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Genesis: Reunion 'has been on the cards for the last two years'

Following a 50-date world tour in June the reunited Genesis are now releasing a live album called Live Over Europe on 26 November. Long-time fan and BBC Berkshire presenter Phil Kennedy chats to Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks.

How did the conversation go, who tried to convince Phil to come back or was it him that said 'I really fancy doing a European tour or a world tour' or did you say 'come on Phil it's about time we did something'?

Mike, Phil 'n' Tony
Mike, Phil 'n' Tony

(MR: Mike Rutherford and TR: Tony Banks)

MR: "To be honest it wasn't like that, I hadn't quite realised there's been quite a lot of stuff released in the last few years, box sets and compilations and I think Phil suggested that we should do something.

"But really this has been on the cards for the last two years as something that would be fun for us to do.

"That is simply the initial starting point and the timing came right in this time period.

"I think people imagine we didn't speak to each other for 12 years and then rang each other up and something happened.

"But we've seen each other quite a lot and have remained good friends so we're in contact all the time."

I was talking to Andy Summers (from The Police) earlier this year and it seems to be one of those years where everyone is getting back together - from Led Zeppelin to the Spice Girls. There are suddenly huge tours around the world and Andy Summers was saying it is great but halfway around the tour you get fed up with hotels.

TB: "I think for us it's not quite like that, we've always enjoyed the touring.

Genesis
Genesis

"We've purposefully kept this tour quite short so that we could still enjoy it.

 

"And at 25 shows in Europe and 25 in America we kept our interest really. We have a great time with each other, we get along as people and everything."

My brother went to see you at Wembley and said you were better than ever - do you think that was because it was fun and there was no pressure?

MR: "His cheque's in the post! No, I think a large part of our lives for the last 20 years has been playing live on stage and I think it's a craft you get good at and I think the combination of the people has always worked.

"There's no reason why it wouldn't work this time and I think in a funny way maybe you're conscious that there's been a long gap and you may not do this again. So you put a little more into it.

"The whole thing seemed quite special to us."

Back then: Mike, Phil 'n' Tony
Back then: Mike, Phil 'n' Tony

When Phil left and Ray Wilson came in you suddenly realised the personality of Phil Collins and some of the songs actually had Phil's personality. Ray is a great singer but something like 'Mama' was just Phil's song, or is that just a perception?

TB: "I think it's difficult to know because a song like Mama obviously depended a lot on Phil's vocal but I think Ray sang it very well.

"I think if the group had become established with that line up and had become well known it wouldn't have mattered in the same way.

"Phil has become the singer very effectivley on songs like In The Cage or I Know What I Like and I don't think anyone really worries about that too much really.

"I think it was just that it was a new person, with a slightly different personality and it took a bit of time but I think by the end of that tour we were really playing quite well and the sound was good."

When you set out to do something like this, the three of you, when you were writing together, was it a real partnership or did you say that the three of you would go off in separate corners and see what you come back with?

MR: "No, very much a partnership  especially in the last 20 years!

"Once we started doing solo stuff outside of the band you didn't feel you'd arrive with all your songs for that year and the only outlet was the band.

"So, for the last few albums we actually went in with nothing but a blank piece of paper and just jammed and improvised and what came out was just from three guys in a room playing together which not many bands do actually.

"I think it was quite edgy in a way but it always worked for us.

That first riff of I Can't Dance you can tell it's just someone playing with a guitar and then realising 'hold on we've got a song here'.

MR: "That's right! Half the charm is being able to find the ideas, the other half is being able to recognise them."

Tony, you always seem really relaxed - what is it really like on stage?

Genesis: they can't dance
Genesis: they can't dance

TB: "I would have thought I look anything but relaxed actually. It's an illusion, a total illusion! I'm not a very natural performer on stage so I tend to be fairly static and maybe you mistake that for relaxed.

"Fortunately I've had people with me who are very good visually such as Phil Collins, and previously Peter Gabriel, who can carry it through. But in terms of playing the music I'm confident with that, I feel I can do that job.

"But I think the way we write music the focus is very much on the vocals so that works well."

I saw a documentary about you in the 1970s and it showed the three of you travelling all around Germany, and actually you really had not made any money in the whole of the 70s. It really only kicked off in the 80s didn't it?

TB: "Well I suppose we broke even in about 1976/1977 just after Peter left, and when we had the hit single with Follow You, Follow Me we moved into a different area."

Did all the fans say you were selling out to pop?

TB: "Well of course they did! Some of the fans said that but it really didn't happen like that at all.

"We've really always tried to carry the two strings with us, we've just got much better at doing the commercial stuff over the years."

You've got the new album out now so what is the plan in 2008? What's next: more fun, more joy?

MR: "Well, there's a DVD coming out of the Rome show which was actually a very special show.

"It was a free show in the Circus Maximus in front of half a million people so it was a great way to end the tour.

"Beyond that we have no plans at the moment - but who knows? We'll see..."

© BBC, by Phil Kennedy

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