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Move over, Tinted Windows and the Dead Weather: there’s a new supergroup in town. Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball and former Yes members Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood have collaborated to form Yoso. The band released its first album, Elements, last month, and will embark on their U.S. tour this week.
According to the press release, “Yoso intends to become its own identifiable entity in a very short time.” So why did the band decided to pay homage to Yes and Toto with its name? According bassist Sherwood, it came down to issues of legality.
“It’s kind of funny,” he said. “Have you ever tried to name a band? Every name on the planet is already taken. You think you’ve come up with a great name and then you find out some kid in Connecticut has the rights to it.
We started as AKA, then we were calling ourselves Hybrid for a minute. Eventually we decided we needed to make up our own word if we were going to find a name that we could legally use.”
And so Yoso was born. In addition to serving as an acknowledgment that “there’s no running from your past,” in the words of Sherwood, the band’s name also has a coincidental tie-in with with their album. After the album was released, some superfans contacted the band and informed them that “yoso” actually means “elements” in Japanese.
Yoso was born from time that Sherwood and Kimball spent together working on tribute projects. Sherwood had been spending a lot of time in the studio as a producer and he was eager for more face-to-face interaction. “I wanted to get out of the studio,” he said. “I work with tons of people that I only correspond with through e-mails and files, and I never see anyone.”
Sherwood recruited fellow Yes member Kaye to come on board. “The story he tells is that I talked to him out of retirement and playing lots of tennis,” Sherwood said.
The result is new music with a nostalgic sound. “There’s a strategic concept that everything we play has a link to the family tree,” said Sherwood. “The album represents our collective paths.”
Expect to hear old hits, like Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and Toto’s “Rosanna”, at shows. “We want to give the crowd old favorites that they want to hear,” said Sherwood. “Plus, our record is 52 minutes long. A concert is two hours, so we’d have to play it twice.”
Sherwood will be playing bass with Yoso—an instrument that, between his time with Yes and his time as a producer, he hasn’t played a lot of recently. “I stopped playing bass for a while,” he said. “Chris Squire was already on bass, and I joined Yes as a guitarist. It’s one thing to play an instrument for 15 minutes in the studio, it’s another thing to play it in front of a crowd for two hours.”
Still, even though their first concert is in two days, he’s not nervous: “Even if I’m sucking at something, I’ll have go for it and have no fear.”
Yoso plays Thursday, August 12, at the State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. $25 advance, $30 day of. (703) 237-0300.