A friendly get-together between old bandmates is what led to the return of former Buggles partners Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes to the Yes fold for the veteran prog rockers' new album, "Fly From Here."
Bassist Chris Squire, Yes' lone constant member, tells Billboard.com that he and Horn -- who sang with Yes during 1980-81, while Downes also played keyboards -- had a sit-down last year to talk about an album Squire had recorded with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. Over the course of the conversation, Squire recalls, he and Horn "started talking about whether we thought we might work together again on something." The conversation turned to "We Can Fly From here," a song Yes had worked on during Horn and Downes' tenure in the band but did not make the "Drama" album in 1980. It did show up in the 2005 box set "The Word is Live."
"Trevor said, 'Oh, yeah, we never did do a studio version. Maybe we should get together and do that,' " Squire says. "That was the idea, really to do one song." The piece grew into a six-part, 23-minute epic a la "Close to the Edge" and other lengthy Yes epics. After that, Squire says, "we realized how much we enjoyed working together and expanded into Trevor doing the whole album."
"Fly From Here," which comes out July 12, is Yes' first new studio album in a decade and marks the debut of singer Benoit David, who replaced an ailing Jon Anderson in 2008. It was also supposed to include former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman's son Oliver, who co-wrote the song "Into the Storm" and plays on two other tracks, but Squire says that Horn had other ideas.
"Trevor really thought that the album would benefit from working with Geoff again," Squire notes, "which I wasn't immediately sure about because we were getting on very well with Oliver, and Oliver didn't really do anything wrong. But eventually Trevor did persuade me we'd make a better album with Geoff, and we do enjoy working with Geoff. (Wakeman) has taken it very well, and you know the way Yes is -- he could wind up being back in the band again in a couple of years."
That said, Squire does expect that Yes "is gonna stick with this lineup for a while" and says there's even talk of a follow-up album. "If an album becomes successful, of course everyone is very favorably disposed to want to talk about doing another one," he says. "I hope that does happen because I enjoy working with Trevor a lot, and it's really a fulfilling experience."
Before any of that, however, Yes hits the road July 4 in Camden, N.J., for a U.S. tour with Styx. A European jaunt, meanwhile, begins Nov. 8., by which time Squire hopes the group will be able to dip more deeply into "Fly From Here."
"The (Styx) tour is not going to be an ideal forum to present the whole or even a lot of the new album," says Squire, who hopes to have the album with Hackett out this year as well. "It's more of a summer shed, rock 'n' roll-y tour and we'll have to obviously play Yes songs people are familiar with and squeeze it all into 90 minutes. Later on we'll hopefully go into a format where we have a longer playing time, so we'll be presenting more of the new album."