Where are they now? - Asia
and related projects

This page last updated: 19 Jul 2018
 
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). 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. 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." And asked whether he will ever record this material, Downes replied on Twitter in Sep 2017, "Definitely." The same month, answering another tweet on the question, he said, "At some point, hopefully..." The Oct 2017 issue of Prog quoted Downes as saying, "I'd like to put something together as a tribute to him and get some of the great players he worked with over the years on there."

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 [2016]." 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 a Jun 2017 interview, Downes said, "John and I were in the process of writing a new Asia album when he died[.] I think it would be a great a testament to John's work and career to try and get some closure and get that done. It's in my mind to do that at some point." To the Feb 2018 issue of Prog, Downes said, "I am personally committed to finishing the songs we had started in 2015/2016." Asked on Twitter on 20 Apr 2018 about plans for releasing this material, Downes replied, "Working on it".

However, in another Jun 2017 interview, it was reported that Palmer "says it's too early to say if the new lineup, featuring Sherwood, will record together." In another Jun 2017 interview, Palmer talked about recent events and the future more broadly:
In January 2017, [...] Wetton succumbed to colon cancer, which Palmer said took him and his bandmates by surprise. They had known he was sick, but he was getting treatment.

“We thought he’d make the March period for the tour, but he suddenly took a turn at the very end,” Palmer said. “Those last three weeks, he was very ill and he passed.”

Asia had already committed to opening for Journey [see below], but Palmer wasn’t sure if they could continue or even if Journey [...] still wanted them [...]

But the band’s management said, “They still want you. Please find a bass player.”

As it happened, they had one in mind.

Before Wetton died, Palmer said the band had some difficult discussions about whether Asia would carry on.

The drummer said, “Before he did go, we asked Jo[h]n if we were to carry on, who would you want to take your place?”

Wetton chose Billy Sherwood [...]

Beyond this tour, Palmer doesn’t know what will happen next. He will keep playing music — that much is certain, but whether it’s with just his own band, with Asia or as part of another group, he’s not entirely sure.
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." In an Aug 2017 interview, he said of the band, "There's nothing planned right now[.] I'm not saying it's not going to happen. It's a bit soon. There are no plans to carry on as we speak; [t]hat's not to say it won't happen, we just haven't had time to talk about it and how we'll do it."

In a Dec 2017 interview, Downes was asked about Asia activity in 2018:
If we do anything, it would be probably later in the year [2018]. But we’re still very upset about losing John earlier this year [2017] [...] I think it’s important that we don’t just forget about Asia’s music; it’s a great catalogue of music that deserves to be heard, and I’m sure that John would be very happy that we’re continuing to play that great music.
To the Feb 2018 Prog, he said, "We're still looking at some more Asia dates at some point next year." I presume this interview was done at the end of 2017, so he means in 2018. On Eddie Trunk's radio show broadcasting from the Cruise to the Edge 2018 in early Feb, Sherwood said, "The desire for the band is to keep it going, so, y'know, it's just a matter of, um, the opportunities to get out there and play, but I think it'll happen again". In an early Mar 2018 interview, Downes said, "[Yes wi]ll be spending a lot of time out on the road but [...] hopefully [we] will also be able to do something with Asia too in the Autumn." In a different article, but based on the same interview, when asked about Asia, Downes had more to say:
We`re still in limbo at the moment.  We had a tour [...] last year [...] which we did with Billy Sherwood. [...] I think it`d be nice for Asia`s music still to be heard.  I`ve discussed it at great length with Carl and we might make plans to continue at some point.  There`s some great songs there and not just the famous ones. There`s a great weight of good material below the surface so it`d be a shame if they were put in a chest and locked away for good.
On Twitter on 30 Apr 2018, when asked about Asia touring with Sherwood, Downes said, "There is nothing planned at this stage, but there may well be later in the year." In a mid-Mar 2018 interview, Sherwood said, "I'd love to do more [Asia] shows. It's just getting the opportunity to do those shows. The shows we did with Journey last year were amazing. It was obviously rough emotionally but we all enjoyed each other's company, so if it can go on, it will."

In a May 2018 interview, Downes said of Asia:
we are on hold for the moment because Carl [Palmer] is off doing some stuff and I am working on the Yes 50 stuff at the moment. Certainly it was a big blow when we lost John 18 months ago, but we have toured since then. I think we gave a good account of ourselves. It’s nice that the music of Asia continues to be heard. We made some great music together and that would be a shame if that was not put forward again. We are going to carry on again and do stuff maybe later this year or next year. We’re not sure yet.
In a Jun 2018 interview, Palmer said:
Geoff and I have talked a little bit about it [continuing Asia]. As of right now, we have nothing planned at all. Geoff, as you know, is very busy with the Yes#50 tour. I’m just back from South America. We will resume our discussions at some point, as we would like to continue with Asia. As of right now, we just don’t know how we are going to do it, or who we are going to do it with. It’s open to discussion, and it will resume at some stage – but how, I can’t tell you at the moment.
In a Jul 2018 interview, Downes said, "At the moment, Asia is still trying to come to terms with not having John on board, but I'm sure we'll do something eventually. Asia's music is something that needs to be upheld. I think John would want that."

Management is by Martin Darvill.



John Wetton memorial box set
On 11 Jun 2017, what would have been Wetton's 69th birthday, Asia's management, QEDG Management, tweeted that they are "planning an Extraordinary Box Set commemorating John's career, for release on John's 70th birthday in 2019. We invite fans to send memories, mementos, videos, photos, thoughts etc which can be incorporated. Please send to management@qedg.co.uk".

Touring
In an Aug 2017 interview, Sherwood was asked about Asia's touring plans and answered, "Right now, there's nothing on paper [...] It's very fresh with John's passing and that tour with Journey was set up long before. [...] I hope there will be more because it felt like a good thing to do and the band sounded really, really good!"

Asia were on a US arena tour supporting Journey. Dates were originally planned with Wetton to play. Palmer explained in the Aug 2017 interview: "We were very positive right up to the last three weeks of John's life; he really wanted to do the tour and thought he'd be able to[.] We explained to Journey that we couldn't do this because John had died, and Journey's management and agents came back and said, 'No, we want you. Get it sorted out.' So we used Billy — that was the one person John wanted us to use — and we had a phenomenal time. It was a great experience all around, and I'm pleased we did it. John would have loved to be on that tour, so I'm pleased we did it for him, anyway." Thus, the line up was Downes, Palmer, Coulson and Billy Sherwood. (Sherwood's tech was Jake Linton. Will Alexander was the keyboard tech.) They played 12 northern US dates Mar/Apr 2017. Coulson documented the rehearsals and touring on his YouTube channel. They then had a second set of 30 dates from 5 Jun-28 Jul 2017, plus Asia play alone on 22 Jul; the band met up on 1 Jun. The Asia set when supporting Journey is about 45 minutes long. The Spokane set early on the first leg saw them play: "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". They included "Video Killed the Radio Star" for the 27 Jun show. 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 2 Apr show sold 7,918 tickets, grossing $497,812; the 4 Apr show sold 9,220 tickets, grossing $625,876. The Michigan show has an audience of around 13,000, while the 25 Jun Toledo show sold out. The 5 Jun Tulsa show sold 7,386 tickets, grossing $466,000; the 12 Jun show sold 7,471 tickets, grossing $455,096. The 28 Jun Louisville show sold out, with an audience over 12,000. The 6 Jul show also sold out: 8,998 tickets, grossing $541,714. A 22 Jul show without Journey saw a longer set including "Fanfare for the Common Man" and a bass solo including parts of "The Fish" and "Starship Trooper". The 28 Jul show sold out, with 2,742 tickets sold, grossing $284,675.
 
During the second leg, there was a 4-hour special celebration of Wetton's life on 17 Jun. The evening began with video tributes by Roger Dean and others, including fan remembrances. Asia then played as follows: "Wildest Dreams", "Sole Survivor", "Time Again", "Don't Cry", Downes keyboard solo ("Cutting It Fine" ending), "Go", "Ride Easy", "The Smile has Left Your Eyes", "Lucky Man", "Video Killed the Radio Star", "Fanfare for the Common Man" (with Palmer drum solo), "Only Time will Tell", "Heat of the Moment" (with Lisa Wetton, John's widow, joining on drums). Finally, there was a Q&A with the band, Annie Haslam (Renaissance, worked with Steve Howe) and members of Asia's management. Asked whether there would be a DVD release of the show, Downes tweeted late Jun, "Possibly...not sure tbh".
 
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 briefly announced that the band would play 4 special UK shows in Nov 2017 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."

Re-releases & covers

Steve Howe's Anthology 2 covers several pieces by Asia, including a previously unreleased band instrumental version of "Masquerade", later released on Union as a solo guitar piece.

Wetton's Akustika—Live in America was remastered and re-released on 6 Oct 2017 by Cherry Red with a second disc, a previously unreleased acoustic show from 2005. The sets include several Asia songs.

Asia Featuring John Payne
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. 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, but Govan soon left the band, who have had a succession of different guitarists since: Mitch Perry (worked with Aerosmith, Cher), then Bruce Bouillet (ex-The Scream, ex-Epidemic, worked with Motörhead), and now Moni Scaria and Jeff Kollman.

From the beginning, Asia Featuring John Payne were working on their debut studio album. The project was initially trailed under the name Architect of Time as a continuation or completion of the 2005/6 Asia sessions (though some of that material was used on GPS's Window to the Soul). However, Payne was subsequently writing with Norlander and Norlander has said no material was carried over from Architect of Time; Payne also used the "Architect of Time" name for an unrelated solo release. The Asia Featuring John Payne album was then announced as to be called Americana. Substantial work on the album took place and "Seasons will Change" was released as a digital single (promo video on YouTube). However, Payne's Vegas show, Raiding the Rock Vault, kept him busy and the album languished. By Jun 2014, Norlander had left the band and keys were played by Okumoto, who was subsequently announced as the band's new keyboardist. The band continued to play a scattering of live dates, starting with a Jun 2015 show, but Schellen left and was replaced by Jimmy Keegan (Spock's Beard). A Nov 2016 show in Las Vegas, NV had a line-up of Payne (lead vocals, bass), Scaria (guitar, vocals), Keegan (drums, vocals) and Todd Rogers (Scrap Metal, Neil Zaza; keys, vocals, additional guitar). 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 live in 2017/8, with a line-up of Payne, Johnny Fedevich (drums), Jamie Hosmer (keys), Scaria and Kollman. There was a 24 Jun 2017 show in Florida; set: "Long Way from Home", "Only Time will Tell", "Who will Stop the Rain?", "Silent Nation", "Days like These", "Desire", "Go", "Time Again", "Different Worlds", "Military Man", "Heat of the Moment", "Sole Survivor". They was a free show in Jul 2017 in Los Angeles, CA and they were due to play Aug 2017 in New Jersey. They play Buffalo, NY on 20 Jul 2018. Payne also continues with his touring show, The Rock Pack, featuring various and changing classic rock singers backed by Scaria/Kollman/Hosmer/Fedevich. Payne plays bass for the backing show and sings on Asia numbers. A Jul 2017 show, for example, had the following: "Only Time will Tell" (Payne lead vocals), "Time Again" (Payne), "Sole Survivor" (Payne), "Hold the Line" (Bobby Kimball (ex-Toto)), "Rosanna" (Kimball with Payne), "Separate Ways" (Steve Augeri (ex-Journey)), "Faithfully" (Augeri), "Anyway You Want It" (Augeri), "Double Vision" (Lou Gramm (ex-Foreigner)), "Cold as Ice" (Gramm), "Hot Blooded" (Gramm), "Heat of the Moment" (Payne), "Africa" (Kimball), "Don't Stop Believin'" (Augeri), "I Wanna Know What Love is" (Gramm with Augeri), "Jukebox Hero" (Gramm with Augeri).

At the beginning of 2017, Americana re-emerged. 9 Feb 2017 on Facebook, Payne said, "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!!!" The album was eventually released 23 Feb 2018 on Frontiers Records on CD and vinyl (21 Feb on King Records in Japan), but as the eponymous release of Dukes of the Orient (Facebook) rather than under the AFJP branding. The band are billed as Payne (vocals, bass, additional lead and rhythm guitar) and Norlander (keys), with the album also involving Kollman, Govan, Scaria and Bouillet on guitar, Schellen on drums and Molly Rogers on strings. All tracks were written by Payne/Norlander. The album was produced and mixed by Payne; the cover is by Rodney Matthews (working with Oliver Wakeman, worked with Asia). Payne explained the re-branding in the promotional materials: "This started as an Asia FJP album initially but we, and the record company, felt releasing an Asia FJP album so close to the tragic passing of John Wetton lacking respect. That said we went the extra mile in the last year [2017] to make it something new." Promo also said, "Dukes of the Orient has its origins in 2007 as "ASIA Featuring John Payne," [...] Payne recruited Norlander [...] for tour dates in the US and initial recordings, some of which endured to appear on the Dukes of the Orient album here." They appear to be planning touring or other activity in 2018, with Payne explaining that, "The only permanent members are John & Erik; augmented with guests as needed. The door is open to everyone from our collective musical communities." AFJP continues as a separate activity (and without Norlander). On social media in Dec 2017, Norlander explained, "John and I started writing this music back around this time in 2007. It was originally intended for AFJP [...] We have spent 2017 finishing the recordings, even re-tracking some older keyboard, guitar and vocal parts for more analog goodness, and the full analog mix sounds absolutely beautiful." And then, "This year John and I did a lot more work on it as I mentioned and perhaps ultimately took it in a slightly different direction as a result. I left AFJP in 2014, but John continues to play live dates with his current version of the AFJP band, and I believe they have some shows booked for 2018. I'm not a part of that, but of course I wish them well. The Dukes are a totally separate band."

A promo video posted to Twitter in Apr 2018 gives the album's history, how Payne and Norlander began work on it, but how, as Payne said, his Vegas show kept him busy "for four years". He acknowledges that this "particularly pissed you off" to Norlander, but he got back in contact with Norlander to finish project. Norlander explained, "I felt strongly about re-naming the band because the Asia brand had changed so much", that is, the reunion Asia had changed line-up, Wetton had passed away, and they had toured with Sherwood, who he describes as "a good friend of ours". Norlander continued, "It just became so muddy to me. And I thought, let's not throw another variation of Asia into this mix. It's already complicated enough for people to follow. This is an album of all original music. You [Payne] and I wrote all of this. None of this was left over from past projects. Y'know, people had asked about the Architects of Time thing that you started with Geoff in 2006, after Silent Nation. None of it comes from that. You and I wrote this as a new band. Let's re-name it as a new band. Let's keep it clear." Payne responds: "I couldn't see that at first. [...] I'd been in the band since 1991. That's all I'd ever done from '91 onwards. [...] Now I see it [new name] as the right decision".



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.