Although he is no longer technically in Yes — the prog-rock ensemble he founded in 1968 – vocalist Jon Anderson is still on the road, playing its cinematic catalog with ARW, the new spinoff trio he formed with other ex-members, guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Fans still clamor to hear classics like “Roundabout.” “But we usually do it as an encore, and it’s still a lot of fun to sing that song,” he says. “And we do ‘Awaken’ on this tour, and it grows, because we’ve added a couple of parts to it and developed it here and there. So it’s all just a magical event for me, and the audience really digs it.”
In one 2000s incarnation of Yes that you returned to front, you and Wakeman traveled together in a separate car. Why do you two get along so well?
Well, he never stops talking, and everything he talks about is so damn funny. His life has been incredible, and he does a lot of standup in England. So the things he comes out with are just absolute chaos – it’s amazing. And I think the best one I ever heard was, “Jon Anderson — he’s the only guy I know of who’s trying to save this planet while living on another one.”
You’ll have to work a lot harder to save the environment once Sarah Palin gets her official hands on it.
Oh, my God. But I’m very positive. I think that it’s going to be an extraordinary time. … 2017 is the year of bliss, so everything’s going to happen, and it’s going to be extraordinary on many levels. You can’t live the doom and gloom life — you’ve got to live a very positive life. Once Trump gets going, whatever he’s doing, it isn’t going to be what he expects. And it won’t be what we expect.
You’ve always aimed high. You even planned a Marc Chagall concept album at one point. What motivates you?
Well, I never give up. I’ve finished it, the (Chagall) album, and I’ve done all the work on staging and everything. So it’s only a question of time when things happen. So I’ve never given up on that, and I’ve written three or four more projects that I’m working on. It’s a slow process.
And the long-awaited sequel to your first solo disc, “Olias of Sunhillow”?
Again, it’s a slow process. I’m five hours into it, with 20 different permutations. And when I first started it 10 years ago, I came up to San Francisco and spent time with a really incredible virtual reality guy. So it’s not just an album — it’s going to be an event. And it’s going to take some time before it’s heard or seen.
IF YOU GO
Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman
An Evening of YES Music & More
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 25
Contact: (877) 598-8497, www.livenation.com
ARWJon AndersonOlias of SunshillowRick WakemanRoundaboutTrevor RabinYes