Asia Featuring John Payne are a rock group formed in 2007 following a schism in the then line-up of Asia. The band is a continuation of singer and bassist John Payne's career as the original band's frontman, which lasted from 1991 until 2006, when Asia's original 1982 lineup reunited.
Asia before John Payne
Asia are a supergroup formed in 1981 by John Wetton (formerly of King Crimson and UK), Steve Howe(formerly of Yes), Carl Palmer (formerly of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and Geoff Downes (formerly of Yes and The Buggles). The group had a successful career with their eponymous debut album, released in March 1982, receiving considerable commercial success, spending nine weeks at number one in the US album chart and selling over 4 million copies in the US alone. Wetton and Downes became the core songwriters in the band. Howe had left before the band released their third album, while Wetton later left the band in 1991.
John Payne in AsiaAsia in 2001 (L-R: Geoff Downes, John Payne,Chris Slade and Guthrie Govan).
In 1991 Downes invited John Payne to join a new lineup of the band, and together they enlisted new musicians to the band. The first album with this line-up was Aqua, released in 1992. In addition to Downes and Payne, the album featured guest appearances by Palmer and a returning Howe. Palmer, committed to an ELP reunion, was able to play on just three songs and left the band before touring. The live shows also featured Howe (whose presence was heavily promoted) who took the stage after the fifth song. Howe did not continue with the band after Aqua.
Downes and Payne continued as Asia, releasing multiple albums, but they struggled to maintain a stable line-up around them. 2001's Aura featured multiple guitarists, including another guest appearance from Howe and a new player Guthrie Govan. Among the drummers on the album wasChris Slade, who had briefly worked with the band in 1999. A stable touring line-up now emerged of Payne, Downes, Govan and Slade. This line-up went on to release Silent Nation in 2004. In August 2005, Slade left the group to be replaced by Jay Schellen (who had helped on some writing sessions for Silent Nation). After a short period of further touring, the new band started work on an album, tentatively entitled Architect of Time, which was originally planned for release in 2006.
In early 2006, the partnership between Downes and Payne was dissolved when Downes left for a reunion of the original band line-up under the Asia name, a breakup that Payne described as "painful". The existing line-up minus Downes, i.e. Payne, Govan and Schellen, continued working together. They recruited Ryo Okumoto on keyboards to form new band GPS, using some of the material planned for Architect of Time on their debut album,Window to the Soul (2006).
When Downes split in 2006, Payne owned a significant portion of the rights to the 'Asia' band name. On 9 May 2006, John Payne, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe contractually agreed that John Payne could continue as "ASIA Featuring John Payne". Asia Featuring John Payne was announced in May 2007 with Payne on vocals/bass, Guthrie Govan on guitar and Jay Schellen on drums. Later that year, Erik Norlanderwas announced on keyboards.
The first release under this name at the end of 2007 was a live recording of the late 2005 Asia line-up of Downes, Payne, Govan and Schellen, entitledExtended Versions in the US and Scandinavia in the UK.
On tour and the future
Asia Featuring John Payne toured the US through 2008. In 2009, the band released an EP entitled "Military Man". The band have continued to tour the US since 2008, performing songs from the entire history of Asia, both before and during Payne's time in the band. In 2009 Govan was replaced byMitch Perry, a session musician with experience touring with major acts including Cher, Michael Schenker and Edgar Winter. Payne, Govan, and Schellen are also continuing work as GPS.
Currently the band have a 3 album deal with Sony Music Japan in said country. A studio album, originally called Architect of Time (the name ultimately used for a Payne side project instead) and now Americana, was underway and expected for release late in 2012, but has been delayed. A digital single and video "Seasons Will Change" was released in late 2012.
In August 2011, the band played summer tour dates in the US with a new guitarist, Bruce Bouillet. In 2012, the band announced that Bouillet had left to pursue solo work, replacing him with a dual guitar line up of Moni Scaria and Jeff Kollman. Also in 2012, the group released a live album "Risen Sun" on Sony Japan, which was the third release of Extended Versions with a different title. On April 15, 2014 the group released an album of covers called Recollections: A Tribute To British Prog.
JOHN PAYNE, MONI SCARIA, JEFFREY KOLLMAN, JIMMY KEEGAN & RYO OKUMOTO