Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jimmy Gnecco and Jon Anderson CONVERSATION

So, I'm sort of just playing messenger here given I'm copying+pasting the entire article along with the link. But to add here, this is a bit unusual. I happen to love both Jimmy Gnecco and Ours of course, along with Yes and Jon Anderson. But those 2 artists and singers specific backgrounds is not really the same demographic. In other words, I know a lot of Yes fans who've never heard of Ours or Jimmy. And some that wouldn't or don't even like their style of modern college rock. At the same time, much of the Ours fan base barely have ever heard/heard-of of Yes before. Maybe they know "Owner of a Lonely Heart" or "All Good People" perhaps. But most of them are not familiar nor all that much into a lot of progressive rock, nor even classic rock I suppose.

But my feeling is, both of these guys are tremendous vocal talents and have made some amazing music. The very idea of someone highly appreciating one and not the other, in my mind, is pretty mind-boggling. But arguments have been made before of course for many reasons.

But why is this conversation taking place? I guess Jimmy is a Yes fan, and a fan of Jon's. I'm not too surprised by that, but am a little surprised not ever hearing that before. Perhaps a big part of what brought this on was the fact both Jimmy and Jon have been involved with The School of Rock (out East, in NJ?). And the fact as Jimmy mentions, the kids can play Yes and King Crimson tunes, so maybe working with them, Jimmy was reminded of his love for Yes again.

Will this conversation and potential interaction and working together apparently, lead to a larger interest from Ours fans into Yes and Jon, and Yes fans into Ours and Jimmy's? I only could hope, but not expect. But if the world works/worked as it should, it would. I guess we'll see.

As a fan of both of them, the idea of them working together is something I'm rather intrigued by. Perhaps even a tour together (or one guesting/sitting-in live for a show or 2).


stated asked two musicians known for their unique voices—Jon Anderson, legendary founding lead singer of Yes, and Jimmy Gnecco of Ours—to discuss their music and art. One of our editors had been a longtime fan of Anderson and even briefly collaborated on some music through email. His unmistakable vocals span four decades and his influence is heard in some unexpected places (Kanye West samples a refrain from a 1983 Mike Oldfield collaboration in his current hit "Dark Fantasy.")
We became instant fans of Gnecco's haunting voice and caught up with him at a recent gig at London’s Hoxton Underbelly. We reconnected with Anderson by phone. Both showed an infectious joy for their art, and despite their different styles and experiences, their resulting email correspondence was surprisingly intimate and honest.

JIMMY GNECCO: Hi Jon. What an honor it is for me to have this opportunity to speak with you. I want to start off by saying that I've been a fan of your voice and your music for a very long time. Growing up, I was drawn to the tone and intent of your voice. It has always been very beautiful and comforting to me. It's sometimes difficult for me to accept this when people say it to me, but your voice is a true gift. So thank you for sharing it with us for all of these years.
Do you remember what it was that originally drew you to music, and the day that you realized that you needed to sing? Is it still the same thing that calls to you and makes you feel like you want to do it today?
I have so much to ask you, but maybe this is a good start. I know you're on the road now, so thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hi Mr J.............great to be in touch...I listened to a couple of your songs, really good....very uplifting....and I love your production ...very simple yet 'right on' the mark...I will reply to your thoughts....what a cool way to 'chat' you, I love the modern world of technology.....
My earliest musical world was the radio....Elgar...Opera...jazz...pop..big band 40's 50's.
I worked on a local farm with my brother Tony, we sang all the hits of the day... Elvis... Everly Brothers.....delivered milk around town....and sang all the time...just as loud as possible..
Music is still as exciting today...there's tons of it...'world music etc...
JIMMY GNECCO: Thanks for listening to some of my songs. I tried to keep it all really simple on this latest record. I recognized the influence that your music and your voice had on bands in the 90's, and I've seen a lot of the influence on bands over the last few years as well. Are there still bands that inspire you?
JON ANDERSON: I was listening to The Kin yesterday....really cool songwriting..great singing, a lot of passion...I am constantly inspired, as I was with your songs....Coldplay...'I will fix you''....what a classic for bands...mmmmmmm, there are some really talented peeps out there, but still waiting for the next Mahavishnu to come along.........

JIMMY GNECCO: I've been watching a lot of your recent shows on YouTube, and I can hear that your voice is still as strong as ever. I can also see that singing and performing still brings you joy, and that makes me happy to see. I'd like to ask you a few things that I think about and see if you have ever felt this way. If it gets too personal and you don't wish to answer, I understand.
Writing songs and singing them brings me a lot of peace, but sometimes I have gotten so consumed by wanting my voice to be great, that I've lost the plot and allowed fear to get in the way of me embracing the moment while on stage. My best shows these days aren't just when my voice is feeling good, but when my spirit shows up to the performance, and I'm able to have a real conversation and an exchange of energy with people. Over the years of performing, did you ever get completely psyched out because you were worried about your voice not being 100%?
JON ANDERSON: I do it everyday....feeling 'it's not as clear' or sounding relaxed enough..could have sung better last night, I will sing better tonight.....and so on!!....I must learn to 'let go' and the more I 'let go' I am amazed how the voice sounds, then I start thinking how great the voice sounds, and , then%&&^$...I miss a lyric...''screwed''..and so on and so's the 'Glass Bead Game'…
JIMMY GNECCO: Did you ever have a period of time when your voice just wasn't working? I don't mean due to overuse, fatigue, or sickness, but a time when it just stopped working and you felt "well, I guess I'm not suppose to be singing right now"?
JON ANDERSON: it happens, you’re up there wailing away, pushing too hard, and then you wake up in the morning, and can't speak...that used to happen a lot on long tours, but over the years I've learned to relax, and let the voice 'happen'....and when I feel that feeling of getting close to hurting myself, I just 'let go'...and step back.....and drink a lot of water, and use 'Singers' helps a lot...just honey and lemon....
JIMMY GNECCO: I ask that because for the first many years of my life I didn't speak much. I was a pretty quiet kid. Then all of a sudden I had so much to say. I sang, and wrote a ton, and then I went through a period where my voice just stopped working. I had tests done and my chords were perfectly fine. This made me start to think about what else could be happening, and I couldn't help but think that maybe I should just be quiet for a while and spend more time listening. I was just wondering if this ever happened to you.
JON ANDERSON: I was known as a constant excited about everything, coming from a small town, getting a I listen more.....listening is good for the soul...
JIMMY GNECCO: Slightly changing directions here, I've seen, heard about, and I myself have experienced quite a ride so far in the music business. It's been a non-stop balancing act for me to exist within it. Who was it that originally signed you to your first record deal and what were those early years like? Did they support your vision or was it a battle for you?
JON ANDERSON: my mantra is..."music is's the business that's hard"...Yes was in the right place at the right time...Ahmet Ertugen of Atlantic Records fame was our saviour....he believed in me, and in the idea of Yes music....I thank the musical gods for him.....
JIMMY GNECCO: That's amazing that you had Ahmet in your corner and it doesn't surprise me. I kind of just had an "of course" moment when you said that he signed you. You know years ago I was going to sign with Rick Rubin, to American/Columbia and I just didn't want to be on such a big label at the time. I believed that I needed some development, and the luxury of time. I ended up signing with DreamWorks because there were some great people over there. I often had feelings of confusion and wondered if I did the right thing. I did end up signing with Rick for my last record that I did with my band Ours, and it was the experience that I had hoped for as far as creatively. It was a little rough on the label side because we didn't really have someone in the building working for us, but we made it through it and I'm still standing so it's all ok. It actually all pales in comparison to the road that you have traveled.
Much like you I have had different line-ups in my band Ours and even though it wasn't always what I had been going for, I have moments of looking back where I can really appreciate each line-up for what it was.

Was there a particular line-up of Yes that you enjoyed most?
I sometimes fall out of the loop of modern music and I find myself often clinging to my classic records, but I agree with you, there are some great bands out there right now. It seems like the box of pop music has gotten really small again, but I do hear so many bands experimenting and being very bold in spite of that. It's just hard to keep track of them all because it seems like with the record business crumbling a bit, technology growing, and not having a sort of funnel, it is very hard to find the bands.
I once believed in the record business and I often made reference to Ahmet and his way of doing things. I had often wished that I had that kind of belief and support unit throughout the process of making my first couple of records.
I've been working with the kids at a School of Rock location by my home [in New Jersey], and it's so great to see them learning Yes and Crimson songs. I'm often blown away by their excitement for these songs and their ability to remember the arrangements. Very inspiring.
I also work with my friends' organization Road Recovery. They mentioned that you've done some work with them as well. That's great. They are good guys.
I'm in London now doing a few shows. I didn't sing so well tonight, but I'll try again tomorrow just like you said.
I saw that you have a bunch of solo dates and then you're off to do even more with Rick Wakeman. That's great. I'm going to do my best to line up my schedule so that I can come out to a show. I missed you a couple of months ago at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You were there and I was getting a tour. The girl asked me if I wanted to go and talk to you, but I felt weird and I didn't want to bother you.
I would love to sing something together if your time permits. Maybe we can come together and sing something for some sort of organization. I'm always happy to sing for something that can help others in need.

cheers Mr J.........send an mp3 of a song...I have my studio on my laptop....and I will sing harmonies with never know.......'change' is keep working on will escort you through many for the best Yes me they all have their merit...the 'Fragile'/'Close to the Edge' band was soooooo in Harmony....pure magic....
to explain, I would sit in the middle and direct....they had the talent to play that's what we did, 'anything' barriers........very pure energy...'Awaken'....that was enormous for me.....
i had the School of Rock kids play it on one show....the last show in fact 3 years ago....they begged me to do it...I kept saying, no, lets get the show together first, which we did...5 shows on the west cast....then the last gig....they called and pleaded with me....i said , ok, lets do it...but if it falls a drum solo...
but it didn't fall apart....they played it 'note for note'...I was in tears.....
life is good....Music is in touch....
JIMMY GNECCO: Ok, I'll send you a song as soon as I get something together. That would be amazing.
I agree about the 'Fragile' and 'Close to the Edge' period. Really magical. I have that similar role and relationship when I make records with a group of musicians. Some people have beaten me up for having such a strong role, but I tried to just let things happen years ago, and that doesn't really seem to work for everything. Every once in a while we would stumble upon something together, but I do believe that there needs to be someone who makes that final decision on things when it's not working, even if it's not the right decision it seems to yield something and forward movement.
Communication has always been key for me. I am willing to try anything that anyone hears, and I hope for the same with any collaborators and musicians. I've learned to always say what I'm feeling to the band, and to present it without negativity. That's what's helped us do it together for so long. As long as everyone's intentions are pure and they are committed to greatness, we can figure it out.
I noticed that you've had your daughter sing with you. That's great. I had my daughter sing with me on the last Ours record. She has gotten so good over the last couple of years. I'm often convinced that I was just put on this earth to bring my children into the world. She has a really rich tone to her voice.
I'll spend some time thinking about something that we can sing together and I'll get it to you. I have to run out to my show now.
Have a great night.
JON ANDERSON: wonderful to of everything....if you’re working on something and need harmonies....we will sing together...............cheers...jon

Jon Anderson
After illness left him unable to tour with Yes in 2008,  Jon Anderson recovered and returned to touring on a smaller scale. He just completed a fall tour of Europe with fellow former Yes band mate Rick Wakeman, and is about to begin a series of solo shows in the US. "The Living Tree" with Wakeman just released, and several projects will follow, including the solor project—"Survival and Other Stories"—and a live DVD with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland.
Jimmy Gnecco
Jimmy Gnecco is currently touring in support of his first solo effort, "The Heart," released in July 2010, after three albums as lead singer of Ours.