John Wenlock-Smith: Good day Steve, trust you are well?
Steve Howe: Hello John, yes, I’m fine thanks, trust you are too?
JWS: Let’s talk about the new Yes album, ‘Mirror To The Sky’.
SH: If you have questions, I should have the answers!
JWS: Is there an underlying theme to the album?
SH: Yes have only done one themed album (‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’), other things we have talked about but aren’t really thematically related as such.
JWS: I’ve heard the new album, I like it and the fact that you are doing longer songs. Once again, I think it is an approach that really works for you.
SH: After ‘The Quest’ and the good reaction it received, we were inspired to carry on and content to make more new music as we had songs written to work with. This album is the result of that time.
JWS I saw you in Manchester, it was very good and I enjoyed it a lot. You turned in a good show that day.
SH: Thank you, glad you enjoyed it. We enjoyed that short run of shows and it went down well, apart from York which didn’t go so well, I’m afraid.
JWS: I have a question from my friend who asks about your involvement with Queen’s ‘Innuendo’ album. How did that come about?
SH: I was in Montreux in a restaurant that I like when a guy called Martin spotted me and invited me to the studio (Mountain Studios, where Yes recorded the ‘Going For The One’ album). As I’d finished my meal, I happily went with him to the studio and the band wanted to play me the album. After which they asked me to play on the track Innuendo, as they wanted something extra in the guitar department.
When I pointed out that Brian had done lots of guitar they said they’d still like me to play on it and gave me free rein to play whatever I liked. So they played me the track and I just improvised as I am quite used to doing that, jumping in and creating on the fly. They liked what they heard so, after we’d had dinner together, we returned to the studio and put the two takes together, making what you hear on the album. It was a fun day with great friends.
JWS: I have a question about GTR. Wow come you didn’t record a second album? Is that something you would consider revisiting 30 years on?
SH: Well we did record a live album for King Biscuit Hour in Germany, I think? (it was actually in Los Angeles in 1996) but we split the band after that and, whilst certain parties wanted us to do it again, it adds a certain complexity with managers and timings etc. Finding time in what I’m doing now means doing it all again would be a huge undertaking. I’ve moved on from those days, although I did enjoy that time, we had a lot of fun doing those tours. It was easier to revisit Asia actually but, again, I had to curtail that as I was busy with Yes.
JWS: So, Yes is your main focus these days then?
SH: It is really, especially as we are on a creative roll at the moment, things are going well, plus I still have my solo stuff around to keep me occupied.
JWS: So the tour this year was postponed because of insurance issues? I was looking forward to the ‘Relayer’ shows actually.
SH: Yes, we decided to postpone those shows after a few years of uncertainty over them and the insurance was a major factor, but not the only factor.
JWS: You probably have lots of demand on your time with everything you are involved with?
SH: Well, actually, I don’t. I have Yes and my solo stuff and I control what I do so that I run it, not the other way around.
JWS: I’ve written a review about it (the new album), I was generally positive about it, I said that Genesis and King Crimson have ended and Deep Purple and BOC are nearing the end and, really, we should respect that and appreciate you while we still have you.
SH: Good perspective and insight for us all, I think!
JWS: Well, I think that’s it from me apart from to say thank you for your time and trust the album goes well for you and hope to see you next year in Manchester
SH: Thank you John.
The new Yes album, ‘Mirror To The Sky’, is out now and available to order here:
The band will be performing ‘The Classic Tales of Yes’ Tour in 2024: