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posted: 8/16/2017 6:00 AM

Rock legends Yes making Elgin's Festival Park a stop on 'Yestival Tour'

Rock legends Yes making Elgin's Festival Park a stop on 'Yestival Tour'

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  • Drummer Alan White, 68, joined Yes in 1972, four years after the band formed in London.

    Drummer Alan White, 68, joined Yes in 1972, four years after the band formed in London.

  • The English progressive rock band Yes is on a summer tour that includes an Aug. 19 concert at Festival Park in Elgin.

    The English progressive rock band Yes is on a summer tour that includes an Aug. 19 concert at Festival Park in Elgin.

 
 

The English progressive rock band Yes, among the most long-lasting of its era, is on a summer tour that includes an Aug. 19 concert at Festival Park in Elgin.

The current lineup of Yes, which over the years has included more than a dozen rotating members, consists of singer Jon Davison, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes and bassist Billy Sherwood.

(That's not to be confused with another band led by Yes singer and co-founder Jon Anderson that calls itself Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman.)

We talked to 68-year-old White, who joined Yes in 1972, four years after the band formed in London.

Q. The "Yestival Tour" kicked off Aug. 4 and features 31 dates in 1 months. What's it like to play at that pace?

A. It's pretty grueling once you get out, but you don't want to sit around scratching yourself. We have a lot of ground to cover, so that's what we do. We don't usually play more than two shows in a row ... we used to do two, three, four shows in a row.

Q. The tour's lineup includes Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy. Tell me about them.

A. I met Todd Rundgren a couple of times, he's a very nice guy. I never knew he'd written so many great songs. He's a very, very talented guy. I've known Carl forever, since the 1970s. He played with Asia (another English progressive rock band). It will be fun to have Carl back on the road again.

Q. You've been in Yes for 45 years now. What does it take to make something work for that long?

A. The music being good, that's what it takes. I think Yes music in general is pretty sophisticated, and very difficult to play. It's one of a kind.

Q. How does it feel to be on stage today compared to when you joined in 1972?

A. Everyone in life ages a little bit. It's still great to go on stage, it's still great to see all the smiling faces and all the people that you're making enjoy the evening. That's the major reward you get out of it.

Q. Are there songs you never get tired of playing? Or songs that you wish you'd never have to play again?

A. That's a great question. It's so hard with Yes music because some songs are really, really difficult to play on stage, and some songs are really, really easy. The album "Relayer" is an extremely hard album to play on stage, and yet "Roundabout" (from the album "Fragile), which sounds complex to a lot of people, it's really easy for us because we've done it so many times. They are all still enjoyable, I guess.

Q. Do you still get surprised on stage?

A. Constantly -- when something doesn't work or somebody steps on the wrong pedal. It's all part of being in a band and being musical.

Q. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April after failing to pass the nomination stage twice. What did that feel like?

A. It was very good. A lot of people for quite a lot of years had been saying they didn't understand why we are not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Like the guys in Rush, they got inducted a couple of years ago. It quite bemused them, the reason why we weren't in there. They said, "We modeled quite a bit of our own music on you guys."

Q. The band pretty much officially split just days after the induction (with the announcement of the naming of the Jon Anderson splinter band). Can you tell me about that?

A. I've never been in any band but Yes, and I still consider myself as being Yes. Chris (Squire, bassist and founding member) died two years ago. Chris and myself, we were in the same band together for 43 years. That left me as the only person who's been in this band the whole time. Chris' passing, emotionally it was difficult. We had a brotherly relationship. We played so long, we almost knew what each other played before we played it.

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