When Yes was touted as 'the next supergroup' in 1969- did you, at the time, think it was true?
[Laughs] I hope so. God- That seems so long ago- yes. We obviously got a lot of success is the seventies and we ended up playing a lot of very big shows around the US. So we did sort of achieve that status, I guess.
How does it feel to be performing most of your life?
I just feel very lucky that I have been able to earn a living at something that I really enjoy. And I am very grateful to all of the fans that have stuck with us since our beginnings, and a lot more who have joined along the way. Without them, I wouldn't be able to still be playing. Fortunately a lot of people come to see us still and I'm very grateful for that.
I saw Yes on the opening night of the 'Talk' tour. It was the greatest concert I have ever seen. What makes your live shows so outstanding?
[Laughs] I don't know, but I'm glad you had a good experience. I guess a lot of it must be luck, in a way. The fickle finger of fate has pointed at me and said 'you can do this for your living and have a good time as well,' because of course, music is its own reward. Especially when music is played really well by a bunch of guys that enjoy playing together- it's a great feeling to have and that brings great satisfaction in life.
How have you maintained mass appeal which spans generations?
I don't know that there's one definitive answers to that. There have been quite a few changes of personnel in the band, over the years, and, in a way- that has possibly helped Yes keep developing in various directions and come up with some new ideas when new members have joined. We've been fairly flexible and able to move around. And once again, as I've said, it's just great that 43 years after the band started, that we're still here and people want to see us. We're very happy that we just made a new album of new material which we haven't done for quite a few years, for various reasons, and which has been very well received by the press and the fans alike.
What were your influences, musically and otherwise for your new album, Fly From Here?
I don't think any thing particularly was an influence. Yes had an album in 1980 called Drama, which also had some of the same personnel involved in that. Geoff Downes was playing the keyboard and he has rejoined the band for this album, the Fly From Here album. He brings his covers with him, his keyboard covers- that influences the way the music sounds; and Trevor Horn producing, who was the singer on that Drama album, and then he was the producer of the 90125 album. He's part of the Yes alumni really. He was producing this new album and of course- he has a big influence because he's a very strong producer. So with all of us putting our heads together really, that's how we've come up with this new thing.
Who wrote the lyrics for the new album?
Oh we all shared in that. I wrote some of the lyrics, and Steve Howe, our guitar player wrote some lyrics. Trevor Horn also wrote some of the lyrics for the album. Then there were other songs where we wrote the lyrics all together- it's pretty much a shared experience.
How has the group dynamic changed since Benoit David became the lead singer for the band?
It's changed in a good way. I think Benoit has done a very good job on the new album of being the lead singer; the actual process of making the album was very smooth with him. Of course I was hoping that Trevor Horn was going to like him because this was the first time they were going to work together and I was most nervous that that wouldn't work. Not for any particular reason- but thankfully they got on very well and Trevor enjoyed working with Benoit and I think the truth comes out in his performances, which sound very good. It's been a successful pairing.
With the band's frequent line-up changes, how have you managed to stay involved since the beginning?
I have a standard answer for that: and that's more by default than by design. I mean, I seem to have just been there, in the band, and while various other members have gone off to do solo careers, as in Jon Anderson, and Rick Wakeman; both of those guys have come back and left a couple of times, to go off and do other projects... Alan White, the drummer, has been there since 1972 as well. So Alan and myself have stayed together and people have left and rejoined and that's really been the history of Yes.
Have those constant changes ever affected you musically?
Well- yeah, of course- they have. I think I said earlier, when new people come in, they usually come in with some fresh ideas, which then tends to sort of keep the Yes name alive because we've got some fresh approaches to things, with different musicians. So we've, in a way, survived as long as we have, probably because of the changes.
If you could reformulate Yes with any musicians, who would you choose for the line-up?
[chuckles] Well- I'm just going to say the current line-up is working for me just fine at the moment. I hope that we can spend the next couple of years touring around the world, with the Fly From Here album and then we'll put our heads together and come up with another new album with the same team- I really hope that happens.
How do you feel about Jon Anderson, [after listening to your new single] saying in a Rolling Stone interview, "I wasn't really convinced," "The new singer is singing good, but it sounded a bit dated to me. Also, the production wasn't as good as I expected. They've got a great producer with Trevor Horn, so what the hell are you doing?"
Well I don't know- obviously it's the first album we've done without him, since he left, and I think the production is very good myself. So, it sounds as though he is a little bit bitter is all I can say, but I really wish that he would wish us luck. We're doing the best we can.
When asked by Rolling Stone about a reunion tour, Jon Anderson said "You never know." Would you consider reuniting with him in the future for another album or a different tour?
Will there be a possibility? I've never closed the door to the idea, but obviously, not at the moment. Our focus is on this line-up, and to go and promote the new album. And by the time that we go around the world- that's going to take a couple of years, so that's what we'll be doing... Then, as I said, I think we'd like to make another new album then. I'm never going to close the door to the idea of working with anyone who's been in Yes if they wanted to come back. But not right now.