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sherrynoland View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: ProgRock Legend Peter Banks Talks About Yes, Flash
    Posted: February 21 2010 at 17:53
The current issue of Gibson Guitars' "Lifestyle" e-zine lists Pete Banks as one of "10 Giants of the ES-335".  Justin Hayward is also on the list...

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/10-giants-of-the-es-335/

This edition includes an interview with Banks as well, in which he discusses Yes and Flash...to my knowledge, the first time he's ever publicly discussed, in this much detail, why Flash broke up and how the band worked together...

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/peter-banks-0122/

(See my comment below on the Flash break-up based on interviews with Ray Bennett and Colin Carter.)


Edited by sherrynoland - March 02 2010 at 14:30
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 21 2010 at 23:42
Thanks for the links!
Trendsetter win!

The search for nonexistent perfection.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2010 at 01:00
My pleasure, indeed!!!!!  Clap


Edited by sherrynoland - February 23 2010 at 15:58
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2010 at 05:07
Really good to see Banks getting some credit as a guitarist; he's seldom credited, although I think of him as a giant both as far as skill and influence go in the seventies. Thanks for the links Sherry!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 23 2010 at 16:10
I agree, Joel.  Nice to see Pete get some of his due.  And Flash, too!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2010 at 23:24
Speaking of Peter Banks, I found this recently published review of "Two Sides Of."  Interesting comments!  

I do take exception to this comment however: "Bennett's too-overt references to Yes' Chris Squire suggest, however, why Flash was doomed to fail."  After all, Bennett & Squire were flat-mates, so their bass style probably evolved jointly.  There was a lot of that stuff going on in London in those days (Banks shared a flat with Bob Fripp!)
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2010 at 00:55
Thanks, Chuck.  I hadn't seen that review.  I had to laugh at a number of this guy's comments.  Silly to compare Ray and Chris.  Their playing is quite different.  And forgeddabout comparing Mike Hough and Bill Bruford....NOTHING alike.  And Flash didn't "fail".  They were doing just fine, thank you very much, until they impetuously broke up. 

Anyway.....considering their brief tenure, it's nice to be talked about and remembered.  The story's not over yet... Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2010 at 01:09
He's Prog's best kept secret. Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2010 at 06:03

Prog-Rock Legend Peter Banks Talks About Yes, Flash And ES-335s

Russell Hall | 01.22.2010

As every prog-rock fan knows, Peter Banks occupies a preeminent place in the genre’s history. The founding guitarist in Yes, Banks helped the group forge its unique style before giving way to Steve Howe.

But it was in Flash, the streamlined band he formed after leaving Yes, that Banks truly established himself as one of rock’s most gifted guitarists. Comprised of Banks, Ray Bennett (bass), Michael Hough (drums) and Colin Carter (vocals), Flash released three brilliant albums in the ’70s that navigated a perfect line between technical virtuosity and mainstream appeal.

In the years hence, Banks has been anything but idle. Artists with whom he’s worked through the years include Phil Collins, fellow guitar maestro Jan Akkerman and the spectacularly gifted (if little-known) singer-songwriter Tonio K. Currently, he heads an off-again on-again project called Harmony in Diversity, a group characterized as a “free-form psychedelic improv three-piece.”

It’s no coincidence that, on all the Flash albums, Banks exclusively played a Gibson ES-335. From his home in London, he spoke with us about Flash’s legacy, current goings-on and why he holds such affection for the Gibson hollow-body.

When you formed Flash, did you have in mind doing something stylistically that was radically different from Yes?

Looking back it would be very easy to say I had a grand plan, but I really didn’t. What I really had was a list of things I wanted to avoid. Even though I was just 22 or 23 when Flash got together, I had been a professional musician since the age of 17. I wanted to put together a true band. I had never had a band of my own before, but I didn’t want Flash to be my band. I wanted it to be a cooperative thing. And that’s basically how it was. I wanted to do something that was very involved, and original, and musical, and entertaining. I wanted to do things that a three-piece band ― with a guitar, bass, drums and a singer ― had never done before. We tried using a keyboard player, but that didn’t really work.

How did not having a keyboardist affect your guitar-playing?

Well, for me, it was a challenge. I wanted to try to fill the spaces. And I think maybe one of the faults with Flash was that I probably tried to fill too many spaces. It’s kind of a strange analogy, but when I first heard the Police ― who also used a guitar, bass and drums format ― I noticed they left spaces in the music, which created a kind of tension. Flash was of course doing a different type of music, but still, I remember thinking, “Damn, we should have done that.”

You played an ES-335 exclusively in Flash. How did the 335 become your go-to guitar?

After leaving Yes I began playing an SG, which Pete Townshend had recommended to me. That guitar was great, but it was also a solid-body, and I had been used to playing a hollow-body [a Rickenbacker]. Just before forming Flash, I did some sessions with a guy called Derek Lawrence, who subsequently produced the first Flash album. Lawrence had worked a lot with Ritchie Blackmore, who in those days played a 335. He kept telling me how great that guitar sounded, so I picked one up. After that, I never considered using any guitar other than the 335. It was like wearing the same suit every day, but a suit that was always clean, neat and pressed ― and always reliable. I knew what that guitar could do, and I never fiddled around with that.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2010 at 17:25
Interesting.   Last time I read him commenting on Flash's breakup, he attributed it to an ever-dwindling audience.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2010 at 00:40
Hi Ghost,

Pete has had a number of explanations over the years.  This most recent description comes closest to the truth.  As for "dwindling audiences", Flash's last tour was with Three Dog Night (a rather strange pairing) playing 10,000 seaters.

Edited by sherrynoland - March 01 2010 at 14:36
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2010 at 00:53
It's posted elsewhere, but for convenience, here's the entire interview...

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Prog-Rock Legend Peter Banks Talks About Yes, Flash And ES-335s

Russell Hall | 01.22.2010

As every prog-rock fan knows, Peter Banks occupies a preeminent place in the genre’s history. The founding guitarist in Yes, Banks helped the group forge its unique style before giving way to Steve Howe.

But it was in Flash, the streamlined band he formed after leaving Yes, that Banks truly established himself as one of rock’s most gifted guitarists. Comprised of Banks, Ray Bennett (bass), Michael Hough (drums) and Colin Carter (vocals), Flash released three brilliant albums in the ’70s that navigated a perfect line between technical virtuosity and mainstream appeal.

In the years hence, Banks has been anything but idle. Artists with whom he’s worked through the years include Phil Collins, fellow guitar maestro Jan Akkerman and the spectacularly gifted (if little-known) singer-songwriter Tonio K. Currently, he heads an off-again on-again project called Harmony in Diversity, a group characterized as a “free-form psychedelic improv three-piece.”

It’s no coincidence that, on all the Flash albums, Banks exclusively played a Gibson ES-335. From his home in London, he spoke with us about Flash’s legacy, current goings-on and why he holds such affection for the Gibson hollow-body.

When you formed Flash, did you have in mind doing something stylistically that was radically different from Yes?

Looking back it would be very easy to say I had a grand plan, but I really didn’t. What I really had was a list of things I wanted to avoid. Even though I was just 22 or 23 when Flash got together, I had been a professional musician since the age of 17. I wanted to put together a true band. I had never had a band of my own before, but I didn’t want Flash to be my band. I wanted it to be a cooperative thing. And that’s basically how it was. I wanted to do something that was very involved, and original, and musical, and entertaining. I wanted to do things that a three-piece band ― with a guitar, bass, drums and a singer ― had never done before. We tried using a keyboard player, but that didn’t really work.

How did not having a keyboardist affect your guitar-playing?

Well, for me, it was a challenge. I wanted to try to fill the spaces. And I think maybe one of the faults with Flash was that I probably tried to fill too many spaces. It’s kind of a strange analogy, but when I first heard the Police ― who also used a guitar, bass and drums format ― I noticed they left spaces in the music, which created a kind of tension. Flash was of course doing a different type of music, but still, I remember thinking, “Damn, we should have done that.”

You played an ES-335 exclusively in Flash. How did the 335 become your go-to guitar?

After leaving Yes I began playing an SG, which Pete Townshend had recommended to me. That guitar was great, but it was also a solid-body, and I had been used to playing a hollow-body [a Rickenbacker]. Just before forming Flash, I did some sessions with a guy called Derek Lawrence, who subsequently produced the first Flash album. Lawrence had worked a lot with Ritchie Blackmore, who in those days played a 335. He kept telling me how great that guitar sounded, so I picked one up. After that, I never considered using any guitar other than the 335. It was like wearing the same suit every day, but a suit that was always clean, neat and pressed ― and always reliable. I knew what that guitar could do, and I never fiddled around with that.

Had you noticed any other guitar players who were playing 335s?

I had seen Alvin Lee, from Ten Years After, playing one at Woodstock. It wasn’t the first time I had ever seen an ES-335, but I do remember thinking, “Hmmm, that’s an interesting guitar.” I noticed that it sounded very good at high volume.

There’s a positive energy in Flash’s music, and in fact nearly all the songs were written in major keys. Is that something you deliberately set out to do?

It wasn’t discussed, but I do think that became a direction for us. A lot of bands at the time were blues-based. Cream is an obvious example, but there were many of them. Flash formed in 1971, and at the time I was feeling negative toward anything that smacked of anywhere near the Mississippi Delta. I found the white blues to be a bit saccharine flavored. I think that positive feel came from avoiding those sorts of minor keys.

Why did Flash split up?

Things got a little crazy. On our final tour, I wasn’t exactly objective about a lot of things going on around me. Now, I realize I was having a nervous breakdown. A lot of stupid things happened, things that I regret. We sort of flew apart for all the wrong reasons — matters of ego, and frustration, and lack of time with regards to rehearsing. Some of those are mistakes all bands can make, and some were mistakes that were of that time. You get a little bit of fame, a bit of kudos, and you start believing it’s all true. It causes you to lose momentum in your playing.

What’s the status of your recent project, Harmony in Diversity?

It’s an improvising situation. There’ve been a variety of incarnations of the group, but it’s always been guitar, bass and drums ... The whole idea behind it is, we have no idea what we’re going to play. We don’t discuss it and there are no rehearsals. There’s a Harmony In Diversity album that came out about two years ago, titled Trying. Lately the group has been [inactive], but I’m still very keen on it. It will definitely resurrect itself.


Reader Comments
SG Dave :: Monday, January 25, 2010 at 7:46:51 AM
+1
Perhaps the most overlooked and under rated guitarist ever, I remember the first time I ever heard Peter Banks on the first Yes album. I knew instantly that he was completely different from any other guitarist I'd ever heard up to that point. His use of jazz voicings is distinct and unique and his talent for being able to produce true solo work points to his command of melody and harmony. Thank you Peter for your musical output and inspiration.
BC :: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:57:01 AM
If I could only have one guitar, it would be my 335. I love my Les Paul and my Strat (can I say Strat here??) but the 335 can do it all.
JoeG :: Friday, February 19, 2010 at 5:54:27 AM
I have that allbum where Jan Ackermann also appears on it. They play some very cool riffs.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2010 at 01:04
Originally posted by sherrynoland sherrynoland wrote:

Thanks, Chuck.  I hadn't seen that review.  I had to laugh at a number of this guy's comments.  Silly to compare Ray and Chris.  Their playing is quite different.  And forgeddabout comparing Mike Hough and Bill Bruford....NOTHING alike.  And Flash didn't "fail".  They were doing just fine, thank you very much, until they impetuously broke up. 

Anyway.....considering their brief tenure, it's nice to be talked about and remembered.  The story's not over yet... Wink

You're welcome, Sherry!  

Yeah, the story of Flash is an interesting one in the history of prog....I agree, it sounds like the breakup was quite spontaneous, Peter once compared it to something from Spinal Tap!!  

This is an interview with the guys that I had never seen before:

I'm glad that Ray and Colin are keeping the flame going!!  Please post more rehearsal video, those are great!Thumbs Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 28 2010 at 16:29
Ah, YES, the comparisons....

This 1972 "Phonograph Record Magazine" article/not-much-of-an-interview is a prime example of how the press often takes a little bit of truth, runs with it, and comes up with hilarious results.

The first comical statement is the article's very first sentence -- "Colin Carter, the long, tall, wire-haired lead singer of Flash".  At 5'6", Colin has been called many things, I'm sure, but LONG,TALL isn't one of them!  If you can't trust the guy on something that easy...

Then the author calls Banks "the leader and founder of Flash" -- not true.  I guess the facts are just too complicated for Mr. Denisoff who laments, "it's all too confusing."  Or maybe, having made up his mind already, he simply didn't ask. 

In fact, Colin Carter got the ball rolling when he contacted Peter with some song ideas and the notion that they might work together. They met in Pete's apartment, played some music and decided to give it a go.  Ray Bennett came on board next through his connections with Banks and Bruford.  Then drummers were auditioned, and Mike Hough won the day.  It IS true, Pete's track record with Yes gave them a leg up getting financial backing.  Ray and Colin were the songwriters, and it was, from the beginning, a collaboration, as Pete says.

More from Mr. Denisoff..."it is apparent that Flash is Peter Banks. He put it together and directs it on and off stage. It is his trip. Capitol Records bills the group "Peter Banks and..." by the request of the band I'm told."

I wonder who told him that?  Notwithstanding his inaccurate descriptions of the way Flash members functioned, the fact is, Capitol Records added "Flash, featuring England's Peter Banks" to their name on the third album for legal reasons without consulting the band.  There was a name challenge in the courts from a local California band calling themselves Flash!

The many Flash comparisons with Yes are inevitable, and are a testament to the fact that Peter Banks is a brilliant, adventurously unique and talented guitarist who would have made his mark in any band.  As reviewers have said - in Flash, which was more guitar-centered,  he really got to shine.  And Colin Carter's high-pitched, soft voice (before Flash he sang bass!LOL) just happened to sound a bit like Jon A.  Carter has also been compared to Roger Daltrey - looks and voice!  And Bennett's bass playing to John Entwistle.  And on and on.  Whoever gets famous first, gets compared TO.  The real question is, are artists being original, or copying? Look for the differences, not just the similarities, and you'll find them.  For instance, Flash ROCKS; Yes, not so much.  All the Yes, and Flash musicians are creative powerhouses in their own right.  That's why both bands are distinctive.  That's why we like to listen.  And why we remember.....

As for Pete being "the star of Flash", here's a scoop!  This has never been reported before...

When Flash producer, Derek Lawrence, saw serious trouble brewing with Peter, he had such confidence in the talent and promise of the band that he took Ray aside and advised him to drop Pete and find a replacement before Pete took everybody down (an astounding turn of events since he had known Pete the longest, had worked with him before, and helped find the all-important financing for the band).  Derek even went so far as to suggest possibilities - Richie Blackmore, or Eric Clapton.  Lawrence was an older, experienced guy, very savvy in the music biz. Ray and Colin were young, and perhaps a bit naive.  They decided to continue as they were, hoping to hold things together.  Impossible.  Relations continued to deteriorate until one day on tour, everyone was fed up with Peter, and just walked away from it all, leaving Pete in a hotel in Albuquerque, NM., and the band nowhere.  Peter isn't the only one with regrets.  

Finally, that long-ago misstep is being rectified.  When talk of a reunion began, there were problems once again with Peter, almost immediately.  But Ray and Colin were undeterred this time.  They clicked into working together as they always had - hand-in-glove.  Now, with Ray's virtuoso playing applied to lead guitar, and years of hard knocks, wisdom, and music under their belts, Flash sets sail again...




Edited by sherrynoland - March 03 2010 at 22:00
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