Yes have had so many members come and go and return again that it's a wonder they've been able to keep their signature sound for so long. With boldly individual instruments that seem to repel and attract each other at once, they have made a career out of writing epic prog rock songs that just won't work without perfect precision.
Guitarist Steve Howe says the band has been rehearsing one of their longer pieces for the first time in a long while, but he won't disclose which composition it is.
This music that you play requires such precision, it's hard to imagine it being even a little bit sloppy. When you do bring back one of the bigger pieces that you haven't done in a while, how long does it take before you are all in the groove again?
That varies, obviously, because some of us have been playing them since we wrote them and some of us haven't. We respect those who haven't. ... But to learn 25 minutes of music, we've just spent five days doing that -- so that's quite a sizable level of commitment.
I imagine that you and bassist Chris Squire are pretty much always in sync, though.
Well, that would be nice. [Laughs] But it's just not that simple. People you've worked with a long time, although you respect them, some of their ways kind of get to you quite a bit. But that happens with all things known to the human race. We don't quite always agree, and sometimes we have to find out which [idea] suits everybody else a bit better. So, you know, we keep on.
Your singer on this tour is named Jon Davison. So not only is his voice similar to your original singer, but his name sounds like Jon Anderson.
It's his real name. Yeah, it's amazing.
And you found him online when he was singing with a Yes tribute band?
Our tour manager Paul Silveira, who is getting proper credit, basically said, "Hey, check this guy out," and he sent us a link. The whole world changed so much since the Internet became what it is today. And of course it would have taken a lot more rallying around, and convincing and meeting and talks and things, [to find and hire a singer]. And instead you click on the Internet, you see a guy. I mean, I do that with guitarists, too.
You're looking for your own replacement?
No. I find it very inspiring to hear and work with and meet other guitarists, young guitarists. Especially if they are quite young guys and they've got talent that I can hear.
Who are you interested in lately?
There's an Italian guitarist I've been doing a bit with. His name is Flavio Sala, and he's just a young 30-year-old guitarist whose actually got the whole classical repertoire under his fingers.
It seems like so many of the Yes songs are inspired by other art. When composing "Starship Trooper," did somebody come in and say, "OK, I've got this idea for a song based on this book, now everybody has to read it"?
Well, that started happening around [the 1973 album] "Tales from Topographic Oceans," really. Jon says, "Hey, I'm reading this book," which was about a yogi kind of guy. But basically I think that arts does inspire music and music inspires the arts. I'm lucky to own a Salvador Dali bronze sculpture called "Surrealistic Angel." Basically, things like that, when you walk into a room, you don't really look at it exactly. I think art inspires art.
If you go
with Procal Harum
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Bank of America Pavilion
290 Northern Ave., Boston