MWE3 Feature Story
conducted by Robert Silverstein for 
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LOCK AND LOAD

...the CONSPIRACY remains the same
an interview with


CHRIS SQUIRE
& BILLY SHERWOOD



 

 

Continued From Home Page


Lock & Load. . .
the CONSPIRACY remains the same


an interview with Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood


by Robert Silverstein

Any rumors that a new Conspiracy album had taken a back seat in Chris Squire’s mind are squashed in the mighty light of The Unknown, released during 2003 on Inside Out Music America. Conspiracies abound as Squire and his on again / off again band mate in Yes, Billy Sherwood raise the stakes on an album that clearly plays both to Yes fans and to those who turned on to Squire’s Yes-inspired vision on the first Conspiracy album from 2000. Although Sherwood politely exited the Yes lineup following his influential performance on the band’s ‘99 masterpiece, The Ladder, the sheer variety of progressive pop and rock flavors on The Unknown proves Sherwood still has a unique ability to coax further musical greatness out of Squire, who released his solo debut Fish Out Of Water nearly 30 years ago in 1975. Following The Unknown, Billy Sherwood summons up even more exceptional sounds with his latest solo CD. Released in England on the renowned Voiceprint label, Sherwood’s 2003 solo CD, No Comment, reveals yet another amazing layer of his vivid musical imagination. Even without the towering presence of Squire and Conspiracy drummer Jay Schellen, Sherwood performs everything on No Comment, conjuring a skillfully executed, sumptuous prog-rock sound that, at times rivals the intensity of The Unknown. In the following interview segments, both Chris Squire (at 2:30pm on Monday, September 8th 2003) and Billy Sherwood on (at 1pm on Wednesday October 1, 2003) spoke to 20th Century Guitar reviews editor Robert Silverstein, MWE3.com founder, about the The Unknown and related musical topics.


{With Chris Squire, Alan White and Steve Howe out on tour with Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver and Canadian singer Benoit David, the music that YES recorded back in the 1970’s once again brings their illustrious early years up to date. Fabled YES singer Jon Anderson—who actually nearly died a couple years back—is sorely missed but, Benoit David of the Montreal based prog-rock group Mystery carries on the YES legacy while bringing a fresh perspective to Anderson’s intricate wordplay and unmistakable vocal sound. Also, tying in with the winter 2010 YES tour is the release of Oneirology—a freshly minted 2010 album from late '90s YES guitarist/vocalist/producer Billy SherwoodChris Squire’s musical sparring partner of the early double O era. With the ongoing YES legacy in the limelight once again, it's worth taking a look back at The Unknownthe second Conspiracy album Billy and Chris recorded in California back in 2003. The following interview first appeared, in edited form, as the cover of the December 2003 issue of 20th Century Guitar magazine. MWE3.com now presents the complete interview with Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood in its entirety - editor February 2010}


CHRIS SQUIRE

CS: Hi Robert.

MWE3: Hey Chris.

CS: Hey...

MWE3: Can you hear me okay? We have a terrible connection.

CS: You know what? Our office has the worst communication system in Los Angeles.

MWE3: Thanks a million for speaking with me. I know Yes are leaving to go on tour. I’ll only take 20-25 minutes at the most...

CS: Yeah, actually you’ve only got 20 minutes...’Cos I’ve got to go and pick up my little boy from school.

MWE3: I just want to congratulate you on the new Conspiracy album, The Unknown, which I think is one of the best albums of the year.

CS: Well, thank you very much.

MWE3: The lead off track, “Conspiracy”...was that written for the new album and is that a post 9/11 song?

CS: It kind of has references to the media and I guess...it’s about conspiracies...(laughter). Yeah. In actual fact, that song was really more inspired after the events of the Columbine affair. That was more direct. In fact, that was really written prior to 9/11. But, as we’re on that subject, the title track, “The Unknown” is specifically, really written about 9/11. That was the last song we did on the album and we only really started writing it about nine months ago. And we thought that had been enough time since the actual events of 9/11 to try and write an encouraging song about it without being too blatant. But we did get a little bit blatant in some of the graphic quality of the lyrics. So that’s the answer to that really.

MWE3: I thought the song was like a possible soundtrack for the whole 9/11 catastrophe.

CS: Well...yeah, it kind of is. We didn’t want to make it too obvious but I guess if you got the connection, than yeah, it is.

MWE3: When I interviewed you three years ago, who knew we’d have all these weird conspiracies going on!

CS: Exactly. Yeah...On the first Conspiracy album, the way the band was named was more of a tongue in cheek name actually, at that period in time. It was just the idea of Billy and I collaborating together...it was just tongue in cheek to call it The Conspiracy. But, since the first album...yeah, as you say, world events have kind of made it become a little more potent, a little more serious.

MWE3: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more difficult three year period...with so many weird things going on at the same time.

CS: No, I know...it’s weird. And you’ve got the whole Middle Eastern problem that never seems to go away. In fact, Yes...we’re about to go to the Far East and one of the shows that we were going to do was going to be in Jakarta. We postponed that because of the problems they’re having there.

MWE3: The cover art of The Unknown, like the music, is kind of ominous a bit, in itself.

CS: Yeah, that was done by a guy called Bob Cesca, who’s very talented. He’s out of Atlanta. I believe he has a TV show coming up on VH1 or MTV called “Camp Chaos” quite soon, too, which is basically his artwork as well.

MWE3: It kind of reminded me a bit of the last King Crimson album with that gas mask on the cover art.

CS: (laughter) Yeah, a little bit ominous.

MWE3: There’s no Alan White on the The Unknown but Jay Schellen did a great...

CS: Jay played on all the tracks. Now...you can imagine, Billy and I constructed this very much like producers in a way, in a studio. Actually, I’ll make a confession to this point. I’ve actually never physically played with Jay Schellen in the same room.

MWE3: Wow.

CS: (laughter) We overdubbed. We did a lot of the original tracks with just drum machines and then we overdubbed them on top. He did a very, very good job.

MWE3: The drumming was excellent.

CS: Yeah, the drumming is really, really fine. We’re definitely, obviously gonna look to be using Jay if we go out on the road, which we’re looking for a window to do that towards the end of this year or around the beginning of next in between the Yes plans and Billy’s production plans.

MWE3: Last time we spoke, you mentioned the possibility of bringing in some guest artists to play with you and Billy. I guess you’ll save that for the next Conspiracy album.

CS: (laughter) Yeah, I guess so. The next thing we would like to do, before we start a new studio album is definitely try and do some live work. So I’ll look forward to that.

MWE3: Another great song off The Unknown is the song “Half A World Away”. That’s sort of the sunny more optimistic side of The Unknown.

CS: Yes, exactly. It’s funny. At the end of the day, the songs do kind of have a link between them that wasn’t really conceived at the beginning. But the way the running order is and everything they seem to have taken on an interesting link themselves with a similar theme that runs through the whole album.

MWE3: Another great song off The Unknown is “I Could”, which isn’t a hidden track but it’s listed as a bonus track.

CS: Yeah, we were asked by the record company, which they always do these days. (laughter) ‘Have you got something else?’... In actual fact, I’ll tell you something interesting about that track, which will be interesting to Yes fans as well, is the kind of the instrumental backtrack of that track is also the same as was used on a song on The Ladder called “Finally”. But the song was a completely different song with completely different lyrics. It’s not the same track as Yes played but it’s the same music, or the backing track. (laughter) Slightly altered, but the rudimentary chords are the same. For the music buffs, they might be interested to compare those two.

MWE3: I just interviewed Steve Howe, who just released a new CD by his side band, Steve Howe’s Remedy. He also just released a CD called Elements. So 2003 is turning out to be a banner year for Yes fans.

CS: Yeah!

MWE3: He told me he hadn’t heard The Unknown yet, but he really liked the first Conspiracy album.

CS: Oh he did? I think I gave him a copy but maybe he hasn’t gotten to listen to it yet.

MWE3: Inside Out Records put out Steve’s album and The Unknown. They seem to be doing a pretty good job.

CS: They seem to be...good!

MWE3: So you’re happy working with them?

CS: Well, yeah. Well, actually, they’re happy. Yes were just playing in Europe and there’s a lot of visibility in terms of advertising and press...that they were working up The Conspiracy so...they seem to be a good bunch of people to be with.

MWE3: By the way, Steve says he’ll see you Osaka...

CS: (laughter) Yes he will...(laughter)

MWE3: Those are the words he left me with when he called me from England. So Yes are going on the Asian tour now. Did the Conspiracy album come out in Japan?

CS: That’s a very, very good question actually. I’m going to ask about that. After I get off the phone (laughter) I’ll make a call and find out. I was thinking about that myself last night, so let’s see if that’s happening.

MWE3: Is Yes playing in China?

CS: No, we’re not doing China this time. We were going to be doing Jakarta but because of the bombing and stuff down there we decided to leave that one out. We’re doing Japanese shows and we’re going down to Australia and doing shows down there. And Singapore we’re doing shows. And we’re doing Hawaii on the way back which is always nice, of course.

MWE3: Last time I spoke with you we spoke about the Yes catalog which was in a bit of limbo, so what do you think about how Elektra and Rhino are handling the 2003 Yes reissues?

CS: I think the people at Rhino are very dedicated to this kind of retrospective way of doing things. I was very impressed with the quality of the packaging of the box set, In A Word... Obviously, it’s a sort of an expensive item and not everyone is going to put their hand in their pocket and buy that. But they’ve certainly put their money’s worth into the packaging.

MWE3: And 2003 is the 30th anniversary of the making of Tales From Topographic Oceans.

CS: Yeah, it is.

MWE3: I can still remember the fabled Tales show from February 18, 1974. I remember Rick Wakeman said the only time the piece was played perfectly live was at that Garden show.

CS: Oh, really? He’s got a long memory then! (laughter)

MWE3: Looking back on the album, any other memories you can recall?

CS: Ah...Well it was a difficult project at the time because we were obviously trying to do something that was fairly gargantuan and fairly uncharted in terms of doing something that large. So it wasn’t without it’s problems but at the end of the day I’m glad that we did do it because it sort of added to the whole Yes mystique and to our longevity as well. So at the end of the day it’s certainly a thing that put us in an interesting place.

MWE3: I thought the album had remarkable healing powers, especially considering it came after the intensity of Close To The Edge.

CS: Yeah, well obviously you’re one of the guys who really liked it. There are two distinct schools of thought. There are Yes fans who didn’t care for it very much at all, maybe it was just a little too deep in places. But, we were trying to do something...you know we were just following our enthusiasm I guess and trying to be as creative as possible.

MWE3: For me it’s still one of the greatest...

CD: I’m glad, thank you.

MWE3: Just to jump a bit here, I wanted to tell you that Magnification was just as brilliant in it’s own way as Open Your Eyes and The Ladder.

CS: Well, yeah...Magnification may be rereleased I think at a certain point. We’re working on that because the label that had it had financial problems at the time it was released and didn’t really get a great shot in the marketplace. So you can look forward to maybe some kind of reissue of that, maybe on Warners I think.

MWE3: Oh, really?

CS: Yeah, it’s possible...yeah.

MWE3: On Magnification, you sang lead on the the song “Can You Imagine”, which is one of the album highlights.

CS: Obviously, that’s me doing what I do.

MWE3: Also “Give Love Each Day” is another Magnification highlight.

CS: Yeah, that’s a very good song. I like that a lot. It’s a little poppy, but it’s a good pop song. It’s like a Beatles song.

MWE3: So now that Rick is back in Yes again, will that change the recording structure?

CS: Ah...well, we’re going to be doing a new studio album next year. We were actually going to get together and do a little bit of recording on the West Coast when we get back from this far eastern tour, possibly for a bonus track or two to the best of or the Ultimate Yes, as it’s called which will be coming out in the new year. Actually, it’s already released in Europe and the American version will have some different track listings and some added tracks as well.

MWE3: So that’s a new compilation?

CS: It’s not really a compilation. It’s very much a genuine best of. Atlantic released one before, in the mid ‘80s without any sanction from anybody in the band at all. It performed quite well actually but it was a bit of a low profile project. So we have never really done a proper best of and so this what this is going to be. It won’t have the long tracks but it may have excerpts from some of the long tracks.

MWE3: Hey, how’s Alan White doing? He’s overdue for a solo album.

CS: Yeah! I think actually he’s working on some projects. He’s up in Seattle. He told me the other day, he’s working with some buddies of his on some fresh stuff, so I’m sure you’ll hear something from him soon.

MWE3: Thanks a lot Chris...

CS: Okay, been nice talking to you and I’ll talk to you soon! Thank you...


BILLY SHERWOOD

BS: Hi! How you been man?

MWE3: Yeah, I spoke to you a few years ago. And first I want to apologize for not running your half of that Conspiracy interview we did for the magazine about three years ago, after the first Conspiracy album came out. (another thing I gotta fix - editor 2010)

BS: Yeah...

MWE3: What happened was I was moving at the time and I had to get out of my parent’s house. I had just sold it and funny enough, you had just left Yes at that time.

BS: Yep...not a problem. Here we are with Conspiracy, so all’s well. (laughter)

MWE3: I spoke to Chris a couple weeks ago and as I did with him, I want to congratulate you on the new album. I consider The Unknown one of the best albums of the year.

BS: Oh, cool man, I appreciate that. I’m glad to hear that from you. I know you’re a music aficionado guy, so that’s cool. I appreciate that.

MWE3: Were the songs for The Unknown written for this new album. Because last time we spoke I know you and Chris had a bunch of new stuff written even before the first Conspiracy album came out.

BS: Basically there were ideas floating around for songs, a few of which are on this new Conspiracy record. “There Is No End”, for instance. I was playing around with that on the back of the bus on the last Yes tour that I was involved with. Kind of just messing around with that guitar part and bringing it into shape. And a couple other of the songs had a few germs but for the most part they really took shape after I left the band and got back into the studio and starting pulling ‘em together. So there were ideas floating around but the real concrete song writing, if you will, began pretty much after I left the band.

MWE3: So The Unknown reflects your current vision of what Conspiracy is all about.

BS: Yeah. The first record was a combination of songs that had been lying around on the shelf that we had written, pretty much in demo form that, we never really polished off and took over the top. And after many years of writing a lot of songs we had a collection of songs that we thought, well...some of these became Yes and some became World Trade. Some were bootlegged and people were hearing it so let’s just put this together and put it out there to kind of show people what we were doing and what we were writing. Where, this new record is really more of a consistent thread and a flow and a feeling from top to bottom. It just sounds more like a real record, if you will.

MWE3: The guitar sound is really cool on The Unknown. Could you mention some of the guitars you featured on the album?

BS: Yeah, I used a lot of Carvin stuff. I have an endorsement with those guys. They’re really sweet people and I think they make really quality instruments. So I used a lot of their guitars as well as a lot of the guitars that I have at my house here...various brands, names, models. Fender Strats, Tele’s, Gibsons, Schecters. I used some dobro and some acoustics on there. The Martin acoustics, I got some Guild acoustics, Dean makes some really nice acoustics that I have. So it’s kind of a combination of all kinds of guitars that I have lying around just depending on what kind of mood I’m in to grab and play one.

MWE3: Were the songs on The Unknown co-written or did you and Chris bring your own ideas to the table?

BS: They were co-written by the end of the project per song, but a lot of the ideas started for me in the studio here, getting germs and ideas together. A few of the ideas that Chris had, he brought to the table—we went the other way where I helped him out with his ideas and then we fleshed it out and developed it. But at the end of the day, we both sat down and worked together on a lot of the lyrics and a lot of the structuring and the arrangements and stuff. So, it’s very much a team effort on the thing. We’re fortunate that we kind of share the same sort of same vision so we tend to like what we’re doing and we arrive at that place a lot faster than you would in another situation.

MWE3: The lead off track, called “Conspiracy” is awesome.

BS: That song was actually written right after the Columbine incident. I was kind of so taken back by that whole event and I thought how strange and just bizarre it was that two kids could conspire and create such havoc without anyone knowing what was coming, and the truth behind the smile and all that kind of stuff. So I just sort of took those ideas and starting forming it into this song and then, along the way Chris came in with that chorus melody. And I didn’t really have a title for the song yet, I had all the stuff around it and he came in said, ‘what about “Conspiracy”? That’s what the song’s about’. And he came up with that melody on the chorus and that idea. And the way that we work together, he comes in with magic like that, that’s invaluable at the critical moment. But the song was written, started around that time when the Columbine thing happened. The strange thing is, a lot of people think....I’ve done a lot of interviews for this record and a lot of people think it was written about 9/11. But the reality is, as I said, it was written about Columbine and it just so happens to relate pretty deeply to 9/11 as it stands now.

MWE3: So many weird things have happened since the first Conspiracy album, which kind of leads me to the title track also called “The Unknown.”

BS: That song was written about 9/11—actually the only song on the record that is directly related to that event. As a songwriter you can’t help but get affected by these things, and the idea of the song was to create a feeling and a mood that reflected the innocence of who and what we were before that event, the tragedy of the event, in the middle, and the sorrow and the heartbreak of the whole thing. And then the anger / revenge / justice...all those feelings we all felt prior to the event. So it’s kind of was meant to be a mirror of all that wide pendulum range of emotions from top to bottom.

MWE3: I told Chris I thought the song “The Unknown” is like the soundtrack for the entire 9/11 event.

BS: Yeah, it was specifically engineered and designed to feel and portray that event in the textures and the sound and some of the voices are very eerie. It’s kind of ghostly, like you’re hearing the people that we lost that day crying out. And as I said, in the end, the justice and the revenge factor of the people. The general feeling of the song is very much related to that event. You can’t help it as a writer. It just seeps through. And I was so moved by that event, as we all were. We all processed it in our heads, in our own way. And that was very therapeutic, to be able to do something like that, for me...to get some emotion out of that event.

MWE3: Also like I told Chris, the song “Half A World Away” kind of represents the positive, hopeful side of things.

BS: That song has multiple meanings, to me anyway. The listener perceives it how he or she perceives it but the idea of that song was...I had the idea of that song when I was on the last tour...and the idea of while I’m here on this side of the planet, my family and my wife is on the other side of the world doing their thing. And then I started thinking about while the sun rises here, the sun is setting over there. And while there’s peace and tranquility in this part of the world, there’s complete chaos on the other side of the world and vice versa. And all these ideas of while one thing is happening here, half a world away another thing is happening there. And I think it’s one of Chris’ best vocals that I’ve ever heard on a record. I just think he sounds so good on that, so pure, that when the chorus kicks in, the energy is just so y’know...the dichotomy of the two areas is meant to feel like you’re now half a world away in another area.

MWE3: The chorus has got kind of a rotating carousel sound.

BS: Yeah, the idea was try to feel this kind of revolution of the earth and what we deal with in our lives here and what other people are dealing with in their lives there. It’s all connected but it’s just the distance that keeps it extreme.

MWE3: The final song, “I Could” is a bonus track.

BS: Yeah, the label had requested some sort of extra track at the end of the whole day that would be interesting for the fans to kind of tune in to. And that song seemed like the right choice mostly because the record sounded so good to Chris and I in terms of it’s quality and level of integrity that we didn’t want to just put...he and I singing to an acoustic guitar at the end. (laughter) Y’know, we wanted to do something a little more interesting. That song, it had a place within Yes. That was a song that I had taken up to work on for The Ladder. It became the song, I believe it’s called “Finally”, on the record...on The Ladder, but it’s in a much different shape. So, part of the idea was to kind of show, well here’s where it started, here’s where it ended up. And it makes it more of an interesting song to listen to for the fans I think.

MWE3: Are there any singles planned to be taken off the record?

BS: Well, in terms of singles, if anyone wanted to run with a single, I would recommend any one of the first three songs...I think they’re really strong. It just depends on what kind of marketing thing you’re going for. “Conspiracy”, I think is a really strong song. It could really have an effect in the right domain. I think the song “Confess” is a really straight ahead, kind of love song in a sense, but also has a musical integrity that makes it a little bit more unique than just an average love song. And I think the song “New World” is really, really cool. And I think that’s one of Chris’ shining moments on bass, on the record. The bass line on that song is just so good, it’s so fiery. It’s everything I ever wanted to hear Chris play in a long time (laughter).

MWE3: I think The Unknown is the kind of CD you could play and never really get sick of it.

BS: Well, it was kind of meant to be layered, and the textures and things, hidden treasures you find later when you listen to it. In the way that, as we’ve all listened to Gabriel, Genesis, Yes and Floyd and as you really start listening to the record, you tune in to little things you didn’t catch the first time around. And that’s the idea of the record. It’s like a movie for your ears.

MWE3: The Unknown came out on Inside Out. How did you guys hook up with IOMA?

BS: The management company that handles Yes, there’s a few guys over there who really likes The Conspiracy and rather than myself shopping it, or Chris, they kind of jumped in and took the ball and shopped it around. They ended up with Inside Out just having a very good energy about the record. And they really wanted to have it and have it be their kind of flagship record of their company at the moment and really run with it. So it worked out really well. They’re really good people and I’m really happy with the level of energy that they’ve put into the record. Obviously, it’s not on Atlantic or CBS with a three million dollar deal backing it and pushing it along. It’s kind of an underground thing, but for as underground as it is, I don’t think I did as many interviews in Yes as I’ve done with this particular Conspiracy record. (laughter) So you know, without trying too hard, I think it’s making more of an impact than if we were trying really hard, mostly because the music is really cool.

MWE3: And I was talking to Chris about that cover art. It really blew my mind.

BS: (laughter) I know...it’s funny ‘cause we gave the record to that guy Bob Cesca, who did an amazing job, and said, ‘here’s the music, sit with it for a little while and see what you think.’ And he sent us back that artwork and all I could think was, ‘did we do that? (laughter)...what are you seeing here?’ I think it’s fantasy, yet there’s a hint of reality in there in a way. And it’s very eclectic but it kind of looks like what we’re dealing with now in the world. I don’t know how to explain it but it just fit and married the music, I thought perfectly. The second I saw it, I thought, ‘that’s perfect’, and Chris did as well. The guy just did such a phenomenal job. It reminds me of like an old Pink Floyd cover that you’d put on the wall, you’d get a movie in your head. Just surreal and trippy.

MWE3: Chris says he’d like to tour with Conspiracy at some point. Is that a possibility?

BS: It’s possible. Chris is pretty busy with Yes and I’ve been busy doing stuff, productions and this, that and the other here in town. But we have discussed possibly a window...If we did something, it would most likely be along the lines of like a House Of Blues tour, or something like that. It’s a smaller venue, but it’s enough people to make it worthwhile for both parties involved. And so we’re talking about it now. So it’s just a matter of scheduling it and really pulling it together, but it’s in our hearts and desires to do it for sure.

MWE3: Hopefully there’ll be another album at some point.

BS: There’ll be another record. I think we’ll probably just start from scratch again. Obviously, life kind of evolves and you experience different things and new things blend into your song writing and your material. So we’d have to see what the music’s going to be like, but I know that I’m inspired enough by the project, as Chris is, to keep it going. We’re both very happy with this record and we worked really hard on it. I worked extremely hard on it. I engineered it and did the whole thing pretty much by myself. Chris worked with me on it but in terms of like, once he was gone, it was just me sitting there by myself pulling it together. So, I’m into making that kind of music and moving music forward like that so, I definitely think we’ll make another record. I can’t predict what it’ll be like but I think we’ve set the bar for what that project is all about and what it has to be, that’s it’s going to be just as energetic and just as rewarding.

MWE3: I hope it doesn’t take some cataclysmic event like 9/11 to get you guys to make another record!

BS: Yeah, I do too...(laughter)

MWE3: Could you say something about your new solo album?

BS: Yeah, November 3rd. It’s coming out. It’s called No Comment. It’s truly a solo record. I played everything. And produced it and recorded it. It’s just a personal kind of record. I’m constantly making music so there needs to be many outlets for me of how to get music out there. There’s obviously Conspiracy, which is what we’re talking about. I have my solo project. I work with other artists and write songs with them and I’m actually working with World Trade again and we’re working on more material for another record. There’s a lot of avenues to get music out but No Comment is going to be the latest of just my solo stuff that I just do by myself.

MWE3: Would you say your solo stuff has a Conspiracy flavor to it?

BS: It’s definitely not like Conspiracy. I don’t know how to explain it other than it’s just my own thing. I don’t want to say it’s a follow up to The Big Peace, ‘cause it’s really nothing like The Big Peace. I think it’ll be surprising for people when they hear it. There’s a lot of great guitar textures on there and a lot of cool instruments and a lot of cool colors. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.

MWE3: No Comment is coming out on Voiceprint out of England.

BS: It was a label that I contacted. They had put out a bunch of the other solo records of the Yes guys so it seemed like the right place to go with that project.

MWE3: Is No Comment coming out in the U.S.?

BS: I’m not really sure. Again, I just sort of put it out there and then got on with my life and moved on. I’m not really sure the particulars but I’m positive that you’ll soon be able to get it on CD Now or Amazon.com or one of those kind of things.

MWE3: I was reading that you also work occasionally with another Yes alumni, Trevor Rabin.

BS: Yeah...(laughter) Trevor’s a very good friend of mine. We met a long, long time ago and we remained friends through the years. He actually was the guy who called me and said, ‘why don’t you come tour on the Talk tour with us, and get involved.’ So, you know, I’ve had an interesting history with him. We’re friends above and beyond it all. He was doing the music for a ride that was coming to Disney’s Eppcot Center called “Mission: Space”. And it’s an extremely intense ride. He scored the actual ride when you’re inside in the ride. He asked me to come along and help him out and I scored thirty minutes of...when you’re standing in line for a ride at Disneyland, it could take you four or five hours to get on the ride. (laughter) As you near the end of the line and you get to the last thirty minutes, you enter this atrium kind of area of the ride. And I scored the thirty minutes that you’ll hear coming out the speakers while you’re kind of hanging out waiting for the last thirty minutes. Then, once you go into the ride, it’s Trevor’s music. So, it was kind of a unique experience. I got to score for fifty piece orchestra. It was just a great experience and it was just a gas to work with Trevor. He’s always fun to work with. He’s such a great musician you can’t help but get great information and great knowledge from just working with other great musicians and he’s a really great musician.

MWE3: And you’re also working with Trevor’s son who has a band called The Anthem?

BS: Yeah, strangely enough. I’ve worked with his son’s band. They’re really good. They’re 16, 17 year old kids, but they’re really, really good. Trevor’s kid, Brian, plays drums like a monster. It’s (laughter) unbelievable. And I’m actually getting ready, this weekend, to go back in and record a few more songs with them. So, I’m kind of helping out the family tree there a little bit.

MWE3: When I spoke to Chris a few years ago he mentioned that he’d like to bring in a few guest artists for future Conspiracy albums. How about Trevor?

BS: Well, Trevor’s so extremely busy with film scores. I would love him to participate and to be involved. The door would definitely be open for him and I know from Chris, he would think the same way. It’s really just a logistic thing. Perhaps that can come to pass. It would be really, really cool if it could. I know that conversation was going on before we started this record about this, that and the other. This guy and that guy and let’s bring in a few other elements but at the end of the day, once we started really seeing where the record was going we both sort of got precious about it. Kind of wanted to keep it, I hate to say it, but in a selfish way, to ourselves to make sure that it was gonna have a set direction and a path. So, if in fact, maybe the thing might be where we actually get together and write material with Trevor and if he’s interested in it, and he becomes a part of the song writing, he becomes a part of the creation of that material, it takes on a different shape. But as it was on this record, The Unknown, it was already heading along such a path, that it was just like, ‘let’s finish this up, let’s stay on course here.’

MWE3: Do you miss not being in Yes now? Also do you know how Chris feels about the current musical direction of Yes?

BS: Well, with regard to the Chris question, you’d have to ask him. I’m not really clear what his feelings are on it. He’s in Yes. He’s doing it. I don’t miss being in it at all. I enjoyed the time that I was there and I did my best to move it forward and keep it current and try to push it along and bring in new fans as well as kind of participating in some of the songs live that would remind people of the Rabin-era Yes, which they tend to ignore. It was one of my feelings that by ignoring the fifteen years that Trevor had put into the band and all of that material, we were alienating a certain group of the Yes fans. As a Yes fan myself, I thought that was just silly. So I tried to incorporate that into it as well. And I got to play some of these songs that I’d grown up with and jammed to in my room when I was a kid playing drums. “Close To The Edge” and “Awaken”, all of a sudden, I got to play (laughter) them, night after night. So, it was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But I don’t miss it in the sense...you know, the politics and the involvement in the band. It’s very deep. It’s a very difficult animal to stay on and ride. It’s a challenge. I did my best for the four years that I was there and I don’t regret that I did it but I also don’t miss the fact that I’m there. I’m quite happy doing my own thing and for me, musically speaking, Conspiracy The Unknown is where I wanted to go and it was clear that Yes didn’t want to go in such a edgy kind of sharp-toothed sort of direction if you will. That’s what I kind of wanted to do, so musically it was the right thing to do as well.

MWE3: I wanted to also congratulate you and your wife on your new child, born in 2003.

BS: Yeah, a baby boy named Ethan. He’s three months old. He can barely hold a groove down (laughter) but he’s doing well.

MWE3: You have a future Conspiracy member there.

BS: (laughter) Chris has his kid and I got mine, so you never know, y’know. Years from now we could be talking about a whole other band.

MWE3: Also I didn’t know your father was a pretty famous jazz musician.

BS: Yeah...Bobby Sherwood. Made a bunch of records in the ‘40s and ‘50s. I’m actually looking at—which you’d appreciate if you were here—I’ve got a poster from a Gibson endorsement from 1938 that has...I’m looking at it right now. It says Only A Gibson Is Good Enough and it’s got all these great guitar players, one of which is Bobby Sherwood, MGM Studios, Hollywood. He was a staff guitar player at MGM in ‘38. The amazing thing about this poster is, if you could see it, there’s at least seven or eight guitar players on this poster, one of which is my father. There’s not an electric item on any of these guitars! (laughter) There’s no pickups, there’s no nothing! (laughter) This was back in the day when it was just, ‘strum the hell out of it and hope you get heard!’ (laughter) You know what I mean?

MWE3: Any future plans you could divulge?

BS: I’m just working on film cues and television cues. And I’m working with a company here in L.A. that does source cues. And I’ve been writing, all kinds of different genres—from country to orchestral—and everything in between. And just staying busy. Working away, some with some famous people, some with some not so famous people, trying to help their music along. All of it really cool music. Staying busy, living life and making music, y’know?

Thanks to Billy Sherwood @ www.BillySherwood.com and to Chris Squire @ www.ChrisSquire.net

 







 
 
 
 
 

 

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