YES



The Hit Parader Interview
By Lisa Robinson
December 1974

RICK WAKEMAN


HP: Tell me a bit about why you finally decided to leave Yes.


Rick: Well, it's a short story and a long story rolled into one. Basically, it started when we were doing "Tales From Topographic Oceans" - which was an album that really was the first album the entire band wasn't totally involved with. It really was Steve and Jon rather than the rest - and it was the first time that that happened. That's not necessarily a bad thing - because sometimes individual people can come up with great ideas to produce a good album. But there were some things that went wrong there - and it was partly my fault - partly the band's fault. I sort of let it ride ...


It was an album that took a long time, and I was never particularly happy with it, especially when we took it on the road. I don't think we played it half as well on the road as we could have - because the band is capable of playing some amazing things. So - I guess when I did the "Journey" album and it did so well in England, I thought - well, if I stay with the band, and then we were due to go to America again - do some festivals, and then go to Brazil - all in October, and then start a new album ... you know. I just thought if I had to come back and do "Tales" again I shall be really cheesed off.


We'd be halfway through a new album and I would want to give me notice, which wouldn't be fair to the band ... plus it would mess me up personally - I'd be unable to take "Journey" on the road. When we came back from the end of the last U. S. tour, I went down to my country place with the wife and kids - down by the sea, and I thought about it alot. I bought the place to be able to get away from everything, to get away from outside influences. - I thought that since I was basically disagreeing with the musical policy of the band, if I left right away it wouldn't be too late for them to get somebody else in.


It would help make people in the band who haven't been that important suddenly become more important, they could start a new album fresh - and get things sorted out. It would make them get together more. It wouldn't interfere with their timing at all - because it wouldn't interrupt anything that they'd be into. It also wouldn't be too late for me to take "Journey" on the road and start working on the orchestras and that whole project. So ... I just sent a telegram to the manager and said I wasn't coming back. It was strange really - because it was the first time the band really believed it. I had handed in my notice before, when we were on the last American tour I handed in me notice.


HP: This past tour? What happened?


Rick: Yes - halfway through the last American tour. I just wasn't happy with the way we were presenting concerts on the stage - which is a highly personal view, but an important one. If four people want to do one thing, and the other wants to do another - well, needless to say it becomes very ... there's unrest in the camp. See, the thing is, I like me drink, I like mucking about, I like having a good living. And sometimes - if you're outside of the music, well - it irritates me music seriously - and it's difficult for people to take you seriously.


And if you say - 'look man, this is getting to be a joke, we've got to do this seriously', and they say, 'well - you're the one who's going fast', and then you say, 'well, okay - I'll leave'. And then they react with something like ... 'yeah ... listen, we've got rehearsal on Tuesday.' It really was that sort of thing. None of it really sunk in until I was in Devon, but I definitely think it will be the best thing for the band. I mean, they might not agree with what I'll say now - which is that I think Yes wound an amazing path through "Fragile" - starting with the Yes album up through "Fragile" and through "Yessongs".


I think we veered off the path with "Tales" because of various reasons. And if I had stayed with the band it would have veered off even more. It would have ruined the band and ruined alot of good music. I think that because I have left whoever will come in with them will now help the other four people pull it together, and they'll get back onto the path and continue to-make really good music.


In the long run, it will undoubtedly be the best for them. It certainly will be the best for me because I'll be a helluva lot happier. I'm not saying I've been miserable with the band, because if you add it up - I've had a great time. The thing is now, it's all going to the music - the music has got to stand up. All the way down the line - if it's something I do, or something the band does, it has got to be down to the music and down to nothing else.


HP: Was there a conflict because of the success of your solo albums? Did people come to see you as opposed to coming to see Yes in performance, do you think?


Rick: I'll tell you, it was difficult sometimes - when I desperately wanted to play "Henry" onstage, and you knew you couldn't because you were at a Yes concert playing Yes music. And loads of people would come up to you before the gig and ask if I would play "Catherine of Aragon" or something like that. And it was strange because you knew that even though you were going to give them some good Yes music, to a certain extent you were disappointed and you were disappointing yourself in the fact that you weren't playing something you would love to play.


I would have loved to play some of "Henry" onstage, I really would have. It was difficult, of course. Because it was a Yes concert. The thing that could have been done would have been if everyone would have had a solo project. Of course when you've got five people in a band you've got to have certain inhibitions. There are bound to be some things you can't do. Actually, one of the things I'm going to miss out of Yes is that I won't have those four musicians around; there will be certain things I won't be able to do.


Having played with them for three years - well, you would go onstage and know exactly what everyone was going to play, exactly what everyone was going to do. Sort of like rushing with a confidence thing - that's what I'm going to lose. See - the thing is that they all should have done solo projects - they've all been ready to do solo projects for so long, Steve certainly has, he should have done it this year.


And Chris - Chris had bass things together way before Bill Wyman had his bass thing together, and he should have done it. I would have been all for it. I think if that had happened onstage it would have been fantastic, a Yes concert could have been amazing in that we all would have had little solo projects and individual pieces of music we could have done and by the time we played the Yes music we would have been able to show how the different facets of everyone's music came together into making Yes music.


HP: Do you think any of them are as committed to solo projects as you are?


Rick: I'm not really sure. I know they've all thought about it and they've got things together. But you've got to go and do them. If you've got something that you really want to do - then you can't let it build up inside if it's not suitable within the context of the band. It'll only make you a worse musician within the band itself.




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