“It’s an up-and-down relationship with Billy. He did some work on the Keys To Ascension project, which was great. He recorded studio tracks to what we eventually added to an album called Keystudio, which was just the Keys To Ascension studio music, and I thought it was very valid. Billy was engineering and helping us mix those. Then, of course, he wrote some songs with Chris, and that became the Close Your Eyes album. At that point, he came in the band, and Jon and I only made small contributions to that album. So Billy stayed with the band for a while…
“He’s watched us do this and that, and he made a few records with Chris. Then Billy and I did some things, various projects like Pink Floyd. We just did one for The Doors where I play on Light My Fire. So Billy and I get on. We’ve had wars, but we’ve also had friendship.”
Is your motivation for making albums the same as it was in the ‘70s? So much has changed in just the past 10 years alone, not the least of which being the role of the album itself in culture.
“Well, it’s funny you use the word ‘motivation.’ That sets a whole agenda here – inspiration, motivation, need, desire… I don’t know if I can really answer that. That’s a whole… The whole landscape has changed. If everybody who ripped off our album were prepared to give us two months' work of their lives for free, then maybe it would be a very well-balanced situation. So if you wanna take the album, then give us two months of your work for free.
“That’s basically what people are doing. They’re taking more than two months – but let’s just whittle it down to two months' studio work – that we sat in an expensive studio trying to make a good-quality record, and then people just take it. So the reason why we do this has changed a lot. Some people in this band might say that the reason why we do it is because we’re musicians and we’re supposed to make new music. But that’s a bit blind. That’s a little like a mouse saying, ‘I’ll walk across this road even though there’s a cat on the other side.’ [Laughs]
“Now, I don’t only make Yes records; I make different sorts of records, and the motivation is vary different to all of them. It took me a long time to decide that I would agree to do this record. These older bands making records with all of these expectations that they’re gonna rush up the charts and everyone’s gonna love ‘em – it’s fizzling. So that’s not what happens.
“The Rolling Stones, The Who, Aerosmith, you know, they make records and they don’t even chart! [Laughs] And yet, these are some of the biggest bands in the world. Yes needs to learn this. We need to remember that what’s happening out there is a very, very different scene, and it’s partly due – mostly due – to the internet. People got the needle about labels making money, but they have to because they have to print, distribute and promote the record, and give us a lousy percentage. Yeah, I could moan about that."