a definitive sound now, because there aren't 8 million elements coming in. There's just these clear, definitive areas of the band that are bringing their share into the thing.

AW: That's a great way of explaining it.

BS: And it is really, truly a band in the sense that everyone's playing their part, as opposed to where I do a lot of records where I fill in the blanks of keys, drums, bass, guitar, whatever it may be. This is truly everybody brings their thing to it, and it's really performance-based, you know.

MOT: Tony, in terms of keys when you think of Yes you think of piano, organ, synthesizer--did you bring all of those flavors to the project, or did you stick basically to organ, which you're kind of known for?

TK: Yes--I mean somewhat. You'll hear it on the album, but basically I wanted to play Hammond, and certainly when I got together with Billy doing THE WALL and DARK SIDE, you know that's what I did, and that's probably my sort of imprint on certainly early Yes, before it went off into the other things, so that's what I wanted to do, and it's vintage Hammond. That's the main thing on the album.

MOT: Did you contribute any other writing? One thing that I think a lot of Yes fans don't realize is that you contributed quite a bit of writing, especially 90125 era. BIG GENERATOR is a really, really good album in my opinion, and I think a lot of the stuff that I really like, you had a hand in writing.

TK: Well, thank you [laughs].

MOT: I'm asking if you contributed to any other writing as far as this goes...

TK: Yeah.

BS: Yeah, I mean we really sat together in the studio and made this thing from the get-go, and the writing...

TK: It came from nothing.

BS: It wasn't like how you would normally sit down and write material; it was more like there's this idea, and he'd have this idea, and we'd play it for Alan, and he'd come in and play the whole thing an eighth note off, thinking that he was hearing the group in another place [laughs], which would send the song into a whole other area, and that's... so everybody really had kind of their own hand in writing.

AW: I'm still trying to work out how to play that on stage [laughs].

MOT: Because the same thing applies to you, Alan. Yes fans think of "Turn of the Century", they think of Steve's guitar playing, but you wrote the song [laughs]. But same thing, did you contribute to the content?

AW: I know. You get that seed--you put the seed out there, and you get the generation of what's happening, but the same happened here, because a lot of that was done by these guys. To tell you the truth, I came in and I just saw how we could turn things around and twist things around and make it a little bit more... I think sideways, OK?

MOT: You think sideways? Is that what you said?

AW: Yeah, I come in there...

TK: Outside of the box.

AW: Yeah, you don't have to do things normally, and if you don't think... yeah you can change things in a certain way where it sounds different.

MOT: That's a hallmark of Yes actually.

BS: There's one song called "Information Overload", which is kind of the more single kind of thing on the record if you will, if there is such a thing anymore.

AW: It is, except everybody's going to be walking backwards.

BS: When we had planned this thing to live in this certain groove, and then Alan came in and as soon as he played it, without really discussing it, he was automatically hearing it this eighth note off, which was kind of different for us in the control room going, "What's going on out there?" But we were recording, and we were like let it go, and he played the whole track in a different space and time that we had planned, and all of the sudden it was a whole different song.

AW: That's great, but you changed the bass line.

BS: Yeah, it just altered it in a way that where it was like, "Wow, this is whole unique kind of thing."

AW: And now it turns around, it's kind of back to front the whole thing.

BS: For me, it terms of writing a song, it's G [chord] and here's the lyrics; it wasn't done like that, so we really all contributed in a big way to make the overall sound.

AW: But if you even understand what an eighth note is, it's like [sings part of the song], and it goes all the downbeats a little bit away from...

BS: So it's a whole different feel [laughs].

AW: It's a whole different thing.

TK: We've created this sort of Yes music that actually, in the beginning, that's what it started out to be through the '70s, and of course Alan had a lot to do with inspiration of a lot of that music in the '70s, and may not have been credited for it.

AW: I was never credited for it, but I changed a lot of things around [laughs]. Hello? Who was [credited]? [laughs]

TK: But that sort of inspiration, actually because we were friends. We are friends at this point and enjoying what we were doing, without the politics and craziness, you know everything that went on, so it was actually very easy, because everyone wanted...

BS: To make music, you know.

TK: ... the other person to have that impact.

AW: That with politics could spiral out... [laughs]. It's gone; we're in Disneyland right now.

BS: Exactly. It was more fun.

TK: It was a lot of fun, yeah.

BS: Because there was no arguing about where we were going. It just sort of evolved.

AW: A lot of people lost the plot, OK, and I was trying to find that spiral and bring it back down.

MOT: Are you basically just doing this because this is the music you want to create, or were you looking at the music and thought, "Well, we wanted to make it palatable to a certain segment of the population, so, go basic on the bass here."

BS: No, there's definitely no basic on the bass anymore [laughs]. No, it's more about being a musician and really just kind of putting all the other bullshit aside and making the kind of music you want to make, and knowing the whole time, "Is this going to be next to Britney Spears?" No, but we're musicians, and this is what we want to do.

AW: That's a true statement; that's very good.

TK: We didn't know how this was going to turn out, but actually it didn't matter. We started it for the love of it really, because we enjoyed actually playing the music of Pink Floyd.

AW: Mike, you're going to get your socks knocked off. It's some great stuff, really good.

BS: It was fun to work with these guys in a different capacity outside of Yes where it was like we could make THE WALL and we're doing something different, and then we made DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, and coming back, alright, we had fun, let's try and make an original thing. You come at it a different way rather than hurry, we need to make a record so we can get out on tour. It's not about that; it was about... we all had the same kind of love for this thing to do, and that's what we did.

MOT: It was ready when it was ready, not that you would tweak it forever like you probably could.

BS: It took a year, it's taken about a year...

MOT: There was no contractual thing, or as you said no time constraint--

BS: No, I own my own studio.

MOT: --like, you've got to be in Toledo on January 17th, stop! [laughs]

BS: I own my own studio, and so I pretty much fund the thing, and it was all a matter of our own time, and when can Alan come down to cut this track.

TK: Yeah, Billy would call me up. "Can you come in today?" Of course I can.

BS: So it made it easy to be able to produce the thing at our own pace, and so it just became a matter of, as you said, how much can you tweak this before it's done? We all looked at each other and went I think we're done.

MOT: So, just the four of you, or are there guest performances on there?

BS: There are two extra guests that did a couple of little bits. One gentleman named Cole...

TK: Cole Coleman, who was a friend of mine, who was playing in a band that I was producing, and he plays... big Steve fan, and plays the Laoud really well.

MOT: I'm sorry, plays the... ?

TK: The Laoud guitar. It's a really nice acoustic guitar.

BS: And he played it on "Together We Are" when he played this really nice simple guitar part through it, so he's guesting on there; and then my brother Mike is doing some vocoder parts here and there, but other than that, no. 90% of it is the four of us, and very real. There's no machines clocking; everything is played.

TK: We wanted to sound like a band; it had to sound like a band playing, because we wanted to play it live. That was actually the intention, because we knew that probably we would have tons of fun to play it live, so it was pretty much played in the studio.

AW: It's always lots of fun, because he takes the next step always, and we try to adventure like Yes has always--try to see the next corner, around the corner, over the horizon, whatever.

BS: Yeah. Push it.

AW: He does that all the time, but he does it technically in the studio where he can make things work.

MOT: I think a lot of Yes fans know that the KEYS TO ASCENSION sessions you worked on are some of the best Yes tracks since the '70s, and you didn't dilute it.

BS: I'm a huge Yes fan; that's the whole thing for me, and that's how I came about it. I know how it sounds [laughs].

AW: But that was my comparison, when people ask me the whole time it's like I go, "Ok, what can I relate this to?" It usually comes back to like THE LADDER and that kind of stuff when Billy was involved, because it's kind of like that, but it's like a new version of it. It's moved on, and that's exactly what it is.

MOT: And Jimmy contributed to UNION.

Jimmy HaunBS: Yeah, Jim played a lot of the guitar parts on UNION on the ABWH side, because there were issues between the producer and Steve. I don't know the history of it, but I know that much. There was something wrong there.

MOT: The reason I bring that up is because there has been so many members in Yes that it seemed like an alternate Yes band was possible, even maybe inevitable, and I guess this is the metamorphosis from that as Jimmy had participated in some Yes project.

BS: And also even before any of the Yes involvement, Jimmy was in the first band I was signed to A&M on. He was the lead guitar player in my first band, and then that thing broke up. I did World Trade, and then that dissolved, and then I did a project called THE KEY on MCA, which was never released but we made the record [laughs], and Jim was in that, so he's been an ally and a friend of mine forever. His Yes tie-in is subtle, but it is there on the UNION thing.

MOT: So from memory, I think this is really the first time a band has evolved out of the current or former Yes members from different eras.

BS: Yeah, kind of. I guess in a way, yeah you can say that.

TK: It was ever-revolving as you know, I mean from the '60s, it was ever-revolving around.

AW: Who's in the band today?

TK: Yeah, who's in the band today? [laughs]

BS: In '95 or whenever it was, the Chris Squire Experiment is what it started as, which ended up being Conspiracy, but that was me, Alan, Chris, Steve Porcaro, and Jimmy Haun, so Jim was involved in that.

AW: He's always been in the background.

BS: Yeah, he's been there, and he's an amazing guitar player.

MOT: But my point being that there have been so many musicians through Yes that people always say, you know they could probably form a whole separate band and not be Yes [laughs].

BS: The trick would be that they'd have to all like each other, and maybe that's the thing here [laughs].

TK: We have done that.

AW: You see, I'm the common denominator; everybody comes to me [everybody laughs].

BS: It's got to start with the kick drop.

AW: It's like, OK, you really want to do that? Ok, I'll talk to him [laughs].

MOT: One thing you've [Billy] mentioned to me on the phone when we first talked about this was this was created to fill a void, because Yes wasn't on the radar, and I think of something like Starcastle [who gained attention when Yes were concentrating on their solo projects in the mid-'70s] when I think of that, but was that really the goal or that's the way it evolved?

BS: It's just the way it's evolved; it wasn't that I called Tony and said, "Now's our time, go, hurry!" [laughs] It just so happened that the Syn was winding down and doing its thing, and Alan was going back to doing his own thing, and we started working on the music, and Alan came over, and as that evolved looking around the landscape, being honest, it's like Yes is on hiatus. That's the bottom line, and that's fine, they one day will probably come back and do their thing, but for the moment it's on hiatus, so perhaps this is a vehicle where we, as musicians, can kind of contribute to that void...

AW: Yeah, but it's new, it's different.

BS: Yeah, it's new, but it's still us, so who's gonna be there? Yes fans.

AW: The inflections are still there.

MOT: Well, you are you, you made up Yes and your musical outlook and musicianship is what made Yes what it is...

BS: They're not gonna be surprised, like "Wow! All the sudden I'm listening to a ska band." They're gonna kind of know what they're getting in to.

AW: We took it through a period right now where by it's a transitional kind of period where we're catering to the people who want to hear that inflection, our music. It's totally different.

TK: Well, it's true, the Yes fans want to hear music, so you do it...

BS: And as a Yes fan I know when it's not there, you sort of wish it was, but for whatever political reasons that it can't be and that's fine, because...

AW: It's called ego.

BS: It's still an entity that will be; it's just that it isn't right now, so the fact that this is available, it wasn't a strategy, but it just so happens that the timing happens to work out oddly like that, you know what I'm saying? It was definitely not a plan in terms of January 14th is our go-time. If we don't hit that target... .

AW: There's no pressure anywhere, which allows you the output that you can kind of like just create and just be comfortable, and that's what you're hearing, because it's a driving force. It does reflect on what we are, but it's very, very cool. It's 2007.

MOT: There's a whole other philosophical discussion, which maybe we can just talk about for a minute here. When do you think you're most creative--where you have the time to come up with ideas, or where you're under pressure so you're forced to come up with ideas?

BS: It's much better to have time, because then with time you can have reflection on the music that you're making and you can listen back. I mean, there were many times where Tony and I were going back and forth before putting drums on anything, just looking at a song in terms of chords and saying, "Well, how is this?" and then he'd come back at me with, he'd taken the two track mix and edited it in a way that I would have never thought about, but all of the sudden it's a longer piece, and it has more meaning and more depth, and now I'm seeing it in a different way.

TK: I added a sort of Yes concept in terms of arrangements; I used to grab what we'd just done at the studio, take it to my studio.

AW: No deadlines.

BS: So without that deadline, you can keep batting back and forth until it's like alright, we've spent about three weeks discussing how we're gonna do this--let's do it now.

MOT: Would you agree that's not a hard and fast rule? Because I've heard other musicians talking about how they'd been under a deadline, whatever that deadline is, and they'd come up with some pretty cool ideas because they were forced to.

BS: If you have to, you have to. I've worked under pressure, and you've gotta do what you've gotta do, but at the end of the day for me, I own my own studio, so deadline, there is no such thing, you know what I mean? I wake up in the morning at 8:00, and I go in and I go to work.

AW: He's a workaholic. He gets up, goes to the studio, and that's it.

BS: And then I'm there all night so there's no real deadline, and because we have no contractual ties to anybody right now, there's distinctly no deadline. We can just do it at our own pace, but at the end of the day, it's, as you said earlier, you know when you're done, because you've spent enough time tweaking this thing. It is what it is.

MOT: So Tony touched on this earlier, are there any plans to tour as CIRCA:?

BS: I don't want to go on the record as saying we'll be out next Wednesday [laughs]. We're in the process now; it's early, and we're trying to sort out the management element that will help us align something that makes sense to do in terms of touring, so as we sit here right now, there's no plans on these dates, but the concept among us as friends is, OK, you learn your parts. I'll learn mine; you learn yours. Let's start rehearsing, so when the time comes we are ready to go.

AW: I think we have to walk before you can run, and I think once people hear it, they'll see what it is, and I have a bazillion things in my life going on right now, like five bands [laughs], but at the same time, this is a very worthwhile project. It really is.

Alan WhiteMOT: One question I had for you, Alan, is what does this mean for White? You guys have been trying to get out there, get in front of people for a long time.

AW: I keep it on hold all of the time, because I don't like doing anything unless it's really, really going to be meaningful to a lot of people, and a lot of people have bought the album and stuff like that, and I like the music, and I love the guys I'm playing with, but I guess that's why I'm a Gemini. I play with so many people, but at the same time I love to do that, and I love to have the input from all kinds of different sources, but this is a great project, and I really like it.

MOT: So what is the timeframe for the album?

BS: Well, right now we've got some CDs out to management, basically different elements of management, so we're going to get feedback from them to feel out what we're gonna get. Once we anchor that position in, then there's going to be a strategy about booking gigs. I would imagine you could see some House of Blues and Canyon Clubs, some 800-1000 seaters. I would imagine that that's doable.

AW: I think that's a sensible kind of thing to do.

BS: Who knows what that package is at the end of the day.

AW: You know the music business right now is, I don't know if you see it that well, but it's really messed up [laughs], from the inside going out. You have to really... you have to put packages together and stuff like that...

BS: The plan here is to be able to play the entire record; that's the whole thing, which would be, you know that's the goal.

AW: Which is a task.

BS: And then add in some material from here, there, and everywhere to kind of fill in the rest of the show.

MOT: What are you going to fill it in with? Conspiracy tunes?

BS: Well, obviously I would vote for, rather than Conspiracy songs, more Yes-oriented stuff...

TK: That we've all been involved with.

BS: ... that he's been involved in, and I've been involved in, and him, and put together some interesting sort of ways to play it, I mean you're not going to come hear "And You and I" in its entirety, because with all due respect...

AW: You have to be selective.

MOT: My input would be--and this is my input, other Yes fans might want to see "And You And I"--I want to see things that were core to you that I haven't seen in a long time.

BS: Rare.

TK: Rare stuff, yeah.

MOT: Like from OPEN YOUR EYES, from THE LADDER. You [Alan and Billy] were both involved with that, or BIG GENERATOR, because you two [Alan and Tony] were involved.

AW: "Gates of Delirium"... "Homeworld". "Homeworld" would be a great song to play.

MOT: Or "I'm Running" or something. Tony, didn't you contribute to "I'm Running"? You co-wrote that, didn't you?

TK: Did I? Yeah.

BS: We might even be able to do something interesting and ask the people. "What do you think we should play?"

AW: You know what? You really have to do some thought back there. If you got "Gates of Delirium"...

BS: Yeah, but you could do interesting arrangements where you don't have to play the whole thing; you play the key elements that people anchor in on, and you do a cool medley of some stuff.

TK: A medley's good.

BS: We'll find a way to do where it's a new, creative spin, because the one thing I definitely don't want have it appear is we're trying to recreate Yes music in its entirety as us, re-doing it, because there's no point to that.

MOT: I'm glad to hear that because like a lot of these big musicians do. I mean as much as I like Roger Waters, I don't want see Waters and a bunch of faceless musicians playing "Money". It's not meaningful to me. What do you [Waters] play on "Money"? You play the bass, I mean it's not like "Wow! It's such a unique bass part. I want to see Roger Waters play that bass part."

BS: And Jon's vocal is unlike other rock and roll singers. It's a tall order. So you don't want to linger, for me anyway, I don't want to repeat that, especially having been a part of it in a different capacity, there's no reason to try to do that. It's more like, let's take the things that we all know and love and let's spin 'em and make them fresh so that when someone does come to see it, they are surprised and go "Wow, that was cool!" as opposed to comparing it to how the last version of "And You and I" was played [laughs].

TK: Yeah, really.

AW: We're always looking forward, and we don't rest on our laurels--that's the word. You never need to do that; if you do that, you just become history. I don't think like that; I think forward, and that's what Billy is doing.

BS: It's forward-thinking music for sure when you hear it, yet it still harkens back to... you get those feelings from the music. I know where you're at, because I was in the same space musically loving the band and everything. You get those feelings from TALES, from FRAGILE, from BIG GENERATOR...

AW: Side 3, side 4 [of TALES]...

BS: But it doesn't sound like, OK, let's make a note to mentally try to get that feeling. It just accidentally happened that way because of who's involved and what they played.

TK: Yes fans are the important ingredient here. They are it, and If we can deliver that thing that they want, that feeling was worthwhile. We actually know what they want; it's trying to deliver it, and not delivering it sometimes, that sometimes is the problem.

MOT: Next year is Yes' 40th anniversary, all three of you are or were Yes members; what's the chance of having another Union-type show? I'm not talking about a tour, but maybe it would be cool to have one or two big shows--make it an event.

BS: Unfortunately I think that the politics of Yes are deeper than the fans could ever imagine, and it just comes with the territory. That's the way the band is; that's what made it have its spark is that those politics have always been intense. I think it's a tough one [everybody laughs].

TK: It's a real tough one, because you actually have to deliver new music. You can't just be playing "And You and I" and "Yours Is No Disgrace" or "Roundabout". You can't keep on doing that.

AW: I came up with it: not rest on your laurels.

MOT: I was talking an event, one or two shows...

BS: One spectacular event.

MOT: Yeah, as opposed to a tour.

BS: The thing is that the concept is noble, but the execution...

AW: I love that. That's a great title for an album.

BS: [laughs] The execution is politically just daunting, and I think impossible personally, and I'm a huge fan who would love to see that kind of thing happen, but I think from my perspective it's politically impossible.

MOT: Getting back to CIRCA:, are you seeing this as pretty much a one-off that could or could not happen again, or is it something that you're committing to being an on-going thing in some sort of capacity?

BS: I think that, as a guy who owns a studio, and I can always facilitate creativity by virtue of having the studio. We're friends; he [Tony] lives right near me. We're going to want to keep working together. We're friends [Billy and Alan]; he lives in Seattle, he'll fly down, so the idea of it remaining and trying to create more of that kind of music to me is very appealing. Yeah, I'm into that, and I think everyone is.

MOT: Conspiracy was a little bit like that, right?

BS: Um, Conspiracy started as a group of songs that were sort of mismatched--songs that Chris and I had written and Alan was on a few, and Jay was on a few, and Michael Bland. Once I joined the band, it was like well let's put the songs together and release them, because it seemed like the right thing to do, then we created the Unknown, but I did a lot of that, even though Jay played on the drums, and Chris played bass, but I played some bass on there too and filled in a lot of gaps, and this thing I didn't. I played bass and sang; everybody else did their bit, so it's a lot different from that, and it feels different. I don't have to carry as much of the load, so for me it's a lot easier to be involved in.

AW: It's a good album.

MOT: I have a few individual questions for you; I'll start with you Billy. Does the music have a lot of creative, melodic, bass lines, much like in a Chris Squire vein with Yes, at its best?

BS: It's like a combination of Chris Squire type thing with Jaco twist in the melody, and Colin Moulding kind of bass playing from XTC. It's very melodic, and it's very much with Alan, so the rhythms are working with the drums in a way that... it's definitively moving around a lot, and very, very musical, but I've always played that way even before I even knew any of these guys, because I always loved the way Chris played, so whenever I went into the studio, I overplayed [laughs], so that's kind been the thing that I've done. The only reason I've kind of shied away from it, because I haven't been playing a lot of bass. I've ended up playing guitar in Yes and just doing a lot of other instruments, so it was kind of cool on this record to be able to come back to it... yeah, Alan White's there, let's make this thing go crazy [laughs].

AW: That was good.

MOT: This next question for Alan kind of touches on what we talked about before. You're kind of seen as a current member of Yes; whenever Yes comes back together, you'll be there, so how does this compare to working with Yes?

AW: This is a constructive thing... that is has Yes-isms involved in it, and I'm always intrigued with playing different kind of stuff and different adventures moving forward like I said before, but it's not the band as it is, like they say the classic lineup kind of thing--it's not the same thing, but at the same time, it's a 2007 version of something that's very close, and a lot of interesting playing, something that intrigues me, and I love challenges, and that's what I love, and in fact the last track I did, it challenged, killed me, it was good. When ended up by doing it right, so it's some kooky stuff in there.

TK: Yeah, we were doing some strange time signatures that were very Yessy.

AW: Really strange time... yeah, and very Yessy.

MOT: But different time signatures are more the feeling you're trying to get as opposed to say, "Hey, let's do something that's in 7/8 right here."

AW: Yeah, but the secret is to make it sound like it's in four. If you can play time signatures that are a bizarre concept...

TK: It was in the song. It's in the melody.

BS: It's in the melody.

AW: It's in the melody, and that's what I tell people all the time. I grew up playing piano and stuff like that, and then I developed the drum thing, so when you can hear the melody, you play with the melody. It makes so much difference.

MOT: So it's very organic.

AW: It's very organic, but make it organic, not technical.

MOT: You don't make it organic, right? It just happens.

AW: No, you have to make it organic...

BS: Well, there's a thing about... if you're we're playing in 11, and it's a quirky time signature. It's real easy to get caught up in trying to identify where the groove is in it, and that sort of stiffens it up, so if you make that organic and kind of cruise through it and find a way to make it flow a half hour into the next one, all the sudden that 11, although it's tricky and it's there, you're feeling of the groove of the thing still, you know what I'm saying? Rather than tripping over the groove and kind of that tricky fusion, it's more just an organic kind of feel thing, but it just happens to be in 11.

AW: Like Reek [Havok] said, "Can I buy a 1?"

BS: And a bar of six.

AW: Can I buy a 1? I'm trying to find a 1 [laughs].

BS: It kind of only goes to an odd meter when the song takes it there. It wasn't that, "OK now we need to plan out some tricky bar of 14," or whatever.

Tony KayeMOT: I have a question for you, Tony. You've been out of the limelight for a while. How does this excite you? You haven't been doing band-type stuff for a long time, and I'd like to hear what you get out of this, or what excites you about this.

AW: Sex. [laughs]

TK: I didn't really want to pontificate about it because I've been in and out of it, in and out of it, in and out of it, it's kind of par for the course, and I got into other things and producing, and managing and all the rest of it, and time went by. You know, it's not really that complicated. Did I miss it or did I miss being on the road and playing, and of course I have. All of these fantastic memories of what happened in the past, but they were gone, and life took another course and all the rest of it, but then I got back together will Billy, and the fire was...

AW: I remember you in the 90125 period and that video where we were all on stage. Everybody's got like painted faces almost; it was like we were all plastic. It was like we were all plastic [laughs]. It was crazy.

TK: Yeah, it was crazy, but Billy roped me in again, and he actually wanted me to play music from a band that I really love too, different to Yes music, but I mean I loved the music of Pink Floyd, and it was perfect.

BS: Or THE WALL stuff, yeah.

TK: THE WALL, DARK SIDE, and so I got back into a sort of playing mind set again; although I was playing at home, writing music, so yeah it was very natural, very easy to come back into this idea of actually playing live again, which is... yeah, it's very tempting to do that again, even at my age, getting back on stage and doing it again, if the music is great, and we started doing it.

MOT: This is going to be very unique for Yes fans, because you represent three distinct eras. You [Tony] were an original member, and...

BS: Well, he's been there through two huge parts.

MOT: ... for a big iteration of Yes, and major contributions of the '90s stuff...

[During changing of tapes Alan brought up the promotional films that Yes had done for TIME AND A WORD.]

AW: I was just trying to remember... with you standing behind the tree. Where you were doing "Everydays".

TK: Oh, the Dutch video?

AW: Have you seen that?

BS: Yes, on YouTube. Vintage Yes videos on YouTube.

TK: It was filmed in Holland, and...

AW: It is so funny. It's like the Beatles "Help!", and they're behind a tree and their heads come out like this.

TK: And then there's the dune buggy one.

BS: The dune buggy one is funny.

TK: And it's really sort of beautiful... there's one video, what's the one with "Big Country"?

MOT: "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed".

TK: Yeah. [everybody sings parts of the song] We were freezing; it was the middle of winter on the seashore, and Chris and I had decided to swap instruments. [The song referred to here is actually "Then".]

AW: Oh, that's right [laughs].

TK: I was playing bass, and Chris was playing keyboards. We were miming perfectly. [everybody laughs]

AW: It was pretty bizarre.

MOT: These were promotional films, right?

TK: Right, yeah.

AW: It was in France... that was in France--in Brittany, or something.

TK: I think it was all recorded together in Holland.

AW: In Holland?

TK: On the seashore... the dune buggy one, and the other one... oh, the nun...

AW: Oh, yeah yeah yeah.

TK: With the nuns chasing us; that was the other one.

AW: That was hilarious.

BS: Benny Hill...

MOT: They feature Steve, don't they? Steve's pretending to play Peter's parts.

TK: Well, that's confusing actually, yeah.

BS: Pete played the guitar parts, but Steve's in the video.

TK: Oh, that's right.

AW: He's full of knowledge [laughs]. But yeah...

TK: It's funny that you should bring that up, because there was a beautiful, sort of naiveness that was the beginning of Yes.

MOT: Innocence.

TK: Innocence, and even at this later date in life, we seem to have sort of found it again, which is really cool.

BS: Well, it's fun to work on music when you're not in that political thing that just comes with the package.

AW: It's funny we're all still alive [laughs].

MOT: In closing about CIRCA:, is there anything you want to say or something you're dying to get out... ?

BS: The idea basically of us getting together and why, I felt it was kind of important to make this information clear, because a lot of times out there in the Yes community, some of the information gets convoluted and it gets twisted, and the wrong information gets out, or there's hypothetical this, hypothetical that. And as much as we can get input from the fans, we're here. As I said, maybe they can kind of help us come up with some advice for the set.

Watch for updates at the CIRCA: web site, which will be opening soon.

Also visit the CIRCA: MySpace site, which will feature a track from the album.

Notes From the Edge #300

The entire contents of this interview are
Copyright © 2007, Mike Tiano

Special thanks to CIRCA: and Jen Gaudette
This conversation was conducted on January 19, 2007

© 2007 Notes From the Edge