great interview ! thanks for pointing it.
It's all on Olivers site here:
Here's the parts relevant to Yes:
Prior to handing out the Classic Rock Society BOTY Awards he revealed what it now feels like to have performed with a legendary rock band and what the future now holds. Martin Hudson began by taking Oliver back to the beginning of the journey.
"Going back, I had the phone call, I think, in January 2008 because they, Yes, were supposed to be doing the 40th anniversary tour with Jon (Anderson). I was in the kitchen at home and the phone rang and Lisa, (Oliver's wife), said, 'You've got to pick the phone up it's Steve (Howe).'
I asked her how she knew that and she said she didn't know? I picked it up and it was Steve and he said, "Are you sitting down? We'd like you to join Yes." He told me to have a think about it, so I put the phone down and me and Lisa talked about it for about ten seconds. I phoned him back and said yes, why not."
"The first six months were really hard because we were planning for the 40th anniversary tour with Jon and he got sick, so I had six months worth of learning all this material for that tour. At that time Jon's plan was to put together a sort of big Yes package with new material and I was recording piano parts for him. I was listening to some of Jon's new music and chatting to Steve but once Jon got sick he got in touch with me and said he wasn't doing the tour.
So suddenly from going from normality to craziness, I went straight back to normality. Obviously that was quite disappointing. Even though the audiences aren't what they used to be for Yes in their heyday in the 70's you're still dealing with a band with an enormous legacy and an enormous expectation. Added to that people would automatically be comparing me to dad (Rick Wakeman) and it made it an enormous amount of pressure to deal with."
There was some disappointment of not then being part of the classic band with Jon Anderson, but touring with the then unknown Benoit David. Did that make a difference?
"Yes and no. It was a shame that I never got the chance to play with Jon purely because I have known him for a long time. I did do some work with him on this album that was talked about at the time, which was just to rerecord some piano parts that he and dad had come up with and listening to some of Jon's new songs and coming up with some ideas for that and that obviously never happened.
"So the whole thing started up again and working with Benoit in the band was just as exciting and I was still getting to travel round the world even though the audiences were going to be smaller because Jon wasn't there. I was still going to meet lots of new people and play in much bigger venues that I'd ever played before.
So yes, it was disappointing that Jon wasn't there but the excitement with everything else was valid. It also made it easier with Jon not being there because Benoit and I gelled quickly together. We have become very firm friends and even though he joined six months after I did visibly we sort of joined at the same time.
Signing the death warrant!
"In 2009 we did the aborted tour where we just did a week and then Chris (Squire) got ill. Then I went out to tour with The Strawbs. I came back and then did a tour with Yes in the summer with Asia. Then I went out on tour again with The Strawbs in the autumn and went back out with Yes again touring around Europe in the autumn.
"Chris and I talked a lot on the tour bus about this new album and he said he wanted new material. So I ended up being very much involved in trying to get that going right from the start. In some way I sort of got involved in writing my own death sentence pushing it that involving Trevor Horn would be great." Oliver laughs loudly here. "Chris said that he didn't think he'd do it. Now I'd like to go back to myself three years ago and give myself a smack round the head," he laughed again.
"So we talked more about it and that was the time we recorded the Live In Lyon album. Then in 2010 we toured in February in the U.S. and then had a couple of weeks off before locating to a house in Phoenix where we started writing the new album. We came up with some really good stuff. I was working as a sort of engineer, writer, and helping to arrange things and put things together. All seemed quite happy and positive and then I ended up writing some more material before we booked in to the studio.
"We turned up at the studio but it didn't feel quite normal as we were concentrating on an old Buggles song. That to me didn't feel in the spirit of what we were trying to achieve as this new version of Yes. It's not for me to say what Yes should be because I was only a minor part of it, but I felt that Chris, Steve and Alan (White) had made a brave decision in replacing dad and John with myself and Benoit. Steve had actually said that after three years of touring we had now earned the right to go in to the studio and try to prove ourselves.
I felt we should stand or fall by what we could create. Steve and I talked about doing a version of some classical music and Yessifying it in the old ways as they had with the track America. So we turned up and we started looking at this old Fly From Here song and I didn't quite understand why. It suddenly stopped being the five of us to being Trevor, Chris, Steve and Alan. Then Trevor went away and it got back to the five of us working on other songs, but it had changed and still to this day exactly how I don't know. I was then due to go back out there in January but my plane ticket kept getting delayed and then I phoned up and was told basically, 'You're out'!
"It was a bit of a shock. I remember going back in to the lounge and sitting in front of the fire and saying to Lisa, 'I'm out of the band.' She looked at me and we just sat there quietly. We didn't really understand why. I think I got an email from Chris about two or three weeks later saying, 'you didn't do anything wrong.' It was Trevor's decision. It was a business decision to get Geoff Downes in over me but obviously my own opinion is that they should have stuck with the five-piece and built upon the line-up and acceptance of the fans that had been coming to the shows and were warming to us. Chris did say to me that he thought there wasn't a Yes song that that line-up couldn't play because the technical ability was there and we all got on.
"After all of that I agreed to do the tour but the hardest thing was keeping quiet about it because I wasn't allowed to tell anybody for four months. I had to get up on stage every day and smile and be happy. Then the photo of Geoff and the band doing the album was released the day before my last show with Yes in the US. The timing of that was pretty hard."
There were some highs to go with the low!
"So that was the low point. High points? I played July 4th with Yes and it was a joint tour with Peter Frampton where we played to up to 150,000 Americans. That was quite an intense thing getting up on that stage and I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the irony of all those Americans celebrating their independence by hiring two famous British bands'."
Oliver laughed, "I can remember thinking, why didn't they book an American band, why book two English bands' to entertain you. The irony of that struck me as quite amusing. So that was a high point. Finishing my first ever show with Yes, which was in Hamilton, Canada, might not be the highest point but it as one of those moments when you think, gosh.
"Then that first tour was promoted as Howe, Squire & White from Yes before we went out again in the summer and that's when they started using the Yes name, it was officially Yes! I remember walking out on to the stage with the Yes logo behind me and thinking, that's pretty cool. The last high point was seeing the Live In Lyon album. I still haven't heard the Fly From Here album but I know I'm on it in a couple of places, but receiving a copy of Live In Lyon on triple vinyl was quite a special thing, particularly as with that album I had all the tapes and gone through everything and put it together really with Karl Groom.
Seeing that arrive on my doorstep as a triple vinyl album with the Yes logo on it and my picture on the inside and remembering growing up and seeing the triple version of Yessongs was special. Even through all the hurt and harshness that went through that whole situation and the difficulties it brought to me and my family, just seeing that little bit of triple vinyl made me feel quite proud of myself."
A new beginning
"I basically then decided to sit down and start writing because I had this material that was left over from the new Yes album. I had lots of songs I'd put together before, so I put together a new rock album, Cultural Vandals, which is the follow-up to the Mother's Ruin album. Hopefully that will be coming out later this year. This will be with the same musicians, although the bass player has changed.
I'm working on another larger scale project and as you know I've started working with Gordon Giltrap on a new project that is very exciting. Gordon phoned and said, 'Would you play on my new album?' So I agreed and then he phoned up the next day and said, 'No, I've changed my mind.' I thought okay, alright, he's had a look on You Tube and decided it doesn't work for him," laughed Oliver. He said, 'No, no, I'd like to do a collaboration.'
He said he hadn't done any rock music for such a long time and decided he wanted to do another rock album but with someone whose style he enjoyed and someone who is established in that genre. I think because of the fact we had done a gig together back in 2009 and he'd heard my stuff that I'd done in rock and with The Strawbs and Yes he knew that I had a certain presence in that market. So we met up and he's got some beautiful guitar pieces and he's taken some of my piano pieces to work on guitar parts for. And I've started putting words and melodies to some of his guitar stuff. It is coming together and the album's going to be good.
"There will be live concerts too with Gordon. Four or five in October, one for the CRS, and a twenty-date tour in March, 2013. Other live work too by the end of the year doing my own material and then the larger project next year too. Getting music out in the shops or on-line or whatever is where your visible presence comes from. It's difficult when you're working on projects, particularly after having done Yes and The Strawbs where it's higher profile where you're interacting with people who you're with every night.
With Yes I did over 150 shows over a three year period and I did about 50 with The Strawbs and that's an awful lot of interaction with lots of people, particularly where you're playing in theatres where some nights you're playing to 3000. We did some big outdoor festivals where we played to 100,000. So when you're interacting with that many people and then suddenly not playing live but just in a room writing you don't have that interaction. In that set up you're not craving attention but you do want people to know you're still around."
Two parts of Yes!
"Benoit and I will do something at some point because we're still good friends. Through the whole Yes thing he was the person that was there with me all the time. We shared an apartment in LA for about eight weeks and we were good friends before that point. After spending that amount of time with him we naturally gravitated towards each other.
We went to a lot of places together for the first time and so struck up a firm friendship. We spent a lot of time working together and he's heard a lot of the material that I've got that was earmarked for Yes and he might now be the person that sings it. We'll have to wait and see because there's always lots of plans and ideas but the trouble is you don't want to start promising too much too soon in case it doesn't happen.
In conclusion I asked Oliver if, even though he looked back on being replaced by Yes as a dark period of his career, would he go back if invited?
"It's tricky because you should never say never. It's all still a bit raw even though it's been nearly a year. It's one of those things, you never say never because you'd look foolish if something did happen, but the reality is that the line-up seems to be constantly changing.
Now Benoit has gone too and somebody else is in, it does seem a bit crazy. I think Benoit and I were numbers sixteen and seventeen in the band and I had an idea for the album cover. Obviously there would be a Roger Dean cover, but I said what I thought would be a good cover would be a photograph from the drivers seat of a car and on the steering wheel you could have a Yes logo and in the background you should see the milometer going straight from fifteen to seventeen. I thought that would be an amusing album cover. I think it got a mild snigger from some of the band but dismissed completely."
It sheds more light on his departure from YES and the development of FFH. Personally I would have like to hear what the five of them would have come up with less the Horn and Downs contributions and involvement. Also interesting he says it was Horns decision that he left YES [I would have thought it was HSW decision but clearly they also agreed with Horn or had the final say]
Good to hear Beniot and Oliver are still close and may end up making music together [FFH without Downs & Horn or for that matter HSW !], maybe they could get some other ex YES members along too
Last edited by xlink_nz; 09-24-2012 at 06:38 PM.
Good interview, you have to say he did get shafted by the band, 'I think I got an email from Chris about two or three weeks later saying, 'you didn't do anything wrong.' Yes operate like the mafia when it comes to line up changes lol, that being said, having seen the Oliver lineup and then the GD line up, they are a much more compelling live band with GD, sorry Olly.
Benoit and Olly seemed like the hired help rather than proper members of the band imho.
As I said it from day one; "Oliver Wakeman is a class act". Very nice interview, thanks for posting. I still need to get the new Mystery with Benoit on vocals but if he and Oliver work together again ( btw, The Live from Lyon c.d. really shows off Oliver unlike the guys that were running the sound for the tours he did with YES), that will also be a must purchase. Oliver has made a lot of fans by just being himself, let alone his immense talent , so I hope he comes back across the pond soon.
I was there at his last show and I knew; and he knew that I knew. As much as I love Chris and Steve, absolutely the wrong thing not to announce to the rest of the audience or at least some special recognition to a talented and faithful employee that got this band out of dry-lock after his last YES-show. Hell, Steve even came over saying it was alright and wisk'd Oliver offstage when all Oliver wanted to do was shake a couple of hands and savior the moment. While Steve and Chris have the right to be YES and dictate, YES is the sum of all parts. Thank you again, Oliver, you have an army of fans and friends.
Would love to see an original album of Yes-type music from Benoit David and Oliver Wakeman. As long as it's a normal price for an album and they don't go the Circa route with sales, it'd be an auto-buy for me. I really enjoyed both Benoit David's and Oliver Wakeman's work with Yes. I'm assuming they'd find themselves a guitarist, a bass player, and a drummer; and make it a real band type project, even if the band never tours. :)
The cool thing is that if it gets legs and became a real band (Or even a real studio-only band that kept releasing albums- I don't really care if they tour, I can't afford concert tickets anyhow, generally speaking), they'd potentially have a lot of years in front of them and may be a way for we fans to continue to hear new Yes-type music if the actual Yes doesn't carry on indefinitely. And if both do carry on, great! The more, the better! We can listen to both, and AWAR if it happens. :) And Circa if they lower their prices.
I have one of Benoit David's albums with Mystery, and there are a couple of catchy songs on it, but over all I think I'd prefer him in a Yes-type project (Not that it's necessarily an either/or. Maybe he could do both.).
I hope David stays on the scene and doesn't sort of fade away the way Ray Wilson seemed to after Genesis dissolved. If Wilson had got the touring drummer and found a new guitarist and keyboard player, and created his own band that did Genesis-type songs and albums, I would have really enjoyed that.
Soon oh soon the light, Pass within and soothe this endless night, And wait here for you, Our reason to be here...
This just in...
Ravens and Lullabies press release.
"The album also features a special vocal appearance by Benoit David, Oliver's old band mate from Yes, on the track 'From the Turn of a Card' written by Oliver during the Yes recording sessions of 2010."
Strange to have 4/5's of Drama the line-up and then do the 3 classic album thing. I like that idea though and obviously they know where the butter is breaded. Dumping Oliver seemed like for one reason only. To get the FFH writing paid for in tour dollars. The version of America up on Youtube with the latest incarnation sounds quite good. Conversely the In the Present crew would be (IMHO) much better for recreating the old BBC sessions live. In the Present had the Yes album sound figured out to the letter until of course things got in the way and turned things ass-over-tea kettle.