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The Bucket List
Featuring Phil Keaggy, Tony Levin & Jerry Marotta Release Debut Album

Roine Stolt
The Flower King

False Memory Archive


The Chocolate Watchband This Is My Voice

A Life In YES

King Crimson
Ends Meeting


Fernando Perdomo
Out to Sea

Fucus 11

Joint Effort



Article Index

12. Have you ever contemplated a fourth member and here im thinking a lead guitarplayer?! Dont get me wrong, I think that the music are superb and delivered excellent! It just might give you more room to expand! Another dimension to your fine music! If NO please elaborate why?

Well Yak was originally a 4 piece with the guitar as you suggest and the 2 live albums (Does your Yak Bite? and The Rutland Chronicles) do feature Robin Hodder on the guitar quite heavily along with John Wynn on drums & Max Johnson on bass.

As you know, the original band split up way back in 1984 as basically the various band members got jobs and moved to different parts of the UK and so that was that. I still played in bands but not progressive ones – mainly doing the working mens club and pub circuits round east London, also for a band in the Harwich area. Then from about 1993 to 2003 I didn't really do anything musical as my work commitments were heavy and with the Animal Sanctuary we run at home there was little time.

I got back into playing in 2004 and released the first YAK album – I did it on my own purely because I had so little time to do it, I had to fit in with 10 minutes here an hour or so there and it would have been impossible to involve anyone else – let alone spend time rehearsing etc.

Then in 2007 I met Dave Speight via myspace and he expressed an interest in playing the new material I was streaming at the time. He was also playing for Peter Banks (ex-Yes) & Nick May (ex-the ENID) and when we met up I discovered he played electronic as well as acoustic drums. This meant I could record him at my place as whilst I have no facilities to record acoustic drums, electronic ones are simply a case of plugging the leads into the mixing desk.

I decided then to try and record 'Journey of the Yak' with Dave doing the drums. Dave introduced me to a pro bassist called Gary Bennett & he & Dave learned the material from demo MP3's and turned up to record note perfect. – so the recording process didn't take much time really and I could fit it in around work and the animals.

So with just the drums & bass down I was able to build up the multiple layers of keyboards you can hear on the album which create that "YAK" sound. This of course includes all the melodies & solo's. One particular keyboard patch I have developed, which started as a standard Kurzweil patch, is the 'guitar like' sound you can hear on most of the tracks on the album. I did not deliberately set out with a mandate to try & mimic a guitarist - although I know that's what a lot of people think. I do play the guitar a little & I do like to use the pitch wheels when playing a solo or melody on a keyboard and so when using that patch I guess I am thinking "guitar" as I play the notes on the keyboard. But this is only the same as when I use a Sax sound, I try & play like I think a Sax player would. At the end of the day I like that patch and I like playing the tunes and solos it's a selfish thing really!

Not discounting a guitarist or 2 in the future though – particularly if we do live work, it will be a must !

13. I'm rather stunned/amazed that Yak (the band and music) isnt...ahem.. let me put it this way, more of a household name in progcircuits, you certainly deserve to be, why is that? You think??

Well that's very kind of you to say so. I guess at the end of the day its all about exposure. I was coming from absolutely nowhere when I privately released Yak's debut album "Dark Side of the Duck" in 2004 and how to promote it with no budget was the main issue! I set up a myspace page for Yak and also a main Yak website registering as the domain.

Then I researched the web and found many websites and reviewers of "my kind of music" and I made contact with as many as would reply and send them demo copies of my work. Nearly all of them published favourable reviews which was great and the CD's started to sell - albeit slowly!

I think I sold about 100 copies of the first album, and about a dozen or 2 of the 2nd and 3rd albums which were released in '05 and '06. Admitably these two are not studio quality albums – they are Lo-Fi Jam Sessions, but do give people the chance to hear what the original band "sounded" like.

The latest album 'Journey of the Yak' has moved things up several notches as since its release in November '08 it has received excellent reviews on many many Prog review websites and this has helped push CD sales towards 600 to date raising a lot of cash for Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary which is where 100% of the CD cash goes.

Additionally I have been contacted & have made contact myself with a number of CD mail order companies who specialise in Progressive music and as a result, this album is being sold in the USA, France, the Netherlands, Wales, Scotland and even in a shop in Japan !

Things contue to improve on the recognition as YAK were reviewed favourably in issue 3 of the Classic Rock Presents PROG magazine and we featured on the CD that came out with issue 4. I have had quite a few orders for the album on the back of that which is great news. This Mag has a circulation of around 35,000 so featuring on the CD is a very good way of YAK being heard by the right audience.

We are also now looking at potentially gigging next year too – so hopefully as time goes by, Yak will become a little more well know on Prog Circuits.