An Exclusive Interview With:
This interview was done via email in 2008, following the release of Asia's first comeback album "Phoenix". For whatever reason, it did not all appear as I'd written it, so here is the complete thing. I'd originally sent questions for John Wetton and Geoff Downes but only ever heard back from John [so likely I was waiting for Geoff before I posted this completely].
Anyway, enjoy the read.....
It really started with 'Rock of faith', a solo album from 2002,where Geoff and I wrote a song "I've come to take you home", for the first time in many years. From that came the Icon project, and so on to Asia.
Over the years the
reunion rumor had come up several times. How much had you guys kept
in touch or had you sort of kept ‘tabs’ on each other over the
years? AND, How well did the initial reunion shows go? Did they meet
or exceed expectations? What have been some of the highlight
concerts in the past 2 years?
Extremely well, and by the time we were halfway thru out 17-date US tour, we had an offer for Japan, and the UK.
On Phoenix John &
Geoff resume as the band’s main songwriters. How easy was it to
pick up your songwriting partnership after so many years?
As I explained in the first question, the ice had been broken, and we were used to working again with each other. The spark was still there.
With John & Geoff
doing most of the writing, how is an Asia song [well, on Phoenix and the
generally put together? And what sort of input do Carl and Steve have? [Will we see more writing from all 4 members on the next album?]
Carl is not really a
writer, and Steve tends to write on his own, but Geoff and myself enjoy
the process of writing
as a partnership.
How was the atmosphere and feeling – being together as the original Asia band again in the studio and on stage?
Much better than the first time around! We enjoyed ourselves, and banished some ghosts from the proceedings.
Phoenix is a great album, but it was more of a ‘grower’ from me because “Never Again” is such a powerful lead off rock track, but then the album really varies and includes more acoustic and softer songs. Did you guys have any idea what you wanted the album to sound like – or be a heavier or lighter album?
We just wanted it to be a
representation of us 25 years on from our first outing. there are nods to
our past, but the music is exactly what you get when you put those 4 musicians back
on stage or in a studio. My one regret is that we didn't have Mike Stone
around to complete the circle, but that was not possible, as Mike is
sadly no longer with us.
Never Again is a very uplifting and memorable song. Can you tell me what inspired that one musically and lyrically?
It's virtually the Ten commandments. About never wanting to be judgmental, murderous or have evil intent. It's musically quite hard-hitting. With the guitar intro, and powerful chorus, it is reminiscent of 'Heat of the Moment', but it was not intentionally so, and I think that is ok.
Yes,'Never Again', and 'An Extraordinary Life' go down very well in the live set.
Geoff and John are
currently working on a new Icon album. How is that
going? And is there any separation between Icon and Asia songs
when writing? [I mean, any difference in what you’re writing
or intending the songs for?]
We're quite a long way into the record now, on overdubs - vocals, keyboards, etc. Should be finished by December sometime.
You’re also going on tour as Icon. How are these shows? Any different approaches to an Icon performance?
Yes, it's very different from Asia. We have a cello (Hugh
McDowell), and will have a female vocalist (Icon has duets).
When might we see another Asia studio album? Do you guys have any definite or tentative plans?
No plans as yet, but why not? We waited over 20 years for Phoenix, we don't need to put out 2 records in 12 months.
As the original Asia was a fairly short-lived, straight to the top band in the early 80s. Do you guys feel you have something to prove to critics since reuniting?
Only to ourselves, and on a personal level, not musical.
Any solo albums in the future?
Yes, 2009 should see another solo record.
You were friends with David Byron for years; have you had a chance to check out the new Byron Band release from Damage Control Music [Robin George]?? Any contact with Ken Hensley or other Heep alumni since your own comeback?
I still have contact with
Kenny, and Mick from the band. I was unaware of the Byron
You and Carl both had serious health issues in the past 2 years. How has that affected your drive and desire to create new stuff? And are you guys in to some new routines brought about by these health issues?
Only as far as exercise and
diet, we still have the desire to play,and to create.
[by the way John – I am a fan, and I think you sound better than ever on Phoenix! Definitely, your best IMO since “Battle Lines”].
Review: © Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels, July 2012