Taking time off from the recently un-cancelled Yes 40th-anniversary tour, which rolls through Massey Hall November 5, the guitarist makes two rare local appearances this week, performing a sold-out solo show at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio tonight (Thursday, October 2) and then leading his swingin' jazz combo, the Steve Howe Trio, into the Mod Club Saturday (October 4), at 8 pm. $35. stevehowe.com.
Do you prefer playing solo or as part of a group?
Solo guitar is above everything else because it's the vehicle for my writing and has become a very personal aspect of my music. Of course, in groups you can collaborate and develop ideas with other people, which is also an important side of what I do, especially playing in the trio with my son Dylan on drums.
What was your reaction to the J.D. Considine review of your GTR debut from 1982 which read simply "SHT"?
You mean someone wrote a review of the GTR album I did with Steve Hackett and all it said was SHT? I don't recall seeing that. Funnily enough, when I started telling people about putting the Steve Howe Trio together, I was thinking about abbreviating it as SHT, but the second I saw it written out I realized what a horrible idea it would've been.
Any regrets about not taking the offer to join Jethro Tull prior to signing on with Yes in 1970?
Oh no, not at all. Anything that would've interfered with my ending up in Yes would've been a huge mistake. When Jethro Tull's manager told me that the condition of joining was that I couldn't write any music for the group, I had to decline, because it was a time when I felt my music was coming into bloom and I needed an outlet for my compositions.
Back in June, the Yes 40th-anniversary tour was cancelled due to Jon Anderson's respiratory illness, but suddenly it's back on with Anderson sound-alike Benoit David of Montreal-based Yes tribute band Close to the Edge singing in Anderson's place. How did that happen?
We were considering different options with various singers, some completely unknown, others quite well known and a few really well known. But when we were steered to a YouTube clip of Benoit, we thought, that's bizarre but almost what we need. We said, why shouldn't we try this? So we spoke to Benoit and we're gradually putting things together. It's really quite exciting."
How essential is your famed 1964 Gibson ES-175D arch top guitar to the Steve Howe sound?
How did you get it?
What is it about electric guitars of that vintage which makes them so desirable?
What sort of effects are you using on stage these days?