Interview – Yes

Yes are one of the UK’s most well loved bands. They’ve recently announced a UK tour as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations for the release of Close To The Edge. I was very excited to hear more about the tour, so decided to speak to Jon Davison to find out a little more.

Interview by Jane Howkins

Photo by GottliebBros

You’ve recently announced some tour dates for the 50th anniversary celebration of Close To The Edge. Are you excited?

I am immensely excited, especially as we haven’t been on stage for three long years. Further anticipation for band and audiences alike is the fact that we’re performing in its entirety the Close to the Edge album, one of the most quintessential in the Yes canon.

What can people expect from a YES show and why do you think people should see you perform?

People can expect to witness true to form and authentic renditions of many Yes classics along with a dazzling light and projection show. We’re pulling out all the stops for this momentous occasion.

Are you doing anything else special for these dates?

In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Close to the Edge, we’ll be featuring several songs from our latest album, The Quest. The band has received a lot of positive feedback and enthusiasm over our new material, so we anticipate quite the event as we bring it to the stage for the very first time.

You’re a fairly recent addition to the band. How did that come about? Were you already a fan?

It’s been 10 amazing years since I joined Yes, yet the enthusiasm I feel for the music today is just as vibrant as when I was a teenage fan all those years ago. My joining Yes came about through my close friend Taylor Hawkins, drummer of Foo Fighters – who sadly passed recently – and his knowing Chris Squire. He put me on Chris’ radar. At the same time Yes took notice of my original progressive rock band, Glass Hammer. They then approached me, confident I had just the right style and voice they needed for the lead vocal role.

What/who influences you most as a musician? 

There isn’t any particular artist that influences me most. Although I’d probably say the very musicians I play with in Yes are my main influences. Beyond that, I gather inspiration from many aspects of life, be it from literature, art and the wide array of natural beauty I witness all around me.

What have you been listening to recently that you can recommend to our readers?

There’s a British band called Syd Arthur that toured with Yes in 2014. I’ve been getting back into their stuff recently which I find very cool and interesting. I highly recommend them for anyone looking to check out something unique and different.

The music industry has changed rapidly over the past few decades. How have the changes impacted the band?

Beyond the obvious myriad of ways this change has negatively impacted the music industry, I think it’s brought people back around to appreciating, more than ever before, getting out and supporting live music. This pure experience is truly the last stronghold of what is most organic and raw in how music is presented to the populous. 

Has the pandemic hindered you much?

Despite the sudden lack of touring, which was in startling contrast to our usual steady life on the road, we were actually able to turn things around in our favour and use this extra down time to get focused in the studio. The end result was The Quest, as well as the next album to be that we’re currently working on. So, no, we as a band have not been hindered by the pandemic. The silver lining is that Yes have been more creative and studio productive than at any other time in my decade tenure.

Do you have any plans to release new music anytime soon?

This current studio project I’ve referred to should be out sometime in the first half of next year.

Any last words for the fans?

Well, coming to your fair city of York on this tour will be a first for me. I feel drawn to the area as my great great grandfather was the treasurer of Yorkshire. That probably sounds silly to some, but I’ve always wanted to look into and explore my Davison lineage in the UK. Besides, I’m practically British now as the love of my life, my darling Emily is from Surrey. I’ll proudly add that I just asked her to marry me and that we will make England our new home. This exciting prospect has given the June UK Yes tour even more of an anticipatory and special meaning for me. I therefore hope to share with many of you, the joy of music and love as Yes perform at The Barbican in York, this 22nd of June!