Rick Wakeman Still Wants to Make New Yes Music: Exclusive Interview
Rick Wakeman hopes to continue collaborating with Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson, despite reports that they are perhaps finished.
Plans for a 2020 tour were spiked due to COVID, and that "sort of changed the spectrum of everything" as each of the former Yes members took stock of the situation, Wakeman tells UCR. "Certainly, I would like to do some stuff, whether it’s with [Rabin and Anderson] or who it’s with, I don’t know," he says. "But I love playing Yes music. It’s a major part of my life."
Rabin confirmed last year that Yes Featuring ARW are "definitely over." He described the reunion as "splendid fun," but said "the problem is that we all live in different places around the world, so logistically it's so hard to carry this on."
The trio had been working on new music together off and on since 2011. They finally shared a demo of a new song called "Fragile" during a radio appearance on Jonesy's Jukebox in July 2018 – but Wakeman has since had second thoughts.
"Yeah, we put it out. I mean, I think if we’d had more time, we could have done better," Wakeman said of the song, which found Rabin and Anderson sharing vocals. "The difficulty is you’ve got Jon living up in San Luis Obispo, you’ve got Trevor living in Hollywood and there’s me living on the east coast of England. We can’t exactly pop around to each other’s houses for a morning coffee. It’s really difficult."
In the meantime, he dismisses the modern concept of recording via file sharing. "You really need to be sitting in the same room," Wakeman argues. "Two years ago, we were looking at how we could actually achieve that, all being in the same place – because to be honest, that’s the best way when music is written. The best Yes stuff was always written when we were all in the same room."
Wakeman recalls fondly how they'd spend a month together in those days, "throwing ideas" at each other. "We'd dissect them and pull them apart. What came out the other end, used to be, for me, quite magical," he says. "That’s where you got a true Yes album."
As for Yes, Wakeman hopes "that's not the end of it," noting that "none of us are getting any younger. ... I’m 73 next year and Jon’s [a few years] older than me. I mean, we’re no spring chickens anymore. But on the other hand, when you go onstage, the years roll off, you know? So it’s not the end, let’s put it that way, but I can’t tell you what the next stage is – because I don’t know myself. But it can’t be the end."
Wakeman returns to the U.S. for the Even Grumpier Old Rock Star tour starting on Oct. 13. "Grumpy is an interesting word," he says, with a laugh. "It's a fine line between grumpy and angry."
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