‘No epics on this album’: Alan White previews Yes’ new project with Roy Thomas Baker

Yes drummer Alan White says the band’s on-going sessions with producer Roy Thomas Baker have little in common with a failed attempt at collaborating back in Paris in the late 1970s.

Back then, Yes was trying to regroup after the critically tepid response to 1978′s Tormato, and the follow-up project was going nowhere. Ultimately, an injury to White served as a great excuse to call the whole thing off — and when Yes remerged, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had been replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes.

“Regarding the Paris sessions, when I broke my ankle it may have been a blessing in disguise, because it wasn’t turning out like we wanted it, but this one is,” White tells the Scottish Yes Network. “Roy’s doing fine. He’s doing a great job. He’s getting some great sounds on the instruments.”

Baker became known, around the same period, for the enormous drums he got from the Cars on their initial recordings. White says Baker took special care with this as-yet-untitled Yes album, as well. “We spent quite a while getting the drum sound right,” he says. “Roy is quite meticulous about which microphones get the right sound. We were using about $50,000 worth of microphones on the drums alone.”

All of the songs associated with the Paris sessions have eventually surfaced, in one form or another. Two (“Tango” and a song once known as “Flower Girl” that was retitled “Never Done Before”) found a home on the 2002 In a Word box set. Four others — including “Dancing with the Light” and “In the Tower” — were part of an expanded remaster of Drama, the 1980 follow up to Tormato. “Everybody Loves You” was later reworked for Anderson’s 1980 solo album Song of Seven.

Additional material from the subsequent Drama sessions also made up the lengthy title track for Yes’ 2011 project Fly From Here, though White says this Yes new album will include all new songs. Don’t look for a similar suite of songs, either.

“It’s all fresh music,” White confirms. “Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

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