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Progressive Rock Interviews


Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Alan White of Yes from 1998
MSJ: There have been reports that this current Yes tour is to be a three year tour. Is there any truth to that?
We`ve been touring since October. Basically the band is in a touring mode right now. We plan on, after we`ve been to Asia, in the fall, taking a little period of time off, and then starting to work on a new album, then probably touring again next year. We`re looking as far as that right now. I wouldn`t put a thing of three years on it, but at the same time, we`re going to be recording and touring a lot because the new management have a big plan for us.
From a fan point of view, this tour has seemed like one of the all-time great Yes tours, and the band appear to be having a great time. How has the tour been going from the band`s point of view?
Excellent. I think the band is playing as good as it ever did in the `70`s and everybody`s gung ho for performing every night. When we go onstage, it usually is the best part of the day, I suppose, and we`re all having a lot of fun. We really feel vibrant about the whole thing.
MSJ: Has writing started on the next Yes album, and if so, what direction do you see the music going in?
I`ve got a portable studio here that I`ve been working on before I talked to you. We`re just getting the studio back together and going. Billy`s got a eight track hard disc recorder with him, so we`re working on doing a whole studio thing on the road. We`re looking towards creating the next album while we`re out on the road.
MSJ: Your style and Bill Bruford`s are definitely different, yet both work quite well within the format of the band. How do you see the differences and how they affect the sound of the band?
Bill is more of a top kit kind of player. I think when I joined the band, the band was looking to have more meat, or kind of a little bit more rock and roll in their style. I had my own band at the time that was basically doing a lot of complicated time signatures and more jazzy type influenced kind of thing, but at the same time, I had a style, a direction that wanted to use that, but make it swing at the same time. That was incorporated into me joining Yes. We used that sort of style from then on.
MSJ: Who are the drummers you admire the most and who have had a formative influence on your work?
Initially Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa, and then I think I went to Ringo and things like that. At an early age, I changed into listening to a lot of fusion players like Lenny White, Jack DeJohnette, people like that started influencing my style, taking things from all areas, different people. Complimenting my style with different things like that. Of course, people like Dave Weckl. There`s so many drummers now days that are really really good, but they`re all individual in their own right. So, you tend to have a lot of different guys you appreciate.
MSJ: Many fans see songs such as That That Is and Minddrive as a return to the older progressive rock stylings. Could you shed some light on the writing process on these pieces?
With the Minddrive thing, when the `70`s band was together with Rick, and we did that live show in San Luis Obispo. We were all writing together at the time. Which songs like Minddrive come out of. I came up with the initial beat at the beginning of it, and the chord sequence. Then Jon came up with another song. That`s how we kind of write like that, people just throw things in from everywhere, unlike Open Your Eyes where some of the songs were preset and written by Billy and Chris. Then Jon got involved and things like that. It`s kind of different. Hopefully the next album will be more like that.
MSJ: Do you have any non-Yes projects in the works?
I have a lot of material written that probably isn`t applicable to Yes. Probably down the line I will probably tend to making into a solo album, hopefully with the idea of having a different singer on each track. I`ve worked with a lot of great singers like Robert Plant, Joe Cocker and people like that. If I can organize it well enough, it might be great.
MSJ: What are some of your favorite Yes pieces over the years?
There`s so many Yes albums that you kind of have to take each one as an individual part of the life of Yes. From a rhythm section point of view, some of the most adventurous would be Relayer, Topographic. Talk is one of my favorite albums. I thought that was very underrated. 90125 was a great album, very commercial, but great.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought?
Iching Symphony, that my wife bought me for my birthday. I like that a lot and it tends to be very soothing on the road.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
Celine Dion, I know somebody who works on her production staff.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 5 at
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
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