Tracker Pixel for Entry

​The power of Yes

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Music | September 6th, 2017

Geoff Downes on the evolution of Yes

Since its inception in 1968 prog rock pioneers Yes have been breaking boundaries with complex soundscapes and experimental sounds, and their oeuvre has been constantly evolving. High Plains Reader had the opportunity to chat with Geoff Downes vocalist and keyboardist for Yes. Downes joined the band in 1980.

High Plains Reader: Is it true that you broke a Guinness World Record by playing 28 keyboards on stage?

Geoff Downes: I did that once in 1983 at a show from Japan. I don’t have as many now--I’m down to about 10 now. It’s a bit more manageable.

HPR: I read that for Yestival the band will be playing the songs of Yes chronologically?

GD: I think it’s a nice idea--something we’ve never done before is take a song off each album and put them in chronological order. It’s very interesting from a fan’s standpoint. I feel they can see how the music has developed over the years, so we try to do a fairly true rendition of each one. It’s just interesting to hear how a band has developed its sounds--especially in the formative years.

HPR: That’s a lot of ground to cover--How have you seen or rather heard Yes’s sound evolve?

GD: When I first showed up it was during the tenth album we’ll be playing. That was a bit of a turning point for Yes because they developed in the late 60s and through all of the 70s when all of the great monumental pieces that lasted 22 minutes long happened. Then all of a sudden--I think when Trevor Horn and I joined the proceedings it changed not only the pop dimension but the technological and experimental direction. I think we really helped Yes propel itself further into the 80s--after we did the Drama album.

It had a bunch of lyrics that were quite modern and urban rather than the ethereal and esoteric lyrics that Yes was known for. We became a much more hard hitting sound and I think that prepared Yes for another chapter in their history. I think that one thing Yes has continued to do is to revisit and to reinvent itself to become a whole new thing.

HPR: Technology has had a huge role in the advancement of the prog rock sound. How do you feel the advancements have affected your sound? Do you feel like it helped or hindered as of late?

GD: I feel it depends on the individual and how he works. The early Yes stuff was quite rudimentary in terms of its approach--which was a guitar, probably an organ, bass and drums. You could see over the years how Yes music started to move towards synthesizers and mellotrons and all of these instruments that kind of started to utilize new sounds. Not only was Yes known for its musicianship, it was also very well known for its high tech productions at the time.

HPR: Do you think the advent of punk rock had an effect on Yes?

GD: Not really. Punk rock was a revolt in many ways against bands like Yes. It was much more earthy and at times trashy kind of pop. It was very much a revolt against these great big, long pieces that prog rock was performing. I think at that point prog rock really kind of fell off the radar and I think that’s why Yes moved in the direction of a much more mainstream style at that time.

Certainly with the album Drama, and its follow up album 90125, which was Yes’s most successful album ever. Yes suddenly became more of a mainstream rock album.

HPR: With the amount of layered soundscapes and musical technicality--what was the writing process like for Yes?

GD: I don’t think was any kind of formula. It’s more ideas that forge a band that’s crafted in an orchestral fashion by the musicians with individual parts. It’s an intricate and rather complex way of working. In the early days the band would get to rehearsal and start experimenting with arrangements and treat it that way. It’s an interesting way of putting stuff together--relying on individuals.

IF YOU GO:

Yestival 2017: Yes with special guest Todd Rundgren

Monday, September 11, 7pm

801 50th Ave. S, Moorhead

Recently in:

News

Destroying heritage

by C.S. Hagen

GRAND FORKS – Residual racism is a leading reason why the University of North Dakota plans to demolish the last brick-and-mortar remnants of Wesley College, some historians say. Wesley College, a former Methodist school, merged…

Last week we talked about my lack of photographic skills and then what the heck am I going to do with all of these bad pictures that I take. Storage options for those pictures continues this week:RAIDAnother storage option is a…

Friday, April 27, 9pm-howlingThe Aquarium, 226 N BroadwayWith each member armed with a bass drum this footstompin’ four piece is here to kick FM into a dance-dance overdrive. There’s a reason they’ve oft been referred to as…

There’s something to be said about the art of listening. Effective communication is like playing a game of catch, you need to bounce the conversation ball back and forth to keep it going. I never was one much for sports-ball but…

Maybe We Should Quote "The Raven" MoreThe January National Geographic magazine has a remarkable article about the 10,000 species of birds that live around and above us, and it prompted me to recall some of the species I have…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Oysters

by HPR Staff

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comAs a North Dakota native, raw oysters are just not a food staple that I think about. We are about as far from the coasts as we can get and we have a backyard full of tasty local cuisine, like walleye…

By Cindy Nicholscindy.nichols@ndsu.eduI find myself almost weepy with appreciation, these days, for any small reprieve I can find from chronic sickness-at-heart; any small mercy that either helps me to forget about 45 for an hour,…

Longtime writing partners Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein make their joint directorial debut but don’t quite get everything right in “I Feel Pretty,” an Amy Schumer vehicle that jettisons the hard-R ribaldry of…

Originally from Turkey, Tülin ÖZSİSLİ is a visiting scientist at NDSU. She has created art inspired by science with bright and active acrylics, oils and watercolors.  “Painting is essential in my life for expressing my…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

I consider myself an avid wine drinker, but I recently found out there are more than 10,000 varieties of grapes, and about 1,500 of those are used to make commercial wines. I don’t know about you, but I could probably name about…

I was amid some of the worst anxiety I have experienced in my life. I was worried about money, moving and multiple other things. My chest felt heavy and was dominated by a feeling of constriction and restriction; to both my life…

By Melissa Martin melissamartincounselor@live.com “I’m sorry” are two vital words to be used in relationships because human beings are imperfect people living in imperfect environments. Ask yourself the following…

Calm was the day in late JulyAnd bright was the sun across the skyBut inside his chest the calm had brokenGovernor Sinner had started croakin’.I laughed the first time I read that, and I’m still laughing every time I think…