‘People have devalued music’: Look for singles, rather than more albums, from Asia Featuring John Payne

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John Payne, who has continued with Asia after the band’s initial lineup reformed, issued a new single recently. He says that might be the way Asia Featuring John Payne goes forward, in an age of declining album sales.

“Seasons Will Change,” available on iTunes as a digital single, will be included on AFJP’s forthcoming long-player Americana, due later this year via Sony Music Japan.

“We’re putting out an album,” Payne confirms to Vintage Rock, “but I’m thinking of just leaking out various songs on YouTube, with video before the album comes out. Unfortunately, I think the days of records are very numbered. HMV, the biggest music store, has closed in London. People have devalued music so much. Kids don’t think of it as anything now. It’s just free download. It’s a shame.”

[ONE TRACK MIND: Geoff Downes goes in depth on Asia’s ‘XXX’ anniversary project, along with his two albums with Yes – and, of course, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.]

Asia formed in 1981 featuring John Wetton from UK and King Crimson, Steve Howe from Yes, Carl Palmer of Emerson Lake and Palmer and Geoff Downes from the Buggles. But the initial line up would only last until the fall of 1983. By the time Payne joined Asia in 1991, Downes was the only original member still in the band.

Over some 14 years, there followed eight studio albums as Asia for Payne, who has previously worked with Roger Daltrey and the Electric Light Orchestra, Payne also sang “Heaven and Hell” at Ronnie James Dio’s memorial service, at the request of the family.

By 2006, however, Downes was in the process of putting together a reunion project with Wetton, Howe and Palmer, and the issue would ultimately end up in court when Payne decided he wanted to go on, too. A judge agreed that Payne held a partial ownership of the name, and Payne has continued ever since with a band called “Asia Featured John Payne.”

Up next for Payne: A Las Vegas residency. When he’s not appearing with AFJP on the weekends, Payne will be leading a multi-media concert called Raid the Rock Vault, a five-nights-a-week show coming up in March. The show will bring listeners music from across the classic rock landscape — from the Rolling Stones and the Who to next-generation successors like Bon Jovi, Van Halen and Def Leppard. Payne tells Vintage Rock that this all-star band will include Tracii Guns on guitar, among others.

“The reason I started Raiding the Rock Vault was, you can’t steal live music,” Payne adds. “You have to go to a show — and that’s why so many of us old fogies have still got a living. We’re still doing the only thing that we know. So many artist who come out today have never even played live before they’ve got a hit single.

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