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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Yes Special - Interview with Geoff Downes and Heaven and Earth Review

Legendary progressive rock band Yes, one of the most influential and respected bands in the genre have outlasted many of their contemporaries, crossing from West Coast psychedelia into epic traditional progressive rock symphonies, new wave FM rock, back to progressive epics and beloved anthems over the course of their 46 years, evolving band line-ups and 21 studio albums.

Their latest opus, Heaven and Earth (released in the UK on 21st July, and in the States in July 22nd) marks the first studio release with Jon Davison (who replaced Benoit David back in 2012) on vocals, and Geoff Downes third studio album, firmly consolidating his place as their keyboard player with the classic line up of Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White.

I was lucky enough to grab a brief chat with Geoff recently to talk all things Heaven and Earth, and the impact that Jon Davison has had on the band,

‘It’s a bit different from other Yes albums, Jon has been given a freer run, and it very much reflects his style. It’s a different album from Fly From Here, and the stuff we did with Trevor (Horn), working with Roy Thomas Baker has another style, something that a diverse band like Yes can bear.’

I asked Geoff about the writing process of the album,

‘It’s all new material; we had a clean slate that enabled us to take it in a direction that felt natural to all of us. Yes is fantastic music, and it’s nice to be able to make a contribution even at this stage in the bands career, Benoit wasn’t so much of a writer, whereas Jon has really contributed to the album’

I think Geoff was being overly modest, as he and Trevor Horn had a massive impact on one of my favourite Yes albums, 1980’s Drama, 

‘Drama, that came together in the studio, I’m very proud of it still, it sounds very fresh, and its what Yes needed at that point to move into a different arena for this type of music’

Of course with Geoff back on keyboard duties it’s nice to hear some of the Drama songs performed live,
‘Its good to play tracks like Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah as they fit nicely into the set, we performed a few on the Fly From Here tour, and hopefully we’ll do more going forward’

I did wonder, which tracks from the new album would make it into the live arena?

‘We start rehearsals next week, we’ve practiced some of the songs so we have an idea which ones will work, we may only do a few from the album, certainly Believe Again, maybe one of the shorter songs and move them around in the set.

Read on...

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