Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood performing with Yes in 1998, later to become Conspiracy
|Associated acts||Yes, Circa|
|Past members||Chris Squire
Conspiracy was a progressive rock band founded by Billy Sherwood (formerly of Yes) and Chris Squire (bassist in Yes). The band released two albums: Conspiracy (2000) and The Unknown (2003), and a live DVD (2006). It is currently inactive.
Squire & Sherwood in Yes
In the late 1980s, Yes's original lead singer Jon Anderson had left the group to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe with three other former Yes members. Chris Squire brought Billy Sherwood, a young musician he had met, into the group as a possible new lead singer. With Trevor Rabin also absent (concentrating on his solo work), a line-up of the three remaining Yesmen—Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye—plus Sherwood and guitarist Bruce Gowdy (Sherwood's band mate in World Trade) began rehearsing together. Rabin subsequently returned to the band and demos were recorded with a line-up of Squire, White, Kaye, Rabin and Sherwood.
Squire and Sherwood had formed a strong writing partnership, but Sherwood was pushed out of Yes before he had officially joined. A reunion with Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe left no official role for Sherwood, although one Squire/Sherwood composition, "The More We Live—Let Go", was released on the Yes album Union (1991). Sherwood played most of the instruments on the piece, including bass.
The Chris Squire Experiment
Having written a body of work, Squire and Sherwood went on a brief US tour in 1992 under the name The Chris Squire Experiment. The rest of the band were White on drums, Jimmy Haun on guitar (Haun had played much of the guitar on Union) and Steve Porcaro on keyboards. The set for the 25 August 1992 show in San Jose, California was: "Open Your Eyes", "The Lonesome Trail", "You're the Reason", "One World Going Round", "Days of Wonder", "Follow Our Dreams". Another show included "Long Distance Runaround". Further collaborative work by Squire and Sherwood cropped up: "Say Goodbye" appeared on the second World Trade album Euphoria while a Yes demo they had written, "Love Conquers All", was released on the YesYears collection.
The years passed—work continued on and off on the material while Sherwood's relationship with Yes went through many phases—when finally, in the late 1990s, a release under the Chris Squire Experiment name was announced, an album to be called Chemistry.
However, again, events in the Yes camp took over. Sherwood officially joined the band in 1997. Two tracks from Chemistry ("Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon") were re-worked by Yes for Open Your Eyes (1997).
The use of these two tracks from Chemistry stalled the release while Squire pondered what to do. Eventually, in 2000, Conspiracy by Chris Squire & Billy Sherwood was released. It appears that everything on Chemistry made it to Conspiracy (presuming a song title on Chemistry of "You are the Light of My Life" became the song "Light in My Life" on Conspiracy). Not wishing for the album to be seen as a re-release of existing material, the two Open Your Eyes tracks and a third familiar song ("Say Goodbye") were included on Conspiracy, but as 'hidden' bonus tracks. Versions of "The More We Live—Let Go" and "Love Conquers All" were also included on Conspiracy, plus material known from The Chris Squire Experiment tour.
Squire and Sherwood share lead vocals on the album, with Squire playing most of the bass parts and Sherwood playing most of the guitar and keyboard parts, plus contributing some drumming. The name Conspiracy was intended to represent Squire and Sherwood's desire to collaborate with different musicians. The album included appearances from White, Haun and World Trade drummers Jay Schellen and Mark T Williams. Conspiracy also included one track based on a set of sessions involving Squire, Steve Stevens and Michael Bland: "Violet Purple Rose" consists of a recording from the sessions with overdubs from Sherwood.
The Unknown and a DVD
The album name became a band name and Conspiracy moved from being a collection of recordings to a fully fledged group based around Squire (bass, vocals), Sherwood (guitar, keys, vocals) and Schellen (drums). The album The Unknown was released in 2003. Haun guests again, as do Michael Sherwood (Billy's older brother) and Jordan Berliant (better known as Yes's then manager). The initial pressing of the album includes a bonus track entitled "I Could", an alternate form of the first half of a Yes track, "Finally", on The Ladder (1999). Many of the album lyrics refer to the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cover art was by Bob Cesca, who has also worked with Yes.
Shortly after leaving Yes in 2000, Sherwood had announced a project called The Unknown including brother Michael, Haun, Schellen and Jonathan Elias. Nothing more came of this, but the title track of the Conspiracy album was co-written with M. Sherwood and Haun and derives from those earlier plans.
A live band was assembled in 2004 with Squire (bass, vocals), B. Sherwood (guitars, keys, vocals), Schellen (drums), M. Sherwood (keys, vocals) and Scott Walton (keys). They rehearsed, but touring plans were abandoned. However, a private live show was recorded and released on DVD in 2006. Their set included Conspiracy tracks, material from Open Your Eyes and from Squire's 1975 Fish Out of Water solo album.
Band dissolves & a new project
The band were looking towards a third album, but progress slowed dramatically when Squire—who had been living on the US west coast, like Sherwood—moved back to London, UK. By 2006, Sherwood was leading the project with Schellen, but with Squire no longer involved. A new album was announced and expected to include two songs written by Sherwood and Gowdy, left over from an abortive World Trade album. Others appearing include former Yes members Tony Kaye, Geoff Downes, and former Gentle Giant guitarist Gary Green. (Kaye and Green have worked with Sherwood on a number of recent projects.) However, in 2007, Sherwood announced that this project, called Psy-Op, will be released under a different name and, while finished, will be put back so as not to compete with Sherwood, Kaye and White's new band, Circa. He subsequently announced that the album would not be released, with the material being cannibalised for other projects.
In a late 2007 interview, Sherwood said, "I don’t foresee another Conspiracy record, simply because Chris lives in London and I live here in the States. I’m doing Circa now and he is doing his own thing. We have drifted apart in terms of working together simply by location/geographically more than anything. I’m enjoying playing bass a lot right now, my focus is on Circa and obviously Conspiracy is dear to my heart, but it took a turn and went into a dormant mode here so really see anything in the future right here at the moment."
- 2000: Conspiracy
- 2003: The Unknown
- 2006: Conspiracy Live
"Interviews with Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire from 20th Century Guitar magazine and Music Web Express 3000 http://www.mwe3.com/archive/pastfeature/featureConspiracy2003.htm