Interview by phone with Tony Banks

Sven: Did you overdub some parts this time as well?

TB: I don't think we did any overdubbings on these. We were able to choose. We had three or four choices for each song and were able to choose the best one. 

Sven: Who was involved in the choosing?

TB: Initially I did the shortlist, because Mike and Phil were both quite busy - and I wasn't. I went through all the tapes we actually had. The studio tracks were not a problem. We knew what was going on. We just decided to not include a couple that didn't appeal to us very much. With the live tracks I had to find out which one was good enough to use. In the end we were all pretty much involved in the decision.

Sven: Did Steve Hackett have a vote, too?

TB: No really, because we only had one or two tracks available from that era. We could have done a couple of tracks with Steve on, but the feeling was that none of that versions sounded very good. It's decided a bit by what's available.

Sven: Why didn't you include any B-side material from the "Calling All Stations" sessions?

TB: It was tighter just to stick to the era with Phil. We could have done it.

Sven: On VH-1 Phil Collins said recently " I would definitely see us doing something together again. But maybe not calling it Genesis." Is this just a statement or is there more behind it?

TB: I think it's just a statement. People always ask us this question. Phil was obviously saying that there is no reason why we shouldn't. Who knows? Maybe we might do something, but there is certainly nothing planned. It may well be that we'll never do it, while as people we always enjoyed each other's company. We've seen each other quite a lot recently for various reasons. So it's never impossible. To be honest: You can say that we done it once and it's maybe something not to revisit.

Sven: The success of Archive No. 1 proves that there is still a massive demand for your classic old material. In concerts you almost deny that period. If you go through the Genesis internet sites, almost all of them prefer songs like "Firth of Fifth" rather than "I Can't Dance". Did the work on the archive sets change your opinion of how fans think about the old material?

TB: That's not really true. Obviously a lot of people like the early stuff. I prefer "Firth Of Fifth" to "I Can't Dance" as well, but that's not the point really. The "We Can't Dance" album sold almost 20 million times world-wide. "Selling England By The Pound" might have done 500,000. The audience is much bigger for the later stuff, whether one likes to believe it or not. I like it all. On stage we used to play quite a few bits and pieces from the early days. You just can't do everything.

Sven: You included the "Pigeons"-EP as well on the set. But the song "Match Of The Day" is missing. How is that?

TB: Because it's just too bad. We all agreed with that one. You've got to draw the line somewhere. On this particular song the lyrics is just embarrassing. Musically it's ok, but it doesn't nee to be on. We decided that we didn't want that.

Sven: The "Pigeons" lyrics are strange, too.

TB: Yes, but "Pigeons" is fun. The musical side is interesting. It was really a little experiment to try and do a song around one note really. We feel happier about that one. Mike Rutherford wrote the lyrics for "Pigeons". He doesn't like the lyrics anymore. But it's a good little song from that period. I like it.

Sven: How do you explain your retrospective view on your career that you express with the two archive sets, with the re-recording of "Carpet Crawlers" and - nothing to do with you - Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited?

TB: I've never been that interested in going back, but I am very proud of what we've done. The "Carpet Crawlers" thing we thought was fun to do. It was a song from the early days that has always been a big favourite. We just thought we do it and see where it goes. We thought of getting a single out of it, but we didn't. In terms of Steve's stuff he suddenly got the feeling that he got to do it. Obviously, he did it alright. I'm not terribly interested in going back and looking at it.

Sven: After Phil left, do you feel it was wrong to try to start again with new singer Ray Wilson?

TB: I don't think it was wrong, it was just something we tried. It was a lot of fun to do. In terms of the album, it stands up with any Genesis material. I've got no problem with it. We really just felt that we would never really get a really fair response from the media. Rather than watching the whole thing go downhill, we really thought it was better to knock it on the head. But I had a great time. I really enjoyed the tour and to play with new musicians like Nir and Anthony Drenen. It was a wonderful thing for me, but I felt it was probably wasn't going much further.

Sven: Is the lack of success in America with "Calling All Stations" the only reason why you put the idea of a second album with Ray Wilson aside?

TB: No, it wasn't. It was a factor, but the feeling was that going down the hill on the other side was a bit unnecessary after being 30 years in the business. We didn't fell we got quite enough out of it. In musical terms, we were very happy and there could have been a slightly better response to it, perhaps. We were getting knocked left-right-centre by the media, whenever we do anything, especially in England. We just felt we would have enough of this. Can't stand it anymore. We have had 30 years of it, let's call it a day. 

Sven: So is Ray Wilson still in the band?

TB: Well, the band isn't really on function at the moment. But if progressive music suddenly starts to become the thing again, perhaps we would come out again. Nothing is ever written off, but I am not pushing for it, really. I feel that it probably won't happen. 

Sven: If Phil Collins come back again, you certainly would run straight into the studio.

TB: No, I wouldn't at all. If Phil was keen on doing something, we would probably meet and think about it. If we want to revisit the old feeling, then it's something we could decide to do, some retrospective view. I can't see it. I think it's unlikely to happen, personally. There is something about the way when we all were together and played together. We get on very well as people, as well as musicians. For us it would be very nostalgic, so you can never rule these things out. I promise you there are no plans to do it.

Sven: Are you still in contact with Ray Wilson as well, or was it just a working relationship?

TB: He lives up in Edinburgh. We've talked on the phone, and I saw him when I was up there a few months ago. Bur beyond that, not really. But I haven't seen much of anybody, really.

Sven: So is Genesis disbanded or put to sleep?

TB: It's resting.

Sven: And who's gonna wake it up?

TB: I don't know. You can't talk about the future. That's the problem. Anything can happen. Suddenly something strange can happen, and it might change things, but in the moment I can't see it. In terms of my own stuff, I carry on writing. Nothing can stop me doing that. I am quite keen on doing an album with an orchestra. That would be an interesting thing to try. So that's what I am working towards - unless there is something coming from the film world, which I like to do, but I can't get any work in that direction.

Sven: So is this writing a full-time job, or what do you do all day long without Genesis?

TB: What do I do all day? Well, I play a bit of golf. I play and write a lot of music, actually, but I do a lot of other things as well. I am 50 years old now, so I don't have to spend all my time doing things I don't want to. If a particular project came up, beyond this orchestral thing, I'll be back to work seven days a week.

Marcel Albers ©1997-2020 | GenesisFan. All rights reserved.