Benoit David: "Yes have a way to make you feel funny about the way things happen."

(Image credit: Robert Knight)

Former Yes singer, Canadian Benoit David, has been talking about his time in the band, reflecting on his departure in 2012 and the removal of his vocals on the previous year's Fly From Here, his sole album with the prog legends.

"Yes have a way to make you feel funny about the way things happen," he tells Rolling Stone magazine in the new interview

In the interview David discusses his decision to leave the band after the vocal problems which arose on the Styx and Yes tour of the USA in 2011, and which eventually prompted his departure from Canadian prog rockers Mystery.

"I didn’t sing well," he explains. "I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand what was happening. It was taking me a lot of effort to perform. I was always telling the guys it was too loud onstage. The conditions were hard and they never did anything about that. 

"I couldn’t sing. I went to see a doctor over there. He said, 'There’s something wrong. We need to look more into this. You cannot continue to sing or it’s going to cause more problems'. So we decided to quit the tour. I just got everyone together and told them that singing was harder and harder for me, and it would be best for me to preserve the band’s reputation. That’s how I mentioned it."

David admits he's only ever had contact with keyboard player Oliver Wakeman – himself unceremoniously sacked from the band during the making of Fly From Here – since he left the band, despite having other band members' phone numbers, and that he's been happy to leave the professional music world behind him.

“I miss the music,” he says. “I don’t miss the music industry. I hated the music industry. Talent becomes produce. It’s like harvesting love, for God’s sake. It’s terrible. The music industry is terrible! At least when you sing for fans, you’re singing for people that care and enjoy the music. But these people…you feel like a fuckin’ ATM with them.”

He seems to harbour few grudges at his vocals being replaced by producer and former Yes singer Trevor Horn on Fly From Here, with the Horn version of the album, Fly From Here: Return Trip the only one now available.

"He wanted me to sing with his voice. He rode me like a mule or something [laughs]. He had me sing the songs the way he wanted to hear them. I’m not surprised he wasn’t 100 percent happy with the way it sounded. It felt like he wanted to do it in that fashion.

"I’m not surprised. That’s the music business. That’s this guy. He wanted his songs on the album. He wanted it to sound his way. He’s the producer. He’s the guy with the big picture. That’s his personality. That’s how he is. But, of course, he thinks a lot of good of himself. He did so much good stuff over the years with all those albums that he produced and all that music he played. He’s an exceptional guy."

David now sings on a non-professional basis with friends and is happy working away from the music business.

"Very, very, very often I meet people that want to talk to me about that," he says of his time in Yes. "When we jam with friends, there is always somebody doing a little bit of a riff of a Yes song. I never catch up to it. I never do it. I don’t want to be… I’m myself. My name is Benoît David. This is who I am. I want to be recognised for my talents and my personality and what I have to give. I’m not trying to imitate anybody, nor should anyone try to imitate me."

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.