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Chris Squire - Fish Out Of Water CD (album) cover


Chris Squire


Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 493 ratings

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4 stars When one interviews a person who is dead, it isn't too much different from a conversation with the living. In fact, according to Chris Squire, eminent instrumentalist/composer and one of the founders & drivers behind legendary prog rock band Yes, you are pretty much exactly the same person you were when you were alive. But with maybe a few lessons firmly under the belt. Mr. Squire was generous enough to allow my intrusion on a cool misty English morning to a gorgeous but moderate old mansion he'd been, well, haunting. He proved to indeed be the same convivial, highly intelligent, enormous man he'd always been with a shock of bleach-blond and a face that had seen more than its share. We spoke over mugs of hot, dark tea and a tray of delicious if unknown little goodies.

A - So Chris, we're approaching one year since you passed on June 27, 2015, let's get the obvious first question out of the way: What's it like being dead?

C - (smiling) I don't really think about it in those terms. "Being dead" sounds so static, when actually life goes on. You have the same feelings, views, issues, the only thing that changes is that you have to create your life. I mean physically create it. It's quite a challenge.

A - Would you say that it's like composing?

C - I suppose, yeah, in a way, but it's ... tangible, it's consequential. A bad song won't change your existence, but a wrong move now and it could be months before I find my way back on course.

A - I see. Okay tell me about your writing approach and how it's utilized on your Fish Out of Water album from 1975.

C - Well as a lead instrument the bass has certain limitations but those are also its strengths, because in limitation you have necessity, and that breeds invention. In the case of Fish Out of Water, I usually started with the piano, bass parts over that, and later the highs, the vocals, lead lines and harmonics. I tend to write from the bottom up, if you'll forgive the pun. I start with the compositional ground and then work my way up.

A - Is that the way Yes tended to function?

C - No not really. Yes was a real group. It was a collaboration. So sometimes Jon would come in with a nearly finished song, or Steve would have something that was largely formed already.

A - Andrew Jackman helped a lot in putting the album together, describe that relationship.

C - Andrew and I were both keen on doing a big, symphonic thing, and he'd been doing orchestration much of his life so it worked out. We got Barry Rose to play organ at St. Paul's Cathedral with Andrew conducting, and it just all came together really. The LSO, everything. In those days, symphony players weren't all that fond of rock 'n roll. But later I realized they enjoyed the meeting of the two forms cause it was so much fun.

A - Let's talk about the first cut, 'Hold Out Your Hand'.

C - Yeah well the bassline came out of the keyboard part. Andrew did the arranging. It was great having an arranger; like an automatic organizer, it helped things move along. This was a good establishing track for the project with the bass solo, Barry's organ solo, and symphonic flourishes.

A - 'You by My Side'. A love song, and of course the CSN influence in the vocals and tempo.

C - Right, I mean I wanted something well-rounded, you know, and what CSN were doing was a sort of irresistible mix of Beatles pop with American folk.

A - And segueing into 'Almost Falling'.

C - Yeah, nice smooth changeover. Mel Collins on, I think, tenor sax, and Patrick's bass part on the Minimoog. And of course a huge Brian Wilson influence here which, by the way, I've always had. Another thing here, with the whole record, is the almost complete lack of guitar throughout the set.

A - Was that intentional?; I mean was it part of the original plan?

C - Oh yeah, I think so. Nothing against guitar but I wanted an avenue away from what I'd been doing with Yes and leaving out guitar was an effective way toward that. The little guitar accents I do are fine, I think. Shows the value of a good-sounding rhythm guitar in small doses. A little goes a long way.

A - Bill Bruford's drumming is just outstanding on the album, he seems to contribute a very important element. Would you agree?

C - Absolutely. It isn't just brilliant playing but you can hear how the drums are completely integral. In other words, they're an entirely equal component rather than just a dazzling rhythm instrument.

A - Moving on to 'Lucky Seven'.

C - Yeah well it turned out good, you know. Andrew worked his magic, and it's in 7/4 of course and somehow, largely thanks to Bill, it ended up sounding damn good, better than I'd anticipated.

A - You couldn't tell it worked right after you'd written it?

C - Not in the same way, no. But when we were all in the studio and Bill started pumping out that time and we started getting the playback, I knew it was working. Wonderful here with the sax working off of the drums. And then into 'Safe'. Not an easy song to sing, especially back when you had to actually sing everything (chuckles). 11/16, 13/16, and several other unusual time signatures appear, something more musicians were drawn to back then.

A - Chris I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk. I know you're a busy man. By the way, the World wants to know: Do you ever play music, and with whom?

C - (big wide smile) I do play as often as I can but it's not with, y'know, Hendrix or Keith Moon or anyone (laughter). I mostly play with other musicians, regular guys, who passed around the same time I did. I guess the shared experience creates a simpatico that goes well with jamming ~~~

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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