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Billy Sherwood

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Billy Sherwood from 2021

Yes have a new album coming out, “The Quest.” Was writing and recording that album an unusual experience for the band in the era of Covid, or given the fact that the members of the group live all over the globe, was it sort of business as usual?

Due to Covid and the lockdown etcetera, the writing on this record was done via file share. Steve (Howe - guitarist), Jon (Davison - singer) and Geoff (Downes - keyboards) were in the UK. Alan (White - drummer) and myself were in the States. Song ideas we tossed around and formulated under the watchful eye of Steve Howe who was in charge of production for this new record
MSJ: You may not have been in the band for their whole run, but you, like myself, grew up as a huge fan of the band, so you can also see it from that perspective. How does "The Quest" fit into the legacy of Yes albums for you?
It’s simply another Yes album in the long list of Yes albums. Each Yes album that is created reflects the time in era and feeling of the moment, and I think this album reflects that same concept. I enjoy the entire catalog without prejudice of any of the records as a fan. As an artist, band member I’m very proud of all the records I’ve been involved with.
MSJ: Do you have any favorite songs from the album at this point, or is it too soon to distance yourself enough?
I don’t really have a favorite per se. I enjoy the entire record as a whole.
MSJ: I’m guessing Covid has definitely altered the options for shows for the last year and a half. Are there tour plans?
We have a US tour for March 2022 and after that we go to Europe in May. I’m very much looking forward to that.
MSJ: You and Chris Squire were very good friends, too. Can you share some recollections of your friend - some moments that stand out for you, perhaps a funny story, a shining moment, whatever you are comfortable with sharing.
Chris was one-of-a-kind. There are so many stories and so many moments it’s hard to pick just one. The most meaningful moment ever in our relationship was the day that he called to ask me to take his place - something I never imagined would happen in a million years. I don’t take it lightly and I try my best to live up to that responsibility. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me when I read some of these “fan” comments saying that you should stop without Chris Squire in the band. That is exactly the opposite of what Chris wanted. We spoke about it at length - how he wanted Yes to continue, thrive and to move into the future. Knowing that in my heart and feeling his presence in my soul as I play the music live, all I can say is I will honor his wish and carry-on in Yes. I’m trying to do my best to honor his legacy and, just as he wished, push forward into Yes future.
MSJ: We should talk about Arc of Life. For those who haven’t heard about it, what can you tell me about that project?  How has the reception to that one been? Are there plans in the works for more from Arc of Life?
It is a project/band that started quite by accident by virtue of Jon Davison and myself writing songs in the back of a bus that we were sharing on a Yes tour. What started as just a fun song-writing project evolved into the band that we have now called "Arc of Life". We plan to play live as soon as schedules permit and Covid notwithstanding. The reception has been very good. Rooted in progressive rock, it also has its simpler pop forms, if you will. But, that said, it expands as the record develops. The songs become a bit more complex and longer in their arrangements and form. We look forward to making more Arc of Life music in the future and releasing more records.
MSJ: So, what else do you have in the works and upcoming?
I’m always working on various things in the studio with various artists as well as pursuing my own solo project, and so I have a new solo project that I’m nearly finished with called “Pushing into the Wind”...also working on a new Prog Collective record as we speak.

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

I tend to come late to the party when it comes to discovering new music and new bands. That said, I've been listening to a lot of Tame Impala and Death Cab for Cutie lately
MSJ: I know you are a gamer, what have you been playing lately? Are there any new games that you love?
I discovered the amazing world of VR just before the Covid outbreak began. I think for anyone who’s been a gamer as long as I have, going back to shoving quarters into a pong machine, the VR experience is one we’ve been waiting for all our lives. To be able to be inside the game with other players in real time - it’s just simply amazing. My most favorite game at present in VR is a game called "Population One."  It’s very challenging, and the social aspects are quite entertaining, as well. I dare say I’m quite good at it/ (laughter)
MSJ: Have you managed to catch any shows lately for your enjoyment?
Until recently there haven't been any shows to go to because of Covid. The first concert I’ve seen was a dear friend of mine Dale Bozzio with her band Missing Persons. I produced Dale‘s solo album, and we’ve  remained friends ever since. It was a very emotional experience to be in an audience watching a band play live music after so long. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little jealous watching a band play live, I cannot wait to get on stage again with Yes and/or Asia and/or Arc of Life. The live music experience is so unique and enjoyable. It’s something I miss very much and look forward to getting back to.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
I’m a Line 6 endorser and I have just been enjoying my Line 6 Helix which I got on the last tour and spending time programming and experimenting with various aspects of that unit.
MSJ: Do you have anything else you’d like to mention in terms of closing thoughts?

Thank you for having me for this interview, and I wish everyone out there well.  Be safe and just looking forward to seeing everyone again on tour.

MSJ: This interview is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at:
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