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:

BISMARCK – The Dakota Access Pipeline developer agreed to plant trees to reach a settlement over two misconduct allegations while constructing the pipeline on Wednesday. A total of 20,000 trees are to be planted by December 31,…

photo by Meg Luther Lindholm.Ibtissem (pronounced Ib-tiss-em) Belmihoub is both enjoying her time in Fargo as a doctoral student in Rhetoric, Writing and Culture at NDSU and a community volunteer. She is currently the Project…

Wed-Fri, September 27-29, 8pm; Sat-Sun, 2pmComstock Theatre, Concordia College, 901 8th St S, MoorheadIt is October, 1517, at Wittenberg University in northern Germany, where students and faculty begin another academic year. A…

Our opinion: We’re more than the sum of our partsOver the weekend I was telling a friend of mine that one of the most valuable things a person can gain in life is perspective. My time at the High Plains Reader has gifted me just…

What kind of characters would charge $99 for a case of water?In the days before the solar eclipse safety glasses sold for $8.95 for a five-pack of certified glasses. The day before the eclipse the price was raised to $59. During…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

Brand new and satisfying in so many waysI ventured into Tru Blu on Sunday at noon. As soon as I entered I was immediately astonished by the interior. It’s gorgeous! The brown tufted booths and dark wood give the impression that…

Fall is arriving, and that of course means that the new season of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s “Masterworks” series sponsored by Sanford Health is right around the corner.In the last couple concert seasons they…

Rom-coms are a staple of modern movies and have been for well over a century. This summer two very different variations on the genre spotlighting iconic 20th-century superstars made their Blu-ray debuts from Kino-Lorber. One is a…

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. This nonprofit organization described their mission as “To identify students with their exceptional artistic and literary talent and…

‘Heathers’ hits the Empire stage in Grand ForksBefore the pink-clad Plastics or Cher’s group of popular beauties in “Clueless,” the shoulder pad-wearing, croquet mallet-wielding Heathers ruled the halls of Westerberg High…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Up here where it’s north of normal, we can pretty much count on our first cold snap to hit right about now, and the 90 degree day we JUST HAD seems like a distant memory. Goodbye pool parties, BBQs and the patio hang sesh. Hello…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Robert Franklin, Esq.parents@nationalparentsorganization.orgIn North Dakota, a child’s chances of spending meaningful time with each parent following divorce have less to do with his parents than what county they divorce…