Talks New Album And Rock Hall
Trevor Rabin, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee as a member of Yes, is releasing a long awaited solo album titled Rio. It has been over thirty years since Rabin has released a record with his vocals on it.
We had the opportunity to chat with Trevor about his new record, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his future plans.
Greg Drugan: Trevor, how are you?
Trevor Rabin: Good man, how are you doing?
GD: I am well, thank you! Thanks for taking some time out of your evening to speak with me.
TR: No problem! I can’t remember what 330 is, where are you?
GD: I am just south of Cleveland near Akron. The home of LeBron James.
TR: Oh my goodness, my man!
GD: I wanted to congratulate you on your new album Rio. I’ve been listening to your first three singles and you sound fantastic!
TR: Thank you so much. That’s a real compliment. It was a real labor of love.
GD: It’s been eleven years since you last released a solo record and over thirty since you released a record with your vocals on it. Why was it the right time for you to put out your record now?
TR: That’s a good question. It’s actually the wrong time, it should have been out twenty-six years ago. In reality, when I left Yes I did an album that I was real happy with. Unfortunately, the record company went insolvent almost to the day. It just didn’t do what we hoped it would have done. I worked so hard on it. I’d got to the point where I’d done what I can with the band and a passion of mine is working with orchestra and I got into film. So I did some film and I thought that I’d do some follow up to Can’t Look Away but here we are thirty years later. Armageddon was my third movie (score) it feels like yesterday but it’s been thirty bloody years! I told all the business people that I was taking a complete break until I finished this album. If I enjoyed it, I was just going to continue. I had so much fun doing it. Any act, when they do their first album either solo or band, they spent their life doing their first album. Then the record company is saying eight months later, we need the next album. You don’t have that lifetime to do it again. The good news for this album is yes, it’s been hopelessly late, but ultimately it was me waking up saying, “shit, I remember this. I love doing this.” I couldn’t wait to get into the studio.
GD: How long did it take you to record this album?
TR: I was picking up bits and pieces throughout the years. My wife would say, “you’re an alcoholic but not with booze. In every drawer there’s scraps of paper with music written on it. Manuscript and ideas that I would use for movies but some were ideas for songs and concepts for different things. I think it took me eighteen months from start to finish.
GD: Besides “Oklahoma,” which was based on the Oklahoma City bombings from the ‘90s, were some of these songs written during COVID or are they something you’ve written recently?
TR: Actually a bit of both. Someone told me the other day that a lot of the stuff was political. I always hated too much politics in music. But if you look at Tchaikovsky's 1812, that was a complete political statement. Hopefully no one remembers it for that, but they know the music. A lot of the lyrics tended to be political. For example, “Egoli” was about the corruption in the government in Johannesburg and largely in South Africa since the end of Mandela, who was an iconic hero of mine. A lot of the songs are more political than I thought I wanted to go. Now that it’s finished, I think it’s ok because that’s what I was thinking.
GD: I read that you play most of the instruments on the album except some drums. How many instruments do you play and how did you choose Lou Molina for the album?
TR: Lou’s been working with me for years. He’s just an incredible drummer. He did the ARW tour with us and it was a piece of cake. He did it in stride. Then there’s Vinnie Colaiuta who’s one of the most magnificent drummers ever. It was extraordinary. He played on it during COVID so he couldn’t come to my studio so he had to send me the files. He said, “I have three takes that I’ve done for you, if it’s not where you want it to be, I’m happy to do it again.” I said, “Vinnie, there’s only one problem. You’ve sent me three takes and everyone of which is almost too good for the song!” He was magnificent. Then I have Charlie Bisharat on violin as well.
I play bass, all of the guitars and string instruments like banjo and mandolin. I play a couple of the drums but I’m certainly no Lou Molino. My son is a fantastic drummer and producer so I would bounce ideas off of him. Other than keyboards, i did the arrangements for the orchestra but I certainly can’t play the French horn or violin or viola. (laughs)
GD: Do you have a favorite track on the album? My favorite so far is “Big Mistakes.”I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.
TR: I loved doing “Big Mistakes,” I didn’t even know that was going to be the first single. That was the record company and I believe they made a good choice. It kicked everything off in the right way. I think it’s too early to determine if there is something I like more than the others. Which baby are you going to throw out? I think I like it all. Or should I say, I’m so worried about it all.
GD: You also did the cover art for the album. How long have you been doing digital art?
TR: My mother was an artists and I’ve always done oil paintings and acrylic. When digital started, I thought this is a great way not to wash your hands in turpine every three days! I got into it. I did less and less of the oil painting and more into the digital realm. Thomas from Inside Out Records said “I’d love to see some stuff.” I said “well, I do some abstract stuff that might be good for the record. If you like it, great, if not you're not going to offend me.” And they chose it.
GD: I think it’s an amazing piece, it’s excellent work.
TR: Thank you so much! I loved doing it. It’s certainly my hobby and I absolutely loved doing it.
GD: Excellent! You are going to be appearing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday for an interview and you will also be signing copies of your new CD Rio. Will there be vinyl available as well?
TR: I hope so! I was sent the vinyl and it’s absolutely gorgeous!
GD: Have you been to the Hall of Fame since you got inducted in 2017?
TR: No I haven’t. I’ve been there once and it’s an amazing place. I’m really looking forward to going again. I was quite excited when this was organized.
GD: I think you’re really going to like it. They’ve done an amazing job over the past four years or so updating and refurbishing it. It’s really quite the museum.
TR: I’ve heard it’s completely changed and its something to behold. I’m bringing an old uniform that I wore in the ‘80s which I’m embarrassed. It’s certainly something that I wouldn’t wear again. I remember when I first wore it, I was so proud of it. Our tour accountant looked at me and said “I’ll have a vodka orange.” I was like, “Oh my god, is that what it looks like?” (laughs)
GD: What was your experience at the Hall of Fame inductions? Were you the one who encouraged Rick Wakeman to liven up the show?
TR: I’ve always said to Rick, “liven up the show.” There’s a lot of boredom in the Yes world Rick certainly makes it exciting. His speech, I just cracked up. It was so funny, it’s ridiculous. The whole reason for ARW is because Rick and I said we have to work together again. Another funny thing happened on tour was that the sound went out on stage but microphones still worked. Someone asked Rick to give a couple of stories while the sound got reworked. He started joking and I completely forgot about the show because I sat on my amplifier cackling. It was so fucking hilarious, i couldn’t believe it. When the guys said the sound was ready, Rick turned to them and said, “I’m not finished yet!” He’s such a funny guy and not to mention not a bad keyboard player either.
GD: What was it like playing with Geddy Lee? It looked like you guys were having a blast up there.
TR: Geddy was great. I had not met him before, so we met beforehand and it was all big hugs. And the guitarist, Alex was such a sweetheart. We agreed to play on the last song which was Neil Yourg’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” It was a lot of fun and we had a good time. It was a great evening but it was a long evening. That’s just the nature of it. But Rick broke the mold, it was just hilarious.
GD: I got to see you perform with ARW in Akron when you toured. Is there any possibility of you guys getting back together or doing some incarnation of that group?
TR: I don't believe so. I think we should leave it as it is. I may however work with Rick again. We've talked about doing and acoustic guitar and piano show.
GD: That would be great. Since you have a new CD coming out, is there a chance that you might hit the road and tour with this record?
TR: Yes, I would like to.
GD: Trevor, I wish you the best with your new album, Rio. And I look forward to seeing on Friday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
TR: Thank you so much! I look forward to it.
Make sure to grab a copy of Trevor Rabin's new album Rio. And if you are in the Cleveland area on Friday, October 6, stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from 5-7 and you can get a copy autographed by Trevor in person!!