Notes From the Edge - Conversation With Steve Howe [NFTE #215]
Conversation with
Steve Howe

from nfte #230
  In February 1999 I visited Steve in Vancouver, BC. Though he was in the midst 
  of recording THE LADDER with Yes he happily consented to a conversation which 
  became the basis of Notes From the Edge #215. Shortly thereafter I acquired 
  two new releases featuring Tomorrow, the '60s band that had fleeting fame in 
  the UK.

  The first was TOMORROW, re-released by EMI, where the original album is 
  augmented by rare tracks, including ones from Tomorrow singer Keith West and 
  from the Aquarian Age featuring Tomorrow bandmates Twink (drummer John Alder) 
  and Junior (bassist John Wood); Steve played on the former and not the latter.

  The second CD was 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM from RPM Records, featuring a 
  live set performed by the band at a show called Christmas on Earth Continued. 
  The CD also included rare tracks, some which have appeared on other RPM 
  releases and the same three that are on the TOMORROW re-release.

  While preparing the interview for NFTE #215 I thought a couple of questions 
  about these releases would be an added bonus for that issue and asked Steve if 
  he'd discuss it over the phone for a few minutes. I had relayed to him how 
  much fun I had rediscovering the TOMORROW tracks, including ones I'd 
  previously glossed over. Steve had just gotten the CDs himself and as he was 
  actively listening to them as well he was very eager to talk about them, so we 
  set up a follow-up to the original conversation.

  But as I was listening to these releases and reading the extensive sleeve 
  notes included with both I found that many questions arose, more than what 
  would comprise a brief addendum to what I already had. I decided that an 
  entire conversation exclusively about Tomorrow would be more appropriate, and 
  Steve enthusiastically agreed.

  MIKE TIANO: Tomorrow: it really must have been an exciting time when music was 
  opening up with improvisation, different styles and getting away from the 
  whole concept of three or four minute self-contained tunes. The band went from 
  being a cover band, as the In Crowd, to a psychedelic band named Tomorrow. Can 
  you talk a little about the transition there?

  STEVE HOWE: Well, we used to rehearse in this basement somewhere in southwest 
  London, and I remember us being there one day, and Keith said this is going 
  alright, but how about if we did more new songs, and we leaned more toward the 
  groups that we liked, so enthusiastically we all said yeah, let's go there, 
  let's do this. So we were all tired I suppose--we were really playing soul 
  before that, we'd gone into R&B/soul, but we were really into Wilson Pickett 
  and doing a lot of Otis Redding and that stuff, and gradually we were starting 
  to improvise more, and then Keith said that he has more songs he's written 
  with Kenny Burgess, and they did have more songs and we started to play them, 
  and then of course Keith and I eventually wrote "Revolution" together, and so 
  the songwriting and the style of group that we wanted to be definitely changed 
  in some period quite early on in 1967.

  MOT: There was more improvisation then there was before, isn't that correct? I 
  always thought that Tomorrow was probably a little bit like Pink Floyd, and 
  that the tunes that they actually played onstage were different from what went 
  down on record.

  SH: Yeah, that can be analyzed, that's why I have been kind of analyzing by 
  making notes on the three albums that I've got in front of me, is 50 MINUTE 
  TECHNICOLOR DREAM and the re-release [of the album TOMORROW], and also PULLING 
  STRINGS that comes into the story somewhere only because I play "My White 
  Bicycle" on it. The way the group was headed was fantastic; we were a 
  confident band as far as a well-played in as a soul act called the In Crowd, 
  and living off a little bit of their success with the song as I 
  joined--similar to when I joined Yes--as I joined the In Crowd they were 
  having a success with a single of an Otis Redding song called "That's How 
  Strong My Love Is", and I didn't play on the b-side, which I think we've 
  already corrected, so that was on the back of that, and we went out, and then 
  we got tired of that image--we lost our bass player; he went to prison. The 
  band was kind of evolving between being at odds with itself about being a soul 
  band, and us getting into more obscure music and the Beatles were heading that 
  way--everything was kind of heading that way.

  MOT: Listening to all of those live tracks, Tomorrow really sounded like a 
  really full band as a three-piece, usually with a three-piece band there is 
  some emptiness 'cause the rhythm drops out at some point. John [Junior] Wood 
  is an incredible bass player.

  SH: That's right. I so much wish that he was still playing, unfortunately he 
  fell victim to much of the difficulties of sustaining music as a career, and 
  after Tomorrow and the other conceptualized thing they had going, the Aquarian 
  Age. When that kind of went down the tubes, although Twink naturally 
  persisted, Junior went to some other fields of work to create income, but lost 
  touch with that. But if he ever came back on the scene and said he was playing 
  bass and he was hot again, he'd complete the original lineup.

  MOT: Yeah, he was really a good bass player; that's one thing that stands out 
  on those tracks.

  SH: A couple of things he was good at; he was originally a rhythm guitarist 
  when I joined the band, in the In Crowd he was a rhythm player, and he knew 
  his place and he held that position while his did all the rhythm stuff, and 
  also he did all sort of this front of the stage stuff--you know got all of the 
  girls screaming and all that because they were a kind of posey kind of band 
  when I joined them--Keith was quite posey, and it was good fun, but it was 
  slightly tongue-and-cheek as well, but it was bit like getting the girls going 
  and all that was the only time really I was involved directly in that, 
  although I didn't contribute very much I must say [laughs]. So, Junior was 
  this kind of character really, more than rhythm guitarist, he was a character. 
  When he went to bass, he had quite a lot of technique that suddenly he pounded 
  away--he had a perfect right-hand style of tremendously pounding, and really, 
  at some stage as you can tell on that record sometimes he went a bit over the 
  top, but he was very exciting, I mean we all went a bit mad back then anyway.

  MOT: I guess that explains it a little, because usually the story goes when 
  someone who is a guitar player moves over to bass that they tend to overplay a 
  little bit.

  SH: Yeah, this a good ingredient I think we had; I like that ingredient a 
  bit--a busy bass.

  MOT: You mentioned the Aquarian Age, which is also on the TOMORROW CD, and 
  that is kind of bizarre, and what is interesting is that one little vignette 
  about the good wizard and the bad wizard, and I understand that there was like 
  mime onstage for Tomorrow's performances.

  SH: That's correct, yeah.

  MOT: Was that little wizard thing a kind of indication of the type of things 
  that happened onstage with Tomorrow?

  SH: Not knowing the Aquarian Age material too well, I did listen to it briefly 
  with Keith about three weeks ago, when we were in Amsterdam together which was 
  quite nice--we were there doing an interview for A TEENAGE OPERA...about the 
  TEENAGE OPERA, and so that thing they did I don't know anything about it.

  MOT: It's basically all-spoken, where there's this little jazzy musical 
  undercurrent to the background; it's almost like a little playlet with a good 
  wizard and a bad wizard--there's no singing, it's all spoken.

  SH: There was a kind of mystique about the band as far as what the hell we 
  were doing onstage, and I was the guy who got off easiest; I provided the 
  music for these semi-fiascoes of mine, and they weren't really discussed ever, 
  but they started to happen, and they were happenings I suppose in themselves, 
  and they were augmented occasionally by this Susie Creamcheese character who 
  came along in the UFO period of Tomorrow's acceptance in London, and I suppose 
  she was a dancer, and so when she came onstage, then Junior started dancing 
  around with her, and they use to pretend they were making love and stuff, and 
  Keith would kind of go a bit nuts in his own sort of rock-and-rolly sort of 
  way, I would keep playing, sometimes Twink would keep going with me for a 
  while and he might stop as well, and listening through to, if we can talk 
  about the 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM, that CD is in two parts, and the first 
  part is a collection of unreleased material which we will come back to in a 
  minute, but the live stuff, since we're talking about it, is really quite a 
  revelation for me...

   Part two is my tape that I kept for thirty years, the best parts of it are 
  used on this, and I kept a quarter-inch tape--seven-and-a-half IPS--for thirty 
  years in various boxes, various places always considering that it was 
  valuable, that this Tomorrow recording is valuable, so I'm pleased that it's 
  coming out, and what happens on it is that the first couple of tracks, the 
  second track in particular, it starts with track nine is "Caught in a Web", 
  which is kind of a standard, but it was an unreleased track at the time. Then 
  track ten is "Shotgun and the Duck" and that was a hangover of our soul--it 
  was actually a soul song...[sings] "there ain't no shotgun gonna shoot my..." 
  it was actually a soul song. But somehow we overlapped it into the psychedelic 
  era just because we liked the song; and nobody had heard it and nobody ever 
  knew where that song came from, and it was an American song, and we got it 
  from somebody we knew on a record label who kept giving us rare records at the 
  So we souped it up and on that recording track ten of 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR 
  DREAM, for the first time in thirty years I've heard what I was doing on 
  stage...farther, when we come to it, the earlier tracks on there, "Why" and 
  also "Caught in a Web"...those two tracks in particular are the studio 
  versions of songs that you get in the live tape, and "Shotgun and the Duck" is 
  the first time you're going to kind of hear like how I did it--it's about a 
  three-minute solo where nobody else really does much, and I go through about 
  ten different moods in that, you know, it kind of starts, not much happening 
  then gets busy and kind of climaxes, decrescendos, almost fades out, and then 
  suddenly a note sustains and goes woooo and then another whole thing starts 
  off. All I can say, and I'm responsible for those sounds, but they were 
  inspired by the atmosphere of the times, they were like the events that I 
  thought were the best parts of the show.

  Interestingly enough, it gets good again when track fourteen is "Why", and 
  that has the intro missing on the tape, obviously they stopped the reel or 
  changed tapes or something, but that time we lost the beginning of "Why". I 
  thought "Why" was so important that we did a bit of jiggery-pokeey with the 
  end and stuck it at the beginning to match up the idea of it being an 
  almost-complete song, and I'm really pleased with the way that improvisation 
  takes off. And then we do "Rainbow" ["Hallucinations"], which is such a solid 
  arrangement...[sings] "light in the sky, glass glassing by, top of my 
  rainbow"'s a really good arrangement, and then of course we finish with 
  "Strawberry Fields Forever", which was our kind of tribute to the impact that 
  we got from Vanilla Fudge doing the Beatles, so we did that in a guitar 
  trio--it was almost like a kind of power trio--which I suppose in a way we 

  If we want to carry back to first part of the album, I'd like to say a couple 
  of things. When it starts--the 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM--first track is "Am 
  I Glad to See You", which has some interesting volume and tone pedal effect on 
  it which I really, really like or I wouldn't have chosen that to introduce 
  this album particularly...

  MOT: Before you go on I have a question about that track. Were you actually 
  using a volume pedal? I was wondering if you were--

  SH: It was a volume and tone pedal, so what you're hearing is the tone going 
  from bass to treble, and those pedals were used on pedal steels a lot, and 
  Chet Aktins used it in his great recordings like ONE MINT JULEP, and 
  TEENSVILLE and on other recordings Chet used to use it in the early days. I 
  want to get back to using it again; they're lovely pedals. I use it a bit on 
  "Children of Light"; there's one on there... [sings] "children of light." 
  There's a few funny kind of helps to make it sound backwards 
  when the tone changes as well. That's a tone pedal made by DeArmand, DeArmand 
  volume and tone pedals; they're lovely things. They're quite hard to get, and 
  I've got one, but unfortunately I didn't have it with me on this album [THE 
  LADDER], and I've often said well, I wish I had a volume and tone pedal.

  MOT: You know, I could have sworn, just from the sound of it, that it wasn't a 
  pedal at all; it was you turning up the knob as you hit each chord.

  SH: No, it was the funny kind of pedal. So, you got "Blow Up" ["Am I Glad to 
  See You"], which is a rock song, really straight rock song; "Caught In a Web", 
  which is similar to...I like the improvising I did in the studio all over that 
  one, quite busy really.

  MOT: Now "Caught In a Web" is the new title for it, it was actually called 
  "Now Your Time Has Come".

  SH: Well, that's confused by what EMI called it, because I believe EMI put it 
  on there, and now there are two "Now Your Time Has Come" on the TOMORROW CD, 
  but let's start by saying that the 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM, for the right 
  technical reasons, we retitled that song on there and called it "Caught In a 
  Web". The fact that Keith keeps singing [chuckling] "Now your time has come" 
  has got to be ignored just for the exercises of publishing. Now there is 
  another song which Keith doesn't sing much about "Now your time has come", 
  track ten, I believe that is as it was on the album, so it was very confusing; 
  I don't want to go any further--can't say anymore about that. It was a very 
  confusing situation made worse by the TOMORROW confusion, the EMI one.

  I thought that when it gets to "Why", and you got the studio track version of 
  "Why", I think very much how I tried to develop that style into Yes, you know, 
  the kind of solos I was doing even in the studio, where I was a little more 
  self-conscious about improvising and whaling and all that stuff. I was 
  subtlety playing similar ideas, shifting the moods and shifting the tone of 
  the improvisation, a little bit like the sitar style on that record, but that 
  was really what I was doing with Yes, you know when you hear early Yes, 
  particularly in 1972 kind of era when we were getting more bombastic and 
  confident, and we went out and played "Yours Is No Disgrace", and the guitar 
  solo was not that dissimilar to the kind of thing I was doing with Tomorrow. 
  You had to be a little bit more stylish and not so Indian...but that's how I 
  feel, I feel good about it, because I can trace it back myself. So I've said 
  what l I want to say about 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM; I'm pleased it's got 
  those live tracks and I'm very pleased that "Why" is in there. I'm not so 
  impressed with "Caught In a Web", although I thought I would like it.

  MOT: You mean the live version or the studio version?

  SH: Well, track three, the studio version is quite nice.

  MOT: And in fact weren't "Caught In a Web" and "Why" really popular songs for 

  SH: Yes.

  MOT: At the time?

  SH: Yes they were.

  MOT: And in their infinite wisdom, the record company ignored that?

  SH: Yes. Yeah, they could have started with either of those and the album 
  would have kicked off better, but for whatever reason, they did it.

  MOT: Before we leave the live portion, you say that this isn't the whole 
  thing, that there are more tracks. How many more tracks were there?

  SH: Well, I think there were always eight tracks; I think there are eight 
  tracks here, and I think we pulled everything we could from it. I thought 
  there were two versions of "Strawberry Fields Forever", for some reason that 
  night we played it twice, and I got very confused because I didn't think that 
  either one of them really good enough for inclusion, and then Mark said to me, 
  of the record label, well we've got to have one of them, so I said, well, 
  neither are really good enough so I don't mind which one you use [laughs]. 
  They just used one of the versions, so I think that's it.

  Actually there was another piece we played. Keith and I couldn't really work 
  out what the hell we were playing. We played this song that seemed a bit like 
  the B-side to the In Crowd song that I mentioned, the B-side of "How Strong My 
  Love Is", there's a little bit of that song in there, and then it went into 
  this wild, craziness, and the balance got atrocious, so we actually ditched it 
  partly because we couldn't recognize it, we weren't sure what it was, and also 
  it seemed really wrecked by bad balance.

  MOT: And Keith's voice being distorted, that's more a matter of the recording 
  of the show.

  SH: The way the show was recorded, obviously what happened was the bass was 
  much louder than he thought it was going to be, and they never managed to get 
  it down on the balance to sit with an offer...all the instruments are good, 
  you know a good balance, so the bass interferes quite a lot--sadly, not 
  knocking what he played, I'm just saying that the balance of it interferes 
  somewhat, so we have to kind of choose between the fact that on the unreleased 
  studio tracks Keith's voice is very clear and sometimes almost too loud and 
  having it really bad on the live stuff and sometimes almost inaudible. So it 
  was really a question of trying to cover all the usable material, so it is 
  really all the usable material.

  MOT: I have a question about the liner notes for the 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR 
  DREAM, because there's something that is unclear in relation to "Blow Up" It 
  quotes you as saying that one reason the band was dropped--it didn't make the 
  film--was because you wouldn't smash the guitar, but you go on the say that 
  Jeff Beck smashed a phony guitar that was originally made for you, so was it 
  the idea of you smashing the guitar that repelled you.

  SH: Well, it did. The idea of breaking the guitar was pretty bad for me, and 
  the way we got around it, they said that you won't be breaking a real guitar, 
  we'll just make some cardboard copies of your guitar. So they did this, then 
  they dropped us primarily because we weren't big enough, you know we weren't a 
  big enough name to add to the film, and not so much because I wouldn't break 
  the guitar because as you pointed out they got some guitars made for me, but I 
  was a little bit reluctant to do it, but I don't think I actually lost the 
  film because of that. I was under the impression we lost it because Jeff Beck 
  or the Yardbirds were bigger than us, and therefore we lost it through that 
  kind of scale. Certainly he does break a 175 cardboard copy, for a 
  split-second it is visible, and that's about all I remember. I remember us 
  doing a lot of work on it; we went on the film set, and we did all sorts of 
  things: we wrote songs for them, recorded them. We seemed to be quite in the 
  pocket, and then suddenly we were out of the pocket and the Yardbirds were in.

  MOT: So you're saying that you rehearsed for the film?

  SH: Yeah, oh yeah, that's why we recorded those two songs.

  MOT: Did they film you?

  SH: I don't know. We were on the film set; I don't know what we were doing on 
  the film set. I think we were there to see it. I don't know whether we played 
  on the film set, but we were definitely...I remember us being on the film set 
  miming or playing, yes, at one point we were, so there may be some film of us 
  actually doing that. That would be amazing if there was.

  MOT: So, possibly what happened was they did actually film you for the movie, 
  but at some point they determined that they wanted a bigger name, so maybe 
  they retook those takes with the Yardbirds instead.

  SH: Well, I think it was more a rehearsal, you know I think it was more like 
  we went there to do a kind of rehearsal to what we would look like doing this. 
  I don't remember the guitars being there at the time exactly; I don't 
  remember. I definitely went to a place where this film being made.

  MOT: So the bottom line is you would have done it as long as you smashed a 
  phony guitar.

  SH: Yeah.

  MOT: OK. So that really clears it up, because the liner notes were a little 
  confusing as far as that goes. That's funny because Jeff Beck was pretty much 
  quoted the same thing; he was saying I'm not going to smash my guitar for this 
  movie [laughs].

  SH: All right! Great, Good for him, too.

  MOT: Well, that was Pete Townsend's thing, you know. If Townsend...if they got 
  the Who like they apparently wanted, I'm sure Townsend would have smashed his 
  own guitar, no problem.

  SH: No problem, there, yeah.
  MOT: On one of these it mentions the fact that what survives is actual footage 
  from some TV show that you guys did.

  SH: Oh yeah.

  MOT: I hope that sees the light of day sometime.

  SH: I think Keith's working on that; we're trying to get that.

  MOT: Did you play live on there, or were you miming?

  SH: I just can't remember what Keith told me. He did tell me what it was. It 
  may be live, yeah.

  MOT: That would be marvelous to see, definitely.  Let's talk a little about 
  Jimi Hendrix, I mean that's a well-known story that you've told many times, 
  but one thing that interests me is that the liner notes states that he played 
  the bass guitar because you wouldn't let anybody play your guitar.

  SH: Well, the way I remember it was that nobody knew he was even going to come 
  up on stage, and it was because Junior put down his bass and started looning 
  and dancing, and I seemed to remember Hendrix just causally got up and saw a 
  guitar laying on the floor feeding back and picked it up and started playing 
  it. What happened in the next ten minutes was no problem for me; I carried on 
  exactly what I was doing. I was improvising, and we were droning, and we know and he just played the bass, and I don't know what happened 
  other than he stopped and left the stage and everybody applauded. I'm thrilled 
  that Keith tracked down or somebody tracked down a picture of Hendrix playing 
  the bass with us. Have you seen that picture?

  MOT: Yeah, yeah, in the liner notes.

  SH: That was astounding. Maybe I would have been quite shy of Keith's 
  admiration for--[laughs]'ve seen Keith is on his knees bowing, to him.

  MOT: That's right [laughs].

  SH: ...isn't that me over on the other side playing, although I can't see a 
  guitar in my hand. Is that Twink playing on the drums; I'm really not sure. 
  It's an unusual picture, and I'm really pleased that it exists because there 
  it is. He did join us, and my conception of it, in my relatively spaced-out 
  state of mind was just that he arrived, played, and left. But we knew him...I 
  mean we weren't like his best friends or anything, but we ran into him--you 
  know I may have told a story too of Blaisie's, when he first, as far as I 
  knew, first got on the stage in England, it was at Blaisie's...he got up, 
  played; he took it all in his stride, and you know, we didn't know him from 
  Adam, I mean this guy just got up and played everybody liked him, and was 
  exposed to him, and before we knew it was on the bill with us all the time, 
  you know, ahead of us [laughs]. So, it was a very rapid accessibility that 
  Jimi had, and he was a lovely person; I never met him when he was in a bad 
  mood or uptight with anything. He seemed very drifty, floaty, how are you 
  doing, what's happening, and of course he was on, we were on the same show 
  numerous times together, and it was great fun.

  MOT: Well, I'm glad you cleared that up too.  Because from what you're saying 
  he just basically jumped on stage on the spur of the moment, grabbed the bass, 
  and just started jamming along. Any idea what the song was; do you remember?

  SH: Well, it was one of the songs that we played; we only had that many songs, 
  so it was one of the songs on the live album, you know, it would have been one 
  of those songs. No, I don't know what song it was; it could have been in one 
  of the almost regular guitar breaks [laughs] with a lot of regularity at 
  different speeds, and--yeah, it was one of those songs. I don't know; I don't 
  know which one it was.

  MOT: I'm sure it was cool for you at the time, but it's probably more exciting 
  in retrospect, right?

  SH: It is, yeah, it was one of those "suddenly" things, you know, suddenly it 
  was happening, and I didn't know of it. But yeah, one of my fondest memories, 
  but didn't happen, was when I was rushed back to London to play with Pink 
  Floyd because Sid [Barrett] was thought to be too out of it, and he showed up 
  at the gig unfortunately just before I was about to go on. But the amazing 
  thing about that you could imagine the mood of it--I didn't know Pink Floyd's 
  material in any great detail, and yet I was rushed around and thought to be 
  going on quite casually with a band I never rehearsed with, and all I was 
  going to do was going to improvise, you know I was going to stand out there 
  and when I knew what they were doing, I would improvise--I would play 
  something, so it was a tantalizing experience, but one I didn't fulfill 

  MOT: So who was it that approached you to do that, was it the whole band, sans 

  SH: Well, fortunately Tomorrow and Pink Floyd were managed by the same people, 
  and they were called the Brian Morrison Agency, which actually was in reality 
  day-to-day was Tony Howard and Steve O'Roarke, and Steve O'Roarke still 
  manages Pink Floyd to this day. That's some nice memories of very nice people 
  who introduced us to very casually and very coolly into a side of the music 
  business that was really happening at the time, and that was this whole 
  peculiar collection of groups, they had them all, you know they had the acts 
  that played at these gigs were all usually managed by Brian Morrison. I 
  remember signing an agreement over a bottle of champagne, but a lawyer never 
  saw the agreement, but those are those kind of days, and we were at the right 
  place at the right time with the right people for a while and it was great 
  fun. We did a lot of festivals, and went to Europe and did shows over there, 
  had a whale of a time...woke up on Hampsted Heath and didn't even know how I 
  got there once [laughs].

  MOT: I'm sorry what did you say, Hampsted Heath?

  SH: I said Hampsted Heath--it's a park.

  MOT: On the liner notes it talks about your encounter with Frank Zappa, when 
  the Mothers were in London in 1967. Any other memories of your encounter with 

  SH: Well, only that Twink arranged this, and we sat waiting in his apartment 
  while he went and met Frank and brought Frank to the apartment, and we loved 
  the Mothers of Invention, and we were just thrilled that Frank was coming to 
  the apartment. It was sort of like, this isn't going to happen, is it? Is it 
  going to happen? Suddenly a door opens, in comes Twink, and in comes Frank 
  Zappa, and he sits down and we just sat there talking I guess for I don't 
  know, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes or something, and I just never, ever 
  been able to forget my complete shock when he turned to me and said, "I really 
  like the guitar solo on 'Claramount Lake.'" And I was like, "Uh, wha, wha, 
  that solo on 'Claramount Lake'?" And he said, "Yeah, it's terrific." 
  And I was so blown away because at that time I didn't take any notice of 
  anybody who said anything to me in the public--you know, when the public came 
  rushing up to me and said, "Oh, that was great!" and I said, [nonchalant] "Oh 
  yeah, fine. Good, I'm glad you liked it." And really I was incredibly blasť 
  and secretly conceited I suppose, or secretly building my ego, so it was never 
  really me saying to other people, hey listen I'm good; it was other people 
  saying hey that's pretty good, and I took it pretty casually. But when 
  somebody like Frank Zappa said it to me, it was, like I lost all control 
  [laughs]. I really was amazed that he knew anything about Tomorrow. But there 
  again I suppose he was just as inquisitive as we were about what other people 
  were doing, and English groups were revered because of the Beatles, so I 
  presume that he'd heard about us, and got a recording, and known about us.

  Of course it came out as a single; "My White Bicycle" came out as a single 
  before we finished the album, so presumably he'd had the single, heard the 
  single, played the other side, and liked it--I love that solo, and the new 
  version that's available on now the TOMORROW EMI release, is unbelievable; 
  it's so clear and beautiful, stereo image is so great, track twelve 
  "Claramount Lake"--one of my favorite guitar breaks ever, I'd like to play a 
  whole album in that style, which kind of is one of my projects on the 
  shelf--they're kind of jazzy, slightly R&B, jazzy sort of record. That style 
  is what I think happens when I go there; why it had happened on "Claramount 
  Lake"...guitar trio is a great device, because I can imply a lot more chords 
  than there really exists in the structure, and great fun...

  MOT: I have to tell you I share your enthusiasm for that song and for your 
  solo there, it's really quintessential Steve Howe solo as far as I'm 

  SH: Yeah, I'd agree too.
  MOT: This is a good segue into the TOMORROW album, because I have some 
  specific questions about the album itself. First of all, did the band want 
  keyboards on the album or is it just something [producer] Mark Wirtz imposed 
  on you?

  SH: I think it was fairly common, you know, George [Martin, Beatles producer] 
  was doing it for the Beatles, so we felt really good about that because none 
  of us played any good, so in fact we welcomed it, but having said that I know 
  you're quite interested in what I call the odd-ball tracks: "Colonel Brown", 
  "Shy Boy", and also "Auntie Mary's Dress Shop" to me have nothing to do with 
  this album at all in any shape, or form, and the fact that they're on the 
  album always amazed me, and I suppose it was due to the fact that we lacked 
  more material, or apparently not if we'd have "Why" know taken those 
  three tracks off and put "Why", "Now Your Time Has Come"--or as we call it now 
  "Caught In a Web"--if we had put "Caught In a Web" on there as well with "Why" 
  it would have been a more stylish album as far as a progressive rock group 

  These other songs possibly had a bad effect at the time because they 
  inclinated that Tomorrow was a group that was going to play around with its 
  style, as sweet as the songs are, and I do think that they're quite, in fact 
  they are very sweet, and because Keith wrote them I like them for many, many 
  reasons. So I'm not against them, but as I think as a style thing, they were a 
  bit out of place, and I listened to them just now to make sure that this is a 
  current view; although they're quite well played, and I played on them all, 
  usually just a sort of electric rhythm guitar, and Mark embellishes a lot on 
  the keyboards. They had a certain light and shape, maybe one of them could 
  have been a nice contrast for the I don't hold any malice about it 
  or anything, but I just feel that they take away a little from the general 
  style of the album.

  MOT: Do you think it might have made it twee, for a lack of a better word?

  SH: Yeah, yeah.

  MOT: It struck me how the content, because of those songs, is very much like 
  SERGEANT PEPPER; it's not filled exclusively with love songs, but has these 
  little vignettes as they were about people and places, like Colonel Brown and 
  Auntie Mary's Dress Shop, and Colonel Brown is even mentioned in Auntie Mary's 
  Dress Shop as well. It almost had a flavor of that time, so it's almost 

  SH: You know what, they should have been part of TEENAGE OPERA, because 
  they're so much like TEENAGE OPERA. You know, in my mind, they would have been 
  great to have completed the TEENAGE OPERA. I don't know whether Keith ever 
  thought about that, or whether in fact they might even be true that they were 
  written in the same time, and these character writings, like you say, you 
  brought a very good point in, that unlike maybe what I said, one or maybe even 
  two of them, three was maybe a bit too much, of the diversions tracks, but 
  they do show a certain humor, and like you say a different kind of writing, 
  not about love but about personality, people, just about people with names, 
  you know and it's fun isn't it? It's quite fun.

  MOT: Yeah, experiences as it were as opposed to love songs.

  SH: Yeah, maybe it was a bit like the Move had the fire brigade and things 
  like that. Keith was interested in that kind of writing, and that's how he got 
  "Grocer Jack" and all that. There were all sorts know, it's a nice 

  MOT: Yeah, I can see what you are saying, because it was a little top-heavy, 
  especially with "Three Jolly Little Dwarfs", I mean that song kind of goes 
  over the line [laughs].

  SH: It does, yeah. It's my least-favorite song; I used to love it. I used to 
  like playing it, but it's actually one of the most trivial things we ever did, 
  and I don't like the radio version--in fact I don't think I like any version 
  of that song much. I skip it, because in a way, although it's got fun in it, 
  there is a fun side to it that is reasonably acceptable, it's something I only 
  want to hear on rare occasions.

  MOT: Total throwaway.

  SH: Yes.

  MOT: Getting back to the album itself, did Keith handle all the vocals on the 

  SH: Well, I believe that Mark Wirtz sings the harmony that goes [sings] "my 
  white bicycle"; there's a downward harmony that goes with Keith. I think 
  that's Mark, although they asked me to do it, I think I tried, and the only 
  other times other people come in is, in that song "The Incredible Life of 
  Timothy Chase", that one...?

  MOT: "The Incredible Journey of Timothy Chase".

  SH: Yeah, on that one I say some funny things on that; I'm the voice that says 
  "Hieronymus Bosch", and also I say something else in the song. But no, Keith 
  does all the harmonies himself, yeah.

  MOT: One cool thing about the stereo mixes on the TOMORROW album is that 
  you're isolated on like the right track, like "Now Your Time Has Come", the 
  TOMORROW album version, and your guitar playing is really raw there. Listening 
  to your solo--very raw, lot of grit and dirt in the solo there.

  SH: OK, I'm going to have to check that one...

  MOT: "Claramount Lake" is the same way. You're isolated; you just hear you 
  playing. It's interesting from a historical perspective.

  SH: It's funny enough, it reminds me of the day that Roger Dean walked in the 
  rehearsal room and I didn't know he was there, and I was just playing there on 
  my own, and he said you should make a whole album like that, just that, and it 
  took me a long time to realize how important this kind of playing is to me, I 
  mean obviously it was a bit like the solo tour was a real distraction for me, 
  because I was so intent on playing structured music and things, not picking up 
  a guitar and kind of making stuff up, you know I wasn't doing too much of 
  that. Well, on electric, when you give me a pedal board and I sit there and 
  spin the echoes and start doing things, you know, shit happens, and it's quite 
  good sounds. 
  Well I played that to Jon recently, some tapes that I had made where I'm just 
  rambling around, he started singing on top, and we're going, "Gasp!"--a whole 
  new musical style. Not the structure, not anything you'd expect, but this like 
  noise, this guitar making this fucking noise all the time, and then all of the 
  sudden it's nice, and it's kind of like a thing I'm developing. Well it comes, 
  I suppose, from the stuff also that I used to do in Tomorrow on my own, when I 
  would surface different kind of moods...but what were we talking about before 
  I got so into this guitar improvising?

  MOT: Just the fact that I was able to isolate just a track, and you're playing 
  is just so raw a lot of times, although "Claramount Lake" solo is still very 

  SH: I love that too. I hope you don't think it's pure ego that makes me say 
  that, but in a way, hearing somebody say it is something that I feel too, I 
  can only say well I feel that way and I'm so proud I was doing good guitar 
  thirty years ago.

  MOT: Let's get to a couple of tracks that I have specific questions on, and 
  one is on "My White Bicycle". I want to ask you about the backwards solo. Was 
  it your idea to have it the solo be backwards on the record?

  SH: Well I really can't remember. I was incorrigible and experimental, and it 
  had been done by the Beatles or the Byrds or somebody...everybody had touched 
  it, and we wanted to do the same things, but it was finding when to do it that 
  was [right]. I suppose Mark helped with it, and it wasn't easy to do that 
  stuff at the time, but one thing was for sure, it didn't really matter what 
  you played. It wasn't so important what you played backwards as the luck and 
  the choice of when you played and how much the note sustained or bent in funny 
  ways, so really it was almost the blind leading the blind to some musical, 
  unknown adventure, and backwards was part of that--wonderful part. 
  Mark understood the technology; I don't think I would have been able to do it 
  without somebody, you know, like Mark, so I must give Mark some credit for 
  aiding me and certainly taught me how to double-track, because he booked me 
  and I went in and played, and like I don't know where everybody was, but it 
  was just me, and then I'm suddenly playing and then he says to me, "Let's play 
  it again," and I said, "Didn't you like that?" He said, "That's great, let's 
  do it again double-track," and I kind of went wow, this is my first--oh, in 
  Joe Meek days and all that I hadn't really done that kind of perfectionistic 
  thing about playing two things so much the same that they work together and 
  become powerful, you know, because of that voices, like loads of 
  things, so like putting two violins instead of one. Why do that? Well, it 
  sounds nice, so it's the same idea--two guitars but the same, so...

  MOT: I want to ask you specifically about the little solo breaks that are in 
  the bridge there. I wanted to ask if you had the solo set and then learned it 
  backwards, and then played it forwards.

  SH: No, I implied a minute ago by saying it didn't matter much what you 
  played as long as it felt right when you heard it the right way around, so I 
  daresay it was a few experiments made; I wouldn't think it's the kind of thing 
  you got first time, but anyway when the tapes are running backwards, it's hell 
  to work out where you actually are going to play because you don't recognize 
  the music and you can't tell anything and it's pretty bad, so one way, method, 
  was to mark the tape, you know, this is a bit of tape you're going to play on, 
  so when you play it backwards, the tape still goes trough the head and you can 
  see the mark go on the tape you kind of go this is the bit, and you go oh 
  yeah, so then you go, oh, that's the chords, so it would like end with--it 
  would start with A, go to F#, and then go to D. Of course forwards it would go 
  D, F#, A. So you worked out that, and then went and then they run the tape 
  back and you said well, I could play something on there, you didn't know what 
  to play. You just kind of played a few notes in A, a few notes in F#, trying 
  to leave the spaces, so then flopped it back over, and it sounds good, then 
  that's it [laughs]. There is a way where people have said, yeah, you can 
  create it by learning the solo then learning it backwards and playing it 
  backwards and then hearing it forwards...uh yeah, very nice. I haven't tried 
  that; I think I may have tried it at home a long time ago--found it rather 

  MOT: Yeah, it could be.

  SH: That's a little bit on backwards guitar, of course we only used it really 
  on that track that I can think of, and then various times in my career it's 
  come out of the bag again, like the backward piano of "Roundabout" was the 
  same kind of thinking really, gave you that kind of Tomorrow feeling a little 
  bit with the way "My White Bicycle" starts, and the way that all got edited 
  was I think quite mystifying to us at first. Mark had some of his own ideas; 
  he had the expertise I've now got on tape. He had that thing about, Ok well 
  we'll turn this thing around, and we'll stick the beginning at the end and the 
  end at the beginning, so he did that with the tapes, and we were wow, that's 
  fantastic, but we'd already...not only had I done backwards guitar, but Twink 
  had the arduous job of recording backwards hi-hats for the whole number, and 
  crescendo them in the right places as well you see. Once again, it took a 
  little bit of work, and Mark overseed that, and he had the mind for it.

  MOT: Well, it's very effective, all of it--the backwards cymbals, everything.

  SH: Yeah, the fact that the numbers slowed down a bit, and the fact that it 
  was an original song with a hook already, and then it had some, of its day, 
  reasonably hi-tech recording techniques implanted on it. It was like the kind 
  of formula that I wanted with all my career--great production, and it was all 
  the things. I was starting to discover I could be part of making it work, and 
  that guitar part, I mean, one of Keith's really getting into it...the do do do 
  do do do...Keith turned to me and said I've got this song, why don't you play 
  something like do do do do do, something like that, and before you know it do 
  do do do do do [laughs]. I learned to jump on Keith's ideas like I do Jon's, 
  or other vocalists or other musicians that I work with. They got an idea; I 
  try it out. If it's good, I might make it even better than they thought it was 
  going to be, and so that's what I enjoyed about TOMORROW and working with Mark 
  Wirtz, was how much I was learning. On Keith's extra tracks, they were a lot 
  of fun too, because "On a Saturday", "The Kid Was a Killer", "She", "The 
  Visit", they were done in a time when Tomorrow disbanded, I was doing 
  sessions, my gear was left at EMI studios, in a room there was one of Steve's 
  amps, some of my pedals. I even had a volume and tone pedal nicked from EMI 
  studios because I left it there; it was a Fender. My favorite ever volume and 
  tone pedal was a Fender volume and tone, very hard to find.

  MOT: As far as the song "My White Bicycle" goes, it says in the liner notes 
  that the Beatles came in during the mixing of the song. Were you around for 
  that, and do you have any memories of this if you were?

  SH: Well, I remember members of the Beatles calling in on us at various times; 
  I don't remember particularly that they came in when we were mixing it. We 
  were around on the mixing; Mark would do some of it in a very short space of 
  time. Work was done very, very efficiently in those days, because you only 
  have about three hours or six hours or something, so you had a double session, 
  and evening session, you things were done--that was it, wrapped up, 
  put to bed quite quickly, so a lot happened and we didn't realize it really I 

  MOT: So the Beatles were recording SERGEANT PEPPER right next door, right?

  SH: Well, yeah. We did hear strains of that music. We heard strains of that 
  album, and another time I was doing something at Olympic, and the Beatles were 
  there doing...John Lennon was there recording, I don't know, possibly "Across 
  the Universe" or something, like that, one of those songs that was sort of 
  later released. So, we did hear, and touch base...I remember Paul distinctly 
  came in one afternoon and said, "Hi guys! How are you all doing?" We went, 
  "Great, Paul, fantastic." You know, we were just knocked out he came in, and 
  so we were in another kind of league, and we felt it. We arrived by bus or 
  something [laughs]. We were always delegated a little bit to the struggle, and 
  Yes hasn't been too dissimilar in a way. There's a certain struggle that seems 
  to be evident in most of the groups I've been in.

  MOT: Let's move on to "Revolution"; that was another important song for the 
  band, and another one of my favorites as well. What's the origin of the spoken 
  intro? Does it come from anything or is it just something written for the 

  SH: Yeah, well we thought, I suppose, the idea of changing the different 
  voices that said different bits of it was that it was a piece of nonsense 
  that...we gives clues to what it is--"happens quickly"...anyway it's a use of 
  a literal technique isn't it, it's a pun, we're sort of punning. I suppose it 
  was the madness of it that appealed to us. It was a bit--I don't think was 
  conscious, but it was a bit more like a Mothers of Invention sort of approach 
  where anything goes in the music, any style kind of can suddenly happen, and 
  we were experimenting with that. I must say, I would like to just comment now, 
  exactly get this right once and for all in my mind, is that the version of 
  "Revolution" that's on the 50 MINUTE DREAM...

  MOT: The phased version?

  SH: Yeah, track four, fantastic. Now that's the version to listen to. The demo 
  we did of it, it's before Mark Wirtz arranged to have the string section come 
  in and we did it all in edits. The finished record is all done in edits, and 
  they never fit it together properly, and somehow Mark made it fit together, 
  but if you listen to track four of the 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM, now there 
  is the "Revolution" demo that has the same introduction as the original, as 
  the finished record. We never redid the introduction, but the rest of it is 
  just played through like a band [sings a little of the song].

  MOT: It doesn't stop [shortly after the intro]...

  SH: Yeah, we just play the song, and it's lovely. It's got that flanging on 
  it; I think that's great. That's the only version I want to hear of 
  "Revolution", is the demo. Before, we cut it to bits. I sometimes like the 
  other version, but Keith and I wrote that; I'd just left home, and I was 
  living with a girl I think from California in North London just for a while, 
  and I wrote that song at that time. I remember Keith coming around one 
  afternoon and singing me bits of songs, and I was putting some chords in and 
  some riffs and things and I said, "When you sing [sings] "rev-o-lu-tion", you 
  know we should have all these voices go 'Now!'" And Keith went, [whispers] 
  "Yeah, that's a great idea, 'now!'" So somehow I was helping to write the song 
  but also to give it a certain punch and think up things slightly wah-wah, 
  [imitates a wah-wah]. I love all that, particularly on that version.

  MOT: Well, it seemed to me that it was almost poised as, maybe like an anthem, 
  I mean, you know it was the mid-sixties and things were changing and 
  revolution, now! And in fact I can almost see why you like the demo version 
  because I feel that on the release version, having the little marching band as 
  it were coming in, you know with the pipe and everything, just kind of dilutes 

  SH: Maybe that's why I got very pushy in studios about saying let's do things 
  right, because if you do them wrong, in my memory, it would be what happened 
  like "Revolution". Mark did get that wrong. We didn't hold the tempos strong 
  enough through the section so that it fits together, so I've become very 
  vigilant in the studio when I'm working with people. If we start going down a 
  road that means later, things aren't going to fit together, they're not going 
  to gel, they're not going to have continuity, then I'll get up and say no, we 
  just can't work like this, you know, it's got to fit together, so you got to 
  do it right. So, maybe TOMORROW was a memory--Keith and I went into EMI one 
  day to hear the edited version, expecting all the pieces to run from segment 
  to segment, instead they just stopped and went, boom, "...[sings] 
  happ-i-ness..." and we said to Mark, what the fuck happened there, and he 
  said, "Well, the bits didn't fit together so I left gap." And then what's 
  interesting is that later in the same record, track eight is "Revolution" 
  played like, I think for a radio version we did, played like the 
  strangely-edited version that EMI released originally, you see. We actually 
  tried to reproduce that on stage, and the radio version is played like the 
  edited version by Mark Wirtz, unlike track four, which is done in a studio, 
  was treated as a demo, and is the best thing we did.

  MOT: When I've heard the radio version, I thought that you were playing it as 
  it was originally written.

  SH: No. We were trying to copy the record with the edit because we left spaces 
  where we never used to leave them on the demo.

  MOT: So, did you care for that little marching band in the bridge either?

  SH: Well, I like the experience of doing edited sections, but I didn't like 
  them not fitting together, but I certainly liked the idea of it taking it a 
  bit more like SERGEANT PEPPER was going anyway--into using different 
  orchestral pictures, but I'd prefer that the germ of the group, which was a 
  powerful guitar band that used to drive songs home in a big way.

  MOT: Now both that song and "My White Bicycle" on the TOMORROW CD, and I guess 
  the original album, are in phony stereo. I take it there are no stereo mixes 
  that exists of these songs?

  SH: Not to my knowledge, not after having done a bit of preparation on the 50 
  MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM, and discussions and choices about things. Not a 
  great deal.

  MOT: Well, it seems that with Keith's success with TEENAGE OPERA, that seemed 
  to throw Tomorrow into a tailspin, but you seemed to have taken it in stride.

  SH: Well, it's a shame that it did. In a way, for a while, we did well off of 
  Keith's success, because we all went out, and we earned much more money than 
  we were doing as Tomorrow, because suddenly--but we disappointed people in a 
  way by not being the sort of group that featured Keith in the same way, as 
  might be thought with a song like "Grocer Jack". We did play as a guitar trio; 
  we had money thrown at us viciously. In Ireland, when we went there and played 
  "Grocer Jack", we played the Tomorrow set with "Grocer Jack", and that was not 
  enough. They didn't want Tomorrow; they wanted Keith West and that kind of a 
  singer. So, they hurled money at us. It was painful too; we got hit and 
  things. That was the effect of trying to be two things at once--trying to be 
  Tomorrow, and Keith West and Tomorrow, so it didn't work; gigs fizzled out, 
  and then we were left with not with very much.

  The band broke up, and Keith and I went into cahoots together, where I was 
  kind of his guitarist on those sessions. Those recordings were done at a time 
  when one always felt, well as you always do, that you're doing something a 
  little bit different and it's groundbreaking, and particularly "She" was a 
  quite a big production, and you know I use a lot of Spanish guitar in that 
  one, possibly played bass on that, I'm credited here, and also particularly I 
  played bass on "The Kid Was a Killer", that's evident on the fact that it's on 
  MOTHBALLS and various others where I do get credit, but on the TOMORROW EMI 
  version, I don't get a credit, so I just thought I'd put that in. "On a 
  Saturday "also, a song that I like very much, a tune I like very much, was 
  done for a release, you know, but "The Visit" was a track that laid around for 
  a long time; of course Ainsley Dunbar's on that one as well, Ainsley's on all 
  those songs. So there was a group in the making there, with Ronnie Wood on 
  bass, and Ainsley on drums was kind just needed a bit more to get it 
  off the ground, because we were really only just a studio session band, but 
  there's something sweet about the songs.

  MOT: The 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM liner notes on that album has Keith 
  quoted as saying that after you joined Yes, you called to reform Tomorrow, 
  because you had become disillusioned with Yes. Do you recall the circumstances 
  that would have led you consider even leaving Yes?

  SH: There's a familiar part and an unfamiliar part to this. I'm familiar with 
  the concept that loads of time I've spoke to Keith about reforming Tomorrow or 
  doing something with that material together under some sort of Tomorrow 
  banner, and I don't have any problem with that; in fact, we were talking about 
  it just a month ago, when we were in Amsterdam, so that is reality, but I 
  don't think I became disillusioned with Yes. I think...I don't remember ever 
  having...that wouldn't have been the reason, I'm sure, that I'd said that. 
  Only in the eighties, I mean, obviously I was disillusioned when we broke up, 
  but there weren't other times really in the band that my bond either with Jon 
  or Chris or Alan and Rick wasn't strong enough yes, I'd like to play 
  that material for a reason, any reason tomorrow, you know, because I think 
  it's great; I think it's really good material and we got to do it at some 
  point. Keith and I know that we're going to stop talking about it, and we're 
  just going to reform some sort of Tomorrow and do it, but certainly we rid 
  ourselves of that quote about me being disillusioned with Yes. I don't think 
  that there could have been a time when Tomorrow would have offered me very 
  much of what I liked about Yes.

  MOT: Is there anything you want to say about either of these CDs or Tomorrow 
  in general, or something I may have missed?

  SH: I thought I'd just mention that recently I released PULLING STRINGS, and 
  the last track is "My White Bicycle", and that, I hope, seems a little bit 
  surprising. It still surprises me. That fact that I done that song in a solo 
  environment is kind of weird. I wouldn't say it's the greatest version of "My 
  White Bicycle" I've ever heard, but I would say that it contains a little of 
  the improvisation that was to come to light on 50 MINUTE TECHNICOLOR DREAM, so 
  I'm pleased about me doing that on my own as well, because it's something that 
  I do, and I'd like to do it, keep doing that kind of thing in my music, is not 
  settling back, but always looking for some more spaces to improvise.
  The CDs, yeah, I mean, the EMI original one just has some great sound quality 
  moments in it, and also it contains Keith's stuff. The they both 
  have...elements that don't exist in the others, particularly the live stuff, 
  but really it's nice to see a bit of a re-release, particularly from EMI, 
  uninspired by myself directly other then the fact that it's an album that's 
  never actually been completely available, so that's not bad for an album 
  that's thirty-one years old.

  From Notes From the Edge #230

  The entire contents of this interview are
  Copyright © 2002, Mike Tiano
  Special thanks to Jen Gaudette
  The conversation contained herein was conducted on April 18, 1999

        © 2002 Notes from the Edge