Though reeling from last month’s surprising death of bassist and sole constant member Chris Squire, Yes plans to go on — at Squire’s behest.
“It’s certainly going to be hard without him, but he called me and asked me to keep everything going regardless of what happens,” drummer Alan White, who’s been part of Yes since 1972, tells Billboard. “So absolutely we’re moving ahead. I’m gonna do it for him.” And White says he’s confident that after talking to the other members of Yes and from fan reaction following Squire’s June 27 death from Acute Erythroid Leukemia at the age of 67, few will have a problem with that decision to continue.
“Everything has been pretty positive in that regard,” White notes. “[The fans] are behind the band and want the band to keep moving forward here. It doesn’t seem like anybody’s kind of given up on the band, which is really encouraging and it’ll help us move things forward. Things can’t just stop, you know? We’ve got to maintain the Yes name and … meet the high standards of musicianship Chris created.”
Yes’ first challenge will be a summer tour with Toto that’s set to begin August 7. Longtime Squire friend and regular Yes cohort Billy Sherwood had already been tapped to fill in for the bassist during the tour while Squire was expected to be getting treatments, and though White says he’s confident Sherwood is up to the task “it just will be very hard to go on stage and not see that familiar figure [of Squire] standing there.” The group will play some sort of tribute to Squire during the shows as well. “We’re gonna try a few different ideas out that different people have,” White says. “We definitely will pay homage to Chris within the show, but I’m not quite sure in what form yet.”
Yes also has its Cruise To The Edge scheduled for November out of Miami as well as a spring 2016 tour of the U.K. The group has recently released archival projects — the 1972 live box set “Progeny” documenting White’s first tour with the band, as well as the new “Like It Is” CD/DVD set from a 2014 show in Mesa, Ariz. The group released a new album, “Heaven & Earth,” last year, but White thinks it will be awhile before Yes entertains recording again.
“I think it’s too early days yet to really venture into thinking like that,” the drummer says. “We just want to get the band on an even keel first, I think, before we even think about writing new stuff.”
White says the members of Yes learned about the seriousness of Squire’s condition during late May, and that Squire became aware in April. The bassist had broached the idea of taking a year off but eventually recanted. When he became too ill to go on tour, however, he was adamant that Yes hit the road without him for the first time ever.
“We got an email that said, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna be able to make this tour, so if you can do it without me I want you to keep things going and I’ll get rid of this and I’ll see you next spring in Europe,'” White recalls. “He had a very positive attitude, but it was clear something was very wrong.”