With major hit records like "Roundabout" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart," the British band Yes has solidly secured a place in progressive-rock lore. The band's hits, which have never left classic rock radio playlists, are being learned anew by today's generation of aspiring musicians, thanks to video games like Rock Band.
What started as a 1960s band that bassist and founder Chris Squire hoped would have a nice run for a few years has endured for decades.
"I thought that a five- or six-year run would be just fabulous," said Squire, calling from a Yes tour stop in Pittsburgh. "But I would never have imagined 44 years, not in my wildest dreams. It's fantastic."
The band is out this summer with fellow British prog rockers Procol Harum, in a tour that brings them to Salt Lake City's Complex on Friday, Aug. 10.
The band came to be in 1968 in Birmingham, and from the start, Yes wanted to do music that was a bit adventurous. Pop sounds, and even psychedelia, were at that time giving way to newer, more complex forms, especially in England.
"There is nothing wrong at all with dance music, per se," said Squire. "It is designed to be a certain way, and do certain things. But we like to think we borrowed a bit from classical, and from all types of music, really, molding it into what we do."
Squire said the band's members were listening to a wide variety of styles that helped shape their sound.
"I was listening to a lot of classical at that time, and of course, various members of the band brought their own elements in. Bill Bruford was very much a jazz lover, so he brought those elements in. Steve Howe brought in a love for country and western -- like Chet Atkins. And he loved steel guitar. So, over the years, we have drawn from all kinds of influences -- including, of course, rock 'n' roll, to make the Yes thing what it is."
Squire's precise-yet-lush bass playing has always been key to driving the band's sound. He credits the British bass men that shook the world before him.
"In my teenage years, I had great influences to draw from -- Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Jack Bruce of Cream. And then I was a really big Who fan, and so I love John Entwistle, who is sadly no longer with us. But he was huge, really huge, for me in my formative years. So my eye took in all of those influences, and developed into this Chris Squire thing, which people, thankfully, seem to like."
Yes took a hiatus from recording for 10 years starting in 1991. The band's return, "Don't Go," dropped on a most unfortunate date -- Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks on New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
"Needless to say, there were other things going on at that time," said Squire. "But it did well eventually."
It would be 10 years before their latest, "Fly From Here," was released. During those years between, the band played some with original singer Jon Anderson, but he was hospitalized with severe asthma in 2008 and ordered not to work for months.
Benoit David of Mystery and the Yes tribute band Code to the Edge, joined them for "Fly From Here," but he, too, developed severe respiratory problems. This year, Jon Davison, formerly of Sky Cries Mary, Glass Hammer and the Yes tribute band Roundabout, has stepped up to the Yes mic.
"We are very pleased to have John Davison with us now," said Squire. "He is proving to be a big hit with the fans. He has brought along his fans as well. And he has a really good singing voice. He is doing a great job."
Yes also welcomed back an old friend for "Fly From Here."
"We were working back with Trevor Horn, who had been a singer with band on the 1980 album 'Drama.' And then he produced the '90125' album, released at the end of '83, and that had 'Owner of a Lonely Heart.' It was great to work with him as a producer again, especially with him having previously been a band member and producer. He is a very good sounding board for what we are doing, and was also involved in the writing (of 'Fly From Here'). It was a bit like just getting back together with an old friend and having a good time and making music."
This summer's tour will feature the centerpiece from "Fly From Here."
"It is a classic Yes long-form piece, 'The Fly From Here Suite,' " said Squire. "And then of course, we play some songs from our other albums, swapping some out night to night. It is difficult with 20 albums worth of material. We do worry someone will always be disappointed that they didn't hear something, but there is only so much you can do in one show, I suppose.
"But the tour is going well, the response has been great, and it should just keep getting better as we keep going. We look forward to returning to Salt Lake."