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Alan White performs at Jonathan Cain and Friends at Rose Bar on Saturday, April, 8, 2017 in New York
YES are touring this summer, and the unreleased XYZ sessions with Jimmy Page might come out.
Alan White speaks to Rolling Stone Magazine about his time playing with John Lennon and YES. See the excerpt below and read the full interview at www.rollingstone.com
Were you a fan of Yes before you joined?
Yeah. I’d heard of YES. I was playing with a man called Terry Reid on the English circuit and I remember playing a show somewhere in Cornwall. I remember the music playing at this place and I went, “Who is that?” And it was The Yes Album. I said, “This band is really good.” I remember seeing them at Wembley Pool supporting somebody. They were very impressive and I remember Chris Squire in his long boots onstage. I went, “These guys are really good musicians.”
And then I got to know Eddy Offord, who was the producer for their first few albums. I was sitting in a pub with him in London. We got to be very good friends. One day Jon [Anderson] and Chris came around and he said, “Yes want you to join the band.” I think Chris Squire saw me play with Joe Cocker previous to that. I was just finishing a Joe Cocker tour when YES asked me. I agreed and said, “When are we rehearsing?” They said, “We don’t really have any rehearsals and we’ve got a gig on Monday. Can you learn the repertoire between now and Monday?” It was a Friday. I said, “Well, I’ll give it a shot, but it’s a long shot.” I just went the whole weekend and listened to the music and got used to it and then there I was in Dallas, Texas, going onstage with Yes with pretty much no rehearsals.
Was taking over for Bill Bruford intimidating since he’s such a fantastic drummer?
Bill was really a great drummer. I have a different style. But I had been in a band prior to that that did a lot of arrangements in different time signatures and lots of things like that. I was prepared for different time signatures and the way the band flowed, but I added more of a rock element than Bill did. He added more of a jazz element and I believe at that time the band wanted to go a little bit more in that direction. So I wouldn’t say it was intimidating. I’d just say I did my own version of what he had done before.
How did you feel about Tales From Topographic Oceans?
Did any part of you feel that four songs across two records was a bit much? [Laughs] It was quite an adventurous thing to do. I remember that we just got into it. Jon came up with the ideas and Chris and myself worked together on a lot of rhythm section stuff and we just dove into it. Our heads were immersed in this whole album. It happened to be four sides of a double LP. We had to cut five minutes out of Side One since it was 27 minutes long when we recorded it.
How did you feel about punk when it broke?
A lot of those groups declared war on bands like YES [laughs]. YES is a kind of animal that just goes along and does its own thing. It’s a particular style of music that is considered progressive even though I don’t like putting labels on music. The punk rock era was a little bit rebellious for us, but we worked consistently through that whole era and had really good audiences. It didn’t really affect anybody in the band at that point in time. I don’t think many of us paid attention to it that much, to tell you the truth.
Read the full interview at www.rollingstone.com