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Dateline: October 24, 2004

The Syn, An (Almost) Forgotten Historical Project

Source: Sinar Harapan Evening Newspaper -- Jakarta, Indonesia

By Bayu Dwi Mardana

Translated into English by Chriswan Sungkono in Bandung, Indonesia

JAKARTA -- The Syn can be called a half-done project. They managed to record several tracks, yet they never released even one studio album till the end of the band’s career. Nonetheless, Chris Squire, the bassist of Yes, and Peter Banks, a guitarist of Yes in their early days, admitted that The Syn was an important phase in their musical career. It is a sad fact that there is not much information regarding this historical music project.

“The Syn? I don’t know much about this band. All I know is that Chris Squire and Peter Banks happened to be its members,” wrote Surjorimba Suroto in his SMS post some time ago. That answer was “panicking.” For some members of the mailing-list, Progressive Rock Indonesia had advised them to ask Surjorimba, known to all as a big fan of Yes.

Tom Malik, an observer of the rock music scene, was not much different than Surjorimba. “The Syn was Chris Squire’s band before he formed Yes with Jon Anderson. Other than that, I don’t know,” he said. Yet he painstakingly managed to give out the story of The Syn’s career.

On their official site, synmusic.net, their history is not easy to obtain. There is no special link to their career in the mid 60s. A feature for journalists contains only a lengthy interview with Peter Banks by Martin Hudson, the editor of Classic Rock Society magazine. After some intense research, it appeared that this interview had a wonderful information to tell about The Syn.

The Syn could not be separated from the early developments of Yes. As Tom had stated, before creating Yes with Jon Anderson, Chris Squire was indeed involved in a project called The Syn. This band was highly active between 1966-1967 with the earliest formation included Chris Squire (bass), Andrew Pryce Jackman (keyboard), Steve Nardelli (vocals), Martyn Adelman (drums), and John Painter (guitar). As time went on, Gunar Hakanarsson, drummer from Iceland, and Peter Banks (guitar) also joined the band.

Peter Banks admitted that when he joined The Syn, it was already formed as a band. He even happened to meet its previous guitarist, John Painter. Banks joined the band after meeting Martyn Adelman on Denmark Street, London. Unfortunately, Banks didn’t tell about the time of the meeting.

Adelman introduced Banks to Chris Squire and Paul Korda (Banks thought that Korda was The Syn’s manager at that time). Banks was then accepted to join as a guitarist. “To be honest, I was feeling weird back then. They just said yes to me, although they hadn’t seen me play,” he told Martin Hudson.

At the early time of Banks’ joining with The Syn, the style they were playing was soul (R&B), like a Motown covers band. “I performed with my Rickenbacker guitar while Chris played his Rickenbacker bass. We played a lot of styles,” said Banks.

The Syn managed to record in France. Again Banks forgot to mention the time. They managed to produce only two singles and two B-sides. Banks really loved those two B-side songs. He said that the A-side was not that interesting.

The Flower Generation

When the “flower generation” syndrome broke out, The Syn was also influenced by it. Banks and Squire soon enough were asserting “flower power” in the band’s breath. That was their early period during which they wrote songs with even more complex rhythm and melody, which also cemented a new era of psychedelic music such as rock opera.

As a part of the flower generation, members of The Syn wore make-up like “flowermen” when they were on stage. “Our make-up was not really flowermen, but when we were playing, we brought our gardening tools. Back then, the stage was set like a garden,” said Banks. In the final part, these flowermen “supposedly” fought on stage. It was meant to be a closing act.

But this act transformed into a boomerang. One night, Andrew Pryce Jackman had to receive the consequences. He got stitches on his face because a shovel was thrown to his face! “The moral of the story: never bring your gardening tools on stage,” Banks insisted seriously.

After two and a half years, The Syn broke down. “We failed because there was no convergence of interest. We had a manager, but we never managed to make an album,” Banks complained. Still, they had tried to do their best. Sometimes they had to work five nights in a row in one week.

According to Tom Malik, after The Syn broke down, Chris Squire formed Mabel Greer’s Toyshop with Peter Banks (guitar), Clive Bailey (guitar, vocals), and Bob Hagger (drums). In 1968, Chris met Jon Anderson and together they formed Yes. In this legendary band, Peter Banks was guitarist for their earliest two albums: YES and TIME AND A WORD. Steve Howe replaced Banks’ position to record Yes’ third album.

For Banks and Squire, the influence of The Syn’s keyboardist, Andrew Jackman, was immense. Banks admitted that he had learned a lot of things from Jackman about harmony and song construction. “I really respect him as a brilliant musician all the time.” In 1975, Jackman assisted Squire with his one and only solo album, FISH OUT OF WATER. Now, Andrew Jackman is no longer with us.

On the upcoming November 1st, The Syn is about to release their reunion album: ORIGINAL SYN. It is an effort for reunion from the members of the Syn. YesServices—managed by a hardcore fan of Yes from Oklahoma, USA, Michele Moore—offers the exclusive edition of this reunion album. The presale edition has been on sale since October 10th, autographed by Chris Squire and Steve Nardelli, and also numbered.

This exclusive YesServices Original Syn consists of three items: the CD “Original Syn”, a booklet with twenty full-colored pages, and a CD “Interview with Chris Squire”, recorded in Denver Colorado on September 11th, 2004.

The first CD contains the earliest recordings of The Syn’s original members. Some songs also feature the next formation, Gunar Hakanarsson (drums) and Peter Banks (guitar). Some records on Chris Squire’s bass playing when he was fifteen with his band called The Selfs are also included.

The booklet offers a huge amount of rare photos of The Syn, media clippings, and information about the historical development of The Syn in the 60s. Foreword was written by Phil Collins, ex-drummer and vocalist of Genesis. This album is absolutely collectible!

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