October 1, 1996
Mike Tiano: I guess the first question people are going to want to know is why you've waited so long since FISH OUT OF WATER to record this particular solo album.
Chris Squire: Oh, I started it just, like, as soon as I finished the other one! (laughs) I'm just real slow! I don't know why, I mean it is a long time. I guess probably because after having done the first one I just got really busy with Yes, I guess, and then various things changed in my life, I moved from England, there was always something that stopped me getting down to doing it again until now. And even now I've kind of been doing it over the period of the last four years or something anyway, so I've kind of been very slow about the whole process.
MOT: Are you saying that you started to write songs right after FISH OUT OF WATER-
CS: There is one song that we did the other day that I probably wrote in the `70s, there are a couple of songs I wrote in the `70s on there that I never ever got around to doing anything with.
MOT: Which titles are those?
CS: One is called "Red Lights Ahead", and I tried that over various times in rehearsal with the band and it never got anywhere, we tried that in...'87, around that period and I don't know what happened, it never quite developed and I tried it in rehearsals once with Tony Kaye and Alan White, and prior to that when Trevor was making a solo album, and I've never actually just tried to put it down myself but eventually I got Billy [Sherwood] interested enough to want to do, because he never particular cared for it either! It's been on of those songs, but it turned out really good!
MOT: So it's been rattling around your head for the first decade or so.
CS: Yeah, that's right. And there's another song called "Man in the Moon", which I completed recently, and I'd wrote the lyrics for it in the `70s, at least most of them, and I'd just completed it now, but the music I didn't do until now. It was always just a lyric song. In fact, Billy came up with the music.
MOT: What about the songs you were performing with the Chris Squire Experiment, like, "Say Goodbye".
CS: Yeah, well, we're thinking of throwing some of those on, we've actually done a version of "Say Goodbye" that I know Billy released it on his World Trade record, but we've done a slightly different version of it, and Alan's played drums on it as opposed to the different drummer on his, and we did a different mix, may adjust the vocal balances, so that's going to go on there. And we're also going to put the original version of "The More We Live" on there as well, which is that first version before the one that Jon sang, and then there's also a version of "Love Conquers All" that Billy and I sort of do Simon and Garfunkel vocals as opposed to the one that Trevor did on the YESYEARS album. So there's some of the tunes but there's different treatments of them and then I think everything else has not been heard of before, because there's fourteen tracks.
MOT: You're saying that even though most of the tracks are recently recorded there are some that were recorded a year or two prior to this.
CS: Yes, that's right but elements have been changed of who's playing on them and different vocal approaches and stuff like that have been used. We remixed them, we stripped them down again, done new vocals and new mixes. There are some elements that are on there, though, some of the guitar parts and the bass parts are the same, but a lot has changed around them. [To] your original question, yes, quite a lot of the songs that we did on the Chris Squire Experiment tour are on the album, yes. ["Say Goodbye"] is one of them.
MOT: I understand that you and Billy are taking turns as far as who's handing lead vocals, is that right?
CS: It's a bit in my favor, I think, the balance of that. And most of the ones that are done with Billy singing lead are like ones that were already set like that. A bit like on the tour, but I think that the balance is a little bit in my favor as opposed to Billy. But I think it makes a nice change when you here that on an album, you hear two different singers.
MOT: I kind of wish that happened in Yes more, to where there was more of you or Steve, I always wanted to hear you come in and sing a line, or something do like that...
CS: There may be more of that in the upcoming Yes stuff because I played a lot of this solo stuff to Jon and he became very impressed, he likes a lot of the music he's heard.
MOT: As a sidebar I really like the new tracks to KEYS TO ASCENSION but if I have any complaint about that is that I want to hear more of you sing in the mix, especially in "That, That Is."
CS: In the harmonies?
CS: I don't know, Billy mixed "That, That Is" and I expected him to be pretty impartial as far as which way he would balance the vocals, but I know Jon came and wanted him to make a few readjustments again, I don't know that any of them particularly revolved around turning him up, maybe they did, I'm not sure really....but thanks for the compliment. There will be plenty more of stuff...
MOT: That's one of the big things that I enjoyed about Yes in the `70s was when you sang harmonies you could hear all of your voices pretty distinctly, and I felt that was missing on these songs.
CS: Well, there's also much less use of echoes and stuff than those days, basically because there wasn't the kind of multi-style of echoes that there are available these days. The problem is whenever you have something like that people tend to use them and a lot of the time those echoes tend to lose clarity, you lose a bit of distinction in the character of the voices. I'm not a big echo fan myself, and of course Jon Anderson is the hugest echo fan in the world so there's always a bit of push and pull going on there.
MOT: Getting back to your solo album, it's still tentatively titled CHEMISTRY?
CS: Yeah, yeah.
MOT: You and Billy have become pretty much a close songwriting team, and of course he seems influenced by your own music. How would you describe your musical relationship with him?
CS: Originally I would have said he was definitely a protegee to an extent, but now that our relationship's matured, it's much more of an equal balance of working with him, and of course at one point I kind of thought, ah, this is great, I found the guy who can do everything I can kind of do and I can just phone in my suggestions and he can put them on the track (chuckles) but of course it doesn't really work like that. So I found that the more effort I put into put into contributing as much and he's obviously raises the level of what we're doing and he appreciates that too. Our relationship works very well, we're both in a good frame of mind in terms of creativity.
MOT: I also understand he's playing bass on a couple of the tracks.
CS: He does, yeah, because I'm doing something else, or I'm playing my Photon on the ones where he plays bass, I'm playing the four-string Photon, or piccolo bass, or whatever people like to call that particular instrument. In fact that's the same instrument I'm playing on "Be the One", and in fact the only bass on "Be the One" is either played by Rick Wakeman on keyboards or Steve Howe playing a bass guitar. But my part in there is mainly rhythm guitar, sort of in the bass format; I have a bass guitar but I have guitar strings on it, and it's a four string and you can play rhythm guitar on it as you please replacing the notes, and that's what I play on "Be the One".
MOT: So on CHEMISTRY those tracks that Billy plays a traditional bass on you're playing a piccolo bass as well.
CS: Yeah, just like on a track called "You Are the Light in My Life", I'm playing that instrument, Billy's playing bass on that. He plays bass on a couple of the tracks. What happens is when we first started writing the song together, a lot of songs I write on that instrument, you see, because it's a bridge between bass and guitar because it has a bass guitar format but it's in the guitar pitch so I write a lot of my songs on that instrument. So when I bring a song like that to Billy and say what do you think about this one it makes sense for him to pick up a bass so he can play with me and play a bass guitar part because the parts I play on that instrument are more like a rhythm guitar part.
MOT: Are you actually recording those parts together at the same time?
CS: No, not always, but when we initially write the song we've done it like that, where I've written the song on that instrument and brought it to him, and then he's played bass and that's how we jam with it, and with a drum machine or whatever, the beginnings of everything and then later on we do the parts properly.
MOT: Sounds like an interesting way of arranging things.
CS: Well it is, it's different, anything that's different I find exciting.
MOT: Do you have a deal yet for the album?
CS: It's very imminent...I think it's being discussed tomorrow at the MCA meeting in New York, there's a man who's taking over as MCA International president who's been very interested, has followed a lot of the tracks in my demos, and seems to want to sign it. [Latest news is that no deal has been finalized, and the album may not be out until early 1997 --MOT]. Prior to that I'm sort of as you know interested in maybe looking at the Internet marketing system, see if I might do some initial sales in that way. I don't know about all sales but I'd like to investigate it just to see just how far you can get with that before you go to retail.
MOT: That's an interesting way to go. Of course there are a lot of factors there, and one of them is whether it will be available at a regular record store and if it is what the time frame is on that, because if you were to release your album to the Internet say, a month in advance, there are enough rabid Chris Squire fans out there who would definitely buy it through the Internet.
CS: Yes, I realize that, and it may seem a selfish motive but obviously I would make a lot more money from the initial sales then I would by going through the regular channels. And if people want to have more of my albums then this could be a good thing if I could afford to make them (laughs).
MOT: I don't know if selfishness really plays into it. Musicians like yourself that care about the quality of the type of music you play need to make a living like anybody else, so the more money that goes into your pocket and not that of some third party the better as far as I'm concerned.
CS: Yeah, well that's what I'm hoping people would think, so we're going to try and work it that way.
MOT: How about a tour in support of the album?
CS: The only problem is that we're right very much in the middle of the busy Yes time, so I can't say right at this moment what could be possible. I mean we've been asked to play at this Progfest thing here, which I believe is in November, but actually that's the month we set aside to record all the songs for the KEYS II album, the new material, so I doubt whether I'll be doing that.
MOT: It would be premature to discuss the potential lineup in the Chris Squire Experiment...
CS: It probably is...I don't know who would do it this time, I don't know if Alan would want to do it if it was a longer tour, before he did it in the essence of fun in a way, because I think we made $900 each out of it but it was definitely fun for a week. Yeah, it's too early to say, I certainly have a pick of guitar players who I would take on the road, I suppose it would depend on who is kind of available.
MOT: How about some impromptu local gigs.
CS: What, around L.A.? The only problem with that is as I said we were asked to do this Progfest which is here in November, so it couldn't be then, but December possibly...but I've got a feeling we'll still be madly trying to finish the KEYS 2 thing and going into mid-December and then it will be Christmas. But something could happen, yeah, something could happen, but I'm not promising anything.
MOT: Does the album consist of shorter songs? I understand there are fourteen tracks.
CS: There are a few songs that are always leaning towards being pop in their format as opposed to FISH OUT OF WATER which was more like a grandiose orchestral album. Even though at this last minute I'm still considering whether to maybe add some of those parts to some of the songs on the album. Generally it's more of a song-type album. But you know, most of them are good length, five, six, or seven minutes or something.
MOT: A song is only as long as it needs to be, so if you flesh them out hopefully it because you feel it needs that.
CS: Yeah, sometimes the endings go on a bit too long, stuff like that but some people like that. So we're doing our best to make sure that everything is in the correct format.
MOT: What would like your fans to know about your future direction, musically speaking?
CS: You mean after this CHEMISTRY album...I don't know...it is a bit hard to answer that, I've got a feeling that I'm going to be thrown headlong back into Yes work anyway in 1997, I think that's going to be a lot of touring for Yes, probably...I don't know maybe we can open for the band! (both laugh)
MOT: You'll probably have to arm wrestle Steve Howe for that spot...
CS: Well that wouldn't be difficult to say I'd win that! (both laugh)
MOT: Let's turn to Yes. The return to longer song formats is welcomed by a lot of Yes fans obviously. How did you experience the process or writing "Be the One" and "That, That Is" as opposed to the way you wrote 20 years ago?
CS: Well "Be the One" is probably the only tune that I can really remember since maybe the very early days of Yes that we actually played from top to bottom and said, well, that's a take, and we did do that. And that was once again me playing that Photon guitar, and Steve was playing a Rickenbacker twelve string or something and Alan was playing drums, it was just the three of us and Jon was busking along kind of with it, and we did that from top to bottom and that's something I'm very happy about because after that I didn't change one thing I played on it, there was no overdubbing for me. So that makes that song rather special.
MOT: Let me make sure I understand...are you saying that your recorded it in sequence?
CS: That's right.
MOT: That is amazing.
CS: We played the whole thing in one go from the top to the end.
MOT: How about the actual writing of the song?
CS: Jon and I did that about a year before and we combined...I don't know, I think that's all mainly my music in that song, yes it is, the different parts of that song, the harmonics, and the arpeggios, and then the chorus is all my music and Jon was more lyrics and top line in that song, and there's little Steve Howe guitar-insert sections towards the end. But basically Jon and I just got together on something like an old scratch tape recorder and worked that out...I think we played the whole of "That, That Is" too but I can't say that I didn't then go back and correct a few mistakes on that one.
MOT: That is amazing considering the amount of overdubbing that goes into songs nowadays.
CS: Yeah, it is. It is quite amazing. I can't remember the last time we did that, I think probably "Survival".
MOT: Did it feel comfortable having "That, That Is" at a whopping 19 minutes long?
CS: Yeah, it did, it felt great to play, I'd think this is good, go to this section and back to that one, we ran through it a few times like that which was kind of important, I think the song starts to live more, especially if it's long, as long as it's played from top to bottom a few times even though we'll all be making mistakes so I would say it's a comfortable length.
MOT: What can we expect from KEYS TO ASCENSION 2 as far as new songs?
CS: Yeah, there's going to be some similar longish things, I'm not quite sure if there's going to be anything quite as long as "That, That Is" but we've set aside November to do that album so until we really do it all we've got are sketches of what we already did in San Luis Obispo and the sketches are mainly [what] Jon, myself, and Alan White put down in that bank we had as a studio. They are pretty format, a couple of the pieces.
MOT: Potentially how many new songs could there be?
CS: About five I think. It depends once again on the length, it's funny, it's like when they used to order art, you know, "I'd like a piece of art 6x3, please," this is like we need 44 minutes of new material (laughs). Whatever constitutes that 44 minutes will be on the album. It could be two songs but I doubt it, I think it will be more like four or five.
MOT: Will it be one or two CDs?
CS: No, it's going to be two, too. Because KEYS TO ASCENSION 2 is going to have the rest of the live tracks not on the first one, from the show.
MOT: How about the video, is it going to be full show in America?
CS: It's going to be the full show, from SLO-town, yeah.
MOT: Oh really, because I know there was discussion that Japan would have the full show and America wouldn't.
CS: I've never heard about that. That may be because the full show is a bit much for people to stomach...
CS: You know what I mean, I always liked "9012Live" because it was seventy minutes long and I thought really that's long enough for some people to watch a video of a band. It's different being in a concert but to sit at home for two and a half hours, I'm not so convinced that people want to do that but I might be wrong.
MOT: You also have to consider that people can watch it in sections; if they don't want to watch the whole thing they can watch half of it today and half of it tomorrow, or next week...
CS: Well, that would rather break down the effect.
MOT: But as far as your concerned it'll probably be the whole show.
CS: As far as I know it's the whole show, yeah, I mean because I know that that's what they're trying to get finished. However it may be just for Japan, it's an interesting thought; I hadn't heard that, but I can understand someone might have suggested that to be the case.
MOT: How did Billy become involved in the production?
CS: Well because we lost Tom Fletcher just at the end because he had these preorganized dates he had to go and do with Steve Lukather in England, who's doing a big summer stadium tour, and Tom had been booked for it for a long time and of course he hadn't finished the Yes stuff, mixing those two, he only managed to fix that and to finish mixing the live tracks, so then we were saying, who can we get to finish it off, and I suggested Billy. And everyone thought it was a good idea, let's use him.
MOT: Actually it's appropriates, in some respects Billy Sherwood is the sixth Yes member, so it's great to have him involved.
CS: He has the qualifications of having been in the band, which was a good thing for Trevor Horn when it came to working with him in production [on 90125], there was something obviously you gain having been in the band love, so Billy probably has the right qualifications for that job, and he's becoming quite the producer these days; he's working with Triage record label making all these tribute albums.
MOT: Did he work on the live tracks or did he just work on the new tracks?
CS: Billy just mixed the new tracks that's all he did. But on the next thing he's going to be involved in the whole production of them from day one of the new material on KEYS 2.
MOT: DO you have a target date for the release of KEYS 2?
CS: I would imagine they wouldn't want to put it out to quickly, but we do have a target date to get it delivered to them by the end of November, because we have financial reasons we want to do that because they promised we could have some money for Christmas, even you knew that (laughs), so we're trying our best to do that.
MOT: Did you feel you had any more creative freedom on these new tracks then you did on, say, the TALK album?
CS: Yeah....not so much did I feel I had creative freedom, I just felt that we were acting like a band again as opposed to, whether it be right or wrong, and I'm certainly not putting Trevor [Rabin] down because if I do I'll never hear the last of it, but it definitely felt like we were working within the parameters of a band, an organical band situation as opposed to one person's idea and a computer and it's quite a different thing. Not to say you can't make good music that way but Yes came up as being known as an organic band, and that's what people obviously made us successful based on those principles so it seems a little silly to go change and do it a different way. That's my thoughts on that.
MOT: What's Yes looking to do as far as touring, is it going to be on a larger scale, or are there any obstacles to a large scale tour?
CS: There's definitely the idea of doing a proper live sized tour next year, but we have to get all this recording done first and remember that potentially there's still this Atlantic album we're supposed to make too, I don't know if we'll be oversaturating the market with material, there's a good possibility, it was expected of us to have done that this year as well, only the deal has gotten held up because of various technicalities. But I don't really know in reality if people want that much new Yes stuff as they're getting new Yes stuff added to these live albums as we're going along, so I would imagine that after the KEYS 2 album that we'll be leaving any ongoing Atlantic record for a few months, at least until later on in the year, I guess.
MOT: Then the Atlantic deal is still in negotiations?
CS: The whole basis of going back to Atlantic is so that we could retrieve our back catalog, which Atlantic thought they had but then they've now discovered that Doug Morris actually sold it to Elektra, which as we know is a WEA affiliate. However the Elektra people don't really want to sell it back, and then we kept going on to them, please let Atlantic have it back, and then we said well can we try and buy it back and we came up with the kind of money they asked for and they agreed, and they had to pass it through the TIME WARNER board and they turned it down. So I don't quite know where that leaves us at the moment, our catalog's still at Elektra doing nothing, but they want to hold on to it, they want to hold on to the ball but they don't want to play the game which seems to me to be a very silly thing. So that's where it stands at the moment and there's not a lot of point of us being back at Atlantic unless they have the catalog there, so we may go somewhere else, we may stay with Castle if everything goes really well with these albums; after all, Castle are not as very well known as Atlantic but their parent company Alliance have just pretty much bought BMG. So they're big, maybe in two years time they'll be a bigger record company than CBS, who knows.
MOT: There's a perception that Castle is a small record label but they're owned by a bigger conglomerate...
CS: They're owned by Alliance which is the biggest retail outlet in America and who have just bought BMG which is huge in Europe and everywhere else.
MOT: Whereas Victory didn't have the muscle to do anything with the TALK album-
CS: No, but this company does. It's just that they're not well known as being that company yet. It's a bit like they could be the new MCI when all we know is AT&T.
MOT: Right. As far as the tour goes, I'm sure you remember the TALK tour was basically amphitheaters and smaller theatres, do you see Yes kind of going that route, when you do go back out?
CS: I don't really know. I suppose it will depend on how the album does; that particular TALK tour was so badly routed, we were always either playing a day before the Eagles or a day after Metallica, and everywhere we went it was terribly promoted. So there was a perception of people losing interest in Yes but in reality everywhere we went the money was spent all that week on the Eagles and Metallica, and I'm sure that we have a fringe audience that goes to both of those concerts that make up the difference between Yes selling out two- thirds of a place or a whole place. Maybe with this original lineup there'll be more interest generally. I've always wanted to go on tour with Supertramp but they've never seemed to be able to get themselves back together which is a shame I think, it would be great if they could revive themselves because then we could probably do a very big tour. But I don't know if that's going to happen.
MOT: Yeah, but to be honest with you that's kind of a mixed blessing, I know that Yes has also been trying to do a joint tour with Emerson Lake and Palmer, and on the surface it sounds like a great idea but personally myself and other Yes fans would rather go see an evening with Yes because we'd get more music out of the band, but I don't know how you feel about that.
CS: Yeah, that's true. In fact I just went to the Jethro Tull/Emerson Lake and Palmer package show which was at the Universal Amphitheater here about ten days ago, and Emerson Lake and Palmer actually were the best I've ever seen them, I think since 1971 or something. But still however there was that strange thing, obviously they only played for an hour, and of course Ian Anderson came on and did his hour and a half, you felt, like, it wasn't the same as it used to be, really. But it was pretty well sold out, and they were very good.
MOT: I think that if Yes did scale their tour modestly you'd do well, especially as you say with the current lineup, because there is some feeling that a lot of people opted to not see the TALK tour because they really weren't interested in that particular lineup.
CS: Yeah, I hope that's true.
MOT: In fact I'll put forth to you one idea, and that's not to do a tour where you hit every little burg like you did on the TALK tour but maybe just stick to the major cities and maybe play two or three nights in each city, maybe even mix up the sets each night; I think Yes fans would travel from miles around to come see you do that.
CS: That is interesting; we've heard of that perception before, I don't know where it came from but we discussed that before and it does sound like a pretty solid idea, actually. I don't know, let's see what happens, we're talking about touring now with various agencies.
MOT: It would be a win-win situation for both the band and the fans because the fans get to see the band over a series of nights in one place and hopefully you'd mix up the set, and for the band, you'd save money because you'd be at a place setup, it's not like you're traveling from place to place. So it would be cost effective.
CS: Yeah, it sounds reasonable, I keep that in mind if it comes up, if there's tour discussion I'll certainly put that forward.
MOT: Is there any talk of Roger Dean doing the stage setting for the upcoming tour?
CS: Yes there is.
MOT: So he would be actively involved?
MOT: Great. Any thought of a single, like "Be the One" in edited form?
CS: Yeah, we've done edits-"America" is going to be a single to start with, that's supposed to be the radio promotion play-stroke-single.
MOT: Before the new ones.
CS: Yeah, they want to go with that.
MOT: How was it playing those more obscure songs at SLO, did you have fun doing them?
CS: Yeah, I did, one of the things I've always liked about going on stage is never just to peddle the legend, but if there's something with a certain angle to it and you can come up with a new angle of doing those obscure songs, especially the very tricky ones like "Turn of the Century" which I have to tell you quite honestly we really only pulled off on Tuesday night, the other two nights was a bit of a train wreck actually. But that definitely pushes the whole thing to a higher level and pushes the limits, you know.
MOT: Were there any songs you wanted to play that the other band members voted down?
CS: Not really, no, we had a longer list which included other songs and I think we played all of them, and a couple of them sort of fell by the wayside. I was very pleased that Steve Howe suggested that we do "Onward", that was his idea, and that turned out very well.
MOT: Yes, "Onward" is really lovely, and I'm sure if you're aware of it but a lot of Yes fans have told us over the years that they have used that as their wedding song.
CS: Yes, I've been very aware of that; in fact I've had copies of wedding invitations and wedding services sent to me by people have used it, so I am aware of that.
MOT: It must be a real kick for you.
CS: Yeah, that's great, God, if I could only promote that idea I could retire (laughs)! If that could catch on as well as the "Wedding March", if it became a standard wedding song, I could retire for life (laughs)!
MOT: Well it came off really well at San Luis Obispo, especially considering it's a TORMATO song and TORMATO is the most slagged of all the Yes albums it seems.
CS: Maybe that's because TORMATO was a kind of a hodge-podge of different songs, so it was hard to figure out what was good on it and what wasn't, maybe, I don't know. I mean you had a punky song, that ballad, and then "Future Times" which is a bit nebulous but kind of cool as well...I think it was hard for people to figure that album out. And there was lots of notes being played by Rick and Steve on mostly every track on it.
MOT: "Future Times" is one that I would like to see the band resurrect myself. That's a pretty cool song...so is "Release Release", I'd love to see you do that one.
CS: That's the one I mean, that's the one I called the punky one, it reminds me of a punk song, a Yes punk song anyway.
MOT: Any plans for promotional appearances, maybe "Saturday Night Live"...? They should try to get you on that.
CS: I don't see why not, Tom Petty's on it all the time and he's boring!
MOT: One fan asked this question: given the opportunity would you like to have had the experience of performing with Frank Zappa?
CS: Well Dweezil's a good friend of mine...we've jammed together...
MOT: As I recall the band was listening to Frank Zappa heavily in the early `70s, like OVERNIGHT SENSATION. We're you one of those who were really into that album?
CS: Yeah, I used to like the Zappa albums, but I always used to find his band were a bit too full of snobby musos though, who could all read music at 5000 miles an hour and that really wasn't quite my thing. So, no, I never had any great desire to have ever played with Frank Zappa but I enjoy playing with Dweezil.
MOT: Do you jam with him like on a regular basis?
CS: We've done a couple of things, we go to the same gym actually so that's how we know each other, mainly. But I have done some weird things with him, like backing Sam Kinison when he was alive, on a couple of variety shows and stuff like that, and we've jammed together.
MOT: What, you were a studio musician, behind Sam Kinison?
CS: No, we did a show for Sam at the Universal Amphitheater where he had five drummers and six bass players and twenty-nine guitar players all playing "Wild Thing" and "Under My Thumb" and stuff like that, four songs, it was really great.
MOT: Do you have a recording of that?
CS: No, I don't know if anyone ever made it, it was quite interesting. Then we did another show for him, a New Years' Eve show in Vegas, the same kind of thing, after he did his comedy then he did four songs at the end. These were live performances that I don't think were ever recorded. I do know that at the Universal Amphitheater show that myself and Dweezil and one drummer and I think maybe one other guitar player were the only people really in the PA, they had the rest of the people just kind of making a noise on the stage but a friend of mine who was sitting in the audience said it sounded amazing. (laughs)
MOT: Maybe somebody will turn up with a recording of that...
CS: Maybe, I'd love to hear it actually, I mean of course it might sound terrible...(laughs)
MOT: At the end of "Safe" on FISH OUT OF WATER your playing is such to where every note sounds like a sustaining harmonic. How did you achieve that?
CS: That is played on a Gibson double neck bass, you know, like the classic Jimmy Page Gibson but mine was a bass and a guitar, and I was playing the bass but with the guitar pickups on but not the bass pickups, so you had the ringing of the guitar strings and the bass notes that you could hear was resonating through the wood but the actual bass guitar pickups weren't turned on.
MOT: Ah, you were playing one neck but the other neck was the one that was actually hot. That's pretty creative...
CS: Well there you go..I'm a pretty creative kind of guy...I used to be anyway! (laughs)
MOT: What brand of effects processor did you use to get the extreme envelope filter sound on "On the Silent Wings of Freedom"?
CS: On that a Mutron pedal. They're still around, they're very sought after now, actually, as analog effects devices, I think they made a couple of keyboard effects too that are very sought after. But it was a Mutron envelope shaper.
MOT: And that's what you used on the into, that `bwah bwah bwah' type of sound?
CS: That's right, yeah.
MOT: I thought it was some kind of wah-wah...
CS: No, it didn't have a foot pedal, it was just an automatic wah in itself, it did it itself.
MOT: One fan wants to know about the chorus of `Suicide' in "Safe"...I don't seem to remember that...
CS: There's no mention of suicide...in "Lucky Seven" I sing `sugarize' because it just sounded good, and there's no reason for it at all.
MOT: What about your upbringing as far as your cathedral choir days, do you think that they still have some type of impact on your playing and your whole musical being?
CS: Yeah they do...I think it's anything that's ingrained in you at that age of your life I think always stays with you. It goes along with the theory with that the beer you choose to drink when you're sixteen or seventeen is the beer you'll probably end up drinking the rest of your life. So although I was in the choir at an earlier age than that I think that the kind of impressions that are left upon you never really leave you, so the answer is yes to that.
MOT: Another fan asked where the fish reference comes from but that's mainly because you're a Pisces, is that right...?
CS: Yeah, and Bill Bruford somehow started that off, and it was also I think because one day when we were in Norway we were sharing a room and I was having a long shower and the water leaked under the door into the corridor in this rather bad plumbing situation they had in this Norwegian hotel, so I think Bill made it up then...and plus of course I'm a Pisces obviously. It was a combination.
MOT: Regarding the FISH OUT OF WATER videos, Steve is compiling all these solo videos from the `70s...
CS: Exactly, Steve is doing the videos, he's compiling that.
MOT: I remember seeing those in a movie theatre, they accompanied "Yessongs"...
CS: They were, weren't they! That's right, I'd forgotten that!
MOT: But you were miming the songs weren't you?
MOT: Which is amazing because you had a full orchestra behind the band...!
CS: We were all miming, everyone was miming (laughs! But you know that was the London Symphony Orchestra and they were on their way into work to rehearse for the day or whatever, and I only had them for like half an hour to just do that, and the whole session, for that orchestra in those days cost me 3000 pounds! So that's why it had to be a mime, if I wanted to really have them play it would have been financially impossible.
MOT: On KEYS TO ASCENSION is there any actual Mellotron on the new tracks?
CS: No, although I'm not that aware if Rick had some synthesized version of a Mellotron on some setting on one of his keyboards, I'm not that sure about that, but no, no organic Mellotron.
MOT: It was great seeing those Mini Moogs, hearing those sounds from the `70s again.
CS: Yeah, I know, as I was saying when I went to see ELP too, it was like Keith still had to have his Mini Moogs for the same original sounds and it was really good.
MOT: I take it you're excited about the future and 1997 is going to be a big year for Yes.
CS: I hope so!
Conversation with Chris Squire - Conducted October 1, 1996
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Special thanks to Ronnen Miller for his input, and to Chris for being gracious enough to miss `Deep Space Nine' to have this conversation.
Updated: November 8, 1996
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