‘I’m still fully realizing what that means': Inside Jon Davison’s whirlwind ascension as Yes’ frontman

So what happens when you are tabbed to front an iconic band like Yes? For Jon Davison, there was no time for contemplation — and, in some ways, there hasn’t been since. He’s been on a whirlwind of tour dates, most of which feature multiple classic albums that he had to learn from scratch, and then the construction and recording of a new Yes project.

Davison admits, in a new talk with Rene Wiborg, that he’s barely had time to take it all in: “I’m still fully realizing what that means now,” he says. “It’s still unfolding, because it’s in chapters. Now, I’ve done an album with the band. I’ve contributed equally with them in a creative setting — and there’s all of the anticipation we share with that. We’re just getting to know each other better as friends. It’s still very exciting, and rewarding.”

[ON THE NEW YES ALBUM: After all of this time, and all of their success, and all of the lineup changes, will a new collaboration with Jon Davison be listened to objectively? We have our doubts.]

You’d think some of that realization might have come right away, when Davison was chosen — after a stint in a Yes cover band, and then making some important early contributions to Glass Hammer — to take over as Yes’ frontman some two years ago. Back then, however, Davison couldn’t contemplate the larger dynamic. He had to reorganize his entire life as quickly as possible, in advance of a Australasian tour that had already been booked.

He received the job without even an audition, and was on the road with Yes a month later: “It’s still kind of hitting me now — the full impact of it,” Davison says. “At the time, I just went into survival mode, meaning: ‘OK, my life is dramatically going to change now, at this moment, and I have to get things in order. I have to prepare.’ It was just this very practical state of mind, to get through it. It wasn’t like I was really soaking up the glory of it, because I just had to get focused quickly.”

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