Dateline: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Source: The Boston Herald

Original Syn members find redemption in new tour

By Brett Milano

If you’ve never heard of the Syn, you’re not alone. Together from 1965 to ’67, the group had only two obscure singles to its name, and one main claim to fame: Syn bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Peter Banks went on to form the art-rock institution Yes. But even Yes fans weren’t expecting to see the Syn undertake its first American tour, nearly 40 years after breaking up.

With Yes on indefinite hiatus, Squire has teamed with original singer Steve Nardelli to relaunch their long-ago band, which plays the Somerville Theatre on Thursday. The Syn originally came together two years ago to polish off some old tracks as a tribute to their late keyboardist, Andrew Jackman.

Sessions went well enough that the band made its first real album, the just-released “Syndestructible.” Banks was initially in the reunion but bowed out; the touring lineup now includes longtime Neville Brothers guitarist Shane Theriot and the last-minute addition of Yes drummer Alan White.

“It’s a new thing for everybody, that’s what I like about it,” Squire said last week by phone from Chicago. “Nobody’s really heard any of this music before. And for me it’s really nice to be playing a set that doesn’t include the same songs I’ve been playing for the past 35 years.”

Originally the Syn was a psychedelic garage band that sounded nothing like Yes. Its first single, “Grounded,” has acquired cult status over the years, sounding punky enough to get covered by Boston rockers the Lyres (Nardelli says he’s heard their version and likes it).

“Our roots were in English pop, with some Motown in there; and songs like ‘14-Hour Technicolor Dream’ were certainly acid related,” Squire said. “A lot of the blueprint for Yes was worked out in the Syn.”

The Syn did get popular enough to play weekly at London’s legendary Marquee club, where one gig proved especially memorable. “We were the opening band when Jimi Hendrix made his London debut,” Nardelli recalled. “The place was packed, we walk onstage and see every rock hero of ours sitting in the first four rows: All four Beatles were there, all the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend. And we’re five teenagers saying, ‘Uh, OK, here’s our first song.’ But we were confident guys and I think we went over pretty well.”

“In fact,” Nardelli laughed, “I like to say that the Beatles went home after seeing the Syn and wrote ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ And we didn’t even get any royalties!”


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