Jon Anderson – All is Good

Jon Anderson – All is Good

Jon Anderson is a musician, mentor, artist and inspiration. His music has been the soundtrack to people’s lives for over 40 years and he, much to the delight of his devoted fans, will soon be performing in Québec City.

Life in Québec Magazine (LiQ):

Jon Anderson, why does that name sound so familiar? (wink, wink)

Jon Anderson (Anderson):

Sometimes you see me on TV. I make music. I’ve been doing it a long, long time. I was with a band called Yes for about 35 years on and off. I worked with a talented guy called Vangelis and I made some albums with him. I’ve been pretty busy doing different kinds of music over the years.

LiQ:

Where did the name Yes come from?

Anderson:

The name of the group that bassist Chris Squire had in mind was Mabel Greer’s Toyshop and I just felt that was such a long name for band. I said “Why don’t we call it Life?” The guitar player said “Why don’t we call it Yes? We all turned around and said “Yes, that would be cool.”

LiQ:

What kind of music did Yes play?

Anderson:

It was very adventurous music, very progressive. We didn’t lean towards pop music or radio music. We just leant towards stage music. We wanted to do longer form pieces of music with good structure so people would go on a journey.

LiQ:

What are your impressions of Quebec City?

Anderson:

It’s a beautiful city, the old town and the people. It’s always been an amazing emotional thing for us to play there when we’re with Yes, by myself or with Rick. It’s a very special place to play. I don’t know, maybe it’s the French connection, the energy of viva la Quebec.

LiQ:

You and with Rick Wakeman will be performing at the Grand Théâtre de Québec on November 10. What can people expect?

Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson (Photo courtesy of Glass Onyon PR)

Anderson:

Working with Rick, we aimed for, obviously, music we created together with Yes and songs that we have written over the past number of years. We’ve written enough new songs for an album which is called The Living Tree. We perform some of that on stage, so it’s a combination. We actually perform “Awaken” which is a long form Yes piece. With Rick it’s very emotional on many levels. He obviously plays great as a keyboard player, but he just has this special gift for performance on stage which at times is very spontaneous and it’s a lot of fun to work with. He likes to tell jokes. We have a bit of silliness, a bit of fun and the classic Yes songs and of course new songs. The show is just so much fun, it’s very entertaining and people just love it. So if you want to have a great night out, just come out.

LiQ:

You recently released an album entitled Survival and Other Stories.

Anderson:

This was an album of songs that I worked on over the last year. It was a reflection of what’s been happening in my life over 2008 when I got very sick. When I went through the trials and tribulations of getting healthy and by 2009 I was really a lot better. I was able to work with musicians that I’d been working with by the internet, which is an interesting new world. Being able to work with musicians you’ve never met or you meet on Skype and they send music through. It’s a big adventure to make music this way. It’s very much like a different world; you just adapt to it and start creating on that level. It’s something that I enjoy because you never know what’s going to come. You never know what kind of music is going to be sent to you.

LiQ:

What do you think about the music business?

Anderson:

There’s two ways to look at it. The music industry hasn’t changed. It’s still looking for the big pop song and they’re creating young kids to look and sound good on a video. You’re always going to have that. But there are a lot of young musicians stretching their musical dreams. I think there are certain bands that push the envelope like Yes did, you have Radiohead and one or two others out there that are doing well. The younger people are very invested now in the internet and how they can put on their own show via a company called StageIt. They can put their music out exactly what they want to do instead of what the record company is expecting them to do. So they can build their own careers, it’s a slow process but it’s going to be a very advantageous process for the music world because you can make music with different people all over the world these days. You finish up with an interesting progressive music again. You’re going to have music that is a progression of the next level and younger people are very interested in that.

LiQ:

I saw a YouTube video of you playing with kids from the School of Rock.

Anderson:

I did School of Rock in 2007. I would go out with 25 young teenagers: 13, 14, 15 years old, girls and guys from the School of Rock in Philadelphia and New York. We’d go on tour and do six or seven shows together. It was just so inspiring because they want to play Yes music, they want to play Zappa, they want to play Beatles songs and some classic rock songs. The shows were wonderful. It was very well received. The families of the kids just loved it. You meet people and I work with people that I still keep in touch with from those times. In fact, I have project coming up, on my birthday the 25th, called “Open” that’s available on iTunes and there’s a couple of guys from the School of Rock All Stars performing on that. You keep in touch with people and hey, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, like a mentor to them and they inspire me as well.

LiQ:

What do you want people to know about you?

Anderson:

I think the important thing is that I’m still in a very strong creative zone. If you downloaded Open from iTunes, it’s a 21 minute piece and it will just give people a very open idea of what I’m doing. I’m creating music all the time in my studio. I have a backlog of about five or six projects that I’m hell bent on finishing in the next 20, 30 years. It’s a very exciting time. It’s as though I’m drawn to work with many different kinds of musicians. It’s a good thing. Music is a very, very healthy thing, very healthy for the soul. Keep the adventure going.

Categories: Arts & Culture

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.