Billy Sherwood

You may know of him from his

band World Trade or from his stints

in Yes or more recently Circa or Yoso...

but there's always more to the story than

meets the's a little bit more background to what makes Billy Sherwood tick.

Jerry Lucky: Your musical career goes back to the eighties, but I’m wondering what’s your earliest memory that drew you into wanting to make music (professionally)?


Billy Sherwood: My Dad Bobby Sherwood and Mom Phyliss Sherwood were in the music business. My grandfather and grandmother were in vaudeville {Robert and Gail Sherwood}. It seems to be in the blood to make music. The memories of my parents on the road and playing shows is what opened my eyes to the possibilities of doing it professionally.


JL: Your first band was Lodgic, with you and your brother….how did that all come together?


BS: My brother had a band in Vegas that migrated to LA and went for the big record deal. When the bass player left I stepped in and so began my introduction to being in a real professional rock band. I was very green in a lot of ways but also very driven and never took no for an answer, and believe me, we heard a lot of "no" before we got a "Yes" from A&M Records, where Lodgic finally landed a deal.


JL: Then came World Trade, a band that many prog fans came to know you by. Was there a conscious decision to make progressive rock music. This was about 1989 and prog wasn’t all that popular then.


BS: After Lodgic disbanded I began writing with Bruce Gowdy, he had 4 tracks of music with no lyric or melody, I did my thing to them and soon we had produced demos for "The Revolution Song", "The Moment Is Here", "Wasting Time" etc... The idea for prog was not something we thought about as much as fell into by virtue of the music made. I had just left Lodgic where things were more geared to commercial approaches in an effort to have that "hit" song. I was always more on the side of the progressive and leaned away from the pop stuff, so I guess the prog in me surfaced in World Trade and carried on from there.


JL: How did you come to meet Chris Squire?


BS: World Trade demos were given to Chris Squire, when YES was without a lead singer. Jon was doing ABWH at the time and the idea was I replace him in Yes. From there we began a writing relationship that yielded a lot of music.


JL: The two of you have worked a lot together since that initial meeting. What is it about the creative chemistry between you two that seems to work so well?


BS: Chris used to say "it's because we are both Pieces, it makes the music watery". You never know if you are going to work well with others so to speak, artistically it's always an unknown what will come of it, writing is a very revealing, personal thing. We connected on a level that we never questioned and just got on with making music. We were good friends for many years which makes writing and recording fun. That comes through in the music made as well.


JL: There were a lot of people who were, shall we say, disappointed with the Yes album Open Your Eyes. From your vantage point inside the band at the time, if you had to explain why the album sounded the way it did what would you say?


BS: It hit all the targets and expectations I had personally set for myself within YES. I felt if I joined as a full member I had to move the project forward in a direction it wasn't going at the time. That being getting YES back on the radio, not with a hit... just a single release to raise the awareness that YES was alive. To that end the title track Open Your Eyes did just that. We got a ton of radio play and as a result everywhere the band went the tour was doing well. Personally having just produced Keys 2 with long tracks and conceptualness abounding, I wanted to make a more straight ahead in your face Yes record, with an edge. Not only did we get play with the 1st release, "No Way We Can Loose" and "New State Of
Mind" were also released to radio and made rotations. Like it or not... there was momentum from the record that pushed us forward in a manner unexpected by the industry types, a resurrection of sorts. Yes had just broken up {again} in my studio post Keys 2 Rick left the band. Squire and I gathered the pieces and restructured YES in my studio. I funded the project to get it rolling, since I owned my own studio, with no budget, labels, agents, managers etc... we went for it with the belief we could make a difference and keep YES moving forward... and we did. 


JL: Going back to your early career, was there a moment when you heard something that made you sit up and say, that’s the kind of music (progressive rock) I want to make?


BS: Surrounded by musicians, mother, father, brother, friends... I got a lot of input and mostly of a progressive nature. When developing my style I would play to those records we all know and love from that genre. When I started writing my own stuff the genre was embedded and so began my journey. A long the way making music in various bands people would always say "That sounds like YES", it seems fate was guiding my path.


JL: Similarly then what was it that drew you into producing?


BS: For me producing, recording, engineering, mixing is all part and parcel of making music and being musical. That was the main reason I jumped into production, for my own bands and working with artists, to increase the musical potential.

JL: Your Conspiracy albums have been pretty well received. As a musical artist is acceptance even on the radar when you are writing and recording your music?


BS: I would refer you to answer #6 lol... I don't worry about opinions, I just do the work and believe in the work I do.


JL: While you were with Yes in a number of different capacities, I read somewhere that you felt uncomfortable taking over the vocal duties, was that true?


BS: I was being heavily courted by Squire and the Yes West team as it's known to join as replacement for Jon. I was the only one who thought it was a bad idea and had to push back hard on the powers that were telling me otherwise, managers, lawyers, band members, record executives. I felt it would have been career suicide for me to do it, so I passed. I later eventually joined the band as a full member on guitar, in a position within Yes made by me that was unique and didn't require the filling of any slots, especially not replacing the lead singer slot lol.


JL: With that in mind, Yes has gone through many permutations, what are your thoughts on say the Drama era with Geoff and Trevor or the current line-up with Benoit David?


BS: I wish them well on their musical quest as I do all fellow musical travelers. I am proud of Yes, my time in it and of course I want whatever music is made under that flag to be great for the legacy of the band.


JL: What was the highlight of your time with Yes?


BS: I most enjoyed playing live and for 3 1/2 hours a night. I have vivid memories of so many gigs in so many lands, for me as a YES fan growing up; it's as if I dreamed it all. Highlight had to be playing Madison Square Garden, NYC 1994.


JL: Your most recent band effort is Yoso. That’s an interesting combo. How’d that come about?


BS: Yoso started with Bobby and I writing songs and then wanted to explore it as a band thing, we made the record for Frontiers and did some touring. Since then we have returned to our other musical worlds. For me and Tony Kaye that is CIRCA: which has a new record coming this year titled "And So On" and a tour of Europe to support it.


JL: Musically you get to draw from a wide range of material…What’s the reception been like?


BS: The Yoso shows were fun, we enjoyed playing the shows and got to see a lot of cool places along the way... good times :)


JL: Do you follow the Prog scene these days? It seems there are more bands playing prog today than there was in the seventies. What’s your thought on the state of the genre today?


BS: I work so much I don't have time for pleasure listening if you will... that said I just finished mixing a great prog band from L.A. called "Mars Hollow", google them, very proggy. 


JL: Technology has had a big impact on everything from recording to promoting a new disc. But there’s also the Pandora’s Box of illegal downloading. I’m interested in your thoughts on the impact of technology?


BS: Support the arts... don't pirate music. 


JL: As if the band stuff and producing isn’t enough…you released your fourth solo album Oneirology in 2010…What’s on your musical agenda these days?


BS: I am working on my 5th solo CD. In addition to that I just finished producing the new John Wetton solo CD, featuring Eddie Jobson, Steve Hackett, Steve Morse, Geoff Downes, Tony Kaye and more... At present gearing up for a tour of Japan with this "Sherwood/Kaye" duo show we have recently embarked on. Please make sure to visit the relevant sites and follow along the journey.