YES' BILLY SHERWOOD Talks Legacy Of CHRIS SQUIRE - "It Was A Bit Intimidating To Stand In His Spot On The First Tour; It Was Extremely Emotional"
August 24, 2017, 8 months ago
In a new interview with music writer Joel Gausten, veteran prog multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood (Yes/Asia/World Trade) discusses a variety of topics including the legacy of late Yes bassist Chris Squire and recent issues over use of the Yes name.
As of this writing, two versions of the group exist: One version (billed as Yes) features Sherwood, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downes, singer Jon Davison and drummers Alan White and Dylan Howe; the other features original singer Jon Anderson, on-again/off-again keyboard master Rick Wakeman and mid ’80s – mid ’90s guitarist Trevor Rabin under the moniker YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. An excerpt from the chat appears below:
Gausten: There are two incarnations of Yes touring and doing things. I’m curious how that has impacted the band in terms of what you’re doing on the road, the reaction from fans about what’s been going on and ultimately how that situation has been working.
Sherwood: "It’s interesting and strange at the same time. I haven’t really been paying too much attention to it because we keep staying on our track and going down (that). As I’ve said before in other interviews, I’m happy to hear as much Yes music in 2017 as possible from the participants thereof and see the music thriving. There’s the obvious political push and pull that goes on in Yes; it’s always been that way and will always be that way. But for me, when Chris asked me to step in and do this and I said, ‘Yes,’ I was serving under the Yes banner. So that’s where my loyalty remains, and I’m happy to be a part of it despite whatever the chaos at the moment is. With Yes, there’s always much chaos and many moments to have it (laughs). It’s really not surprising that we’re in this current state of affairs, but we go forward as Yes doing what we do. I really have nothing but love for the band and want to keep it going. That was the mission statement, and that’s what Chris and I spoke about – keeping it going. So that’s what we’re doing."
Gausten: Obviously, you’re following in the footsteps of a musical giant here. In your mind, what is Chris Squire’s greatest legacy in the history of music?
Sherwood: "It’s multi-pronged. Some of the greatest bass lines in progressive rock, for openers – on a composition level, not just chops. That’s what always intrigued me and drew me to Chris’ playing over everyone else. It was not so much the flash and the speed or the dexterity of things, but it was this idea of coming at the bass as a part of an orchestra within rock ‘n’ roll and really making the bass sing and have its own place inside of the music. Chris was so, so good at doing that.
Another component would be his voice; I loved his texture and his style of singing – that same application of harmony being not the classic thirds, fifths or whatever you would do if you were just thinking harmony, but finding those unique notes and that texture that made the chord just all the more beautiful. Chris was a master of that as well. He knew I was hip to both of those components and loved it, and I think that’s why we had the kind of relationship we had. If you listen to the first World Trade album, there’s so much harmony on there; there’s so much melody going on. That’s when we first met; he was intrigued by what I was doing as well. I think we kind of shared that thing, and he knew that I had a deep love and respect for those components.
Those are the two things, and then obviously his presence on stage was just always entertaining as hell to watch (laughs). You put those three together, and do you have a monster figure up there. It was a bit intimidating to stand in his spot on the first tour; it was extremely emotional and all of the above, but it gave me strength to do it knowing this was what he wanted to happen. What an amazing honor that is."
The complete interview is available at this location.
Yes' annual summer tour features a set list of greatest hits from all of the band's studio albums up to 1980, showcasing the storied history of one of the world's most influential, ground-breaking, and respected progressive rock bands. YES - Steve Howe (guitar since 1970), Alan White (drums since 1972), Geoff Downes (keyboards; first joined in 1980), Jon Davison (vocals since 2011) and Billy Sherwood (guitar/keyboards in the 1990s and the late Chris Squire's choice to take over bass/vocals in 2015) - will treat fans to such hits as "Roundabout" and "Starship Trooper," performing at least one song from each of the band's first 10 albums starting with 1969's Yes to 1980's Drama.
25 - Phoenix, AZ - Celebrity Theatre
26 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
28 - San Diego, CA - Balboa Theatre
29 - Los Angeles, CA - Microsoft Theater
31 - Reno, NV - Grand Sierra Resort - Grand Theatre **
1 - San Francisco, CA - Warfield Theatre **
3 - Tulalip, WA - Tulalip Amphitheatre
5 - Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre ^
7 - Edmonton, AB - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium ^
8 - Calgary, AB - Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium ^
11 - Moorhead, MN - Bluestem Center for the Arts Amphitheatre ^
12 - Cedar Rapids, IA - McGrath Amphitheatre ^
14 - London, ON - Budweiser Gardens ^
17 - Boston, MA - The Wilbur Theatre **
18 - Huntington, NY - The Paramount **
19 - Huntington, NY - The Paramount **
** YES only
~ with Carl Palmer only
^ with Todd Rundgren only
(Photo - Glenn Gottlieb)