By Ray Shasho
Chris Squire (Yes bassist) and Steve Hackett (Genesis guitarist) have conceived a remarkable progressive rock amalgamation entitled SQUACKETT. The CD A Life Within A Day will be officially released on May 28th and available for preorder at www.hackettsongs.com or amazon.com.
Heavily influenced by The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, Chris Squire and Jon Anderson formed the band ‘Yes’ in 1968. Squire remains the only original member since the bands commencement. The distinguished bassist became a paragon for a legion of preeminent recording artists. Eighteen musicians have since been part of a perpetual brand name known as simply ‘Yes.’
Some of the bands many studio classics include Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer. The album 90125 spawned the bands first and only #1 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and became their most commercially successful album.
Chris Squire recorded his first solo album in 1975 entitled Fish Out Of Water, and it quickly became a progressive rock masterpiece. Fans and critics alike had hoped for a follow-up release but it never transpired.
The current lineup of ‘Yes’ features new frontman Jon Davidson (who recently replaced Benoit David), Steve Howe on guitar, Alan White on drums, Geoff Downes on keyboards and Chris Squire on bass. ‘Yes’ begins their American tour on July 13th with a show scheduled for Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fl. on July 29th and supported by Procol Harum.
Steve Hackett is the guitar virtuoso for the legendary progressive rock group ‘Genesis.’ Hackett joined the band in 1971, a line-up that featured frontman Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and Phil Collins on drums and vocals. In 1976 Collins replaced Gabriel as lead vocalist. Some of the bands most innovative classics are Selling England by the Pound, A Trick of the Tail, Wind & Wuthering, Duke and Abacab.
As with Chris Squire, Steve Hackett’s style of play has been emulated over the years by the finest musicians in the business. Genesis has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2010.
SQUACKETT’s premier release A Life Within A Day is certainly a stunning blend of progressive rock matrimony and a magnificent duo of virtuosity. The harmonization of Squire and Hackett are inspiring and reminiscent to Crosby & Nash.
I had the great pleasure of chatting with Chris Squire on Friday. Chris was on a well-deserved R&R break in Hawaii. We talked about Squackett, a possible follow-up to Fish Out of Water, and working with Jon Anderson again.
Here’s my interview with legendary bassist/songster/songwriter/and YES co-founder/ Chris Squire.
Ray Shasho: Chris, thank you for being on the call today …are you on the west coast?
Chris Squire: “Right now I’m in Kona in Hawaii and the weather is as it always is… 85, sunny and gorgeous. And it’s like this every day of the year.”
Ray Shasho: Are you living in Hawaii now?
Chris Squire: “Oh no, we just did a Pacific Rim tour of New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Jakarta, and on our way back we did two shows in Honolulu and Maui. So I decided it was time to stay on and get some R&R at the end of our tour.”
Ray Shasho: Chris, not only are we promoting Squackett today, but also the upcoming YES American tour which arrives in Clearwater, Florida on July 29th.
But I must say two of my favorite albums have always been Fish Out Of Water (Chris Squire) and A Trick of the Tail (Genesis), so it would probably take an act of God for me not to like the new CD.
Chris Squire: “Have they sent you a copy yet?”
Ray Shasho: I received a raw copy, no credits or front cover art work … which I really missed because YES and its member’s solo efforts have always generated the best artwork in the business.
Chris Squire: “We’ll make sure you get a proper copy once it’s available. Did you like it?”
Ray Shasho: The collaboration between you and Steve Hackett was magnificent and I thoroughly enjoyed the CD. It seems to me that you guys also had a chance to spread your wings a little bit on this one too?
Chris Squire: “The thing is about this project, it was really about just two guys getting together, there was no pressure about needing to make an album for a label or anything like that, it was just the two of us getting together and in collaboration of course with Roger King who was also part of the project. He’s been Steve’s longtime keyboard player and co-producer/co-writer on various projects of Steve’s. So he’s involved in this as well, and done a great job with the sound and the mixing. So I can’t tell you how happy I am with the way the whole project turned out.”
Ray Shasho: Who played drums on the album?
Chris Squire: “Jeremy Stacey. I’ve done three albums with him now. He’s a friend of mine, lives in London, and spent the last five or six years playing with Sheryl Crow. He’s also played with Tom Jones and currently playing with Noel Gallagher from Oasis. He’s always busy and very sought out for his drumming, and hopefully he’ll be able to come and play with Squackett when we eventually get some live dates scheduled. He’s a great player.”
Ray Shasho: Chris, I wanted to discuss a few tracks from the new album. The opening track “A Life Within A Day” is a powerful progressive rock opening statement. The song includes Arabic overtones and perhaps thoughts of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
Chris Squire: “It wasn’t written with that intentionally in mind but obviously when we’re putting it together I saw it had the element in it, and of course I’ve always loved “Kashmir” so I don’t have a problem with that. And also if we’re talking about Zeppelin, the “Stormchaser” track also has a ‘Zepp’ element to it as well. So there is some of that hard rock kind of style.”
Ray Shasho: I also liked that sort of race car engine rev effect on the track …how was that created?
Chris Squire: “That’s a guitar and I’m sure it’s Steve with the whammy bar.”
Ray Shasho: The harmonies on many tracks from the album were also reminiscent of Crosby and Nash.
Chris Squire: “Definitely a bit of an element to it. One of the bonuses to this project was when Steve and I started singing together and we both realized how good our voices sounded together. I have to be honest going into this project at the beginning; I didn’t really know that Steve sang, so that was a big plus for me. What sounds really good is when we actually sing quite a lot of the lines in unison. A lot of the lead vocals are both of us singing.”
Ray Shasho: The tune “The Summer Backwards” is a beautifully blended composition accenting both of your amazing voices.
Chris Squire: “It’s really cool isn’t it … I’m really happy the way that turned out. And once again I’ll have to say thank you to Roger King because of the way he mixed it, and the echo’s he used etc. It’s really good and very well produced.”
Ray Shasho: At the very end of “Divide Shelf” there’s an interesting melody that sounds like an old movie or wartime tune?
Chris Squire: “(Laughing) Yea … it does, it sounds like an old Moviola. And once again that’s Roger’s contribution to the record. He’s quite an expert with keyboards and he threw that little bit in.”
Ray Shasho: What is the origin behind “Aliens” in which you say (Are only us from the future).
Chris Squire: “That’s something I’ve thought for a long time because if you’ve considered that the human race is probably going on to progress through this century and the next one … it wouldn’t surprise me at all if in the future, when we’re not eating steak dinners anymore, that we look probably like the idea of what aliens are and by then have developed time travel. Look how far the human race has come in terms of air and space travel in the last hundred years. So in the next couple of thousand years you’ve got to believe that we’re going to be able to do all kinds of amazing things. So I really believe that the aliens are us from the future. It seems to me a very plausible reason that explains a lot of phenomena as opposed to green men with one eye from outer space.”
Ray Shasho: I’ll admit Chris, when I was in high school; we all thought the members of YES may have been extraterrestrial. I told Jon Anderson this when I chatted with him too.
Chris Squire: “In his case …you may have a good excuse.”
Ray Shasho: Chris… Jon said good things about you guys in the interview. And I did ask him about not being in the band anymore.
Chris Squire: “When was the interview?”
Ray Shasho: Back in August of 2011.
Chris Squire: “That’s nice to hear, I’m glad that’s his attitude.”
Ray Shasho: I was heartbroken when Jon Anderson was no longer a part of YES.
Chris Squire: “Well unfortunately Jon had some medical problems and he really couldn’t commit to that level of touring anymore. It’s a shame but the rest of us wanted to carry on and so we had to make the adjustment. YES to me now is evolving like a sports team or an orchestra. It’s not beyond the possibility that there still could be a YES in 200 years time… of course with different members, unless the medical profession comes up with something extraordinary (All laughing). But Jon Davidson turned out to be really-really good on the Pacific Rim tour.”
Ray Shasho: Back to Squackett and the new album …my favorite tune on the CD is “Can’t Stop The Rain.” Vintage Squire… sort of reminded me of Fish Out Of Water.
Chris Squire: “I brought that tune to the project. It has a sort of 60s flavor, almost like a Burt Bacharach type of tune and all those great songs he wrote for Dionne Warrick and artists like that in the 60s. I’m really happy with the way that track turned out.”
Ray Shasho: The track fades into “Perfect Love Song,” the final cut on the album and a perfect ending to a superlative album.
I know we’re running short on time …Fish Out Of Water was an absolute masterpiece. I was really surprised there wasn’t a follow-up release?
Chris Squire: “Here’s the deal with that. A lot of the reason that album has a good vibe about it, and I’m not boasting because it’s my album, but it was also because of the involvement with my lifelong friend Andrew Jackman who did all the orchestral arrangements and worked with me preparing the album and writing it. Unfortunately he is no longer with us and had a brain aneurysm. But that hasn’t stopped me over the years from wanting to do a follow up to it. What seems to happen is every time I’ve sat down and been disciplined with myself and written new material, I’m thinking it’s going to go in that direction and then something else has come up, like the Squackett project. The songs on that album were designated for a solo album for me. But then as soon as I got involved with Steve and realized how exciting it was, I turned over the best material I had at the time for that and also when we do a YES album. So it might be best that there will never be a follow up to Fish Out Of Water… never say never… but we’ll see what happens . I do want to say that Andrew Jackman and his arrangements had a lot to do with the appealing of that album.”
Ray Shasho: Speaking of never say never … can Jon Anderson ever return to YES?
Chris Squire: “I don’t close the door on that possibility… it’s just how that will happen. There’s been talk of YES possibly doing something on Broadway in New York. People have approached me with that idea and there are discussions about that. A possible project like that and you might see Jon re-involved as you would other ex members of YES. Once again there’s nothing concrete about that yet and now that we have Jon Davidson on board, our next project will probably be making a studio album with him. But we won’t close the door on other possibilities in the future …we’ll see what happens.”
Ray Shasho: How about Relayer II? That was recorded around the same time as Fish Out Of Water.
Chris Squire: (All laughing) “Yea it did, in fact they were both recorded in my studio in the countryside in Surrey England.”
Ray Shasho: Chris, thank you for being on the call today but more importantly for all the great music you gave us throughout the years.
Chris Squire: “Thanks Ray!”
Chris Squire and YES will be performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fl. on July 29th with Procol Harum. Purchase tickets at www.rutheckerdhall.com
The new CD by SQUACKETT called A Life Within A Day is available for pre-order at www.hackettsongs.com or amazon.com. The official release is May 28th.
Chris Squire official website www.chrissquire.com
Steve Hackett official website www.hackettsongs.com
YES Official website www.yesworld.com
Special thanks to Chipster PR & Consulting for this interview
Official website www.chipsterpr.com
Contact author/columnist Ray Shasho at firstname.lastname@example.org
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