Fans’ support has remained affirmative for the group Yes since its founding in 1968 in England.
The band known for its progressive, symphonic sound on such tunes as “Roundabout,” “Long Distance Runaround” and “Starship Trooper” will rock out next Thursday at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.
Alan White, the drummer for Yes since its tour recordings for the “Yessongs” triple-LP in 1973, looked back fondly at four decades of music in a telephone interview earlier this month, before a sound check in New Jersey.
“The best part of the day is getting on stage,” he said.
Touring with two other longtime colleagues – guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire – White heaped praised on the other two members of the fivesome.
“I think we have a rapport among ourselves,” he said.
The keyboardist, Geoff Downes, like Howe, a co-founder of the band Asia, joined Yes in the 1980s, White said, “and he seemed very familiar with the band all of his life.”
“He’s been kind a one-of-a-kind member,” White said, also excited to have Jon Davison, on lead vocals.
‘90125’ new turf
The “90125” album, from 1983, which began with a No. 1 hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and included “It Can Happen,” “Leave It” and “Changes,” gave Yes some pop success, increasing its exposure to new audiences.
“ ‘90125’ was something that came about,” White said, crediting the producer, “because Trevor Horn joined the band. He had added that more, dare I say it, a coffee flavor kind of stuff, in a Yes kind of way.”
White defined the new direction at the time as a “digestive type of coffee” that reached a wider radio spectrum. He said “90125” marked “when we got it over the masses a little bit more.”
“Even though the band has always done well with a cult following,” White said, “that kind of got us more into the mainstream, with a wide variety of styles, even though we’ve always sounded like Yes. ... That was just one of those years. That was No. 1 in 15 or 16 countries around the world.”
Keeping the band’s beat, White said drumming pulsates from the background, “but you’re basically kind of keeping everything together for the band.”
Noting if his timing tilts a tad, the whole band shifts, White called drumming “a really responsible job.”
Like the Grateful Dead – Yes has thrived without a big-chart streak, but with consistent critical acclaim – and the latter has reaffirmed fans’ vouching for the Yes’ depth musically. White saluted its “very dedicated” fan base and that the band views playing its repertoire as a challenge because of the constant devotion.
“In a song, if we messed up anywhere,” White said, “the general public will say, ‘Oh, that was really clever.’ The Yes hardcore fans will say, ‘Wait a second. That was a wrong note in the third verse.’ That’s how nitpicky it can be. We have to be on the ball.”
Yes also wouldn’t think of leaving out “Roundabout” from any concert, White said, reassuring longtime fans who might wonder when its turn will come on stage.
“We usually do it at the end of the encore,” White said.
From its CD, “Fly From Here,” released last year on Frontiers Records, the group plays the whole title suite section, which alone merits about a half-hour, White said.
“It’s been going down really well,” he said.
White, who said he’s had a home in Seattle for 30 years, loves entertaining “all over Europe.” Besides playing Japan 15 to 18 times through the years, Yes included Indonesia on its latest tour, White said, adding, “It would be great to go to India.”
The complete circle the band serves continues driving the group.
“We get people coming out,” White said, “and they say, ‘This is my 65th show,’ and I wonder, ‘Do you have another life?’ ...
“We had a guy the other day, and he said, ‘You know, I’ve been to 15 shows.’
“I said, ‘OK, so you’re a virgin.’ ”