'He just owns that role': Chris Squire on Yes' new singer Jon Davison, and what's next

As Chris Squire and Yes retake to the road for another round of North American tour dates, the co-founding bass-playing leader of the band reflects on a season of change.

Since the release of 2011′s well-received Fly From Here, the legendary prog rock band’s first album in a decade, Yes has transitioned to another frontman. Benoit David had joined in 2008, when longtime vocalist Jon Anderson was unavailable to tour, and would over the next three years perform in more than 200 concerts as well as both the Fly From Here and In The Present: Live From Lyon albums.

But then breathing problems surfaced in late 2011 for the Canadian singer — who, ironically had replaced Anderson after similar health issues arose. Yes eventually announced Jon Davison, of the Yes-influenced American prog outfit Glass Hammer, as the group’s newest singer then continued an ongoing tour this year into Australia, New Zealand, Japan and now, the U.S.

Squire, in the latest SER Sitdown, says Davison has blended smoothly into the band dynamic — and that likely will spark a quick return to the studio for Yes. He also talks about David’s departure, and the persistent rumors of a possible reunion with Anderson …

NICK DERISO: How has the transition gone with new singer Jon Davison?
CHRIS SQUIRE: It’s been fabulous, actually. Jon has come in and just owns that role. I have to say that both Steve Howe and myself have been very, very impressed with his abilities. We just did that Pacific Rim tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Indonesia, and that was Jon’s first outing with us. I have to say he did a fantastic job. So, we’re looking forward to this U.S. summer tour. We’re playing the long-form version of Fly From Here.

NICK DERISO: Is it too early to think long term? Will Davison go back into the studio with you?
CHRIS SQUIRE: I think that’s going to be a natural progression, now. The next thing Yes does, going into next year, will be another studio album of original material — with Jon involved. That’s how I see us going into 2013.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Chris Squire goes in depth on songs from his tenure with Yes and as a solo artist, including “Fly From Here,” “Life Within a Day” and “Tempus Fugit.”]

NICK DERISO: That will be exciting for fans, after such a long lag between the previous two albums.
CHRIS SQUIRE: (Laughs.) It’s amazing how quickly the 10 years between Magnification and Fly From Here went by. But you know, there was a lot going on. During that period I turned my attention to other things I wanted to do — like the Swiss Choir album. Of course, I also had my meeting with (Genesis album) Steve (Hackett), which resulting in Squackett. So, of course, during that time, there was a lack of Yes product.

NICK DERISO: And you had a few things going on with lead singers.
CHRIS SQUIRE: We had to straighten the whole thing out of whether we were going to work with Jon Anderson again, or whether his health was going to be up for touring. In 2008, we pulled (now departed singer) Benoit (David) in — and we had a good couple of years with Benoit. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. At the end of the day, it wasn’t for him. Then very fortunately, we’ve hooked up with Jon Davison, and I am very happy with that.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Chris Squire talks more about his intriguing 2012 collaboration with Genesis alum Steve Hackett, called Squackett: "We made good noise."]

NICK DERISO: With the rigorous road schedule that Yes has kept up, it seems like it’s hardest on the frontmen.
CHRIS SQUIRE: Of course it is, yes. And that particular tour, in Europe and going into the winter time. We were in Norway, and it was minus 30 degrees. It’s not a great climate for being a singer. (Laughs.) So, I don’t hold a blame against Benoit for, I suppose, the slight break down that he had. It’s a tough job.

NICK DERISO: Fans have consistently talked about a reunion with Jon Anderson — but he’s made it clear he doesn’t want to tour the way Yes does. Do you leave room for, perhaps, doing something in the studio?
CHRIS SQUIRE: You know, I’ve never closed the door on doing something wiht Jon again. But we’d have to see how that could be done. The setting would have to be right for that to occur, because it would be a shame to build up a new Yes lineup with Jon Davison and then bring Jon Anderson back in. That would make what we’re doing now seem like a secondary project. Even if we had him just in for a few dates, the business side would be pressuring us: Can you do more, can you do an album? It just may not ever happen. But, having said that, I haven’t closed my mind to it.

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Upcoming dates and venues for Yes’ 2012 North American tour …

07/18: Bethlehem, PA, Sands Bethlehem Event Center
07/20: Upper Darby, PA, Tower Theatre
07/21: Boston, MA, Bank of America Pavilion
07/22: Morristown, NJ, Mayo Performing Arts Center
07/24: Munhall, PA, Carnegie Library Music Hall
07/25: Raleigh, NC, Raleigh Amphitheater
07/27: Boca Raton, FL Mizner Park Amphitheatre
07/28: St. Augustine, FL. St. Augustine Amphitheatre
07/29: Clearwater, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall
07/31: Alpharetta, GA, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
08/02: Myrtle Beach, SC, House of Blues
08/03: Portsmouth, VA, nTELOS Wireless Pavilion
08/04: Washington, DC,
08/06: Clarkson, MI, DTE Energy Music Theatre
08/07: Rosemont, IL, Akoo Theatre at the Rosemont
08/09: Denver, CO, Paramount Theatre
08/10: Salt Lake City, UT, The Complex
08/12: Snoqualmie Casino, (Mountain View Plaza) Snoqualmie, WA
08/14: San Jose, CA, San Jose Civic
08/15: Universal City, CA, Gibson Amphitheatre
08/17: Scottsdale, AZ, Talking Stick Resort Ballroom
08/18: San Diego, CA, Humphreys Concerts
08/19: Las Vegas, Pearl Concert Theatre
08/21: Mexico City, MX, Pepsi Center

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock 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 nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Mike Slowik

    “The setting would have to be right for that to occur, because it would be a shame to build up a new Yes lineup with Jon Davison and then bring Jon Anderson back in. That would make what we’re doing now seem like a secondary project.”

    Well, it is a secondary project you goof. Look at this again: It would be a shame to build your cover band and then bring JON back … Stop the cocktails, Chris, your insane. Im not seeing anything until you fix the problem

    • http://www.adjustablemusic.com joelpirard

      Mike I am sure he is losing sleep that you are not going.

    • Jim

      Give it a rest man. Jon Anderson can’t….as in can not….sing the way he used to. I love him and his music just as much as anyone….BUT…

      He can’t do it like he used to. It’s that simple. It’s really unfortunate, but there’s no way it can be changed.

      Either accept Yes the way they are presenting themselves today…or leave it alone…for the sake of good taste. Jon hasn’t been in the band for 4 years….and hasn’t performed live with them for 8.

      It’s time to move on.

    • Andrew lB

      So true Mr Slowick, so true

      Admire Squire, but really, that bands line up thing is getting uber goofy… and Squire seems to be proud of it :S

      Get back Anderson and Wakeman and stop trying to pay for your divorces. Then we will have a YES again

  • mario

    Anderson sounds fantastic in his most recent tour.

    Yes, not so.

    Anderson, Wakeman, Rabin, Bruford & DeSantis

    That’s the band I’m most excited about seeing!

  • Mark

    I just saw a show in Orange County CA with Jon Anderson. He sounded great. I talked with a few fans and we all agreed we would not want to pay to see Yes unless Jon Anderson was singing.