Jon Anderson may no longer be in Yes, but he’s hardly wanting for creative endeavors.
The vocalist, who was bumped out of the band in 2008 after health problems sidelined him from a tour, has just released “Survival & Other Stories,” the first of three planned albums comprised of collaborations with musicians who answered a solicitation on Anderson’s website. Anderson is also working on a couple of “large scale” pieces along with new acoustic versions of Yes songs and an album with former Yes mates Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin.
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“You open up a Pandora’s box of information, and there’s so much music,” Anderson tells Billboard.com. He also adds that he’s feeling “really, really healthy. I’ve never been happier or healthier in my life. I just feel really good about everything I’m doing.”
Anderson confirms that he received enough submissions from his website ad “for about three albums,” picking “New New World” to kick off “Survival & Other Stories” because “it’s a new world for me to be able to do the new work I’m doing.” The process, he says, “was kind of endless; it worked out to be over 200 [songs]. You pick out the music that really strikes you, and I got in touch with a couple dozen people, working with them on various projects — a children’s musical, a couple of other musicals with a guy in Italy, an opera — as well as various songs with people.” He’s also begun soliciting for visual ideas to accompany the new songs.
Meanwhile, Anderson has “over an hour’s worth of music from Yes from the old days that I’m revising and looking at,” primarily in acoustic versions. “I think modern musicians do that,” Anderson explains. “Music is very flexible.” A possible outlet for these new treatments of the songs, he adds, may be online and via special apps. “I think people should be able to have at their behest, like, four hours of music, entertainment, visual knowledge, different pathways,” Anderson explains. “That’s what I’m trying to do with modern technology, not just another song and another song.”
The project with Wakeman and Rabin, which the trio expects to start recording soon, will likely be more conventional. “It’s an ongoing creation,” says Anderson. “We’ve written three, four songs at the moment. Whether we tour it, I don’t know. We’d like to, but we’ll see how everybody’s schedule is for next year.”
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Anderson begins a short run of North American solo dates on July 9-10 in Vancouver, and he and Wakeman have lined up a month of East Coast dates for October and November. With all of this going on, he adds, any anger over the situation with Yes — which releases its first album in a decade, “Fly From Here,” on July 12 — has dissipated.
“Anger isn’t there,” Anderson says. “I think I was disappointed that people can act that way, motivated more by money and business. Most managers in the rock ‘n’ roll world… don’t care so much about who’s in the band as long as it’s making money. That becomes a problem within a band that’s been together a long, long time. Can’t they hang together as friends? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I remember I was so upset when the Beatles had to split up. I can imagine a lot of fans are very disappointed Yes couldn’t stay together as a group and had to splinter into what it is now. But that doesn’t take away from the great work we’ve done over the years, over a helluva long time. And after awhile you start realizing that change is good for you. It’s healthy.”