conducted by Robert Silverstein for mwe3.com
Conspiracy In The Making:
RS: Hey Chris! How are you doing!
CS: I’m fine thank you Robert.
RS: I spoke with you a couple years ago. Right after Open Your Eyes came out.
CS: Yeah, vaguely I remember.
RS: I was still running Time & A Word, the CD music review newsletter.
CS: Oh yeah, yeah I remember!
RS: Now I’m doing a piece on the new Conspiracy album for my new on line CD review web site, mwe3.com
RS: First of all, it’s great to speak with you again.
CS: So what do you want to know?
RS: When I spoke with you last you told me you were planning to release your long awaited second solo album.
CS: Ah ha...
RS: But several of the tracks from it ended up on the Yes Open Your Eyes CD you told me you wanted to write a few new strong songs. How did you end up finally completing what turned out to be the first Conspiracy CD?
CS: Well you kinda know half the story already. These were songs really, that Billy and I have been working on not specifically for any one project in particular. It wasn’t supposed to be Fish Out Of Water 2 or anything. It was just stuff we were doing in the studio. Some of it got picked up by Yes. Then, what’s on the Conspiracy album is kind of like other songs we didn’t use for Yes. Not because they’re inferior or anything, it’s just that they didn’t fly for one reason or another with the other guys in Yes. And we probably had enough music by then, for Open Your Eyes. So this is really the other songs. They were just gathering dust on the studio shelf, and we thought well we might as well just put them out so that people can hear them anyway. So it’s not like we made a real high profile push out of doing this album or anything. It’s more just to give people something of what would otherwise just have gone unheard.
RS: Were you still working on the Conspiracy album even while you were recording The Ladder with Yes?
CS: Well, kind of. In actual fact, by the time we were doing The Ladder we were actually half way through the next Conspiracy album! We’ve done about seven tracks already for the second one, which was actually going to be the first one, but then we decided to put this out as the first one. But the second one is alot more organized and alot more current. These songs on the first one range from when Billy and I first met and started writing in ‘89 through till about ‘96. But the second Conspiracy album, all the stuff has been written, like ‘99 onwards.
RS: I think you answered one of the questions I was getting to. So, some of the songs on this first Conspiracy CD date back to the late ‘80s.
CS: Yeah, well exactly. We decided to put our original demo of “The More We Live” that was used on the Yes Union album. So I guess that’s the earliest song on this whole project along together with the “Say Goodbye” song, which is one of the hidden tracks on the end. I don’t know if you got to that yet, did ya’?
RS: Of course!
CS: Yeah. OK, did you leave it on and let it happen or did you already know those were going to be there?
RS: It was a great surprise. Actually, I wanna get to that because that’s gonna be one of my next questions. So, you’re saying that the original tracks were remixed with new parts or were they new versions. For instance, “Say Goodbye”, those songs.
CS: The version of “Say Goodbye” and the version of “The More We Live” are the original demos we did and I think both of them are even with drum machines.
RS: They sound great. I can’t believe they haven’t even been remixed.
CS: No, they were the original mixes. The way they were done and then when we rerecorded “The More We Live” for the Union album we added Jon’s vocals and Trevor Rabin’s guitar parts, who was the Yes guitarist at the time. And Alan White of course. So, that’s how these two versions are different.
RS: The CD opener “Days Of Wonder” is a great song. It really sets the tone for the whole album. Could you give an account of how you and Billy recorded that one.
CS: Once again, this is pretty much going back to the beginning of the ‘90s when we were doing that. We started that off just in a small home studio basically and maybe there’s drum machines on there too. I’m not too clear on remembering that. Yeah, it was pretty much a thing that we just did at Billy’s home studio, about three locations before his current location! (laughter). It was a ways back. What more to say about it really, other than y’know it was one of the early things we did together when we were getting used to working together.
RS: Could you say something about how you usually write songs with Billy? Is their a set procedure?
CS: He’s a very prolific guy. I tend to be a little bit more on the lazy side, so on average he comes up with most of the original ideas for a chord sequence or kind of a structure. But I don’t know, on this particular album I think it’s about fifty-fifty. I think some of the stuff I originated. So it’s give and take really.
RS: I think my favorite song on the Conspiracy album is the song “Lonesome Trail”. And Alan White plays on that song as well.
CS: Alan White actually! And please put this in your article, ‘cause he’ll love you for it. We forgot to include him in the writing credits, because actually the chorus line for that was actually written by Alan White! (laughter). Because we forgot to credit it to which he’s most pissed off. But in a friendly way!
RS: Was “Lonesome Trail” another one of those early tracks?
CS: Yeah, that was another one of those early tracks from about the beginning of the ‘90s.
RS: Did it change alot over the years or was it originally recorded back then too?
CS: No we went out and we played it live on our Conspiracy tour that we did. I’m trying to remember when that was. I think that was around ‘92 or ‘93. We did a club date tour when it was still called The Chris Squire Experiment in ‘92. Yeah, we played it live, but pretty much what you’re hearing is the original work that was done on it at the beginning of the ‘90s.
RS: That song sounds like one of your songs, right?
CS: “Lonesome Trail”, let me think now. Umm, I think that was joint effort really pretty much, but as I said you can definitely write that Alan White wrote the chords for the chorus.
RS: Another great track from the CD is “Light Of My Life”. The melody and the vocal line is so timeless that I can almost picture Frank Sinatra singing it!
CS: Well, it’s a shame he’s dead! (laughter). It’s a slightly shmaltzy title, but I think the song...we get away with it. It’s just a good solid pop song really, I guess is what you’re saying. It’s got a little prog edge to it. But, yeah thanks for the compliment anyway. It’s a little Beatle-esque too, yeah.
RS: Getting back to the bonus tracks we were speaking about earlier, I really enjoy the Conspiracy version of the song “Open Your Eyes”, which you told me was originally called “Wish I Knew”. So that song, another Yes track, “Man In The Moon” and the CD closer “Say Goodbye” which appear as bonus tracks a minute or so following track ten “Red Light Ahead” aren’t listed on the CD booklet even though they do appear on the digital cut counter. It was real interesting to hear the alternate versions of those tracks.
CS: Oh good. Well that’s why we did it, because when we were talking to the record company about selling it we said that some of this is not totally unreleased original material so we want you to know that you’re buying the unreleased stuff but we want to put the previously released stuff on there anyway so we put it on the end.
RS: They’re not listed on the CD booklet so who plays with you on the bonus tracks?
CS: On “Open Your Eyes”, I think, is not Alan although I hope I’m right in saying that. Let’s call it “Wish I Knew” for that purpose. I think it’s the other drummer Jay Schellan on “Wish I Knew”. As I said, I think it’s a drum machine, a Billy Sherwood program, on “Say Goodbye”. And interestingly enough on “Man In The Moon”, as on the Yes album version, the bass is actually Billy Sherwood playing bass. And I just sang it (laughter), I think! That’s basically what happened. And the drums, I think maybe once again, it’s a machine on “Man In The Moon”. But sometimes Billy would do a drum program, and then being a drummer as well himself, he’d go in and play drums along with it. So some of the stuff is combo drum machines and real drums or real drum fills and stuff like that.
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