Rick Wakeman is the Yngwie Malmsteen of Art Rock keyboards. Not on personality, but on influence on instrumentists. The man has produced fantastic things on his solo career and also with Yes, one of the iconic Art Rock bands. During a conversation with Rock 100.5, classic Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman was asked to comment on the state of modern prog music.
The musician replied:
“There are a lot of fantastic new young musicians about. The interesting thing about when I started out in the ’60s and early ’70s, it was a period of time where the musician was ahead of technology.
“There was no technology to do the things you can do today. I use the example sometimes of the beginning of [1972’s] ‘Close to the Edge’… that took us nearly three weeks to produce. Nowadays, you can do it on a computer in 20 seconds.
“You had to create everything. It wasn’t there for you at the press of a button. Keyboards didn’t have presets. You buy a keyboard now, it’s got 10,000 sounds in it. Back then, you got a keyboard, we used to take it to the hotel room and try to get a noise out of it.
“It’s quite hard to be innovative when everything exists in technology because everybody’s using that same technology to try and produce stuff. It’s interesting how much has changed over the years.
“A lot of the young singers and the songwriters, they’ve gone back to acoustic guitars to writing their songs or writing on the piano – which, truth of the matter, was always the best way to write. It’s great that it’s gone back to that.
“I think in the coming years, there are going to be some people who are going to emerge. The secret, really, is they have to go out and play live – and I mean really play live, not play to backing tracks or mime to a lot of stuff.
“That’s the only way you find out what you’re doing and where you are, who you are and how people will react to you. I think the people who do that, they’ll be the ones that will be here long after I’ve gone.”
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