Where are they now? - Asia
and related projects

This page last updated: 13 May 2017
 
YES and projects with several Yesmen
Jon
Anderson
Chris
Squire
Steve
Howe
Alan
White
Geoff
Downes
Trevor
Horn
Tony
Kaye
Peter
Banks
Patrick
Moraz
Bill
Bruford
Rick
Wakeman
Trevor
Rabin
Billy
Sherwood
Igor Khoroshev
Oliver Wakeman

Benoît David
Jon Davison
Asia
CIRCA:
Anderson Rabin Wakeman
Others associated with the band

Asia Official website; MySpace page; Twitter; Facebook; Official Google Group; authorised fan club
Asia were Geoff Downes (Yes; keys), John Wetton (MySpace page; ex-King Crimson, UK; bass, vocals), Carl Palmer (ex-Emerson, Lake & Palmer; drums) and Sam Coulson (Twitter; worked with Guthrie Govan; guitar). However, Wetton died on 31 Jan 2017. He had been receiving treatment for colon cancer since May 2015 and Asia activity had been put on hold, although he and Downes wrote a new album through 2015-6. Touring was announced for 2017, but Wetton pulled out of the initial batch of dates to be announced in order to have another round of chemotherapy, with Billy Sherwood announced as subbing for him, but with Wetton due to return for a second set of shows: see details below. However, his death was announced 31 Jan. In a Feb 2017 interview, Downes said, "John had already said that he wouldn't be well enough to do the tour and I had worked with Billy Sherwood in Yes and what was meant to be something of a temporary thing has become a full-time gig for him since things took a turn for the worse with John, who died earlier this week. [...] It's a big blur. I was very, very close to him." He tweeted the same month: "Dear All, please show some sensitivity at this sad time and refrain from debating whether ASIA should or should not continue without John. The upcoming Journey/Asia US tour is committed as per his wishes and legacy." Sherwood is continuing with the band, "until further notice", as he put it in a Mar 2017 interview.

In a statement about Wetton's passing, Downes said:
We were planning another album, but sadly he was not well enough to complete it. I feel heartbroken about this, as I knew John thought it was to be one of our finest albums to date. I remain as proud as ever of our Wetton/Downes writing partnership. I am hoping one day that I will be able to finish it, and that it will be appreciated by all those who loved his and our music, and most importantly, a legacy he would have been proud of.

Life will not be the same without him. And words are not really enough to describe the loss I feel right now, and the many friends and fans all over the World will also be feeling. It is the end of an era for all of us. But we will soldier on - the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.

Asked if they planned to complete the album in the Feb 2017 interview, Downes replied, "Yes. I think so. He had a lot of material for it. I think we will definitely do something with it because I think John would like me to do that." Wetton underwent surgery for colon cancer in May 2015; he started the first of several rounds of chemotherapy in Aug 2015. Asia activity went on hold, although Wetton and Downes met (at least) in Jul 2015 and appear to have been working on new music. In a late Jan 2016 interview, Downes said he'd "been writing with John Wetton for another Asia album" and, on 11 Feb, both Downes and Wetton tweeted about meeting up to work on a new album. Wetton said: "Looking forward to (yet) more writing today with @asiageoff Mr.Downes. Next ASIA record moves along apace." Downes later said: "Excellent day in Bomo with my old chum @arkangel2605 [Wetton's Twitter account] Very productive - new Asia album on the way! 😀" On 3 Mar 2016, Wetton then travelled to meet Downes in Wales "to formalise new ASIA material", according to a tweet he made. Downes tweeted afterwards: "Excellent day with @arkangel2605 today at my studio. New Asia album en route!" In a Mar 2016 interview (possibly conducted in Feb), Downes said, "I've been working with John on some material since last year [2015] actually. John's been sick for the last year or so now and has been having some fairly extensive medical treatment. In between that we've been putting together some songs that we hope sooner or later we will actually go into the studio and do another Asia album." In an Apr 2016 interview, Downes said: "With John [Wetton] getting sick last year [2015] we'd put [touring] on hold for the time being although I have been working with him on some new material and hopefully we will get an album out in the not too distant future." In a later Apr 2016 interview, Downes said: "we are still writing and we [sic] be doing an album with John Wetton towards the end of the year." A May 2016 tweet by Wetton showed a CD-R and said, "next ASIA record is on here, now we just have to record it!" In an Oct 2016 interview, Downes said: "Asia, hopefully we'll get that back up and running soon. That's the idea. We've been working on new material, and we have a whole album planned."

In comments in Jan 2017, Palmer said, "I wasn't going to be making the next Asia album anyway because I was a bit concerned about the direction of the band. It was getting a little bit too middle of the road. I didn't realize that John was this ill when I made this announcement to him, so obviously I'll review that. If he can record at all I'll look at the situation again. But I do understand he's having problems with singing and things, so unless that's corrected we won't be able to do much at all."

Management is by Martin Darvill.


Touring
Asia are on a US arena tour supporting Journey. This will be a line up of Downes, Carl Palmer, Sam Coulson and Billy Sherwood. They play 12 northern US dates 15 Mar-4 Apr 2017. Downes flew out 10 Mar for rehearsals in Los Angeles. Coulson has been documenting the rehearsals and touring on his YouTube channel. A second set of 21 dates follow 5 Jun-17 Jul 2017; the band are meeting up on 1 Jun. This includes a special celebration of Wetton's life on 17 Jun, with Asia performing a full set (including songs from Yes, The Buggles, ELP and King Crimson), videos of Wetton, fan remembrances (to which you can contribute now), and a Q&A with the band. The Asia set is about 45 minutes long. The Spokane set early on the first leg saw them play: [SPOILERS—highlight to read] "Wildest Dreams", "Sole Survivor", "Time Again", "Don't Cry", keys solo, "The Smile has Left Your Eyes", "Only Time will Tell", "Heat of the Moment". The 16 Mar show had an audience of around 10,000. The 31 Mar show sold out 8,613 tickets, grossing $553,363. The 1 Apr show sold 7,558 tickets, grossing $532,577.

The dates were originally announced with Wetton in the band, but in Jan 2017, he announced that, because of another round of chemotherapy, he was unable to make these dates and so Sherwood would be filling in for him. Following Wetton's death, Sherwood said on Facebook: "He left a legacy of amazing music for future generations to discover and enjoy. To be asked to join Asia is not only an honor but now has become very personal, im on a mission to represent on behalf of John !!"

It was then announced that the band would play 4 special UK shows in Nov as a tribute to Wetton, endorsed by Wetton's family, as part of a longer evening with Foreigner headlining and John Parr opening. For these shows, the band was to consist of Downes, Sherwood, Steve Howe and Dylan Howe. Palmer was unavailable due to prior commitments with his own band: he and Coulson both also endorsed these shows. However, soon after, the appearances were cancelled. The Asia Facebook page announced, "Unfortunately the Foreigner / Asia / John Wetton tribute November dates have been cancelled for reasons beyond our control."

Live releases
Symfonia - Live in Bulgaria 2013 (Frontiers Records) was released 24 Feb 2017 as a 2CD/DVD, Blu-ray and download. It is dedicated to the memory of John Wetton. Recorded at the Sounds of the Ages Festival in Plovdiv, this was from the first tour with Coulson on guitar and saw the band performing with Plovdiv's Philharmonic Orchestra on some pieces. Tracks—disc 1:
  1. "Sole Survivor"
  2. "Time Again"
  3. "Face on the Bridge"
  4. "My Own Time"
  5. "Holy War"
  6. "An Extraordinary Life"
  7. "Days Like These"
  8. "Open Your Eyes"
Disc 2 (with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra):
  1. "Only Time will Tell"
  2. "Don't Cry"
  3. "Heroine"
  4. "The Smile has Left Your Eyes"
  5. "Wildest Dreams"
  6. "Heat of the Moment"
The DVD has the same content, plus an interview segment.
Buy MP3 version (UK):

Buy MP3 version (US):

Re-releases
In Apr 2016, Cherry Red released a 2CD edition of Phoenix (ASIA001CD) on the band's new Asia Music Ltd imprint, with artwork by Dean. Disc 1 has the European mix of the album, plus the acoustic versions of "I will Remember You" and "An Extraordinary Life", while disc 2 has the US version of the album. The US album had the same mix except for the opening track, "Never Again", which was mixed by Simon Hanhart for Europe and John X Volaitis (worked with Whitesnake, The Rolling Stones, Pink, Black Grape) for the US. The album was differently mastered in the two territories: John Dent for Europe, Evren Göknar (worked with Tupac Shakur, Carole King, Steve Vai) for the US. The album made #30 in the UK Progressive Albums chart for Jun 2016.

Other news
As for the long-term future of the band, Wetton said in a Sep 2014 interview that: "I think at some stage you will see bands being completely taken over by younger guys one by one until there's nobody from the original band there. But, there is the original concept. I think that's the natural way for it to go. You don't lose the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra because one of the first violinst dies."

John Wetton's Live via Satellite on his own Primary Purpose label (distributed by Cherry Red) is a 2CD set of two solo shows from the same tour, one previously unreleased. Tracks include Asia, UK and King Crimson songs as well as solo material. The album was out 9 Oct 2016.

Asia Featuring John Payne (Facebook)
In early 2006, Asia had consisted of Geoff Downes (keys), John Payne (bass, vocals, guitars), Guthrie Govan (guitars) and Jay Schellen (CIRCA:, ex-Conspiracy, Billy Sherwood, ex-World Trade, ex-Peter Banks, since worked with Yes; drums, backing vocals), when Downes left for the reunion of the original band. Payne/Govan/Schellen then formed GPS, with Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard) on keys. GPS released Window to the Soul, all music credited to Payne/Schellen/Govan. In late 2005/early 2006, Downes/Payne/Govan/Schellen had been working on a new Asia album to be called Architect of Time, with tracks including "City of Lost Angels", "Written on the Wind", "I Believe in Yesterday" and "Since You've Been Gone". Some of this material was recycled for Window to the Soul, although Downes was not credited on that album. For example, the last three of those songs appear on the GPS debut. In an Apr 2007 interview, Payne explained:

Interviewer: Were some of the songs on ‘Window To The Soul’ originally planned as Asia songs?

Payne: Yes, some of the songs were originally written for Asia. If they had been recorded as Asia songs, they would have been shorter with bigger harmonies and smoother production. We decided that, with a few days rehearsal, these songs could be made to sound very different to Asia songs. About 50% of the songs were actually written for ‘Architect Of Time’.

Interviewer: If it had been completed, how would ‘Architect Of Time’ have sounded?

Payne: It would have been basically in the style of previous Asia albums but we had made an attempt to stretch the songs a bit longer and to make the sound more retro, a bit more seventies. The actual track ‘Architect Of Time’ was completed with Ryo playing keyboards, though I don’t know if it will ever be released. It’s a very long track, about eight or nine minutes long. Maybe one day it will be released.

[...] [Schellen] was very keen to play in different time signatures. Jay is very influenced by UK, so I imagine ‘Architect Of Time’ would have been a mixture of classic Asia and UK.

In a Dec 2014 interview, Govan explained it like this:
[Asia] just kind of disintegrated. When I joined Asia there was only one original member in the lineup. Then one year an important anniversary came around of the first major album [...] all the original members decided they would do a reunion tour, and it would just have been weird to have two bands claiming to be Asia, and one of them didn't have any original members.

So we found a different keyboard player, a guy called Ryo Okumoto [...] We made a band called GPS, and we recorded an album. So Asia kind of faded out of my life, rather than I left them.

Some material for a second GPS album has been written, although Payne/Schellen are focusing on Asia Featuring John Payne (AFJP) for now. In Apr 2014, Payne said a second album "will happen. When, I don't know." The Asia Featuring John Payne name was contractually agreed with the reunion band on 9 May 2006, but Payne did not assemble the band until later, after GPS had failed to take off commercially. In May 2007, Payne/Govan/Schellen announced the formation of Asia Featuring John Payne (MySpace page), with Erik Norlander (ex-Ayreon) later announced on keys. AFJP play live with a set list covering both the Payne and Wetton eras of Asia. Their first show under this name was in Jun 2008. Govan left the band in 2009 to be replaced by Mitch Perry (worked with Aerosmith, Cher), who was in turn replaced by Bruce Bouillet (ex-The Scream, ex-Epidemic, worked with Motörhead), who himself left and, in 2012, the band recruited two guitarists, Moni Scaria and Jeff Kollman. The band played US dates through to 2012 and joined The Moody Blues cruise in 2013.

From the beginning, Asia Featuring John Payne have been working on their debut studio album, initially trailed under the name Architect of Time as a continuation or completion of the 2005/6 Asia sessions (even though some of that material was used on Window to the Soul). However, Payne was subsequently writing with Norlander; he has also used the "Architect of Time" name for an unrelated solo release, with the Asia Featuring John Payne album now called Americana. An Aug 2012 post on ProgressiveEars.com explained: "Some of "Architect of Time", was incorporated into GPS "Window to the Soul" and some has been incorporated into the current album project "Americana". The actual "Architects of Time" project identity is now a John Payne solo work that is on the back burner while AFJP finish "Americana" and a few other projects." On 30 Jul 2012, Payne said on Facebook that 4 out of 11 tracks for the album were fully completed. Most of the guitar on the album will be by current guitarists Kollman and Scaria, but there will be some parts on the album by Govan and probably Perry and Bouillet. Tracks include "Seasons will Change" (written by Payne/Norlander; with Schellen, Kollman, Scaria and guest Robin McAuley (works with Michael Schenker, ex-Survivor) on backing vocals), "Strange Days" (guitar solo by Govan, but with 3 guitarists contributing overall) and "Give Another Reason" (9:30 duration). Asked about progress in an Aug 2012 interview, Norlander said:
I can't explain the crazy delays with that band. We've played probably over 100 shows, but the studio album continues to languish. I try to just be supportive of John & be patient. That's hard sometimes as I have a very active 'get in done' personality, but there isn't much else I can do. The music is really good, & I'm quite proud of what I have written & played. I hope that album will see the light of day sometime soon.
"Seasons will Change" has now been released as a digital single and a promo video is available on YouTube. Americana was expected in 2013 on Sony Music Japan, preceded by another single (with video), "Strange Days". Payne, in a Jul 2013 interview, described the album as "so close", while Norlander said, "The project has slowed quite a bit, but we are still pressing forwards," citing Payne and Schellen's work on the Rock Vault show (see below) as a factor in the delay. In an Apr 2014 Reddit AMA, Payne said the album will be finished in the summer for release later in 2014 or early 2015. In a Nov 2012 interview, Norlander had talked about shooting a video (presumably "Seasons will Change"), that "two or three more" singles would then follow before the album was released. He also described his view of the band's image:
we do need to get over to England and also to Europe, but we don’t want to do it as a cover band.  I think it is very important that we have some new material out there, and we really create our own identity because from the first day I joined this band, I said it, and John agrees, this band is not Asia – there’s another band called Asia that has the four original members, this is Asia featuring John Payne and it has a different sound.  We do play some of the same songs, but there’s only very little crossover and I’m very excited to really get the identity of this band out into the world.  It’s all very clear to us, you know, who are doing it and to the people who come to our concerts, it’s all very clear what we are about, but I just think with some new music [...] I think it’s going to become more and more clear to the rest of the world too.
However, the album has been further delayed. In a Jul 2015 interview, Payne talked of "finishing up" the album. In a new year's greeting for 2015 on Facebook, Payne said, "look out for [...] a new Asia FJP album." 9 Feb 2017 on Facebook, Payne said, "New control room nearly finished and waiting for an analog console. Then finally to mix Asia FJP Americana. Time to release some new material!" 12 Feb, he then added, "Finally finally mixing has started on Asia FJPs new album Americana!!! Still have some plugging in od eq's and compressors and console but here we go." He previewed part of a song called "My Brother in Arms".

AFJP did release the 11-track Recollections: A Tribute to British Prog (Water Music Records), covering classic prog songs, including Yes's "It Can Happen" (with Sharlotte Gibson, additional vocals). The album was performed by Payne (lead vocals, bass, most keys), Schellen (drums), Norlander (keys), Kollman (guitar) and Scaria (guitar). Payne began the work as a solo project in 2011, inspired by hearing "It Can Happen", but with the involvement of his band mates, it was decided to release it as by the group.

AFJP performed a free live, acoustic show in Burbank, CA as a launch event for the Recollections album in Jun 2014, but Norlander then left the band and keys were played by Okumoto; set: "Awake", "Only Time will Tell", "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Who will Stop the Rain?", "Heat of the Moment", "Locomotive Breath". Okumoto was subsequently announced as the band's new keyboardist. The band played a few live dates, starting with a 19 Jun 2015 show in Agoura Hills, CA. Schellen was unavailable due to previous commitments, so drums were by Jimmy Keegan (Spock's Beard). Schellen was then expected to return for "more shows, later in the year, in support of our new record" (quotes from a 12 Jun 2015 Facebook post), but Schellen's Facebook page as of Jul 2016 described him as a former member of the band. The band played a Florida show with Steve Walsh (ex-Kansas) on 20 Feb 2016, and the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival in Dallas, TX on 20 May 2016. The latter set was: "Long Way from Home", "Only Time will Tell", "Who will Stop the Rain?", "Silent Nation", "Days Like These", "Desire", "Go", "Time Again", "Heat of the Moment", "Sole Survivor". They next played 5 Nov 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. The line-up was Payne (lead vocals, bass), Scaria (guitar, vocals), Keegan (drums, vocals) and Todd Rogers (Scrap Metal, Neil Zaza; keys, vocals, additional guitar). Songs played included "Only Time will Tell", "Desire" and "Silent Nation". The set also included a 'Raiding the Rock Vault' segment based on Payne's earlier Las Vegas show, including Heart's "Alone" with Jason Boylston (guitar) and Carol-Lyn Liddle (lead vocals), and AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" with Boylston, Liddle (backing vocals) and Donnie Castleman (bass instead of Payne).

The band continues to play in 2017. There is a 24 Jun 2017 show in Florida.


On to CIRCA: and related projects news
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YES and projects with several Yesmen
Jon
Anderson
Chris
Squire
Steve
Howe
Alan
White
Geoff
Downes
Trevor
Horn
Tony
Kaye
Peter
Banks
Patrick
Moraz
Bill
Bruford
Rick
Wakeman
Trevor
Rabin
Billy
Sherwood
Igor Khoroshev
Oliver Wakeman

Benoît David
Jon Davison
Asia
CIRCA:
Anderson Rabin Wakeman
Others associated with the band

Any news, additions or corrections, please e-mail Henry Potts. Thanks.