He’s ‘Good People’

Classic prog-rock bassist Chris Squire on keeping Yes fresh

Yes is alive. The groundbreaking English progressive rock band, scheduled to play at the Pearl on Aug. 19, first formed in 1968 and played its first Las Vegas show in 1971, according to Yes bassist Chris Squire. Yes has outlasted eight-track tapes, punk and disco—soldiering on, oblivious to trends, playing “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” to multiple generations of fans.

But if you’re looking to Squire for an explanation of the band’s longevity—if you’re hoping that the only member of the band who’s never quit can shed some light on Yes’ zombie-like endurance—well, forget it. He’s simply happy to still be doing this, and with people he likes.

“We have a really strong lineup now,” Squire says. “Geoff Downes just came back in 2011. He was originally in the band in 1980, on the Drama album … so it’s great to be playing with him. And, of course, we have Jon Davison as a new lead vocalist, and he’s doing a fantastic job. It seems the fans really like him.”

Perhaps the fans do like Davison, bassist for psychedelic rock band Sky Cries Mary and, not coincidentally, formerly of a Yes tribute band called Roundabout. But Davison is decidedly not original vocalist Jon Anderson, who was sidelined by respiratory issues in 2008. Even after Anderson recovered, he was not invited to appear on a subsequent album and tour.

Squire is cagey when asked about rumored plans to reconnect with Anderson and other founding members of Yes for a series of reunion shows.

“It’s sort of on the back burner at the moment,” Squire says. “There’s a possibility that in, I’m going to say 2014, that something like that does occur. But we haven’t got any definite plans just yet.”

What is in Squire’s immediate future is a Yes show at the Pearl—and he’s hopeful that fans will like the set list.

“Putting a set together becomes really difficult; we have 20-plus studio albums,” he says. “We don’t like to repeat ourselves year after year, so we take stuff out and put new stuff in. Of course, there are certain songs that people just love—‘Roundabout,’ and ‘Heart of the Sunrise.’ Usually we do ‘You and I,’ but we’ve even just dropped that out, just to keep the set fresh.”

And so it goes, and has gone for 44 years: Yes keeps mixing things up, from the playlist to the players. And it’s not stubbornness or love of money that keeps the band going through the rise and fall of trends and technologies. To Chris Squire, there’s only one reason to be a Yes man.

“I just love being up there, playing to people,” he says.

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