Dateline: 15th February, 2006
Source: Santa Cruz (California) Metro Active
Chris Squire Just Says Yes to Syn
The Yes co-founder and king of all Rickenbackers explains the Syn's roundabout reunion
By Bill Forman
Not many bands can claim to have released their best album 40 years
after their formation. The Rolling Stones certainly can't, and
neither can ... um ... OK, so maybe only a handful of bands actually
put out a new album four decades on. So when Chris Squire is
complimented on the new album from his pre-Yes outfit, the Syn, he's
still fairly amazed.
"Yeah, I think we came up with a very good album here, surprisingly
enough," says Squire. "And I do say surprisingly, because when we
finished making the album, we all listened to it and said, 'Wow,
this is a really good album.' That's why I'm working on promoting it
while Yes is taking a bit of a laid-back period--it's really been
very fulfilling for me."
Titled Syndestructible, the band's "comeback" album is a winning
combination of post-Invasion Britpop and progressive rock
tendencies. Squire's unmistakable Rickenbacker bass sound,
songwriting skills and backing vocals add a ring of familiarity to
songs that typically approach the 10-minute mark. But there's none
of the histrionics that helped make prog the one rock genre that has
yet to undergo a proper revival.
Squire describes the genesis of the reunion as "a very freaky
thing," prompted, as it was, by the death of Andrew Jackman, the
band's original keyboard player. "He was a very good friend of mine--
a friend from the age of 5, actually--and he had a brain aneurysm
and died just straightaway, tragically, in 2003."
Enter singer Steve Nardelli, who wanted to put together a
compilation album in memory of the Syn and dedicate it to Jackman.
Nardelli set about contacting his old band mates, including Squire
and founding Yes guitarist Peter Banks. "Steve wanted to do an
interview with me for the album, so he came and met me in Denver
while we [Yes] were playing at Red Rocks," recalls Squire. "He put
that album out as The Original Syn, and then in November of 2004, I
was back over in London doing some work when I ran into Steve
The singer--who, unlike his better-known band mates, had spent
decades away from music in the fashion and sports apparel industry--
told Squire he'd been writing a couple new songs and asked if he'd
play on one. Squire said yes, and the partnership unexpectedly
resumed. "I ended up staying back in England for a year, working on
an album and getting all the guys together to play with," says
Squire. "And so the Syn reunion was reborn quite by accident
Conspicuously absent from the "reborn" reunion, however, was
guitarist Banks, who wrote an angry, open letter to Nardelli after
participating in an aborted reunion around the time of The Original
"That was before I came along," says Squire, diplomatically. "Peter
had done some work on a couple of new tracks-- I think they did a
cover of Yes' 'Time and a Word' and an old song that the Syn used to
play called 'Illusion.' But by the time I showed up, he was already
out of the picture."
Banks, it should be noted, is the only original member of Yes who
had never returned to the fold, not even for one record. "Well,
Peter, you know, he's not--I don't think he's the easiest of people
to work with," says Squire. "But let's not dwell on that," he adds
with a laugh.
To promote the album, the current lineup--which includes Squire's
longtime Yes band mate Alan White on drums--is hitting the smallest
venues Squire's played since the Syn's Marquee days. "We just did a
little East Coast run and, yeah, I would say it's a pretty different
experience! I've gotten to like it--that intimate feel and being
able to talk to people--not being in this vast space."
So with one proper album to their name, what will the Syn be playing
to fill out the set? "Mainly it's just the new album we're playing,
plus a couple of newer tunes that didn't go on the album and will go
on a future recording of the Syn," says Squire. "And then we also do
a little medley of the Syn's '60s hits. Not that there were hits
really, although one of them was No. 1 in France."
But even with White along for the ride, Squire insists there will be
no Yes songs in the set: "Nope, none at all. This is a Syn show."
Even so, fans aren't likely to be disappointed. "The Syn was a
breeding ground for a lot of the techniques that Yes would later
come along and perfect," explains Squire. "So the germs of a lot of
the original ideas that went into Yes had already been born in the
Yes fans can expect fewer time changes, less bombast and an absence
of capes, but similar instrumentation and surprisingly strong
material. "That's something a lot of prog music does lack, is a good
basic song," says Squire while discussing bands that have followed
in his wake. "That's what you need in the first place, before you
start dressing it all up."