It was an
uncharacteristically cold day in the Northern Los Angeles area
as I sat in Billy Sherwood's back yard, shooting the breeze with
Billy and his CIRCA: band mates Jimmy Haun and Tony Kaye (drummer Alan White wasn't present as he was attending to
responsibilities at the NAMM show in Anaheim). The band had been
eager for me to hear the music they had created, and I was looking
forward to be given the opportunity to listen to the album in its
After sharing a
delicious lunch prepared by Billy's wife, Michi, we moved to Billy's
studio, where he sat me in front of his studio speakers so I would
be in a prime space to hear the fruits of their labor. I felt I had
to give the members the caveat that if the music was as dense as
they had indicated then I could respond to the immediacy of a first
listen, but that as with even some of my favorite Yes albums it
would take multiple spins to really appreciate what they had done.
The members present seemed almost relived to hear this, considering
that is the type of music that drives their beings.
I was not
disappointed. As song after song flowed it was evident that the song
structures and exemplary musicianship that I had come to expect from
these gentlemen were as strong as ever, and I caught onto some
engaging melodies that I knew would keep me coming back to these
tunes. (Jimmy was hearing some of these mixes for the first time as
Once the preview
was over it was time to chat with the three CIRCA: dudes present.
The previous day I had met with Tony, Billy, and Alan to discuss
this new project (as presented in
but Jimmy was unable to attend. On this day I wanted to capture what
Jimmy had to say about the music he was instrumental in bringing to
life. I had decided to pose the same questions from the day before,
and as Billy and Tony were again present I encouraged them to chime
in again as I thought they might have different insights.
Another reason for
the repeated agenda was because I had intended to merge the two
conversations into one, with full disclosure of this fact to our
readership. But when it came time to put the two transcriptions
together I found I had two big problems with this tact. The first
was that as I prefer to present the conversational flavor the
combined responses seemed to go on interminably. The second was
that I felt it a bit dishonest as they really weren't present
together. Therefore I decided to present the two sessions in
separate issues, even at the risk of repeated answers.
Through this day's
talk I got to know Jimmy and his thoughts about CIRCA:, and in turn
introduce fans of Yes and brethren to this talented yet modest
MIKE TIANO: OK, first I'll ask why CIRCA:?
What's your take on the band's name?
JIMMY HAUN: I think that it encompasses a lot of things. I really like the
sound of the name, like the first album we're thinking "about 2007",
and it's like ex-members of Yes and everything. It's kind of what's going on now I think, and we're saying Circa: 2007,
which is pretty bold thing to say; it's what's going on now
with that form of music, so... plus it's kind of like a circle... circa. I
don't know; I think it has a good ring to it, and...
TONY KAYE: And it's impossible to find a name.
JH: And that too.
MOT: [laughs] I bet, what with names like System of a Down, some of
TK: It all sounds so trite.
MOT: I asked these dudes yesterday about the chicken or the egg
thing: did the band develop and drive the songs, or were the songs
already there and the band came in to serve the songs.
JH: I think Billy and Tony had the basic structure of everything,
and then you get another conception or another variation of those
flavors, so I used a lot of Billy's ideas, and then I sort of went a
little further with that, and they asked me into the band, which was
amazing. I've always loved everything Billy has done, and of course
Tony, so as far as my contribution, I think it's just my perception
of... their songs in a way, and I had some production ideas and stuff
like that, but really the crux of it I think is Tony and Billy's
BILLY SHERWOOD: It changes as the material starts changing with overdubs... a song
is kind of out there. It isn't like we're just doing these regular
songs, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, so it kept changing and
reshaping along the way.
JH: Right, and I thought you guys would be like, "Oh my God, what
were you thinking?" At first I had to prep them, so be prepared,
because this is a bit different.
BS: Yeah, this might be different, but it's all really, really good
stuff, because he has his own studio at home, just by taking tapes
that don't have guitars, and then coming back with all these
guitars, it's a changed thing... we started these things, but by the
time they ended up with Alan and Jim's stamp on there...
JH: We became more of a band, which is I think how things happen.
You look at Roger Waters and David Gilmour, and if they didn't have
the input from the other guys, it might have been a whole other
BS: Perhaps next time we do this, now that we've done one, we'll get
together in a room all four of us and play around with ideas,
because that's now what we know what we are, but it sort was created
as we were building it, and we started figuring out what it is and
tweaking it from there.
JH: It's like why don't we do this.
TK: I have a chronological order on Digital Performer right from the
BS: How it took shape.
TK: I did that, and kept updating it tape by tape.
TK: Stereo track by stereo track... Yeah, it's kind of interesting, how
the arrangements changed.
MOT: I'll go ahead and ask some of these questions because you
[Jimmy] weren't there for the answers, even though they aren't too
relevant to you. My question--why this lineup? Were other Yes
JH: You're asking me?
MOT: I'm asking in general.
BS: By the time I was discussing the idea of coming together with
Jim and doing things, it had shifted from that first initial idea of
post-WALL, DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, maybe I can pull in Bruford
and Wakeman, let's see what we can do, blah blah blah... there was some
music being formed, and then when that concept went onto the table,
it's kind of when I called Jim and said look, I'd love to work with
you again. We've always had fun doing this stuff, and I'd like to
shape this into more of a band thing than a project with different
members--come over and take a look at what we've got on the table so
far, and at that point is when the germs started flowing and getting
the ideas back and forth, and that's really when he came in, before
I knew that kind of stuff went down, or after, sorry.
TK: The idea of a permanent band at that point...
BS: You can kind of think of it as in the process of a year, which
was when I looked at Tony and said what do you think of let's
get together and make some music, the first quarter was kind of
spent messing around, getting musical idea together, and this kind
of idea floating around of 'what if', this was that kind of project,
and as the music started progressing, the sound of the thing was
evolving into that sound, and it kind of didn't make sense to keep
pursuing that, and the idea was let's put together a band, so that
we can actually create this sound, represent this sound live, and
continue doing the sound, as opposed to it being a collective record
of just various artists, so it was kind of at that point, like I
said, when I called Jimmy and said look, there's something going on
here that's kind of serious, and if you want to come into this thing
and get involved, I'd love to have you.
JH: I was really psyched.
BS: And Alan was into it from the word go and Tony, so it made sense
to do that.
MOT: There have been so many members in Yes, that it seemed almost
seemed possible, if not inevitable that a separate Yes band would
evolve, and since you have that Yes affiliation, that you were the
erstatz Steve Howe [laughs]... this could kind of qualify as one of
JH: I guess so. Can we say our original idea of the name?
BS: Well, we were discussing the Family thing, and how that was out
there, and we knew there was another band Family of Wetton and what
not, but the idea was it started as a concept. I said to Tony "What
about taking the Yes family tree and making a record?"
JH: Right. I guess that was the whole concept, yeah.
BS: And then it kind of shrunk down to we'll call it Family and
invite everybody, then it turned into, well know we're getting kind
of precious about this material, maybe we want to do it a different
way, and then it evolved into this music, and recently we've decided
ok, we really kind of have to think of a new name... there's no reason
to run into that same problem every time we talk about a project,
which is, "Did you already know there was a band called Family?"
TK: Which, incidentally, were from my hometown, I knew all of them,
and actually lived with them.
JH: That is a trip.
MOT: But knowing this, you still wanted to call this project Family?
BS: It was a lot easier than thinking of a new name [laughs].
TK: It was a sort of ethereal concept, really; it wasn't like,
the Family is great name", because that I know all of the guys, Jeff Kregan, and all those guys are still friends of mine.
BS: It was really the handle on the idea.
TK: It was the handle on the idea; it was the fact that actually it
was a family.
JH: And all my dealings with Tony and with Alan and with Billy have
all been on different levels.
TK: It felt like a family, and sometimes Yes never felt like a
family in a lot of respects, but certainly from my point of view,
because my history going back 40 years, they actually are. I've
known them for such a long time. I was going to marry Chris'
daughter (everybody laughs).
JH: That's right.
MOT: But the notion of having Chris as a father-in-law was just too
much for you?
TK: It was too much for him, that's for sure! [laughs]
BS: Definitely the idea among us is we're treating this like it is a
band of brothers, and that's what it is, and it makes it a band, by
proxy, there we go. The idea is to kind of get out there and play it
live, and show the people that, yeah, that's us. We're playing this
stuff, and come along for the ride, have a good time.
MOT: But did you intentionally go in to create an album of Yes-like
BS: No, but it would be hard to write original music and not have it
be Yes-like, just because that's always been the thing that we do. I
mean, even before I ever knew any of these guys--World Trade, Lodgic... people
would say "God, it sounds like you should be in Yes," [laughs] so
it's kind of been a natural thing that flows, so naturally it would
start sounding that way. Once you get Alan playing, it's really an identifiable sound.
JH: Growing up, I really cut my teeth on Yes. Steve Howe's parts
were the first things I learned. I locked myself in a room, and
learned all of "America", back in '71 or something like that.
MOT: Oh, really?
JH: Yeah, and I was sort of just... I could kind of play guitar.
MOT: How old are you now?
JH: I'm 47, so when I came out and sort of reapproached the whole
band thing, they were like, "What the hell did you do?", because
there's a lot of different things in America that, a lot of guitar,
deep stuff, that it's good to... it's better than learning Black
Sabbath, you know what I mean, at that point? [laughs] I think that
launched me into more jazz, country, meaning Chet Atkins kind
MOT: Are you saying Yes influenced you to explore the boundaries
JH: Of guitar, exactly, rather than just sitting over with a buzz
MOT: I think that was Steve Howe's biggest influence, influencing other guitar players
to play a whole range
of styles. But that held true with all of the members to some
extent, because in early Yes years they went the
jazz route quite a bit, kind of a hallmark. It influenced somebody
like Alex Lifeson to broaden. Not to go off on a tangent, but did
you see Rush's R30 tour [on DVD]? It has a bunch of
interview clips at the end. One was around 1980, and they
asked, "If you wanted to see one band right now, who would that
be?" and in a heartbeat they answered Yes; Alex Lifeson said, "We
went to see them, we came back and couldn't finish recording the
album, and we just could not do it"--stopped cold. That's how big an
influence Yes had on them. But I digress here [laughs].
JH: It was pretty obvious. When Rush came out, I was like, ok, Yes
copy band, you know even though they did have original stuff, it was
hard because man you guys are deriving so much here.
BS: They did evolve into something amazing.
JH: Of their own, yeah, but first it was like, ok, I know what you
BS: It's funny, because I've known Jimmy since before I can remember
knowing him. We grew up together in Vegas--parents were
entertainers, and I grew up playing drums and stuff. I joined Lodgic,
which was actually my brother and Jim's band I joined, but right
before I joined, I was playing drums, and we were living in the band
house, everybody's complaining about me playing drums, and Jim says
"Man, screw the drums, sell them and start playing bass", and so I
bought a bass. What should I do?
TK: [Mock accusing Jimmy] It was your idea!
JH: It was my idea.
MOT: It's your fault! [laughs]
BS: Jim said play to all of the Yes records.
JH: Yes, and you can go into headphones and nobody was going to bug
BS: Jim's actually the one that kind of coaxed me into taking a
turn, it's kind of funny. There's a long history between us, to be
able to do this now.
JH: With the night blue Tama set.
MOT: Did you play as kids?
BS: Well, no the funny thing is Mike, my brother, is five years
older, and Mike and Jimmy were really tight friends, and I was the
little kid--I was the younger brother, so I wasn't allowed in
certain rooms at certain times because there was a gap of age, and
it wasn't cool for Mike to hanging with his little brother [laughs],
so I used to kind of knock on the door when they were playing "Siberian Khatru",
"Let me in, I want to see this". "No man you
can't come in here!" [laughs]
JH: Well too, at first, Billy was like, yes, you guys don't know
what you're doing, and you were listening to the Ohio Players and
stuff like that.
BS: Earth, Wind, and Fire and the Ohio Players.
MOT: When you were how old?
JH: God, you must have been 11 or 12.
MOT: Really, Earth, Wind, and Fire?
BS: It might have been before that.
JH: He used to kind of laugh at us, before he got who Yes was.
BS: They played me CLOSE TO THE EDGE, and I just went
"No man, I
don't get this at all." Didn't get it at all until about two years
later living in Arizona. My parents were playing at Scottsdale,
Arizona or wherever that is, Lake Havasu, and I was a little bit
older, and my brother had TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, just got it
or whatever, and the album cover looked intriguing. I was like, let
me check this out again. I put it on, and from that point forward,
it was don't talk to me about anybody else [laughs], you know
what I mean? It just became David Koresh devout, seriously devout.
MOT: What are some of your favorite Yes albums?
JH: You know, I have to agree with you with CLOSE TO THE EDGE. I
think that that is just an undeniable masterpiece, and then I would
have to say... I would have to put RELAYER over TALES, just because of
Steve Howe's amazing solo in "To Be Over"--just makes me cry every
time I hear it. It's unbelievable, and great production, and of
course The Yes Album, which I got into later after... I mean "Roundabout" was great and all that, but I think
"Close to the Edge"
was really neat coming home as a musician and going wow, there's
something so deep going on here.
MOT: Was there a Yes album, maybe not one of those favorites that
you named, that holds a special place in your heart?
JH: Probably GOING FOR THE ONE.
BS: Yeah I remember actually hearing that at your house on that
couch, that big, long gold couch you had.
BS: And just going, "Wow, what was that?"
JH: "Turn of the Century", man, once again it's Steve Howe just
doing those beautiful--
BS: And "Awaken", when they hit those cycle of fifths; it was always
(exhales)... man. That's just outstanding.
MOT: Now I have to ask you [Tony] this same question. Post-Yes,
let's talk about mainly the '70s output, did you listen to a lot of
what they had done after you left the band, and if you did, what did
you like or didn't like?
TK: Oh sure, I got together with them. I was living here then [Los
Angeles]; I just got off of the Bowie tour, and I had been on the
road with Bowie for two years, so I came back here, and then they
came to town, and I was hanging out with Chris, went to Vegas with
them, I was a part of it, there was not a lot of animosity back
MOT: Do you know what tour that was that you were thinking about?
You said the Bowie tour, what year was that?
BS: STATION TO STATION, right?
TK: Yeah, well the Bowie tour was STATION TO STATION, yeah. That was
MOT: That was with Patrick Moraz, one of the RELAYER tours?
TK: No, Rick was in the band.
BS: Probably TALES.
TK: I went to see them in '74, or '75 too. I saw them quite a lot.
MOT: But was there any particular album or music that you like that
they had done after you left the band?
TK: Oh yeah, well I liked all of them actually. TALES... maybe...
JH: It's always a hard one for people--that one.
TK: But I saw the tour, and I loved the tour, and it went over a lot
of people's heads.
JH: Wait, you saw the TALES tour?
TK: Uh huh.
TK: But, I thought it was amazing, and I was a big fan of Eddie's of
course. Eddie was doing the sound, and we were friends from way back
before Yes, before he came in-the Heads Hands and Feet time
actually, Albert Lee and that whole era.
BS: It's definitely a kind of music that there's only one source for
that thing, for that kind of music. Other prog rock bands have tried
to do their thing, but it never reaches the same area. There's only
a few bands like that, that have that: Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes
TK: It was on a level on its own, except whatever the tour was with
MOT: The DRAMA tour.
TK: The DRAMA tour, yeah. In fact that meeting with Chris on the
DRAMA tour was the beginning of 90125. I was actually recording with Badfinger in Miami, and I was living with Badfinger in the house
next door to Nikki Squire and Carmen, on Key Bisquane waiting for
Chris to come into town, so of course we went to the concert, and
that was kind of strange, and I hung out with Chris afterwards, and
I said, "That was a little weird," and he goes "Yeah, it's
terrible." He said, "This is the end--"
TK: "--of this one. How about we get the band back together?" That was
the beginning of it, two years later.
MOT: What are the plans to tour as CIRCA:?
JH: I think like Bill was saying, we want to start like sort of a
start up band in a way.
BS: Kind of more grass roots than trying to anchor on to a massive
JH: Right, we don't want to come out with lasers.
BS: Be better to get down there and just play the music, down and
dirty at a 1,000-seater place and have it filled with friends and
JH: Because we're all... yeah, we can pull this off, and we don't need
to be this huge production yet, I think.
TK: Maybe even the drums on the floor.
JH: There you go, like old times.
BS: Yeah, like old-school Zeppelin.
TK: Yeah, I remember going to see Led Zeppelin, and after the big
show that Yes put on, and I saw them and I went, "Fantastic".
JH: Drums on the floor.
TK: Drums on the floor, what a great idea.
MOT: As opposed to on a riser?
TK: Yeah, and they were just like this perfect little unit, just
totally into themselves, great rock band. So maybe?
BS: You never know. Definitely getting it up and running I would say
from this point forward it's going to take use a while to get it up
and running. It's not going to happen overnight, but I'd say we'd be
ready for some sort of gig within three months from now.
MOT: So, are you excited about going out and playing stuff live?
JH: Are you kidding? We've been chomping at the bit. It's been...
BS: It's fun.
JH: ... 10-12 years since I've done that.
BS: It's fun to look at this configuration, because I've played with
him [Jimmy] plenty of times live, but never played with him and him
[Tony] together, played with Tony plenty of times, Alan in different
configurations, so this configuration is going to be...
TK: But we're kind of already playing together, in a way.
BS: It's going to be very cool.
MOT: You've jammed together in certain respects already; you have
history with TALK.
JH: Yeah, I'm very excited about playing live.
MOT: I didn't actually ask this next question last night,
because it was kind of answered in our conversation, but I'll ask it
here. How do you see this music as being Yes-like... when I think of
Yes, I think of stellar vocals and arrangements, and I think of
recurring melodies and themes. Do you think your music has all of
BS: I think so. I mean in terms of just saying those words they do,
in terms of the elements of the music, I think so, yeah, and I think
it's the kind of record that people are going to want to listen to
again and again to start picking up the subtleties that are going on
along the way. There's a lot of themes that are happening here,
there, and everywhere that you start connecting the dots once you
know the music a little bit better, which was always one of the cool
things for me about getting into a deep Pink Floyd record or real
deep Genesis thing or Yes thing, is that you started picking up
subtleties. Like we were talking about, I can still listen to a
Gabriel record now and find things that I never heard before, so
it's layered in that way, but I think it boils down to some pretty
common themes lyrically. It's not reaching into the moon and trying
to be futuristic in its lyrical content; it's very down to earth
lyrically, and I think melodically there's some real simple,
straight-ahead melodies to latch on to and some themes.
JH: I think Billy and I too, growing up listening to Yes and... to
where he said it became almost a religion for us, and this is music
that we've always wanted to make on our own, so it just happens to
come out as this Yes thing, because I think we've always held them
BS: Strong influence.
JH: Yeah, than any other thing. It's not like we got together and
said, "How are we going to do a Yes thing?"
MOT: It wasn't contrived.
JH: It wasn't. It was honest music, not trying to be anything.
BS: I mean it's a weird path that I've had from going from being 13
and in my headphones jamming in my bedroom to "Close to the Edge" to
going into the band and being part of it and that whole path,
there's a weird, twisted fate in there somewhere. That's why I
embrace the sound of the music that I make. I don't shun from it
anymore, where before I knew you guys and everything, and I was
trying to get deals. It was getting to be, well I know it
sounds like Yes, but is it a bad thing? I would be defending that
thing. World Trade, as we were signing this huge deal, it sounds a lot like Yes.
Who cares already! [laughs]
That's a good thing, so to be able to be a part of it, join it,
legitimize that fact, step back from it, and make music without
thinking about what we're doing, and it ends up that way. You just
can't change stripes off of a zebra, you know what I mean?
TK: It makes us happy to play it too; that's what we do. You gotta
be happy playing the music that you're playing... that's the history.
MOT: I think that really had an impact on Starcastle, and at the
core was really a bunch of guys just trying to create that type of
music. They weren't trying to pretend they were Yes; they were just
trying that type of music, and as I recall, I bought their first
album, because there was a void between RELAYER and GOING FOR THE
ONE. But if memory serves, all their subsequent albums, the ones
that followed, were not progressive at all. They basically tried to...
BS: Starcastle you mean?
MOT: Yeah. They tried to appeal to a demographic, as opposed to make
the music they wanted to create.
BS: The thing I didn't get about them that I didn't like, is that it
was real clear that when they were in the studio, they were
referring to the exact bass frequencies of Chris, and you've got to
use the Rickenbacker to get that sound, and you've got to use the
same Minimoog patch in it. It became very much like a template; ok,
put the template over there. That's the part that irked me about it;
I couldn't get behind. I leaned into more Brand X, UK, Crimson,
where they were pushing those same boundaries that Yes pushed, but
in their own way. I don't know about you, but for me outside of Yes
UK, those are my heroes.
MOT: When I think of UK, I think of the original lineup for UK, with
Bruford and Holdsworth.
BS: I do too, which I really, really love, but something about
DANGER MONEY with Terry Bozzio for me, and those violin solos and just the time signatures, it's the Holy Grail
MOT: No denying Eddie Jobson is very talented, and of course John
Wetton was on there too.
BS: But all those guys, what I'm saying is, they pushed their own
sounds around, and they didn't follow the sounds of others, and
that's what I always dug about them, is that they were trying that.
On this record it's the same kind of deal, where I wasn't
chasing around that sound or this sound. It's just the instruments
that were working at the time.
MOT: Problem with UK I think they were probably just maybe five
years too late, you know. If they had come out with that album in
JH: They would have been more like Rush or something.
MOT: --they would have been probably a superband, but they were too
late, at the end of the '70s, the end of the prog-rock era. Punk was
rendering prog-rock obsolete, ineffectual, and overblown, and it's
interesting Rolling Stone and all these other publications went from
actually being real supporters of progressive rock to just totally
dumping all over them.
BS: Well, they're going with the current trends and stuff, but I
think in a way the kind of music we're making right now, it's very
artistic. There's no disputing it's artsy, and in a world of
everyone's sampling music and then rapping over it or be simplistic
projects, it's kind of refreshing to be able to go see "Laurence of
Arabia" [laughs]--75 camels, you know what I mean? It's an
over-the-top thing, and it's played by hand, more importantly.
MOT: Given that when you thought about producing this music, were
you mainly thinking about Yes fans? Or did you think, "Well, you
know maybe we should tone it down, have just a bottom only to
placate the people who want a hit"?
BS: No, can't really make music like that, because the thought
process isn't quite like that. You're going with an emotional thing,
and if I played Tony an idea that I thought, you know, we could
build on this, it was because the chords kind of moved me in a way
to where I thought this is an emotional feeling thing, and if we get
the right kind of lilting melody over the top. It's coming from a
different place, rather than it's not really coming from a place of
let's write something to please someone, let's write
something that moves us.
JH: "Let's make a pop album," or something like that, it's the
complete opposite of that.
MOT: Jimmy, what's your take on that?
JH: Yeah, I think that it's all in that genre of ELP, and what these
guys were all trying to do. They weren't trying to make pop albums,
and I think that's what everybody's pretty much doing now, and so we
just came into it not scared of is this going to sell on the pop
market or anything like that.
TK: We never had that question in those days anyway.
JH: I guess not.
TK: Because what had gone before. Certainly we were influenced by
stuff before SGT. PEPPER, but then we heard SGT. PEPPER and we kind
of went "OK... ".
JH: This is a good thing.
MOT: Back then you were blazing new trails. In retrospect it's kind
of like, oh, it's just old hat or whatever the hell they're doing,
but at that time what you were doing was really cutting edge.
TK: It really was, yeah. I mean, we used to have the Beatles come
down to see us, to Blazies.
MOT: Oh, really?
TK: Yeah, McCartney and George Harrison.
MOT: There was a rumor that McCartney was going to produce the Yes
at one point for Apple.
TK: Yes, he was very impressed in the envelope that we were pushing.
MOT: Why didn't that come to happen then?
TK: [Sighs] I have no idea.
MOT: Don't remember?
TK: No, no.
MOT: Because I would think something like that would have been
fairly prestigious for the band or something you would have
TK: Yeah, I don't know whether anyone pursued it or not. I don't
think so. In hindsight, you can't really put yourself... anything that
we talk about now, if you project yourself back 40 years...
BS: It's a different mindset.
TK: Yeah, you know London was really a hotbed. I remember going to
the Speakeasy, and King Crimson, who no one had ever heard of,
played one of their first gigs, and we went, "Wow!" This is really
pushing it, and they were magnificent.
MOT: It must have been amazing to actually see them back then.
MOT: And you were their peers. You were trying to achieve some of
the same things they were.
TK: Right, yeah, but it was all new back then. We weren't that
influenced by really that much on the outside. The scene in London
was what was going on.
MOT: Are you guys seeing this as one-off that may or may not happen
again or are you pretty committed to actually driving this and
JH: I think we are completely committed. Yeah, I mean this is the
greatest band I've ever been involved with I think. As far as
musicianship and songs and stuff, if you ask me, I'm extremely
psyched, and I'm in 100 fold.
BS: Yeah, me too. I think the main thing we talked about last night
is that we all dig each other's company, and we're not
starting from a place of like histories and baggage that comes with
it, it's more about we're about to embark on something really fun,
and if we can continue doing it, who wouldn't want to do that, and I
think that if the Yes fans support it; that will be enough to hold
it up, and if we can increase our audience to other fans of other
kinds of genres, the more the merrier, but I think it definitely has
a life and we'll survive it.
JH: A lot of work went into this [laughs].
BS: Yeah, a lot of work.
JH: And a lot of love.
BS: It will be very intriguing to watch live, because it's tricky,
and it's always cool to watch musicians playing tricky stuff. We
don't see enough of that anymore, and nowadays you get one guy
running at the front of the stage with a microphone while there's a
MOT: And dancers. There are always dancers.
JH: We thought about that [laughs].
BS: Whatever happened to watching the interaction and stuff?
JH: They would have to know different timings and stuff.
MOT: I've asked each one of the guys an individual question, and I
have one for you [Jimmy]. When you're playing with these guys and
coming up with parts and the such, were you thinking in terms of
trying to be Yes-like, or just being you and just bringing whatever
it is you would bring to the music? Working with guys who worked
with the likes of Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, and Peter Banks, I
mean... pretty daunting.
JH: Steve Howe was the guy for me for a long time, and then I got
into other guitar players: John McLaughlin, Chet Atkins, and stuff
like that, which I have to give Steve credit for. Because I was
young at that time, he sort of opened up this whole other window,
and I see what he was doing was bringing the Chet Atkins, he was
bringing all these other influences into rock, and doing
successfully without sounding too contrived, so that's what I'm
trying to do. I'm trying to bring all my other influences in, and
not any one genre, and what the thing is it was so open back then,
which is a spirit that I'm sort of trying to bring into it. It's
like open for anything; I'll play a jazz guitar here, or play a
lute or something like that, which they're all colors, and they
should all be there, and I think a lot of rock music now is just
pretty much you got a Strat, then let's do it, and that's kind of
what on the UNION album, I had 175s and stuff, and I tried to
replicate Steve Howe at that point, but that's not what I'm trying
to do right now. I guess maybe the spirit of what was going on.
MOT: It sounds to me like on UNION you knew you were deliberately
trying to sound like Steve Howe.
JH: I was.
MOT: Whereas here, you're only deliberation is in evoking your own
influences whatever they may be, correct?
MOT: And if they evoke Steve Howe it's invocation as opposed to an
JH: It's deep...
BS: I hope you write that down. Do you mind if I say that I said
that? [Everyone laughs]
MOT: In closing, is there any question that you're dying to be
asked, or get off of your chest or something you want to say? Here's
BS: Yes, I did play on THE LADDER. [Everyone laughs; Billy was
referring to a conversation we had earlier in the day. The following
two questions were asked in jest.]
MOT: Billy, did you play on THE LADDER? Are all the rhythm parts you
on THE LADDER?
BS: Yeah, we'd have to go through and I could point and click you
through it, and you'd go oh, ok that's a lot more than I probably
was told. A lot.
MOT: There's a rumor that's it's you and not Rick Wakeman on
FRAGILE, Tony? [Everyone laughs] You know, there was a similar rumor
about THE YES ALBUM with Peter--that Peter contributed to THE YES
ALBUM, and Steve vehemently denies that. But go
ahead [and answer anyway].
TK: Well, I did rehearse FRAGILE before I left. I left in the
[In a follow-up question after the interview
Tony said he didn't remember which songs he had rehearsed before his
MOT: Here's a question you [Jimmy] can answer on or off the record,
I'll give you the option: because of what happened with UNION, if
you could say anything to Steve Howe today or anything I could
convey to him, what would that be?
JH: I respect you; I'm not your enemy, I'm your friend. I was only...
TK: Doing my job.
JH: I was only doing my job, and here's the thing, let me say this.
Imitation is the biggest form of flattery, I think, and at that
point, and I have to say the pressure was really from Arista at that
point, and they thought that Yes should get back to what their sort
of roots were, and I have always been very sensitive to what that
sound was. Steve's not a real bluesy player; he's kind of like
classically influenced, country influenced--a lot of different
things... I would say if I had to say to Steve Howe, just look at it
as sort of flattery. I always respected him, and I always will. Even
though he said some shit about me, which is ok. I understand; I
wouldn't want anybody coming in with my band and replacing me, but I
was definitely hired at that time to do that. I knew that it would
probably piss him off.
TK: Blame Clive Davis.
MOT: The thing that pissed me off, as a fan and consumer, is it
doesn't matter who was playing on it. It was like I said earlier,
when I buy an album with Steve Howe, I want to hear Steve Howe, and
there was no effort to dispel the fact that a lot of this wasn't
JH: At that time too, late '80s, actually during the '80s a lot of bandmembers were being replaced by studio players.
BS: Left, right, and center.
JH: Yeah, and so it was kind of just...
BS: It was standard operational procedure.
JH: I mean, we could name names, but we won't, there's a lot of that
BS: Major stuff, yeah, major stuff.
TK: And I actually blame the paranoia of the record companies,
really. They were seeing something else, not letting the band do
what they wanted to do. The pressure of producing... but it should be
OK that people in the band actually do play
each other's instruments. I don't think Ringo got pissed off when
Paul McCartney played the drums.
MOT: Which I don't think was that often, to be honest with you.
TK: It wasn't that often.
MOT: And think of all of the lead parts that Paul played, and George
didn't play, like "Taxman". Some incredible solos, which really were
BS: On so many records, you have no idea.
TK: You shouldn't get uptight about it; it's all music, and this
uptightness about I have to be doing what...
MOT: My opinion is still that on UNION the best tracks were the
Trevor tracks, and of course "The More You Live". "Miracle of Life"
and that song were really the best songs on the album. From an ABWH
perspective, I thought the first two were the best, and they started
out strong-"I Would Have Waited Forever" and "Shock to the System",
but after that, they came up with "Only Love Can Start the Day" or
whatever the hell the thing's called, and the stupid little piano
part was obviously not Rick.
JH: You should have heard... I did a whole 12-string section against
that, and Jon Anderson axed it, and it was gorgeous. I wish I could
find it again, but it just was all these meanderings. I have nothing
to do with those keyboard parts at all.
MOT: The keyboard parts sucked.
JH: He said this is too much. I think he was worried that it would
piss Steve Howe off, because it was what Howe would kind of do, and
it was kind of just a lot of different harmonies and stuff against
what was going on, but then they ended up with that, and I was like
"Shit!" but I found out that at one point there was this one song I
think it was "Angkor Wat" or something, and Jon looked at Jon Elias
and said "There is not one fucking Yes member right now playing!"
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