One of the all-time great bass players, Chris Squire is a founding member of the rock band Yes, perhaps the defining band of progressive rock. Yes comes to the Silver Legacy, 407 N. Virginia St., on March 9. For tickets or more information, visit www.silverlegacyreno.com
In Reno, you guys are going to be performing the entirety of The Yes Album and Close to the Edge. Why those two albums?
We decided that those two albums would complement each other well and make a good history of Yes from the ‘70s, really. The Yes Album is kind of an exciting album for us because that was like our first album that got us recognized on the international stage and put us in the spotlight. It was also the first album Steve Howe, our guitar player, had joined the band for. So, a bit of a landmark album. And Close to the Edge, which followed on later, was an album that was our first foray into area of doing the extra long form music that then Yes then became well known for, as in doing a whole one side of the album being the “Close to the Edge” song in itself, 20 minutes long. So that was sort of groundbreaking for us as well at the time. So we thought it would be a pretty good potted history of Yes.
For most of the tour you’re also doing the album Going for the One, but not in Reno …
Yeah, I know, but you know these casino guys, they want people gambling. … That’s the bottom line on that, you know? … It is a bummer for me because we wanted to do all three albums everywhere, but you can’t argue with the man.
The trend of bands doing whole albums …
It’s not a new thing. It’s a new thing for us. Usually when we go out on the road, we usually have a new album to promote, and this is one of those very few occasions that we don’t actually have new music at the moment. We’ll be recording some new music later on in the year. But at the moment, we don’t actually have to focus on something new, so this idea came to fruition for us.
I think of the pacing of a live show and the sequencing and pacing of an album as being two different rhythms. Do you agree with that?
Yes, we’re discovering that in rehearsal, which we are at the moment. We’ve been talking about maybe not having any talking or any kind of announcing between the songs on the separate albums. I don’t know how that’s going to pan out. Because, as you say, the dynamic is different. … It’s new for us, and we’re discovering right now how to handle it. I’m not even sure we’ll play the albums in chronological order. We might play Close to the Edge first, and then The Yes Album after that. We’re still working on it. We’re discovering in rehearsals what it’s like, because it is a different approach.
Yes is generally considered to be one of the defining bands of progressive rock. Do you agree with that?
I would say we have collected that title over the years. We were at the beginnings of that movement, and I guess probably the best known band from that era promoting that progressive label.
For a lot of people, the rise of punk rock in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, was sort of a reaction against progressive rock. Do you agree with that or do you think that’s kind of a false dichotomy?
Honestly, I don’t think one has got anything to do with the other. I do understand that I guess since we were getting pretty clever, and doing long pieces and tricky musical adventures, that that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And around then the birth of the Sex Pistols that would just try to do a different thing, you know, which was be reactionary, and take it back to three chords. I suppose there was a reaction a bit to a lot of the bands—ourselves, ELP, Genesis, et cetera—of being a bit too clever for most people. And I understand that. So I guess that’s why punk was born, in a way.
Among bass players, you’re known not just for your excellent playing, but for your great tone. I’d love to hear some of your secrets of tone and how you get that great sound.
It’s just something I developed over the years. I was a big fan of John Entwistle, and his sound with The Who, and I borrowed from that a bit and added my own nuances. And I developed a relationship with my amplifier and guitar, and tones circuits and stuff. And when I started recording, we were working with Eddy Offord, who was engineer on all the early Yes albums, and he got a great sound for me in the studio as well. So it was a combination of quite a few things. But that’s how we ended up getting the great “Roundabout” bass guitar sound, and of course I’m grateful for that.
One of my favorite uses of Yes ever is in the movie Buffalo ‘66. Have you seen that movie, and what was your reaction?
Oh, absolutely. Vincent [Gallo, the director and star of Buffalo ‘66] is a very good friend of mine. He’s actually the godfather of my son. We hang out quite a bit. And I loved what he did with that—taking Yes music out of context and putting it in a strip club, I thought was definitely adventurous, and always appreciated that.