Chris Squire talks about collaborating with Steve Hackett: ‘We made good noise’

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Chris Squire took his time in collaborating with Genesis alum Steve Hackett, working in between other projects for years before finally finishing their long-awaited duo debut A Life Within a Day. The results, Squire says, were worth the wait.

Of course, the new Squackett album arrives in a typically busy time for Squire, the only member of Yes to have appeared in all of its many incarnations since 1969. The prog-rock legends return to the road on July 13 for another North American leg of their on-going tour in support of 2011’s return-to-form release Fly From Here, and Squire has also recently worked on a pair of songs with Billy Sherwood, a former partner in the band Conspiracy and then a 1990s-era member of Yes.

In the latest Something Else! Sitdown, Squire talks about the new project with Hackett, reuniting with Sherwood, and the difficulties in finding time to make music outside of the familiar matrix of Yes …

NICK DERISO: I was struck by the singing on the Squackett album, the way the two of you meshed. Steve Hackett shares your passion for vocal music. Was that was drew you to him?
CHRIS SQUIRE: When I first got together with Steve, I didn’t really know he even sang. Of course, I knew of his guitar-playing reputation. But I was quite surprised when I realized what a good singer he is. And I was pleasantly surprised that when we started doing things together, our vocals made a really great blend. So, there were a lot of plusses in this project. We do a lot of the lead vocal lines together, and we kind of realized it made a good noise when we sang in unison, so we exploited that.

[GIMME FIVE: Cofounding Yes bassist Chris Squire takes over our Gimme Five feature, discussing songs from Yes, Squackett, XYZ and his solo release ‘Swiss Choir.’]

NICK DERISO: What was the difference working with Steve versus the more complex dynamic of Yes? There’s such an openness to your playing on this project.
CHRIS SQUIRE: I just think it’s another aspect of what I do. I think I am the same way when I am doing my own project as when I am doing another. I think it’s just the way things have ended up. There was no pressure. We had no deadlines, or any tours or anything lined up. It was an easy way of working on this material.

NICK DERISO: Keyboardist Roger King is, of course, a mainstay with Steve Hackett, having appeared on 12 of his albums. Describe his contribution to the Squackett project.
CHRIS SQUIRE: I always have to mention Roger King, who is like the third man on this project. He was very instrumental in sewing it all together — not only with his keyboard parts and ideas, but also really playing the role of producer, as well. A lot of the blends of the vocals, the sounds and the echoes, they are very much Roger’s contribution to this. Between the three of us, it just became a very relaxed, easy thing to do. We just realized one day that we had done enough songs, and we had an album and so here it is.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The debut Squackett collaboration with Genesis alum Steve Hackett finds Yes co-founder Chris Squire playing with an uncommon joy.]

NICK DERISO: Just as this new collaboration with Steve Hackett was about to appear, you also went into the studio to work with former Yes bandmate Billy Sherwood. Is this the beginnings of another Conspiracy project?
CHRIS SQUIRE: It could happen. We’ve talked about it, and I believe we have an offer to make a Conspiracy album. Of course, at the moment, I’m in the middle of touring the world promoting (Yes’ 2011 release) Fly From Here and this Squackett album is coming out. That’s about as much as I can do at one time! (Laughs.) It’s really easy to work with Billy, and we become very productive once we do start working together. But you’ll have to hold your breath for a Conspiracy thing.

NICK DERISO: These are rare solo turns for you. As productive as you have been with Yes, issuing 20 studio albums since 1969, work separate from the main band has been few and far between since 1975’s Fish Out of Water.
CHRIS SQUIRE: Every time I say to myself, ‘OK it’s about time I do another solo album,’ and I seriously get down to disciplining myself to write for it, what seems to always happen is: I’ll write three or four or five songs, or something, and then I’m doing a Yes album and two of them go there. Then, a project like this one comes along. The “Alien” song and “Can’t Stop the Rain,” and “Perfect Love Song,” they were all destined to be in something like Fish Out of Water II. It’s almost like I am going to give up on every trying to think that way again! (Laughs.) If I actually do a follow up, it will be by accident more than anything. You have to remember, too, that (the 1975 solo debut) was a very magical time for me. My really good friend Andrew Jackman was responsible for all for the orchestral arrangements on that album and, unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. So, I don’t know if I will ever get a Fish Out of Water II in the same way. I would have wanted to do it with him, but he passed away, unfortunately. We’ll see what happens, down the line.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett discusses working with Chris Squire, the deep impact of Bach and a lasting passion for his old band.]

NICK DERISO: There’s another leg of the Yes tour looming — and, aside from your work in Squackett, two of the members of Yes — Steve Howe and Geoff Downes — are playing concurrently in Asia. Have you broken down and hired an appointment secretary?
CHRIS SQUIRE: (Laughs.) At the end of the day, we have to have these scheduling meetings — just to find out who is doing what when. I know that Asia is doing some shows around the fall, and I’m to look at offers right now to do some Squackett stuff around that time. But nothing is confirmed at the moment. We’d like for that to happen.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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