Montreal's Benoît David ready to roll with Yes
Last Updated: Monday, November 3, 2008 | 3:45 PM ET
- Q's Jian Ghomeshi interviews Montreal's Benoit David, now lead singer of Yes (Runs: 15:57)
- Play: Real Media »
Montreal singer Benoît David is approaching his first concert as singer of British art rock band Yes with confidence.
David makes his leap from singer in Yes tribute band Close to the Edge to singer with the real band with a concert in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday. He will accompany the band throughout its In the Present tour.
He's not worried about comparisons to original Yes singer Jon Anderson, who was sidelined in May with a respiratory ailment that means he must rest for six months.
"I'm going to just be myself and hopefully people will like it," David said in an interview Monday with CBC cultural affairs show Q.
"Anybody's allowed to like it or dislike it. The original bandmembers of Yes like it and that's a good start."
Yes band members Chris Squire, Alan White and Steve Howe, who recruited David, have been welcoming, he said. Squire has spoken publicly to fans about accepting David in Anderson's absence.
'He didn't say anything bad against me'
But Anderson has said he's disappointed the tour is going ahead without him. David shrugs off the controversy.
"He didn't say anything bad against me. He didn't say I didn't have a nice voice or I couldn't do the job or anything like that. It's all OK with me," he said.
"Hopefully Jon gets better and comes back and continues singing with Yes. My being there will allow him to take the time and rest that he needs to come back full force."
David has been playing in tribute band Close to the Edge since 1994, when a buddy pointed out to him how much his high voice sounds like Anderson's.
Close to the Edge band manager and bassist Richard Lanthier hired David and help him get up to speed on Yes songs.
"At the moment where I got involved in this I was given different albums to listen to — Close to the Edge, The Yes album, Fragile, Tales from Topographic Ocean. Wow, that's great music," David said.
Quebecers love art rock, so the province is the natural home for a Yes tribute band.
Lanthier also made the connection to Squire, bassist with Yes, after buying one of his solo recordings. The sale was handled by Squire's wife Scotty, who chatted with Lanthier on the phone.
That gave the Close to the Edge manager a chance to direct her to their website, where they can be seen doing their Yes tribute act.
Squire himself posted a message on their site a few weeks later.
"He said, 'You guys are freakily like us.' " David said. "It so happened that only a couple of weeks later, Jon went sick."
Was working on boat
David was doing his day job, repairing upholstery on a boat, when he got a call from Squire asking him to fill in for Anderson.
"I almost fell in the water," he said. "My first reaction, I thought I was being pranked. I thought someone had said 'I'll put my best English accent on and give Benoît a call and prank him.' "
It was no joke. David flew to Los Angeles to audition with Yes, accompanied by Lanthier, a true Yes fan who was even more excited than the singer.
"We played music together, but it always seemed like their mind was made up," David says of that audition process.
"These guys are really really nice. I never felt like the newcomer or Cinderella."
He's been practising for six weeks with the band, getting to know newer material. But the tour, which includes 28 concert dates before the end of the year, will be the test of how fans respond.
David says his voice will do the music justice.
"I'm very confident about my voice and the way it sounds for that music. I don't think there's many ways to sing that music. When you hit the notes, it just sounds that way," he said.
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