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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Geoff Downes On Yes’ New Album With Roy Thomas Baker: ‘It’s Been Very Refreshing’

Frontiers Records

The ever-busy Geoff Downes has just completed work on a new album with Asia, even as he begins recording another with Yes. Significant changes mark both projects, as the keyboardist moves forward without key collaborators in guitarist Steve Howe and producer Trevor Horn.

Downes’ relationship with Horn goes back to their days in the Buggles, but both of his previous albums with Yes (the ‘Drama’ project in 1980, and ‘Fly From Here’ in 2011) also included Horn as producer. Fast forward to Yes’ forthcoming studio effort, their first since ‘Fly From Here,’ and Horn has been replaced by Roy Thomas Baker — of Queen and early Steve Perry-era Journey fame.

Downes says collaborating with a new voice in the room has worked in Yes’ favor: “It’s been very refreshing, actually,” Downes tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “I think that Roy Thomas Baker, obviously, has an amazing reputation for recording bands.”

Meanwhile, Yes continues with Howe, who had earlier co-founded Asia while on a hiatus from that legendary prog outfit in the ’80s. The two resume items combined in 2006 when the original lineup of Asia reformed, and Howe had been recording and touring with both bands ever since. He finally left Asia early last year, replaced by Sam Coulson — a guitar prodigy recommended by Mr. Big’s Paul Gilbert. The first recordings from this new lineup of Asia, titled ‘Gravitas,’ are due in March.

Despite Howe’s departure, Downes says the guitarist remains interested in his old band. Even during the on-going Yes sessions with Baker, Downes says he kept Howe updated on their progress with ‘Gravitas.’

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