Interview: Chris Squire of Yes Discusses ‘Fly From Here,’ the Band’s First Album in 10 Years
Did you buy it new?
Yes, I did, brand new. It’s been kind of altered over the years, especially in my first 10 years of owning it. It had decorative, flower-power wall paper, and then silver paper, and so quite often it was — when I got bored with those phases, it would get refinished, and it would get planed down. Obviously with all those changes, it has a lighter body mass, which in some ways, gives it its individual sound. That’s why, in a lot of cases, people who went out and bought Rickenbacker basses because they wanted to sound like me, that wasn’t always possible, unless you shaved some of the wood off first, reducing the weight.
I’d say you and Paul McCartney were among the biggest Rickenbacker representatives.
Yes. Of course, Paul McCartney’s sound is different from mine, but it’s the way you hear things, really. Paul’s Hofner bass playing doesn’t sound that different than his Rickenbacker bass playing. It’s more the player than the instrument, I think — or the way the player wants to hear things.
Speaking of your bass sound, I think when most people think of “the Chris Squire sound,” they picture your distinctive sound on “Roundabout.”
Yeah, it’s like the “Chris Squire quintessential.”
Would you say your bass sound has changed much over the years?
Well, no. I still basically use the same kind of tone settings. I’m still using the 100-watt Marshall amp I’ve had since the mid-’60s. It still works, but of course, it has been through periods of needing work; it’s been broken down, had repairs. And nothing ever gets replaced with the same components because they’re not available all the time because they’re extinct now.
So in small increments, the sound has changed. I’ve had to replace parts in the basses when they’ve gotten old or worn out, so everything isn’t absolutely original. But where I could, I try and find a guitar from the same vintage and raid it for parts, which I have done with a couple of other basses from the same time.
With so many versions of the band throughout the years, is there one that stands out as the strongest or most rocking?
The thing is, every era of Yes has had something to say. It’s distinctly different — the Steve Howe guitar style and, of course, when Trevor Rabin was in the band in the ‘80s going into the ‘90s. He definitely was a different style of guitar player. So that sort of changed the band quite a bit in some ways, but there’s me and Alan White who are still playing, so yeah, things have moved around in the Yes sound picture, but basically, things have stayed the same as well. So I can’t really say which version is the more kickass because every version has come up with something good.
How’s your working relationship with Steve Howe?
I’ve known Steve for so long, it’s kind of like an old marriage, really [laughs]. I mean it has its ups and downs, but we’ve never had any arguments or confrontations of any note. Obviously there's been some differences of opinions over the years on various musical as well business approaches, but generally we have a good relationship.
I hear you and he were sort of an “Odd Couple,” great friends but opposites in many ways.
Yeah, we are quite different. Steve is still a vegetarian and has been for 40 or 50 years. I went through phases of that as well, but I sort of have a different … Yeah, our styles are different, but the great thing is that when we play together, I think we both enjoy each other's playing. That's the good side to it.
Will the song selection on your current tour cover every Yes era?
Well, we obviously want to introduce some elements from the new album and, until we get together to rehearse, which we're going to do a week before the tour, I have to know how much of it we'll do. And, of course, we're on the show with Styx, so that cuts down the amount of time we would normally have. So we'll have an injection of the new album, and, of course, we will play songs people have come to regard as their favorite Yes songs over the years. It's going to be a summer rock ’n’ roll-y tour, so we'll play it pretty straightforward.
Fly From Here comes out July 12 via Frontiers Records. The single, “We Can Fly (Radio Edit),” is available digitally now.