YES Keyboardist GEOFF DOWNES Looks Back On 1981 Split - "It Was Really Down To The Fact That There Was Antagonism From The Die-Hard Fans"
March 6, 2018, 6 months ago
YES hit their landmark 50th anniversary this year and will mark this with an extensive UK tour. Mick Burgess at Metal Express Radio caught up with keyboardist Geoff Downes to talk about the tour, replacing Rick Wakeman, recording Drama, and the prospect of new Asia material. An excerpt from the interview is available below.
Q: You first joined in 1980. How did you end up joining YES?
Downes: "It was a totally unexpected chain of events that lead to me joining. We had the same management as YES at that time. Their keyboard player and vocalist had moved on and I suppose it was a fortuitous encounter for me and Trevor Horn. Although we both came from a more Pop background in The Buggles we were both musicians at heart and Trevor was a great bass player and The Buggles was very keyboard orientated so to us it wasn`t really that weird but at the same time it was awe inspiring to stand on the stage with these guys who I`d been following from day one."
Q: Stepping into the shoes of Rick Wakeman must have been a daunting task. How did you prepare for that?
Downes: "It was quite daunting as he was a big part of YES, but so was his predecessor Tony Kaye. I thought Tony Kaye was a more gritty down to earth keyboard player but Rick Wakeman was much more ornate and decorous in his style but I think I borrowed a bit from both of them. When we did Drama, I was very conscious of that Hammond sound but I was also bringing some new sounds in there and new technologies so I was adding some different ingredients into the YES sound while respecting the past work of my predecessors. I think a lot of people see the line-up of Anderson, Wakeman, Howe, Squire and White as the classic line-up but that shouldn`t demean the contributions of the other great musicians who`ve put their stamp on the music of Yes."
Q: Was it disappointing for you that the band split not long after you`d joined?
Downes: "It was, as I thought we had a lot more to offer. It was really down to the fact that there was antagonism from the die-hard fans particularly aimed at Trevor as Jon Anderson had been the sole lead singer right from the start and people thought he was the driving force of Yes and some felt that yes should not continue without Jon Anderson. We were up against that and Trevor faced the backlash from that and that effected Chris particularly as a lot of bringing us in was driven by him. When I listen back to some of the live recordings it was actually pretty good but at the time it was the climate and that was one of the reasons it didn`t go further at that point."
Go to this location for the complete interview.
YES will release the Drama-lineup version of their Fly From Here album on March 25th. Fly From Here - Return Trip features new lead vocals by Trevor Horn, and was completely remixed by Trevor.
The set includes an unreleased track recorded in 2011. Entitled "Don't Take No For An Answer", the song features Steve Howe on vocals. Pre-order this new release exclusively at Pledge Music.
Fly From Here - Return Trip tracklisting:
"Fly From Here - Overture"
"Fly From Here Pt 1 - We Can Fly"
"Fly From Here Pt 2 - Sad Night At The Airfield"
"Fly From Here Pt 3 - Madman At The Screens"
"Fly From Here Pt 4 - Bumpy Ride"
"Fly From Here Pt 5 - We Can Fly" (Reprise)
"The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be"
"Life On A Film Set"
"Hour Of Need" (full-length version)
"Don't Take No For An Answer"
"Into The Storm"