Chris Squire of Yes: The Losanjealous Interview
Today we chat with legendary bassist and Yes founding member Chris Squire about his upcoming 2009 summer tour with Asia, Rock Band The Game, Six Flags, Bobby Fischer and much more.
Tough questions first. You had leg surgery back in February, which cancelled the remaining dates of the Yes tour at that time. After you recovered, we got the announcement of the tour with Asia taking place this summer. And now, most recently, we have an announcement that Jon Anderson will be apparently touring, solo, over in Europe this summer. Here’s the big question I’m reading on a lot of message boards: Is this an indication of you guys finally saying, “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to all tour at the same time” ? Or what’s going on, here?
When you say he’s touring Europe, I think he’s going on vacation to Paris, and he’s just doing a couple of odd shows here and there, just keeping his foot in the water (what do I mean?)…just him and acoustic guitar, from what I know, so it’s not really like he’s touring.
Actually he’s announced nine or ten dates as of now.
Oh, he has? I didn’t even know about any of that. I got the impression he was just doing some odd casual shows. Like, I believe he did one up in the central coast last weekend, actually. Just kind of impromptu appearance in a bar, with his guitar, sounds like that’s what it is. But, I don’t know. (laughs) Enlighten me; if there’s more of a tour going on, I don’t know about it.
Oh, ok. Yeah. Well, as I’ve said, as far as I know, he’s just keeping his hand in really, I suppose, while he’s still in recovery.
It sounds like you guys are happy with the lineup that you have right now. What do you say to sort of placate the people that are worried that you have the “Jon understudy” (Benoit) and Oliver Wakeman instead of Rick (Oliver’s father – ed) out there? Or do you not even worry about any of that, and just go out there.
I don’t really worry about it, because we did a whole tour prior to the holidays, and I didn’t get any response from any member of the audience indicating that they were disappointed in any way; in fact, quite the opposite. Everyone seemed really happy that we were out there honoring the music, basically. And as far as Benoit and Oliver’s performances are concerned, they both did a great job, 100%, people just told me that. That’s the only feedback I really got. So we have planned to do this summer thing with Asia, and probably a European thing towards the end of the year, and maybe even South America in the fall. At the time we were planning this, we were assuming Jon would still not be back in shape to do anything, so we went ahead with those plans, and that’s what we’re doing this year. Next year there may be a different story, but you know, that’s what’s going on now.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the current incarnation when you guys get out to Los Angeles.
With Asia now on the bill now, are you guys going to mix things up at all? Sounds like you’ll have two distinct sets here.
Yeah, originally we were thinking about it being sort of loose, but for the purpose of this tour, Asia will do an opening act set, and then Yes will play.
Are you going to bring Geoff (Downes) out for “Machine Messiah” maybe, or…
Well, that’s a very good point, you know (laughs). I have mused a bit about it, I haven’t actually asked him. I do know he’s capable of playing it, though, because you may remember a few years back there was going to be the…what was it called…the More Drama tour that we were going to do (but actually we didn’t end up doing) where Geoff was going to be involved. I know he’s still up to speed with it, but as I said, I haven’t asked him about it yet, so…
I’m going to print anything’s possible, and see what you guys do out there. So with the two separate sets, are you going to still have time to sort of stretch out with some of the longer chestnuts like “Close to the Edge” or “Gates of Delirium” ?
Well, of course the problem is that having an opening act obviously reduces the amount of time we’ll be playing, so… I don’t think you’ll be seeing any gargantuan pieces on this tour, because they would just physically take up too much time and reduce the amount of music we’ll be able to do in the show.
What do you typically eat for breakfast while you’re touring?
(laughs) When I’m touring? I’m not a big breakfast person normally, I might just grab a Starbucks or something, maybe something to eat with it, depends if I’m in an airport or what. Sometimes we drive between shows. I don’t know, nothing special really, might stop at a Subway. (laughs)
On the whole, I like Kellogg Special K, blueberry flavor. (laughs)
Ho! I like that one myself. Final tour-related question. You have a really ambitious July laid out here. Like, you have very few days off, looks like.
New Jersey, July 26: You’re going to be at the Great Adventure Amphitheatre in Jackson, and you’re not going to be in Philadelphia until the 28th. Does anybody want to check out Six Flags on the 27th, while you’re right there and you have an extra day?
Does anybody want to check out what where?
You’re playing the Great Adventure Amphitheatre, which is a Six Flags amusement park amphitheatre. I was wondering if anybody had already mapped out, you know, what rides they might…
(laughs) I don’t know, I’m not big on rides myself. Well, maybe when I was younger I was a little bit more, but I’ve only been to those parks with my kids, you know. But I didn’t even know we were playing Six Flags actually, thanks for telling me.
That’s the only Six Flags I saw on the tour schedule, if you want to take advantage of it. Speaking of kids – and congratulations on your most recent one by the way -
When should we expect, or can we expect, and why don’t we have, a Rock Band or Guitar Hero version of Yes, with a Rickenbacker bass and, like, six plastic keyboards?
(laughs)Well, OK. I’m thinking that could happen. There has been some conversation between Xbox and management. It may actually happen at some point.
That is great news for all the prog rock fans out there!
(laughs) Yeah. OK, I’ll definitely make a point of mentioning it to my manager and find out if there’s been any progress made.
Absolutely bubble it up there. I mean, you guys could have your own unique set of fake instruments that everybody would be playing.
Second non-tour question. Bobby Fischer was rumored to listen to “I’ve Seen All Good People” quite a bit before he played against the Russians. I don’t know if you’ve heard this one before…
I’ve never, ever heard that. Is that really true?
It is rumored that he liked it; Fragile had come out before he defeated Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Chess Championship. It had just come out, and allegedly he was listening to it a lot, because of the lyrics. He passed away before anybody could confirm or deny this, but I was wondering if you…I guess if you haven’t heard this, you’re not taking any credit for his victory, but that was where I was headed.
(laughs) Well I mean, basically the first part of “I’ve Seen All Good People”, “Your Move”, is kind of chess-related, so I guess that’s what it’s about.
It could be completely made-up for all I know. (Wikipedia sometimes is)
I’ve never heard it before, so…
I’ll have to follow up with somebody who knew Bobby. Next Q regards the album 90125. The common misconception is that this a Los Angeles ZIP code, when apparently it’s a catalog number.
That’s exactly right, in fact, I can’t remember the exact numbers, but the guy who was designing the 90125 sleeve – I think his name was Garry Mouat – he had the idea of just using the record company catalog number. Originally it was going to be 8, 9 something, 56. But we were a little late in finishing, so it got bumped back to 90125.
So my question related to that is, if you were the city planner here in Los Angeles… We looked at the grid for you. Playa del Rey is 90094; Beverly Hills of course is 90210; 90125 would slot somewhere in the middle there. If you were the city planner, where would you stick that ZIP code in Los Angele-
(laughing) Is there an existing 90125 ZIP code?
It is not a valid ZIP code, so this is your chance. Where do you want it.
Where would I like it to be?
Oh, I don’t know, somewhere in, oh, what’s that area between Malibu and Bel-Air…
Brentwood’s kind of part of it, but it’s called the…
The Palisades, there you go. That’s one of my favorite areas in LA.
OK. We’re slotting it there, you heard it here first! Next question. Are you on Twitter? Do you tweet?
No, I don’t. I’m hooked up with enough interactive information (laughs) as it is, so I’ve actually not twittered or tweeted.
I have tried it a bit, but I tend to follow your lead. And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we’d rather have you playing the bass than tweeting.
(laughs) OK, thank you.
Want to talk about your website right now. Your last blog post has a picture of you with Dave Grohl and Vinnie Paul from Pantera. What’s going on in this photo? Or do you know.
I’d just jammed with the Foos onstage at the Joint in Las Vegas, which I think is now closed, or they’ve redone it or something. But I just happened to be there visiting a buddy of mine. I was in Vegas, and they were playing. I’m good friends with Taylor Hawkins, and he invited me to go and jam on a song with them, so I did.
The photo was after the show. That’s basically it, I just picked one tune. It was a lot of fun though. Those guys are a lot of fun.
Getting down to the last question here. My personal favorite Yes album, beginning to end, is Relayer, where I believe you hit some truly beautiful, transcendent moments…it’s my favorite, so my question to you: From beginning to end, do you have a favorite Yes album, and if so, what is it and why?
You know, I obviously like tracks from different albums, and so I don’t know if there’s overall one favorite album. I have a penchant for Fragile, and of course 90125 as well. We’ve always done some interesting things on all of the albums we’ve made in any particular period, so I can’t really just vote for one.
Well you do have “The Fish” on Fragile, so…
Well, that’s true. One of the reasons why I like it.
Chris, thanks for your time, and we’re looking forward to seeing you out here in a little less than a month at Gibson. Good luck with the tour!
OK man, thanks. Come say hello!
Per usual we’ll have some tickets to the Yes/Asia show to hand out closer to the date of the big night at Gibson. Stick around.
Group Photo, L-R: Alan White, Chris Squire, Benoit David, Steve Howe, Oliver Wakeman