Progressive Rock – Interview with Progressive Rock Legend Jon Anderson

– JANUARY 12, 2012

Jon Anderson – Photo by Tami Freed
Jon Anderson, the legendary progressive rock vocalist that fronted Yes for many years is back with numerous projects. The most interesting by far is Open, a long musical suite with four movements produced by Jon and Jane Anderson that has brought back the wondrous sounds that Anderson is known for. Jon Anderson composed the music and wrote the lyrics. Stefan Podell made the orchestration and additional music.
You made many progressive rock fans very happy withOpen. When did you start working on this project?
About a year ago…I started with an acoustic guitar, put down a framework, and then Stephan Podell did a wonderful orchestral arrangement…We talked about how best to make ‘Yes fans’ enjoy the journey, I think that was my motivation…
What instruments do you play on Open?
Just acoustic guitar.
And in general, what instruments do you play?
I’ll play anything, not great, but just enough to make it work…I love piano, and guitar mostly.
Who else participated in the Open recording?
Jane Luttenberger Anderson on angel Vocals; Stefan Podell on music and orchestration, 12 string guitar, classical guitar and bass; Zach Tenorio Miller on piano; Zach Page on electric guitar; Alexandra Cutler-Fetkewicz with Jon Fink and Susan Lerner on strings; Kevin Shima on acoustic guitar and vocals; Brian Hobart on Percussion; Stephan Junca on drums and African Percussion; Charles Scott on drum kit; Cal Poly A Cappella group (Robert Foster, Ian O’Rourke, Madelyn Frey, Jacob Stringfellow, Aaron Wolfe, and Amy Stevens); and additional backing vocals by Billy James.

The complexity of Open reminded me of your legendary solo album Olias of Sunhillow. Will there be more music in this direction?
I’m just working on the next ‘opus’…called ‘Ever’
You’ve had recent solo tours, including one with your with your old friend and former Yes colleague Rick Wakeman. How did that work out?
Rick Wakeman (left) & Jon Anderson (right)
Rick is fun to work with, he’s playing better than ever, and the songs we do are great to sing. Audiences love the banter between us,…and the new songs really have a different energy.

How is Rick doing health wise?
He’s really very well.
Will you be recording more with Rick Wakeman?
I hope this next few weeks we will work together.

Argentine Stick virtuoso Guillermo Cides mentioned recently that he will be working with you and Australian Truey Marks on a new project in 2012. Can you share some details about that?
Ask him to contact me please…
How do you find the time to play in so many projects?
It’s that time of my life, after nearly dieing in 2008, I realized I should try and finish my work…well, there’s more than I would believe…so I just keep working on the music…it helps everything…
You are a singer and also a songwriter. How do you work as a composer?
I usually sing with guitar, record everything I do, almost everyday a new song comes…it’s wonderful.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The divine ‘love’ that surrounds us.
I’d like to take you back to the early 1970s. Yes made albums that are considered progressive rock masterpieces. I’m talking about Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer. What was happening at that time that led you and your band mates to compose such incredible music?
I was driven to try new music, we were being told to write ‘hit songs’…I just felt it would be a waste of the talent within the band, so I chose to escape, and help create new music…it is wonderful to look back at those times; we were in perfect ‘harmony’ with each other.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?
I would start with Tony Levin, Billy Cobham, etc etc…
In this age of economic turmoil and social unrest, do you have a message you’d wish to impart through your music?
Change is good…and Change we must…
Jon Anderson
What music genres, groups or CDs are you currently listening to?
Amharic music…Ethiopian…
We interviewed the Senegalese singer Baaba Maal and asked what song was he completely addicted to – the one song that he will sing along with every time – and he told us his song was “One Love” by Bob Marley. What is your one song?
‘I will fix you’…and a million others…
What do you like to do during your free time?
Paint, cook, watch Soccer and ‘American Football..walk with my Janee.
What country would you like to visit?
China, I’ve been there 3 times, amazing culture……..Africa…India.
Which is your favorite city?
What was the first big lesson you learned about the music business?
No such thing as a free lunch…
What other projects are working on?
A zillion projects…tons of them…



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