Chris Squire Takes a Yes Trifecta Live
RR: What’s extraordinary about those albums is that even at any level of a musician’s career some of the playing would be considered quite astounding. However, you were all so incredibly young during that time when they were created. Without too much exaggeration, you were like the Jimi Hendrix of bass playing, and your inventive use of the instrument was, and still is, very much groundbreaking, especially for rock music, in general. At that time, did you feel that ideas seemed to be coming in so quickly and easily, or was it the chemistry between the band members, whereas all the musicians in Yes were so in tune with each other?
CS: Yeah, a lot of it was to do with the chemistry. There’s no doubt about that. We realized that we, especially when Steve Howe came in for The Yes Album that we had a really good vocal/guitar/bass/drums kind of picture going, and, of course, keyboards, as well, even though Tony Kaye was more of a rhythm player, and Rick Wakeman was more of a lead player. But, yeah, the chemistry is what kept us being inventive at the time, and, it was just a natural development.
I had been playing in bands since I was 15 or 16, and when we made The Yes Album I was 24, so I had enough years to experience what other people did. We were all getting an idea of what we wanted to do to output our ideas and, of course, being in concert with the other members, we came up with something extraordinary.
RR: Let’s talk about some of those ideas you had prior to The Yes Album .
CS: I was very fortunate because when I was 15 the Beatles broke and McCartney was…well, I used to learn Beatles songs and by learning Beatles songs, I was learning Paul McCartney’s bass lines. Between him and [Beatles producer] George Martin, I think they came up (laughs) with a lot of very musical stuff. I don’t know how much of it was because of George Martin, but I suspect some of it.
I used to go and watch the Graham Bond Organisation, which had Jack Bruce playing bass and Ginger Baker playing drums, and they were an eclectic kind of blues-y jazz-y band prior to the Cream. Then, of course, Bill Wyman, as well, in the Stones, was another influence. These guys all played differently, but I definitely borrowed from all of them.
And, as you say, the Hendrix influence came in there. I opened up for Hendrix for his first ever show in England with my band at the time, The Sin, so I got to see him first hand at his first concert there and he was a big influence.
I was also a huge Who fan, who, of course, had John Entwistle, as well, to set great examples. John had a lot to do with the direction I went in sound-wise. When I first saw The Who, John was playing a Rickenbacker, as well as a Fender, I think, so that is what encouraged me to actually buy a Rickenbacker when I was 16 because John Entwistle had one, and carried on with that instrument and developed my own sound with it—hopefully, slightly different from John’s, but, you know, he was a major influence.
*RR: Entwistle initially, and then yourself later on, were major architects of the bass player as not just a rhythm instrument, but a lead instrument, too. As a young listener, I used to love trying to sort out what was the lead guitar and what was the bass, and, in the end, those differences colored the music in unique ways. You were really the first musician that showed me that the bass player could be so much more
than an instrument in the engine room of a band.*
CS: Yeah, of course, there is nothing wrong with that—certain kinds of music demand that, but, yes, all the members of Yes were being more adventurous and, so, we didn’t restrict ourselves. No one in Yes ever said to me, “Oh, you are overplaying,” or “You are doing too much,” or anything like that. And I never said that to any other member of Yes. We just really had our druthers, as they say, and went for it.
RR: I think that allowed you to play in so many different settings with different players, as well. You are the only remaining original member of Yes, and you have gone through various configurations of the band.
CS: Yeah, I mean, in fact, it has been a great learning curve for me—all of those changes in Yes. There has always been slightly different accents on the direction of the music. In the 80s when Trevor Rabin had joined the band and we did 90125, that was more, well, that was more of a rock album, really, for Yes. But, that was also a learning curve for me, as well, because I, actually, physically went out of my way to try and learn how to play some things more simply as in “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” It was comparatively simple to what Yes had been doing in the 70s, but, know that to be simple sometimes is difficult.
But, yeah, as you say, with all of the many different members of Yes, I’ve learned from many of them.
RR: Keyboardist Geoff Downes was with you in the early 80s in a version of Yes, and now he is back with the band. What is he bringing to the current configuration?
CS: Yeah. Yeah. Geoff’s personality has always been compatible with mine, and I enjoyed when they first came along with the Drama album with Trevor Horn. I think that album was a musical journey in itself. Of course, as you well know, Steve and Geoff went off and did their Asia project. It’s really good to have Geoff back again. But, that was sort of predicated by having Trevor Horn, once again, when we were going to make the Fly From Here album last year in 2011. Trevor said to me, “I really think it would be great if you got back together with Geoff,” and, so, we went in that direction, and it is great having him back.
RR: Trevor has become quite the producer over the last 30 years.
CS: (laughter) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, he has. He has done many different things and he’s had a lot of success.