Where are they
now? - Asia
and related projects
This page last updated: 18 Mar 2017
Asia Official website; MySpace page; Twitter; Facebook;
Google Group; authorised
Asia have been 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). Management is by
Martin Darvill. 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 that day, 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.
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."
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.
Wetton underwent surgery for colon cancer in May 2015. He tweeted 26
May: "My gratitude to all for messages,prayers&wishes.I confirm
that 10 days ago a 1kilo malignant mass was surgically removed from
my abdomen". 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 
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  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
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
are on a US arena tour
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, which Coulson documented.
A second set of 21 dates
follow 5 Jun-17 Jul 2017. 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.
dates were originally announced with Wetton in the band,
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
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."
|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:
Disc 2 (with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra):
- "Sole Survivor"
- "Time Again"
- "Face on the Bridge"
- "My Own Time"
- "Holy War"
- "An Extraordinary Life"
- "Days Like These"
- "Open Your Eyes"
The DVD has the same content, plus an interview segment.
- "Only Time will Tell"
- "Don't Cry"
- "The Smile has Left Your Eyes"
- "Wildest Dreams"
- "Heat of the Moment"
|Buy MP3 version (UK):
|Buy MP3 version (US):
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
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
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.
Several original pieces of art that artist Rodney Matthews did for
Asia covers are now available
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
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
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:
Were some of the songs on ‘Window To The Soul’ originally
planned as Asia songs?
In a Dec
2014 interview, Govan explained it like this:
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
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.
[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
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
(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
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
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).
On to CIRCA: and related projects news
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Any news, additions or corrections, please e-mail Henry Potts.