The conversation covered Jon’s work with Yes, songwriting and stories from various tours.
Songwriting with Yes (3:25)
Songwriting is like Tennis, you send out an idea and then get something back.
“It’s like playing tennis, you send an idea out, then it comes back with another idea. We’re recreating ideas and making them sound better. It’s really fun working with musicians that way, especially a group…”
“Steve (Howe) was a master of chord ideas, progressions, riffs…so whenever we met we would write something in the studio, in the cafe, on tour…”
A lot of writing would happen during the off time while on tour. Jon would sit down with Steve frequently and work on new songs.
Recording with Yes (5:15)
The longer epics, such as “Close To The Edge” would be recorded in sections. The band would work on that 2 minute section, get it very tight and then record several takes. As a band will then listen to each take and discuss (never argue) which one was best.
Headphone records (13:40)
In that era (70s) started to incorporate more surround sound types of mixes. Engineer Eddy Offord led the effort here.
At the time Jon wasn’t involved with Yes because of difficulties within the band due to outside influences.
Trevor Rabin, Trevor Horn, Chris Squire had been working on new material. Chris played Jon a demo of Owner of a Lonely Heart which got Jon interested to rejoin the band. He collaborated with Trevor Rabin on finishing writing Owner of a Lonely Heart, a very joint experience.
“I knew Owner was going to be a hit…”
They filmed a music video for the song which coincided with the rise of MTV.
“I didn’t lock myself into the Yes cage at that time, I was always thinking about new ideas and new music…”
The Beatles (23:00)
“The Beatles changed the world musically speaking…”
The Beatles had long songs which were hits, which empowered Yes to pursue long songs.
King Crimson & Mahavishnu Orchestra (23:22)
“Me and Chris saw King Crimson, their first gig, playing their first album In The Court Of The Crimson King. I looked at Chris and said we gotta practice better, these guys are amazing…”
“5 years later we were on tour with The Kinks in America, the opening act was Mahavishnu Orchestra. I looked at Chris and said we gotta rehearse better…”
Yes and The Eagles (30:15)
Great story from Yes touring with The Eagles, you need to watch Jon tell the story at 30:15 in the video.