Exclusive Interview – Jon Kirkman Talks Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews

I’ve made my love for prog rock legends Yes unabashed here at Biff Bam Pop. We’ve had interviews with band members up and more to come, and reviews of live performances. As a fan, the next piece of Yes memorabilia I’m excited about comes from UK rock journalist and broadcaster Jon Kirkman. A longtime fan, friend and expert on the band (check out our previous interview with Jon about the Union multidisc set here), Jon’s next endeavour is a mammoth coffee table book on the band titled Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews, due out next month. Jon was kind enough to take some time out of completing the book to let Yes fans around the world know what to expect from this exciting project. Check out the trailer for Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews below and then start reading our exclusive interview after the jump!

Andy Burns: For people that aren’t aware, tell me what exactly is Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews?

Jon Kirkman: Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews is a collection of interviews with the members of Yes. As the title suggests, the interviews are words and come from various times, although I have done quite a few interviews recently with some of the members of the band, so it will be very current and right up to the last minute.

Andy Burns: What made you decide to pursue this particular project at this time?

Jon Kirkman: Well actually a publisher came to me and asked me and I said I would have a think about it. Then all of a sudden four publishers contacted me, so it was a case of it never rains but it pours.

Andy Burns: So how did you get started – was it something as simple as giving band members an email or phone call to see if they’d be interested in contributing to the project?

Jon Kirkman: Well I do actually have previous (contact) with all the Yes boys and I just spoke to some of them and it went from there really. They all know about Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews and have wished me luck and they all knew the interviews I have done this year were all for the book, so I have had unrpecedented acess to all of them really. Well, all but two, but I guess I have had tacit approval for the book, meaning that whilst it is not an “Official” Yes project, they have all been involved and been happy to speak to me knowing the interviews would be going into the book

Andy Burns: You’ve talked to 16 out of 18 members of the band – is there still time to try and talk to Trevor Horn and Igor Khoroshev?

Jon Kirkman: Igor has completely disappeared off the face of the planet and I have tried to get him for the last ten months but to no avail. Trevor Horn is an extremely busy man and again, I have tried. I have even tried his personal email address which I have, but nothing, not even from his people who I have contacted directly as well. So it looks as though, sadly, Trevor won’t happen for this edition of the book. Maybe for the retail version and eBook and Kindle versions which are due next year.

Andy Burns: Along with the interviews, you’re going to have some pretty spectacular photos in the book – could you give me some insight into what we can expect to see?

Jon Kirkman: Well, I have seen many photos of Yes through the years, as many fans have, but what I am looking for are photos that either have not been seen regularly or for some time or never seen before. For instance, I have just been sent over forty photos from the Reading Festival in 1975 and a number of photos from Manchester at the Palace Theatre in 1974. These have NEVER been seen before and have been in storage for the last thrty odd years, so they will be in the book.

Also, I am talking to Patrick Moraz about some photos his keyboard tech took round the time of the Relayer recording sessions and they have never been seen as well, plus some from the 1976 American tour. In fact, we are negotiating with a number of photographers. We are also trying to get the photo of the original sleeve design for The Yes Album. It was nothing like the final cover for that album. (It was) an entirely different concept, and we have an interview with the photographer who did the sleeve shots for that album in the book. It is an interesting story.

Andy Burns: Knowing your extensive history in covering Yes over the years, did you uncover information that surprised you when talking to all the various members?

Jon Kirkman: Yeah, bits and bobs, and some of the interviews, particularly the recent ones are lengthy. Some of them are over six thousand words, which is a lot. They are all very honest as well, although not tabloidy or controversial in any way. I would not like to do a book like that, so it is all interesting and positive stuff. The entire Yes story is an interesting one. I have also included some interviews about certain solo projects

Andy Burns: There are going to be a few different versions of Time And A Word: The Yes Interviews – could you give me some information on what fans will have a chance to purchase in the various versions?

Jon Kirkman: Well, there will be two versions of the book. The first is limited to just 3,500 copies worldwide and each of those comes numbered and, if they want and ask for it, they will be signed by me. The second and more limited edition will be limited to just 350 copies  and will have two CDs of some of the audio interviews  and also six high quality B&W prints suitable for framing which have never been seen before, so that is a nice touch.

We will also have certain members of the band sign these limited copies and, again, of course these books will be numbered. Finally, they will come in a flight case  with each one numbered. Next year the book will be published as a softback book and go to retail and online sellers and there will also be an eBook and Kindle version as well. I might ad that the super limited edition(350) has provoked immense interest. I think we are going to be innundated for that ,as people are already offering to buy that version which is great. If people sign up for updates they will get the same chance as everyone else to buy one of the really limted versions. They just need to register here www.yesphotobook.com. They need to be quick though as the updates start to go out in a couple of weeks

Andy Burns: Are there any rock bios that have influenced you and that you’d recommend to Biff Bam Pop readers?

Jon Kirkman: Well, basically this book will be Yes in their own words, so it is not a third person account of the history of the band. It is really a unique book in that I am not sure there has ever been a book like this from Yes. Most of the interviews have never been seen in print before and only some of them have received limited airplay on radio over the years for small radio stations here and there.

I do remember someone telling me he had downloaded my interview with Peter Banks  and was amazed as he had never heard Peter Banks talk before. I found it amusing that one of my interviews had been bootlegged by someone who had obviously recorded it off the radio and then distributed it to fans. I was very flattered and who wouldn’t be when someone goes to that kind of effort 🙂

Andy Burns: Finally – what are you most excited about when it comes to your new book?

Jon Kirkman: It is my first book so that is exciting in itself, but I am just hoping that the Yes fan base enjoy reading it and looking at the photographs. There has been a lot of time and effort gone into making it the best book I can make it and so I am excited about actually having the finished book in my hands. Looking back over the last year when I started it, my excitement started to grow when the guys in Yes started to ask me how it was going, so having that kind of interest from the members of the band was nice and also very exciting. I might also say that once this book is finished and on sale I have got another Yes book project on the go which I can’t tell you about yet. But come back next spring and I will be hapopy to let you know what it will be.

Thanks to Jon Kirkman for once again taking the time to talk to Biff Bam Pop! Yes fans will get to meet him in person when he hosts the band’s Cruise To The Edge in March 2013. Find out info about that here. For details on how to order Time And A Word: The Yes Interview, head over to the official site of the book here

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