The Yes man who said 'no'

NOT SO STAGEY: Jon Anderson, who will be solo for his Newcastle concert.
NOT SO STAGEY: Jon Anderson, who will be solo for his Newcastle concert.

WITH technology making it so simple to release music these days, Jon Anderson is a "happy guy".

The frontman of '70s British progressive rock pioneers Yes is content at his home in California, where he has lived since he met American-born Jane Luttenberger - now his wife - in 1992.

He has a studio in a cottage at the back of his home, where he spends each morning singing, writing and recording new material.

Anderson has released 14 solo records since his Yes days.

"These days you don't make albums so much as you make music," said Anderson, 68, who became an American citizen in 2005.

"Especially when you get to my sort of age, you know? I just make music all the time and that's the idea.

"If you put together some music, put it on iTunes, people can listen to it and you hope you can make music that really touches people. That's all I'm interested in.

"I've got an audience out there that just like listening to stuff that I do - so I'm a happy guy."

Anderson is touring Australia in March and April, playing a series of headline shows and Byron Bay's Bluesfest.

He will be in solo mode, bringing out "just me, my wife and a couple of guitars" for the shows, which will feature stripped-back versions of the complex songs he wrote for Yes.

"I wrote the songs, so I thought I'd sing them as I originally wrote them," Anderson explained.

"Of course I can't play like Steve [Howe, ex-Yes guitarist] or anything like that. I just play acoustic guitar, so there's a nice intimate feeling about the songs and people can hear my work.

"With the band, sometimes you couldn't hear much of the song left. So people see me on stage and it's the first time they've really heard the lyrics and understood them."

Anderson worked behind a bar next door to London's famous Marquee Club when he formed Yes in 1968.

He recalls bumping into the likes of Pete Townsend and Jimi Hendrix and hearing new music coming out of London that was "just so different".

"I thought I was too old to be a pop star, if you like.

"And so I was very interested in doing music that was a little bit more like long-form ideas - very much like stage music."

Yes took risks - much to the dismay of their record label, Anderson said.

"Music is all about making music, not making money.

"The more that the management company and the record company wanted us to make pop songs and hit music - because we had one hit record at that time called Roundabout - they kept saying 'Please do another one, do another one' and I'd say 'I'm going to do exactly the opposite'.

"I didn't want to be a pop star for a year and then nothing, you know? It's not even fun. Doesn't make any sense."