“There was quite a lot of pressure. Those demands have bordered upon insult – largely from my wife”: Trevor Rabin’s return to action with Rio

Trevor Rabin
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Trevor Rabin revealed the debt of gratitude he owes to his wife, Shelley May, after his new studio album Rio arrived. His sixth solo record is the first collection of vocal-led material from the South African-born, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer since Can’t Look Away in 1989. It also makes a marked detour from his celebrated film score work. His previous solo album, 2012’s Jacaranda, was an instrumental affair.

“There was quite a lot of pressure to make a record like this, and those demands have bordered upon insult – largely from my wife,” Rabin says.“She told me,‘Fuck the films, get your own record done.’ So I owe a lot of the credit to her.”

Since leaving Yes following 1994’s Talk and largely as a prequel to touring as part of Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman (ARW) in 2016, the musician has carved out a successful career as a composer of soundtracks for a wide number of Hollywood movies including the blockbusters Armageddon (1998), Gone In 60 Seconds (2000) and the action sequel Bad Boys II (2003).

“Once I joined Yes I did one solo album [Can’t Look Away] in that time and 10 years from my life seemed to vanish,” says Rabin as he ponders the motivation behind the origins of Rio. “I did the instrumental album [Jacaranda], which wasn’t really a planned thing, and then I became involved in film scores so everything else in my musical world was put on the backburner. With this one I really had to clear the decks.”

He continues: “I’ve done 30-odd movies with [Academy Award-winning producer] Jerry Bruckheimer, and it took me saying, ‘I’m not feeling it on this one’ to find the time to make this album. There’s a lot of pressure in movies; you have to deliver. That forced me to have a little more self-discipline. And of course with Yes, you’re dealing with a business.”

Getting back into the business of making a solo album would prove a wonderful experience, though he’s a little mystified as to why it took him so long to do so. “I really enjoyed it and I don’t know what caused me to stop [making my own music]... just a lack of discipline, I guess,” theorises Rabin, who elected to play just about all of the instruments himself while following a somewhat eclectic path.

“I even considered calling the album The Demographic Nightmare,” he says with a laugh. “I just wanted to get into what, for me, were a few different areas, even doing some country- type stuff. There’s some prog things and a political song about the nightmare of the Oklahoma bombing, but overall there are several styles going on.”

Lou Molino from ARW performed quite a few of the drum parts, with Rabin’s son, Mason, helping out on some of the most important percussive arrangements. The album cover features a painting by Rabin himself – “I didn’t really want something big like Roger Dean,” the musician insists.

All of which does rather beg the million-dollar question of whether Trevor expects fans of Yes to enjoy Rio. “I haven’t even thought about that because doing so would influence me,” Rabin replies. “When I wrote most of the material that appeared on 90125 it was before I had anything to do with Yes.”

Perhaps more importantly for his fans, Rabin does harbour aspirations for taking Rio out on the road. “That’s the plan,” he affirms. “I very much hope we can make it happen.” A sonic carnival surely awaits.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.