I really liked this interview with Steve Howe – the journalist, Val Mabbs, did a very good job here.
You`re gonna enjoy this one a lot if you are a Yes fan!
YES – NO PLACE TO PLAY
Steve Howe talks about the venue problem to Val Mabbs
FOLLOWING an extensive tour of America, Yes returned home to find that not only had the Rainbow Theatre, where they had made several appearances, closed, but also London`s Royal Albert Hall had imposed a ban on pop and rock groups.
Two events that only illuminate the growing problem in Britain, where many excellent bands continue to emerge, but the work circuit continually decreases.
Steve Howe sat relaxing in his cosy Hampstead flat, pondering the difficulties of working in Britain, and the comparison to America.
“It’s getting to be much more tricky,” says Steve. “The failure of the Rainbow Room was really a shame, because to me it was the nicest and best gig to do and I was looking forward to going back there. I don’t like the idea of playing in a ‘swimming pool’ like the Empire Pool much — it’s a little cold.
“The last tour we did in October was of city halls, and we packed it out, but though we loved it I don’t think we’d like to do that again. We’d like to play where we can get more people together for more of an event.”
The latest idea among the group members is for Yes to appear at the Crystal Palace, following their return from a further American tour which is planned to begin in July.
“To me Crystal Palace seems the perfect venue because it’s very organised, you can get a lot of people there; there are trees and grass and a nice bank to sit on.
“We’ll definitely do a British concert probably there, and I’ve got a fascination for playing at the Roundhouse,” Steve told me, but admitted that a tour of Britain is not a lucrative prospect for any group. “From a group’s point of view you have to work very hard and not get much back — it’s not a nice way to look at England but you can’t make money here.
“This idea for Crystal Palace could turn into a small tour, but we’ve got to have a strong act with several other groups to see. We really hope to get Jonathan Edwards — a folk rock star yet to be ‘born’ in England! — and at least two other bands, but not out and out heavy rock groups.”
For six weeks, with only four days’ rest, Yes have toured America, and due to the vastness of the country and the abundance of colleges and halls to cover, could continue for years to return constantly. But despite the enjoyment they obtain from touring there, Yes have no intention of moving permanently to that vast country.
As they plan to go into the recording studios throughout the entire month of June, and will be spending a month prior to that in rehearsal however, Yes will not be appearing in Britain until their September concert.
The idea is to do an album with an American tour to run in the new songs and then to come back for the show in England,” Steve explained.
When I queried if Yes might not be interested in appearing on one of the festival bills he told me, “In a way they seem a little old-fashioned to me. A festival lasting three days induces so many bad spirits I think. They’ve been a success and I’m not wiping them out completely, but I like the slightly more reserved idea of putting on a show — when the sun is out!”
Mr Howe is greatly moved by the sun, and admits that although he wrote a large amount of new music during the first tour of America, which was in the summer, on the subsequent tours the flow has declined.
“I’m glad this time though that I wasn’t using up more of my energy writing with the cassette, although sometimes when an idea comes I regret I’m not near a tape recorder, because it’s good to capture the song as it comes; just for your own amusement.
“The tour was hard work, particularly on the West Coast where the audiences are a bit more resistent. On the East Coast our reputation spread very quickly, now we’ve covered the West Coast supporting for the third time and there’s been a gradual build up.
“This time was the first they’d ever heard us in San Francisco, which is a whole England if you like, and you’ve got to get that from one show … !”
On stage Yes’ act is developing naturally, but following their American tour, Yes plan to use their recording engineer Eddy Offord permanently to mix their on stage sound.
“Originally he came over to help with the live recordings,” Steve explained. “And he helped with the PA and was turning out some incredible mixes — now we hope he can always mix our sound. The problem is he can’t record the set and mix it on stage, so we just let some guy loose in there to record us live.”
Eighteen boxes of sixteen track tape are now waiting to be sorted through, when Eddy returns from the States, and it is planned to use two of them, along with two live tracks from the forthcoming tour, for a live Yes album. The Yes studio album, will consist of one piece of music on the first side, based on events in people’s lives, with a loose theme of leaving places.
Just one more recorded item to look forward to is an album which Steve and Jon Anderson are planning to record with MD Johnny Harris.
“One side will consist of Jon’s songs, which Johnny Harris will be working on, and we’re hoping to do ‘Mood For A Day’ with an orchestra. All this takes a lot of work, and it’s in the early stages, but we’re taking the first steps.”
In the meantime Mr Howe, having rested for two weeks, is already hankering after working again. “I wanna play,” he says characteristically. And therein lies the essence of Yes!
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