Jon_Anderson_Yes_Interview_Miami_2013Jon Anderson is one of those early pioneers of the British progressive rock scene still working who has earned the title of living legend. He was part of many important albums of the prog scene as a co-founding member and frontman of Yes. What a breath of fresh air that he appeared game to entertain some questions that I’m sure he has heard often with warmth and some amusement.

For instance, what happened that made the band carry on without him? “I was going to get back together with the band [in 2008],” he admitted while chatting over the phone, during some grocery shopping, “and then I got really sick, and then that’s when the band decided to move on and carry on touring with another singer and I just thought, well, I gotta get better first. It took me a while. It took me about eight months, nine months. And then I said, OK, well, they’re out there doing their thing maybe I should go out and do my thing, and that’s when I started really touring as a solo artist more and more, and it has become part of my life.”

It’s probably an explanation his given many times before. The fact that he put up with such questions twice in a row after my recorder failed following a 20-minute chat stands as proof that he is far from allowing an ego to overtake his humanity. Topographic OceansI regret that I lost a nice exchange about the band’s 1973 ambitions double-album Tales From Topographic Oceans, where he not only offered insight into its themes inspired by the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda but also what exploring that philosophy meant to him personally. He said, back then, record labels and some bands, were all about maximizing profit and excess. He was more interested in keeping his ego in check and maintaining a perspective unsullied by money and fame. Exploring this Eastern philosophy has helped keep him grounded as well as inspired much of Yes’ fantastic music and lyrics. We also spoke about meditation, which he still practices, and how Yes’ albums capture the sensation of meditation and bliss in its music.

Even though he is no longer with Yes, Anderson continues to compose and record new material as a solo artist not all that different from Yes. In 2011, he self-released a 20-minute-plus digital-only single entitled “Open” (Support the Independent Ethos, purchase direct through Amazon via this link). Not long after, he teased a follow-up called “Ever” that has yet to see release. “Yeah, I started it last year,” he noted, “and it has taken longer than I expected it. We’re down to the last framework of the songs—two-and-half songs. Altogether, it’s about eight songs that are all inter-working together. It’s still not quite finished. I’m working with them now with a friend … It’s a slow process. Music never happens when you think it is going to happen. You work on something and a week later you say, ‘Nah, that really didn’t work. I gotta try again.’ And you do. You gotta keep going until it feels right.”

Let’s face it, any fan of Yes’ music is waiting to hear about his return to fronting the band that has comfortably gone on without him. Well, he did answer that question as well as reveal plans with former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman in our interview, the bulk of which can be read in the “Miami New Times” music blog “Crossfade.” Jump through the blog’s logo below to read that article:

crossfade

As the quote in the headline notes, Anderson may indeed once again front Yes. In an earlier interview I did with Yes drummer Alan White, for the “Broward-Palm Beach New Times” music blog “County Grind,” his former bandmate hinted at the same possibility. You can read that interview by jumping through the blog’s logo below:

county_grind logo

Hans Morgenstern

Jon Anderson takes the stage Sunday, November 10, at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach. Two shows: 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $81.95. All ages. Call 800-653-8000 or visit ticketmaster.com. For more Jon Anderson tour dates, visit his official website.

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

Alan White drums. Image courtesy of Yes official siteWhile giant music festivals continue to bring in huge crowds to cities like Chicago (Lollapalooza) and even right here in my hometown of Miami (Ultra), more niche acts with dwindling followers who are growing more affluent are taking to the high seas (see my Weezer Cruise coverage). One of the more recent groups of musicians trying out the cruise music festival circuit are a batch of progressive rock bands who both started the genre and followed in their footsteps. The Cruise to the Edge tour sails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida next week, headlined by Yes, the band who produced one of the great early ‘70s prog albums: Close to the Edge.

While my more youthful colleagues at “New Times” covered the hanging asses and same-old beats at Ultra, I had an opportunity to speak to two prog legends who will be on this cruise: Yes drummer Alan White and U.K. bandleader Eddie Jobson. Both have landlocked shows, which I wrote about in the two “New Times” publications that cover South Florida.

The first musician I spoke with was White. My article was limited to the “County Grind” blog at the “Broward-Palm Beach New Times.” You can read it by jumping through the logo for the blog below:

county_grind logo

We covered a lot of territory on the phone. Including his memory of stepping into Bill Bruford’s shoes, when he left Yes for King Crimson in 1972. He remembers having to learn the early albums quickly. Close to the Edge was the last album Bruford recorded with the band. White came to Yes at just 23 years of age with some high-profile studio experiences with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and George Harrison. “I had three days to learn the repertoire including the new album they had just recorded,” White told me via phone, from a tour stop in Aspen, Colorado, “so I had to learn a lot of stuff in a few days.”

Up to that point, this was some of the most complex music White had to learn, as Bruford had made a name for himself in prog as one of the genre’s most complex rhythm men.Alan White by AlanCircus-Sept76 “Bill’s obviously a different drummer than me in certain ways, in certain ways not,” White noted. “I can do the technical stuff, but I can also do the rock ‘n’ roll background. I had my own band that was a rock/jazz type of thing for a long time before I joined Yes, so I was kinda prepared for all the time signatures, and that kind of stuff, which I got into and picked up on, and changed them a bit, to a degree, but kept most of the parts that made the music what it is.”

To read more of my conversation with White, jump through the link above. I plan to attend Yes’ live show and review it for the “New Times.” White said the band plans to play three of Yes’ more important albums from the ‘70s live: the Yes Album (1972), the-yes-albumClose to the Edge (1973) and Going for the One (1977). The show will take place at the same venue where I caught the Genesis tribute band the Musical Box, as it re-created that band’s acclaimed 1974 prog masterpiece the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway live (Genesis tribute band The Musical Box’ take on ‘The Lamb,’ and this writer returns to “New Times”). I shall up-date this post with a link to that review when it is published, so, Yes fans, take note and bookmark.

Meanwhile, my interview with Jobson in “Miami New Times” music blog “Crossfade” will also appear shortly, I’ll link here when that post appears. We spoke more in depth about the formation of U.K. and what he considers the last of the ‘70s prog rock groups and the place of prog in the ever-shifting landscape of popular music. He was quite insightful.

Update: Jump to the Jobson interview here (it has a link within it to more of our conversation and lots of vintage images and videos):

Eddie Jobson of U.K. on popular music: “Everything’s been superficialized;” my interview in “New Times” and more

Update 2: Jump through the image below of the band performing at the Hard Rock Live on Sunday night for the live review:

Yes

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)