Have you heard from or worked with Trevor Horn lately?
I’ve worked with Trevor fairly extensively over the past few years, not just on Fly From Here, but also on some Buggles-related and The Producers shows and recordings. It’s always an inspiration to work with one of the world’s greatest record producers, and Trevor and myself have always seemed to have a great understanding and empathy together in the studio.
Love you in Yes and Asia. Any chance of a Buggles reunion and some new music?
Thanks. Well you never know! Trevor’s a really busy guy most of the time with his wide variety of projects and productions, but I don’t think we’d ever discount the possibility. It’s always a challenge working on new stuff, and I’d love to collaborate with Trevor again. As you know, I’m pretty busy myself right now working on new material with both Yes and Asia, as well as several other projects. So yeah, it’s not impossibility, just a matter of making the planets align so that one day we can hopefully make it happen.
Since you previously worked with Al Pitrelli (musical director and lead guitarist of Trans Siberian Orchestra‘s West Coast touring band) on two Asia albums, any chance you’ll be one of the special guest stars during a future TSO Christmas tour?
Al’s a very tasteful all-round guitarist. Even though he can do all the ‘shredding’ bit with ease, he also manages to come up with melodic, hooky solos in that genre. Whilst I’ve not worked with him for some years, I don’t think it would be problem collaborating with him again. It would be fun to do, but hey, there are only 52 weeks in the year!
For some reason I had a feeling you would eventually be back with Yes sooner or later. I saw the past few tours you were amazing. Since you were in Asia (are in Asia) with Steve for such a long time, did you ever speak to him about rejoining yes prior to this happening?
Thanks – it’s good to be back! Actually there were several occasions over the years where my return to the fold was mooted both by Steve and Chris, more off-the-record than anything else. I think that maybe the time wasn’t right on these occasions and Yes tended to concentrate on their fixed line-up at the time. Of course I was always honoured to be a consideration, should Rick have left at any point, but things didn’t really come to fruition until the Fly From Here sessions.
With Yes touring so much at the moment as well as talk of a possible new album, when do you hope to get back with Asia again…especially since you’ve got an awesome new guitarist in the fold?
Well I did some live work with Asia recently, and I will be back touring in Europe with them again in August/September this year after the Yes US Tour. Sam Coulson’s a great player and a fine addition to the Asia fold. It’s a bit of a juggling exercise for me right now, but fortunately both bands understand the situation. There is work afoot on a new Yes album as well as a new Asia album, so I envisage the rest of the year and early next year to be taken up in the studio. It’s great to be creating new music again.
Hi Geoff! As keyboard player myself I’ve been a fan of yours since discovering Asia in the late 90s (got all the studio albums since then) and I was thrilled when you rejoined Yes in 2011. How do you see your future with both bands? As they both seem to be quite demanding… And then if you ever decide to focus more on Asia, when should I start learning Yes’ set on keys? Cheers!
Whilst it is demanding being a member of both bands, fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any great conflict time-wise at the moment, so – don’t give up your day job just yet! I hope it never becomes a problem, as I thoroughly enjoying being a part of both bands, which are in many ways very different entities, I feel that I can make a valuable contribution to both in the live context and also in the studio.
Geoff, when did you begin using Roland keyboards as your primary hardware sources for sounds? Do you miss using the “old analog stuff in stage”? Also, I noticed you are very fond of choir sounds both in Asia and Yes, so this might be a tricky one: Which software (or board) would consider the best for those patches? I am a big fan of your work! Thanks for all the great songs!
Hi man! I first got involved with Roland about 7 years ago and have helped design some patches for their synths in recent years. Namely, V-synth, V-synth GT, Juno G, Gaia & JP80. They are a great company and make some fantastic instruments. I uses quite a bit of keys software to re-create the old analogue sounds with my 2 onstage Macbooks, although nothing can quite replace the feel of those original keyboards. For choirs, I generally use Logic EXS or Sampletank 2, as their plugins are very effective in this department.
I have always found your keyboard playing to be so likable. The first couple albums that come to mind are ‘Yes’ Drama and the 1st Asia album, I have listened to these many times since they were released and every time it makes me feel optimistic, focused and energized. There is always a positive vibe radiating from your keyboard parts you have written and played. One of my favourite keyboard solos is the one you did on “Asia – Here comes that feeling” and another is in the climax of “YES – Tempus Fugit” when you are playing in tandem with Steve Howe. Also I want to add that the work you did on “YES – Fly From Here….i.e.:’Sad night at the Airfield'” really cool unanticipated synth line descending to the B min – F# min part. I have never been a techy guy with the keyboards, I was always more interested in the musical lines, mood and chord progressions, I admire that you have been able to express yourself so well with technology. What are your most favourite keyboards you have used throughout your career?
Wow – thanks for the compliments and observations. As I’ve said before, you’ve got have the basic idea of melody and harmony to start with I believe. If that works, then things can only get better, the more you interprete and play with the arrangement! I am probably much more an ‘orchestral’ type player than a virtuoso. It seems to be my thing, so I get a lot of kicks messing with the technology to create new sounds and textures.
For you, does the sound of a keyboard inspire the music, or do you write songs/parts with a specific sound in mind? LOVE Drama, BTW. Your keys on that lp struck the perfect balance between traditional (piano and Hammond) and “futuristic” (White Car is the best example with the Fairlight usage).
I think it’s important to start with a basic idea that can be created on say a piano or other keyboard in its simplest format. The actual musical content, whilst it can be driven by or influenced at a later stage by gadgetry, I believe has to be able to stand alone in its infancy. For me, it’s a case of developing this idea by arrangement, and then adding colours to it. In the case of White Car, we had the basic idea of harmony, melody and lyrics and then adapted it to Fairlight and Vocoder, which gave it some originality. But for sure, the fundamental musical idea has to be there first.
What is the most expensive keyboard you ever bought?
By far, it was the Synclavier 2 which I used extensively on the Asia ‘Astra’ and GTR albums. It was an amazing machine, way ahead of its time, but…it came with a hefty price tag of £75,000. The upgrades were silly money too, and eventually I had to jump off the ship. I did manage to loan it out to Duran Duran for a year or so, so that kind of paid for some of it. But definitely wouldn’t do anything like that again. Sadly it was worth F all after some years by the time it had been superseded by other keyboards! A house, boat or apartment might have been a better investment, I would suggest!!
Where do you stand on buttering toast, do you like the butter melted into the toast , or do you allow the toast to cool then apply the butter? Finally are you a Marmite man?
I’m not at all keen on dripping butter toast bit – definitely favour the cool toast vibe. But Marmite? I think I am probably one of the few people that neither loves it, nor hates it. It’s kind of OK, but it’s fair to say I’m not fussed on it either way!
Read previous #askYES Q&As here.