#askYES – Q&A with Billy Sherwood – 25 August 2015

//#askYES – Q&A with Billy Sherwood – 25 August 2015

#askYES – Q&A with Billy Sherwood – 25 August 2015

Matthew Silver
Billy, I just would like to say thank you for being here. I can only imagine the feelings you must have – adventure, fun and excitement, mixed with sorrow for the loss of such a great friend. I have been a fan of yours since the early 90’s, and I look forward to seeing you in Saratoga on the 8th. From what I’ve seen and heard of this tour, you all are on fire! Keep up the great work, and welcome back to Yes!


That’s very sweet, thank you very much I appreciate that. Very kind.


Ronald Iwaszkiewicz
Billy- less a question and more a comment. I saw the show this past Friday in Huber Heights, OH. I wasn’t sure anyone could replace Chris, but I thought you did a hell of a job, on both the bass lines and the backing vocals. That side of the stage is in very good hands! Welcome back!


That’s very sweet. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.


Mike Kister
How are you feeling? Are you having some fun? Whats the coolest thing happening on the tour so far? Anyway. Hope that you have fun. kick ass! be safe.


The loss of Chris was a real heavy impact. We were very close friends over almost three decades, so doing this job is a double edged sword. There are times when my mind goes to Chris and I start getting sad up there and then there’s other times where I’m very excited to play the music because it’s such amazing compositions that he left to play.

I told Chris, just before he died, I said “you’ve left some amazing things here to play”.

It’s very hard to describe. The word I keep using which sums it up the best for me is ‘surreal’ because that’s really what it is for me to do this right now. No-one expected us to lose Chris. If you’d have asked me, five years ago, “Do you believe you’ll be back in YES in five years?” I would’ve said “absolutely not” you know, so it’s very strange and it’s very surreal.

I’m honoured to be part of the band. YES is in my heart and my passion and my DNA. It has been forever, as all the YES fans know already. I’m happy to be here and happy to be able to honour Chris’ wishes, which were to carry on and keep going forward. That’s what he wanted.

In his final days, we were speaking and it was paramount in his mind – “keep this thing going, please”, so I’m happy to be doing that.

“What’s the most exciting part of the tour?” Well, ironically, the coolest thing happening for me is the fact that Toto are playing on this tour because when I was a kid and just starting out in the business, the first band I ever had was called ‘Lodgic’. We were produced and discovered by the guys in Toto and they took us to A&M Records and they got us a record deal and basically started my career off.

They’ve remained friends ever since – we’re talking 1980 here, you know, 81/82 somewhere around there – so I’ve known these guys for a long time and they’re like brothers and they’re family. So to have this incredible situation unfold with YES and then to come out here on the road and to be able to spend every day hanging with my friends in Toto – it’s just, again, it’s just surreal and bizarre.

I just had breakfast with Steve Porcaro and we were reminiscing about the old days and, you know, going back to the eighties and stuff and how we both ended up here sitting having breakfast together in 2015 on a YES/Toto tour. Life is very interesting and has a lot of unexpected twists and turns. This is definitely one of the heaviest for me and to have these guys out here with me during this period is an extra comfort layer to be able to do what I do and to be able to put my mind at rest and be able to do the job. So there’s that answer.

Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire

Hanging with David Paich backstage… This guy is responsible for opening the door, he produced the first “Lodgic” record along with Steve Porcaro. The entire YES experience is very surreal, and reuniting this closely with the Toto guys makes it all the more so many years later

Hanging with Steve Lukather backstage yes toto show tonight… come see it !!!

steveporcaro

Steve Porcaro came to hang at soundcheck !!!


Mike Gallagher
Billy. I saw the show in NJ a week ago. Great job! What was the most difficult song in the set to play/ learn?


Well, I knew all of the Yes bass lines from being a kid. When I was 15 or 16 and really diving into bass seriously, all I did was play ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, ‘Relayer’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Going For The One’. So I had a grip on all of this stuff from a very early age. That said, really executing it with the band is a whole different thing, and what I have found, strangely, even though it’s kind of a simple thing to play really – Going For The One.

It’s kind of a simple bass line to play for me. And the vocals are simple. But when you put them together, it’s super-complicated. Surprisingly, that’s been the one song that I really have to concentrate and get my shit together to play. Rhythmically speaking, the vocals are on the downbeat and the bass is pushing or vice versa.

It’s funny because I’ve had people send me comments like “hey man, you need to smile more” and there’s times where I just have to concentrate. You know what I mean? That’s the last thing I’m thinking about. I just want to make sure I’m playing the right notes and singing the stuff.

Just putting that all together – that’s where Chris was such a master. He made it look so damn easy all the time.

And it’s funny because people ask me “Do you think about Chris during the set?” and there are moments when I think about him, but I have to compartmentalise it so I don’t start slipping away and getting depressed on stage – that’s the last thing anybody wants to see – but there are other times like the end of Starship Trooper, where I’m playing the bass pedals and I’ve got the fuzz going and it’s this big thing – I just think to myself – “Chris what did you leave me here to figure out, Jesus!” – he made it look so easy – and my leg’s hurting as I’m trying to stand on one leg to play the pedals.. .

Alan said “Yeah, Chris was a master at standing on one leg” and I said “I know that, I have to keep switching up because my leg’s cramping” so it’s been kind of interesting to discover a kind of Achilles heel (if you will) in areas I didn’t really expect. But I’m getting a grip on them as we go.


Gregory Rivera
Billy, What Yes tunes would you like to play that are not on the current set list and what is your favorite Yes song to play?


I have been lobbying for ‘Gates of Delirium’ because that’s just such an epic piece of music. I like the dark side of YES, and ‘Gates of Delirium’ is a very dark record with the whole battle sequence and everything like that. I just loved that stuff growing up and I know that song like the back of my hand. The bass lines are just incredible through the whole thing. So I’ve been lobbying to play ‘Gates of Delirium’ but I don’t know how far my vote goes just yet… give me some time!


Chris Kee
Is there a rarely-played (or never played) Yes song you are really chomping at the bit to play live?


There are many, but there’s only so much time in a set. As things progress, which looks like they are, we’ve had some successful touring here so far and there’s other promoters and more opportunity coming online – I envision YES being back at a place where it plays by itself for three hours, rather then playing with another band, and at that point with a three hour set that we can fill, there’ll be some other material that I’m definitely gong to be suggesting.

I would love to play ‘Future Times/Rejoice’ from ‘Tormato’. I would love to play ‘Gates of Delirium’, which isn’t played often. We’re talking about playing ‘Machine Messiah’ and ‘Drama’ stuff, which I love.

There’s plenty of stuff out there that I would love to dive into, but my favorites, if I could choose – ‘Gates of Delirium’ would definitely be part of the set and so would ‘Tomato’ – a lot of it – I love ‘Future Times/Rejoice’, ‘On The Silent Wings Of Freedom’, ‘Release, Release’. I love all that stuff, and it’s rarely played.


Jeff Wagner
If it were only up to you, and the band did another three-album tour, which albums would you choose?


Oh god, I would choose ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, which is really two albums, isn’t it? And probably ‘Relayer’. I don’t know if there’d be anyone left in the audience when we were done but those are the things I would like to play. You might lose those who came for ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ and ‘Roundabout’ but that’s beside the point.


William Govier ‏@govierbill
On this latest Yes your, which Chris Squire vocal part do you like performing the most, and why?


Well it goes back to ‘Going For The One’ and the verses where Chris sings “open windows” and that bit behind the vocal – there was something about that part that always intrigued me and for years I never really knew what he was singing back there ’cause of the way it’s mixed with the phasing on it, it’s kind of hard to really tell what was being sung. But I’ve always loved that part. It’s a funny thing that when it came time to start rehearsing, I called Chris and said “So I’m working on ‘Going For The One’ and I’m on this background vocal, what exactly are you singing there? I’ve known you forever but I’ve never really asked”

And he said “I say “open windows””. And he goes “you just mixed the live version of that, you know you could just refer to the live version, you have all the masters”. I said “well I know but I’ve got the genuine article on the phone, just tell me what you said”

So, he informed me and that’s actually my favourite thing to sing of Chris’s all night long. It’s a small little weird thing but it just reflects his trip so much to me right there in that moment, between the bass line and that harmony, for me that it is Chris Squire right there. That’s one of the definitive areas for me.

And strangely, the other area that I think the other area that I think about Chris a lot in is that little silly bass riff in Owner of a Lonely Heart, during the breakdown. The ‘booweee dum dum dumdumdum’ before the third chorus. For whatever reason I don’t know, but I just immediately start thinking about Chris and, so it’s strange, the little things that trigger those thoughts.


Meetwood Flac
Hi Billy, looking forward to catching you in Bristol, UK next year – Q – Did you ever consider picking up Chris’ Rick and using it for the current tour? It would have been quite a moment.


Yeah, you know that was the biggest conversation going on when all of this broke. I had so many people asking “are you going to play the Rick?” and even people offering their Rickies to play. The reality is I’ve just never been a Ricky guy.

When I was growing up, as much as I worshipped Chris, when I went to go buy my first bass, I finally had enough money to buy a nice bass and there was this beautiful black 4001 at the guitar store in Vegas and I went down there and I played it and for me, ergonomically, right where I like to pick is where that pick guard thing is that covers the pickup. So immediately I was like “Oh my god! Wait a minute!”

I didn’t expect that. Chris was a big guy so for him to back off that thing and pick behind it or in front of it was no big deal for him. But for me ergonomically speaking, I found it was starting to give me a weird cramp just from having to get in position to pick things. So I never really played a Ricky. I’ve owned so many different basses. Never owned a Ricky, except for the one Chris gave me – the signature model of his – but that’s more of a keepsake. I don’t really even play that one. So, no, I’m not going to be playing a Rickenbacker.

One of the last conversations I had with Chris, he said “Look, I’m watching the temperature out there of what’s going on and it seems the YES fans are accepting of you coming in and standing in for me and everything like that and everything seems cool” and I said “Yeah, there’s just one issue” and he said “What’s that?” and I said “Well, everyone is asking me, you know, are you going to play a Ricky, are you going to play a Ricky??” and Chris stopped me and he goes “Oh my god! That would be so fucking ridiculous!”

So I said “I’m so glad you said that, ’cause I don’t want to play one, it’s just not my bag” and he said “No man, I know. You don’t need to worry about that. You do what you do. Be yourself and just play the music, you know what I mean? And be comfortable on whatever you want to play. Don’t worry about that”.

He did offer. He said “You can play any of my guitars. It’s not that I don’t want you playing any of my guitars but I know how you are and you’ve got your own trip and you always have had. And that’s kind of what I dig about you” and I said “Well, I appreciate that and I’m just going to hold right there”

And so I’m playing what I play, which is Spector. I endorse Spector basses and I have since the eighties. I love their basses. They’ve made me a beautiful custom eight string that’s just gorgeous and has such a great tone, and then I have a five string and a couple of fours and some other basses of theirs – a fretless and some other things. And I play other basses, but as far as endorsing a company, these guys have been just so great to me and I’m a loyal guy and I love the way they sound, you know. If I didn’t like the way they sound, I don’t care if they were giving them to me or not, I wouldn’t play them, you know, but they just sound phenomenal and so I will be playing my Spectors on the road.


Steve Polydoros
Hey Billy. Did you and Jon D. have to rehearse very much to work out the backing vocals that you are now singing? Looking forward to the show in L.A.


I had three days rehearsal! And that’s not saying it in a bad way, like, we didn’t have time. They actually wanted to rehearse for ten days and I said “are you doing that for me?” and they said “Yeah” and I said “I only need a few days ’cause I got this, you know” and they said “really, okay, well how’s three days?” I said “that’s plenty”.

I had already done my homework. I mean, I’m a producer and an engineer and I make a lot of records and the one thing I learned a long time ago is that you don’t show up to the session not knowing what you’re supposed to do. And so that’s been my mantra and my mindset through my entire career. Anything I do, I show up prepared. And, as was the case with this, I got my shit together.

As I said earlier, I already know the stuff, so it was just a matter of really locking it down. Having stood next to Chris for so many shows as I did on the ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘The Ladder’ tours and then even going back to the ‘Talk’ tour, a lot of times Chris and I would double parts. He would say to me ‘just sing along with me – lets double it, so it sounds like a double track in the studio kind of thing, but live”.

I was already familiar with a lot of his parts so a lot of that came very naturally and we just fitted it in three days and off we went and started touring. That being said, I’m sort of just now feeling like I don’t have to think about any of that any more ’cause it’s on autopilot. Where the first few shows it was like “I have to concentrate on this and hit all these marks”, now I’m actually able to perform a little bit as a opposed to just standing there and just delivering the parts. I’m trying to branch out a little and perform. Don’t expect me to do Chris’s flamingo stance – that’s not going to happen. But, you know, just moving around and having more fun with it and loosening up a little is now the sort of mode I’ve slipped into.

Backstage in #SanAntonio #texas #jondavison #billysherwood #yesshows #yesband #graffiti

A photo posted by Yes – The Band (@yesofficial) on


Monte Montemayor
Billy, how are you settling in playing with Alan White? I’m always curious in situations like this. Chris and Alan played together so long they were almost an extension of each other. Has there been any growing pains? Or did you 2 just sort of naturally click and gel??


It was very natural. I don’t know if the guy who asked the question is aware but Alan was the drummer in Circa, as well, my band with Tony Kaye that we’ve had for years. We have a new album coming out on Frontiers next year. Alan White was the first drummer, when Circa started with myself, Tony Kaye and Jimmy Haun.

So I had played with Alan as a bass player before on that level and I’ve been playing off and on with Alan over the years in various capacities for so long that it’s a symbiotic relationship and there was nothing odd at all. We are able to read each other’s minds pretty much just like he did with Chris. Of course, obviously, with Chris he had 40 years of doing this and you know they could just raise an eyebrow and they knew what each other was about to do. With Alan and I, he’s adjusting to a different bassist but I’m hitting a lot of the same targets that were hit before so he’s not having to adjust too hard.

The grooves have been great and the tempos are back up where they should be, which was kind of a pet peeve of mine. I used to tell Chris and the guys “you need to pick up the tempo.. It’s called ‘Tempus Fugit’ you know what I mean?” So the tempos are back up where they should be, everything’s grooving and it’s powerful. I’ve known Alan for so long and we’re friends and it’s very familiar territory. This entire experience is very familiar, and it is an instant groove between the two of us.


Martin Jacobsen
Billy: How are you holding up? Can we as fans do anything to help you? You’ve come to us as a fellow mourner. I’ve read about your relationship with Chris and his wish for you to play with YES. Your role in YES gives the fans a chance to come together with you. Let us know what we can do for you.


Well that’s a very kind thing to say and I appreciate the heartfelt sentiment in that. All I need you to do is support the band.

I’m very active on Facebook and the internet and I try to reply to anyone who reaches out to me. I appreciate the support that’s gone on and I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received of condolences, well wishes, welcome back, and all this stuff.

I know it’s difficult for everyone out there. It was extremely difficult for me. Those six weeks when I found out Chris was ill and then his death, it just wiped me out completely. But what has come out the other side is this sort of determination to make this work on the biggest level that is possible and take it as far as is possible because that’s what Chris wanted me to do and that’s what the band wants to do. So we’re all on the same page to move this thing forward.

There were questions of like “Will this be the memorial tour and that’s it, they’re done?” And the answer to that is “absolutely not!”

The band wants to go forward and thrive and that’s what I want it to do and that’s what Chris wanted it to do. So all I ask from the fans is just the support for the band.

There are, of course, some nay-sayers out there who say “No Jon Anderson, No YES” or “No Chris, No YES” and I can appreciate and respect their opinion. But by the same token after Chris died that mantra now offends me because these are Chris’ wishes that I’m following up on. So when they say things like “No Chris, No YES”, they don’t understand. It’s exactly the opposite of what Chris wanted. So they’re speaking on behalf of my friend and they’re 180 degrees the wrong way.

So where it used to just bug me a little bit, now it pisses me off to be deadly honest with you. I know that there’s always going to be a percentage of people who drop out. You can’t convince them that this is YES, they believe that it’s a tribute band and all that nonsense. But the majority of the YES fans out there, I’m happy to say – the true YES fans – know that this is just another one of those transitions in this band which is what makes this band so magical.

Over these 40 years it’s gone through this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy, and it’s always come out the other side shining with a new YES presence and brilliance on the scene. This is obviously one of the most jarring transitions possible because Chris was always there. He was the only guy who didn’t go through the revolving door. There’ve been people who’ve gone and come back and gone and I’m one of them.

I was there in 1994 and I split and I was there in 1996 through 2000 and I left and then came back for production, so, you know, when ever anyone ever asks me “Do you think you’ll ever join YES again?” I would say “well, I’m not planning on it but I can’t say no because, who knows what happens in this band?” And as it happens, here we are!

So for me the future of YES is very bright and vivid and I can see it and I want to go for it and so does the band. And that’s my personal drive and then there’s the fact that Chris himself told me “you got to keep this going man, YES has to go into the 21st century and be strong and I know you can do this” and he put a lot of faith and trust in this position and I respect that and I honour it.

And I’m defending it now with a sort of determination that when a nay-sayer sends me a message or puts on my Facebook “This isn’t the real YES!” I just delete them and they’re out of here, they’re gone. I just don’t want to know about any of that negativity because it has no bearing on what we’re doing and where we’re going.

I know that the majority of the YES fans are grateful that we are doing this and they’re as happy about this as we are that we’re going forward and they understand what’s going on, ’cause I’m getting the messages, and there they are at sold out concerts. I’m talking to them backstage and meeting them in the streets of whatever city we’re in and so I have faith in the broader majority YES community that they will lift the band and take it forward with them because without them we don’t have anything.

I can want and desire all I want, but without a fanbase you’re not going to go anywhere and in this case the YES fans have rallied around this whole thing and as I’ve said the majority – which I’m happy to see – wants it to thrive and go forward and is seeing this transition as an opportunity for a new future. And that’s what I believe too. As I’ve said on my Facebook page, “nay-sayers be damned!”

I don’t really care, you can’t call this the death of YES as I’m out here doing this with YES. We know what the future is and we know what Chris wanted, so off we go.

What’s shocking is when people come to my page where all these beautiful people are coming to give me well wishes and condolences and then they plant that negative flag like it’s their right to have it there. And when I delete it they send me “Hey, you deleted my post!” and I’m like, “Dude, you can’t come into my living room and trash my place, you’re out of here! Let me tell you, you’re the unwanted party guest, you’ve got to go now.”

The other thing, there’s the personal factor for me, which rubs me very raw, these days, especially with Chris’ passing, but then there’s there musician side of me. I was raised by musical parents. My parents were entertainers and my Dad expressed to me at a very early age, “Open your mind to all music because you’re going to benefit from that in the long run and there’s never a reason to discount anything because you can learn and enjoy it from every angle of music”. And so I love jazz, pop, rock. One minute I’m listening to ‘Red’ by King Crimson and then the next minute I’m listening to ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears.

I like it all because there’s a value in music and art that, for me, I appreciate everyone’s contribution, so I what can I say? I can’t relate to this mindset that just shuts down. You get the same with thing with Genesis fans, where it’s like “post-Peter Gabriel, I will not listen to Phil Collins” and meanwhile there are so many amazing records in that entire catalogue, why would you deny yourself that beautiful experience? I don’t get it. You know what I mean? And so that’s my attitude and my mantra and I’m sticking to it and everybody else – do what you’ve got to do to rationalise it.


Mark Thorne ‏@MarkDavidT
I first saw you with the Chris Squire Experiment in ’92. Any recollections to share?


I just had so much fun on that tour and ironically, going back to the whole inner-family loop, Steve Porcaro was on that tour with us from Toto so there I was with Chris, Alan White, Steve Porcaro, Jimmy Haan and Mark Williams and we just had a blast playing this music. It was truly an experiment that eventually evolved and became Conspiracy.

I think Chris knew. He called it the ‘Chris Squire Experiment’ to get it rolling but by the time we had moved on and started writing things he said “This is a band thing, let’s come up with a name” so jokingly we decided to call it Conspiracy because whenever we were together people were asking “What are you guys plotting?” So for us it was an inside joke calling it Conspiracy, but that’s what it turned into.

But the touring cycle that we did – we did some shows in Arizona and LA and then went to Hawaii. It was a blast, man, and we had a great time. Everybody was in great spirits and we played some great music and I don’t remember anything but having a great time on those three… I think it lasted about three weeks and it was fun, it was a lot of fun.


Dave Eichenberger
Hi Billy! What phaser (or other effect) do you use on the guitar for Homeworld or that is all over the House of Yes DVD? Swirly!


That’s a good question. I used to have a rack of a bunch of digital gear, you know ART guitar processors and Korg stuff and some Roland things and whatnot. And I would combine all those into the tone that I liked.

But the thing that gave that really deep, rich modulation that you’re talking about on ‘Homeworld’ – it’s a red chorus pedal. It’s just a chorus pedal and I fell in love with this pedal while I was using it when we were doing the writing of The Ladder.

It just adds this great colour – obviously the same thing that this guy picked up on – the same thing that I dug about it. So it’s the chorus pedal, that’s really the magical thing and I probably over-used it!


Chris Kee
Billy, apparently, there’s an old Yes magazine article in which Jon Anderson states that ‘Love Shine’ came about during the Keys to Ascension sessions. He calls it a very commercial tune unlike the rest of the album which was more traditional long form non-radio Yes tracks. Myself and others always believed Loveshine was another of the Squire/Sherwood tracks that was used on Open Your Eyes. Can you give us some insight into the song, it’s origins and how it progressed/changed from Keys sessions to OYE?


It’s interesting because I was asked this exact same question the other day. I guess Jon made this statement and, you know, you can’t really pull one over on the YES fans and start re-writing history. They know, you know what I mean?

‘Love Shines’ – I wrote that music then I brought it to Chris and said “What do you think, I mean, this is kind of commercial and I know it’s not really ‘Going For The One’ or ‘Gates of Delirium’ but it’s kind of a cool tune, what do you think?”

He said “I dig this, let’s work on it!” So Chris and I developed the rest of the backing track and basically we sent the track to Jon Anderson who was in Hawaii. At that time, ‘Keys to Ascension’ was already done. Rick had quit. It was over, you know?

That’s the other myth about that period that’s bizarre is people saying that Rick was kicked out because I wanted to play keyboards or something like that. No! The reality was as I was mixing the album, he quit! As I was mixing ‘Keys 2’, I watched the band basically just breaking up before my eyes and I said to Chris “You guys are my favourite band, I can’t just sit here and watch this happen, we’ve got to be proactive, what do you want to do?” Chris said “Let’s start writing, and one of the songs we started writing was ‘Loveshine’

I had that groove and all the chords and everything mapped out and then Jon came up with a lot of the lyrical content on top of it. He did his thing, but I don’t know why he’s getting that confused with ‘Keys to Ascension’, ’cause it didn’t exist during that period. It didn’t exist until I sat down in my studio and came up with the chord progressions. I don’t want to be at odds with Jon over history, but as I recall, I remember writing that song, in terms of the music.


Jim Pieschel
Billy, whom were your musical influences growing up?


It all started for me with classic R&B and Motown. I was into the funky stuff when I was a kid. I was such a huge Earth Wind & Fire, Ohio Players and Funkadelic fan.

And then I also got into the classics – Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra and the big band stuff because my dad was a big band leader so that had a huge impact on what I was listening to.

I listened to a lot of stuff growing up, all different kinds of stuff, stuff that people would be shocked that I liked, probably.

In 1973, I was listening to Chaka Khan when my brother said “you’ve got to check this out” and he played me the beginning of ‘Close To The Edge’. I stopped him about 10 minutes in and said “how can you listen to this? This is horrible. It’s just chaos, I don’t get this at all!”

About two weeks later I went into his room and I’m like “can you play me that one more time?” and then all of a sudden I started getting it and unfortunately for all the other bands I was listening to, YES became ‘it’. YES was all I wanted to know about, and I just became such a huge YES fan. ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, you know, and all that stuff at the time. I still enjoyed other music but I was never really into bands on the level I was with YES.

During the period of being 13 to about 20, you couldn’t talk to me about anything else. I didn’t want to know about it. But as I got older, my dad told me “You’ve got to expand your horizons a little and listen to other things” so I started listening to Genesis, Gentle Giant, Weather Report, Return to Forever, Chick Corea and Mahavishnu. I also got into Devo and all that, but YES has always been the pinnacle of all the bands that I have enjoyed throughout my life. And still do. It’s still my favorite band, even after whatever I’ve gone through with them, which at times has been pretty heavy, they’ve always remained my favourite band.


Ian Brumbaugh
Billy, when’s last time you listened back to that first World Trade record? Any memories, stories, proudest moments or favorite songs you can share? Thanks


Interesting. Ironically, World Trade just got signed to Frontiers to make another album 27 years later with the original line-up so whoever this person is will be very happy to hear that. The first album – I don’t really listen to the things that I make. I tend to make them and then move onto the next thing and then finish that and move onto the next thing and finish that. Every now and then I might listen to something – a track or two – but for the most part I really never go back and listen to the things that I made.

But I have a definite vivid memory of making that record because that’s right when I met Chris and started hanging out with him. I asked him “Would you please come sing on my record, we’re doing this World Trade album and I’d love you to come and do an overdub just so I’ve got you on this record, man!”

So Chris is actually on that record singing ‘Sense of Freedom’. He sings that background part at the end: “hold on to your sense of freedom” and that’s the thing I remember the most, standing in the studio watching him sing and looking at the guys and going “it’s fucking Chris Squire out there!” I was still in complete awe at that point. So those are the memories I have of that record obviously I love the guys in the band and everything but the one memory I retain pretty vividly is that afternoon that Chris came over to do the backing vocals on ‘Sense of Freedom’.


Jack Gowen
Billy, any future Circa shows on the horizon? And when will we see the new Circa CD?


Well the new Circa CD will be coming out on Frontiers sometime next year. It’s called ‘Silent Resolve’ and it’s super proggy! There’s only four songs on the entire record – so that gives you a little detail of thing we’re going for. And it’s really really good and I’m really proud of it. Tony’s very proud of it as well as the other guys, Scott and Rick, they both did a great job on there too and we’re very excited about that coming out.

I think what is going to happen is: I’m making a record on Frontiers that I just finished, called ‘Citizen’, which is a concept album about a lost soul who is reincarnated in various historical settings. It’s quite interesting and it’s got a lot of great artists on there. It’s my record basically but I’ve got guests: Steve Hackett, Steve Morse, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Alan Parsons, Colin Moulding from XTC, Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater and I apologise for not remembering them all!

The record’s really cool, I just mixed it before I left and I got it mastered right before we came out on this tour. I believe it’s coming out in November – don’t quote me! – but I think it’s coming out in November and the idea is that they want me to tour it. So I said to the label “well, you know, for me touring that, the best band I could get to do that behind me would be Circa and so they said “well that would be great idea because we’re going to release your Circa record too”.

So Circa will be the band that is sort of, for lack of a better phrase, the ‘House Band’ for ‘Citizen’, and then the idea is to bring in guests, maybe Steve Hackett comes and plays for a week or John Wetton comes and joins us for a week or Alan Parsons. And we take it out and we do some shows like that. So that’s the idea being floated around right now.

Proper management have stepped up to the table and agents and it’s early going but we’ve talked about all this so I think the next time you see Circa live it’ll probably be with this ‘Citizen’ project. The ‘Citizen’ album is an hour long and obviously if we’re the only band playing that night, we’re going to need a couple of hours, so I’m assuming what’s going to happen is we’ll probably do an hour of Circa music and then come back out and do the ‘Citizen’ set,

So that’s the plan that we’re looking at right now, which is really cool because I love playing with Circa. It’s such a great band and Tony Kaye is one of my closest friends and he’s just such a sweet dude, I love making music with that guy, and anytime we can play together live it’s just a blast, so I’m looking forward to that.

Tony Kaye & Billy Sherwood

Tony Kaye & Billy Sherwood


John Starlock ‏@MrKayley10
Whatever happened to the Squire Sherwood recordings in the 90s? Any chance of a collection in Chris’s memory with these and more?


Well, anything Squire/Sherwood was formulated and released, so ‘Conspiracy One’, ‘Conspiracy Two’, ‘The Unknown’, that’s where you’ll find all that stuff. There are no tracks lying around that I did with Chris that we have not found a home for.

Either they ended up on a YES album as was the case with ‘The More We Live’ being on ‘Union’ and as was the case with ‘Love Conquers All’ being on the ‘Yesyears’ Box Set.

And then all the music that we wrote from that point forward kind of sat in a can for a long time and then we decided “OK, let’s put this out as the first Conspiracy record” and so there you have the first Conspiracy record and then the second one and that’s all the music. There’s no hidden music anywhere. Chris and I, everything we wrote, we put somewhere on a record and so it’s all out there to be had. You’ve just got to find it.


Dave Schlom ‏@DaveSchlom
I hope you are truly supported by fans. Are we showering you with the appreciation you deserve? I thank you Billy.


That’s very sweet of you. Well, I kind of answered this one earlier.

I’m so happy, honoured and blessed to have so many of the YES fans supporting this. I feel the love and the passion and their desire for it to go forward. And that just charges me and fuels me up.

I think the nay-sayers are dwindling and getting smaller. Their numbers are getting smaller because the reality is it’s like a tsunami that’s just taken over them, you know, and that tsunami is really the wave of all the YES fans being positive and supporting this.

I’m just very honoured to have that kind of support and love sent to me. It doesn’t come lightly believe me. I appreciate it and it’s just amazing to me. Thankyou very much.

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2016-11-27T21:32:35+00:00