Steve Howe's Top Six Tips for Enhancing Your Creativity

Steve Howe of Yes performs on stage at Humphrey's on September 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.
(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

The pandemic may have put the kibosh on many things as far as being a guitarist goes but it hasn’t stopped Steve Howe from writing, producing and recording another Yes album. 

Despite the various challenges faced by musicians in recent times Howe managed to push the project forward with recording sessions taking place both in the US and the UK. Subsequently, the new studio album by Yes – The Quest – is due out on October 1.

Earlier on, we caught up with the prog rock legend to talk music making. Here are his top six tips on how to stay creative…

1. Lifestyle

There is a quagmire of things that can affect how you’re going to be creative. Nobody can tell you exactly how much creativity will be affected by things like what you eat; what you drink; what you smoke; how long you sleep for; what your relationships are like; and how much money you have or haven’t got. So, you’ve really got to make the right choices for yourself.

2. Listen to More Music

Have you listened to as broad a cross section of music as you want to? Are you yet to listen to things you’d like to hear? My advice is keep being inquisitive. For me, [listening to] music is just part of the artistic side of life.

3. Be Ready

Don’t expect anything but be ready when something comes. That’s why I always use digital voice recorders. You don’t have to do anything elaborate – you just turn it on when you think of something nice. Whether it be a simple chord change or rhythm, just record it.

4. Revisit Your Ideas

Store your ideas, go back to them, and find out where they fit. You’ve got to imagine that anything is possible. You might find that what you did today works with something you do tomorrow. Maybe all you need is a key change to make something fit together. Find out how to manipulate your music in the best way you can.

5. Work with Other People

You might think you’re the greatest guitarist, writer, or producer in the world, but you’ve got to work with other people to find out whether that’s true or not. Test yourself. Get out and about. Don’t always try and make your life easy.

6. Look After Your Guitar

Once you’ve got an instrument, look after it. The worst thing is to let an instrument corrode, erode, and be out of sorts, rattling and buzzing all over the place. I need my guitars to play almost perfectly – as well set up as can be.

Yes The Quest album cover artwork

(Image credit: Inside Out Music)

Pre-order The Quest by Yes here.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.