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The Genesis Interview

Topics (to go to a specific topic, just click on it):

Prospects for a reunion
About the Way We Walk DVD
More Archive releases
The worst album Genesis made
Your favourite Genesis album
Key moments in your career
About song writing
Eno and The Lamb
Tony and being on stage

Tony's classical suites
Phil's next solo album
Mike and new Mechanics material

Webmaster: These are all questions that were sent in by fans. We have the same question sent in are hundreds of people which is 'when will the band play together again'? This question has been sent in from all round the world, from Azerbaijan, Istanbul, Indonesia, Argentina -- you have even got friends in the Cali cartel in Colombia who want to know will you be playing there?

Mike Rutherford: You mean 'You WILL be playing there'...

Tony Banks: We have no plans, I'm afraid. We certainly have no plans for a tour. We have no plans to do anything (laughter). You can never rule it out. Is someone else going to say anything?

Webmaster: You're a politician aren't you really?

Tony Banks: I am a politician, people say I look like Tony Blair.

Phil Collins: Well it is unlikely if we did anything we'd include Colombia. Considering that we don't know quite if we are going to do anything, talking about going anywhere doing this thing we might do is really like splitting the atom.

Webmaster: What about the broad principles? You'd think about it but you have no plans...?

Phil Collins: We would think about it. I would say that you can't dismiss the fact that we would think about it (laughter).

Webmaster: You're all politicians... this is like Spin City...

Tony Banks: Good programme...

Phil Collins: The trouble is the only have to say that it's not an improbability and you get people saying "I read it somewhere, you're going to do a tour".

Mike Rutherford: Actually it's just like with kids, if ever you say "we'll see-"

Phil Collins: "But you said 'yes'"... (laughter)

Webmaster: They'd already be buying tickets... OK, so it's a definite maybe.

Tony Banks: Ask us another question.

Webmaster: This one is from a guy in Dublin. You've obviously reviewed the DVD a few months back and more recently. Does it bring back good memories about performing with the band?

Phil Collins: Sure. You'll get different answers from everybody. We all watched it together to see the work in progress. I had occasionally seen bits and pieces. I'd just get a whim and I'd put a track on from Earls Court from the laser disc and I'd listen to a track because there was something about it I wanted to listen to. So I've not been completely away from it. But I've certainly not watched the whole thing even when we had to approve it. When I watched it I was pleasantly surprised. I knew how good we were, or how bad we were, but I enjoyed it very much.

Webmaster: Is there a particular part of it that stands out for you?

Phil Collins: Some songs for me...

Tony Banks: The drum duet... (laughter)

Phil Collins: It goes without saying that 'The Drum Thing' is on fast loop. 'No Son of Mine', 'Driving the Last Spike'...

Tony Banks: The one thing that looks the best and sounds the best is 'Jesus He Knows Me' which is not, perhaps, my favourite song but in thevideo it comes across really well. Particularly the final section when Phil is kind of preaching. I just think it's a really strong moment. I think 'Home by the Sea' sounds and looks really good too. But Phil hasn't really heard it with the right sound. I think that's the most striking thing about it. I've never really been a great fan of our live videos but seeing it with that sound was just amazing. It's just such an improvement, it's just incredible really. You must understand we've never seen the group, so you come along and think "that was pretty good, I would like to have seen that group".

Phil Collins: How many people can use surround sound?

Tony Smith: I think it's a growing thing. In a couple of year's time a lot of people will have it.

Phil Collins: With DVD people can get close to the sound of a small cinema.

Webmaster: Somebody did post a message on the forum saying that in preparation for the DVD they had gone out and spent £700 on a new widescreen TV. So, single-handedly you will lift the sales of this equipment overnight.

Tony Smith: Have we been in touch with the manufacturers?

Webmaster: You should be buying shares in these companies (laughter).

Tony Smith: What about you Mike, do you have a favourite song? You missed the question...

Mike Rutherford (having returned from the buffet with an extra sausage): I don't need to be here (laughter). Actually, funnily enough, it changes every day but I never say 'The Medley' but when I saw 'The Medley' I really enjoyed it. It was a little historical walk down the old road but watching it, it felt stronger than when I was playing it.

Webmaster: As Tony said you've never seen yourself play, so to be put there almost as part of the audience...

Tony Banks: Well that's it, it's very different to just watching it on the regular TV with the regular sound which, quite honestly, I've never really done because it didn't interest me. But this is something completely different, that's the main reason for doing it. Obviously all the camera angles are a lot of fun but the sound is almost the main reason for doing it.

Webmaster: The major supplementary question to 'will you tour again?' is 'what about all the other stuff in the archives you could put out on DVD?' Does this encourage to go back further?

Tony Banks: Previous tours, you are talking about? Well, if we could find ways of translating the 'Invisible Touch' tour, because we have a similar amount of footage for the 'Invisible Touch' tour and that was all in widescreen format as well. But the problem is the technology we used to record all that no longer exists; we'd have to have something specially made to convert it.

Phil Collins: I'm reading a book on Joe Zawinul, being a big Weather Report fan, and there is a tape they mentioned in their book about the legendary performance at Montreux which is very very rare. Well I've got a copy of it from Claude Nobs at Montreux. So I'm sitting there thinking how much reverence there is about this and I have it and it's good. But it's in black and white, and it's not DVD quality but, to fans, it doesn't have to be DVD quality. DVD also means they will always have it, the tape's not going to break, it's not going to lose something, it's not going to get stuck in the machine. So it doesn't have to be DVD quality in terms of high-definition, it's a question of having 'the thing'. So there's lots of gigs that we would take for granted because we don't think they're particularly interesting but from the fans point of view...

Mike Rutherford: Do you mean visuals or sound?

Phil Collins: I mean footage. I've got live things from Bangkok, from Chile, from Argentina -- my shows, for example. We filmed 'Both Sides' but, because of the lack of interest in sales of videos, I thought why bother? It wasn't worth it. But, nevertheless, live shoots, warts and all, exist. And it exists in other aspects. I've been talking about my tours, and we've talked about the Invisible Touch stuff, but there's stuff from the Benny Hill video that was done at the same time. There's lots of bits, if only we could get hold of them, if we had the energy to get hold of them, which aren't going to make a neat concise concert. But, if you are talking about fans who would like to get access to this sort of stuff then we might as well do something with it.

Webmaster: How much importance do you attach to your perception of the quality of a product like that? I'll put my feeling in here that fans are interested in a performance and that they are not that bothered about 100 percent quality. I think musicians are different. I've done live stuff with Phil Manzanera and Eno where we almost spent as much time tickling it up in the studio as we did rehearsing it beforehand. There were going to be no bum notes, no off key singing so we dropped songs because we couldn't get them right. But what the audience probably wanted to hear was a replica of the concert they had seen.

Phil Collins: I used to listen to shows every night after the show had finished and, apart from the tedium of doing it, it really didn't matter because the audience that night went away without a tape and their memories...

Webmaster: Well, some of them... (laughter)

Tony Banks: You've also got to say that mistakes you hear only one time are fine but in repetition they can get extremely irritating. That's why when you record a thing you try to get rid of the bum notes. To be honest, we normally had to do very little work on Genesis things...

Mike Rutherford: It's normally the keyboard parts we have to work on... (laughter)

Tony Banks: When we did the 'Lamb' thing for example, there was so little re-doing apart from the voice which we did do a lot of because it wasn't loud enough on the tapes because of Pete's costumes. The only bit of keyboard we did was on the intro and I think that was about it. We did a little bit of guitar. We just want to get rid of any glaring mistakes. If you have a chance to do that you do. But we do have tapes of all sorts of nights from the board and things and I'm sure that the odd one might find its way out of through the web site or something.

Michael Rutherford: I like all of the offstage stuff I think that's great. There's endless footage of that somewhere, not sure where.

Phil Collins: It's of no interest to us, but for fans... if we talking about going through logging all those lives cassettes and DATs and God knows how many other live shows there are. There are some already weeded through live shows which are board mixes.

Tony Smith: I think from the fans point of view they would love to have a tape from the gig they went to in New York or Cleveland or wherever it was.

Mike Rutherford: Pearl Jam did that. They did a tour and they gave the fans everything, every night on the tour.

Tony Smith: And they might listen to it once. I think your point about re-listening to mistakes, I don't think that really matters.

Tony Banks: No, I'm really talking about albums.

Phil Collins: Harry Kim, I met him when I was just in LA. His son Chris is quite big now and he came onstage one night and it was his birthday and we filmed it and Harry said "whatever happened to that gig?" And I said well I've got a rough cut of it. He wanted a copy because it was his son's birthday, and there was another couple that I asked if they would marry each other in Chicago. If you doing it for fans you accept the fact that it might not be perfect.

Tony Banks: The trouble is there's too much stuff available.

Webmaster: Robert Fripp has this subscription service where people pay upfront and every two months they get sent a new CD which could be anything from any time in history of the band. It's done on a limited edition, he knows how many he has to press each month so you control your costs, but those people who want to buy into it can and they get access to that sort of live stuff. So there are ways in which it could be done in which you could give people access but which don't incur large costs.

Tony Smith: I suppose it's a question of whether you want to narrow it down to a selection of board tapes.

Webmaster: One thing you could do is to use the web site to ask people what they would prefer to hear. You could do a poll: what do the fans want to hear? Then you could put it into some sort of priority order.

Tony Banks: We don't have much stuff from the early days.

Webmaster: Well you could put some constraints in which you say we're really looking only at tours from a certain date onwards.

Phil Collins: In Mojo, they had this Miles Davis 'Bitches Brew' which was released as a double album but then they went back in and re-released everything. They had made a double album out of the best there was and there was an awful lot of crap but they released everything. And the guy who produced it said "why are you releasing all the crap? That was why we edited it, because we didn't think it was good enough to go on the record" and they said the fans want to hear it.

Tony Banks: I think you have to be careful, I sometimes think you're only as good as your worst piece of music. That's why we drew the line on the first Archive album because there were a few things there were just too awful, even though some of the things that ended up on it were pretty awful to my mind. The only thing I would say with Genesis live shows is that, because of the nature of the way we played them, they do sound quite similar one to the other but maybe that's just to me. Certainly board tapes do because they don't have the ambience off the hall or anything.

Tony Smith: So all we really need to do is change the introduction, hello Chicago, hello Boston... (laughter). We should get some more questions done.

Webmaster: I thought this was a nice one. Oleg from Russia wants to know what's the worst album you ever made?

Tony Banks: I don't think we've ever been asked that one.

Mike Rutherford: It makes a change doesn't it.

Tony Banks: The one I find least satisfying? I tend to like everything. 'Genesis to Revelation', I don't tend to rate that very highly, it's got some good moments on it. If you want one from a later period then one that I find the least satisfying would have to be 'And Then There Were Three', although it's got two or three songs that I love on it. As an overall thing it doesn't quite get there.

Mike Rutherford: I agree with 'And Then There Were Three', barring a couple of tracks. It was the album on which we decided not to do any long songs in the same way as normal and it suffered because I think the contrast between the long songs and the short ones is a great contrast. But I haven't heard it for about 15 years.

Phil Collins: 'The Battle of Big', 'Down and Out'...

Tony Banks: They're are all right...

Phil Collins: They've all got bits in them... there's lots of little bits...

Mike Rutherford: (Hums snatch of a tune)

Webmaster: How do I transcribe that? (laughter)

Phil Collins: It's a moment in time, they felt right at the time. They just didn't feel right any other time (laughter).

Webmaster: On a more positive front then, what about the favourite albums that you did?

Tony Banks: This is a bit easier because we tend to get asked this question a lot and one answers a certain way and of course one has done for many years not having heard anything meanwhile. I always come back to 'Duke', which was the most up and positive album we did. Many times I've said 'Duchess' is amongst my favourite Genesis tracks which surprises some people because it is quite simple, but if you can get it right in a very simple and short space of time there's something special about that. But also it's got things like 'Behind the Lines', 'Turn It on Again' and 'Duke's Travels' which I also find seem to work for me.

Phil Collins: I think 'The Lamb' because 'The Lamb's' got a lot of music. You can't listen to it all in one go, well I can't but the fans do, but there's a lot of music that was improvised and I couldn't tell you what was going to happen next unless I listened to it three or four times. So in terms of listening to something and being surprised by it I think 'The Lamb' would be my favourite. It might be the way it was recorded, it was a little rougher audio-wise.

Mike Rutherford: I don't know really, I change everyday.

Tony Banks: But you'll give the same answer you always give, won't you?

Mike Rutherford: What do I normally say then?

Tony Banks: You normally say the first side of the 'Genesis' album.

Mike Rutherford: Oh yes, I'll say that then (laughter).

Tony Banks: I speak on behalf of Mr Rutherford

Mike Rutherford: The yellow one, 'Mama', 'Home by the Sea'. Yes, the first side of the 'Genesis' album I think is really good.

Tony Banks: Side two is better than you think...

Phil Collins: Someone sent me a six CD set, a drummer fan, and they send me the stuff they like that I've done and one of these tracks was 'Silver Rainbow'. Then you know when you play a song and you say "What's that bit? That's a really great bit". And this song kept on coming by me. I'd never even thought of it since we did it, but it sounded really, really great.

Tony Banks: 'Silver Rainbow' was a lot of people's favourite track after 'Mama'. I've always rated the song and the other one that is quite good on side two is 'Just a Job to Do', that's a pretty good song when you hear it now.

Mike Rutherford: We should tell you that we haven't heard a lot of this stuff for many years.

Tony Banks: Phil phoned me up and said, "its ('Silver Rainbow') got to be on the Archive album" and I said, "it can't, its already been on an album, but what a great song". Another one that was on the Archive album was 'Naminanu' which is one of those forgotten tracks but I think is really good too.

Webmaster: Is there a fundamental pivotal point in your career which changed the way the band developed or was it an organic process of change?

Mike Rutherford: As always there are lots of them, it's a long career, but I always think that the first week of writing 'A Trick of the Tail' was quite a key event. We went in without Steve who was doing a solo album, I think, and there was a question mark over what was going to happen and the three of us went into Churchfield Road, Ealing way, and we had a great time. We wrote 'Squonk' and 'Dance on a Volcano'. It just sort of happened and sounded great. But we could have gone in and it could have been crap and then we would have been in trouble. That was an important week, I think.

Tony Banks: A lot of things are crucial. Getting presented with those drum machines was quite important.

(While Tony talks, Phil and Mike discuss the precise whereabouts of the rehearsal rooms where 'Trick of the Tail' was written. Eventually they agree it was in Acton.)

Tony Banks: I remember the chippy across the road. We used to have egg sandwiches. We were built on egg sandwiches.

Mike Rutherford: Egg sandwiches were crucial...

Webmaster: So egg sandwiches are the band's secret...

Tony Banks: Egg sandwiches were the important ingredient. We wrote 'Epping Forest' on the strength of that. No, I can't remember, was it 'Supper's Ready'?

(Tony and Phil embark on a reminiscence about what songs were written at which rehearsal rooms... the solo in 'Apocalypse in 9/8', 'I know what I like' are mentioned.)

Mike Rutherford: They are like two old blokes in a pub now, they're off. Two old war veterans...

Phil Collins: Where are the Headley Grange tapes? Those are the ones we have to take really good care of, because all the gigs are what the gigs are. I don't know whether I have got them or not, I think I have.

Mike Rutherford: Because Headley Grange had all the jamming....

Phil Collins: There's stuff there that's not just undeveloped songs, there are bits in there we never did again.

Tony Smith: That's the kind of stuff it would be great to release.

Phil Collins: Those were the first real jams, thunder and lightning, real thunder and lightning.

Webmaster: Was jamming the way that songs really developed? Was that the core of the songwriting process or was it more a question of coming in with part-created ideas?

Tony Banks: More in the later years. With The Lamb there was quite a bit of jamming but quite a lot of it was pre-done, we came in with sections.

Phil Collins: 'In the Cage'-

Tony Banks: Well, apart from the solo, the rest of 'In the Cage' I wrote at home and I came in with it and it developed a certain sort of way. So a lot of things were sections we brought in, but as you develop them with the group you change them. Later albums were much more the jamming thing. From the Genesis album onwards.

Phil Collins: 'Cinema Show' was a jam, wasn't it?

Tony Smith: I wonder if there are other versions?

Tony Banks: There's endless stuff. But you've (PC) got it all. I haven't got anything.

Phil Collins: Pud looked and I think he said they'd found them, because I was worried they were at The Farm. The Headley Grange tapes, there are about 25 tapes of 90 minutes each. It's got an awful lot of stuff on it that the fans would kill for.

Webmaster: Eno's name came up earlier. Someone wrote in and asked 'what exactly did Eno do on 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'?

Tony Banks: It was really more like gimmicky effects on a couple of things. He used that Echoplex and he just wiggled it on the introduction to the whole album. He did the vocal effects on 'Grand Parade' and 'In the Cage'. But he didn't play anything, it was just effects. And it all happened the day I wasn't there. I was ill.

Phil Collins: I got sent upstairs as payment (laughter). Because Eno was bigger than we were, you know with Roxy Music, and so Peter must have said to him "Well, thanks for doing this, how do we pay you?" And he said, "I need a drummer and I was sent upstairs and he was doing 'Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy' (ed. ?), so I played on that track and it became a beautiful relationship".

Webmaster: I have got a nice question for Tony here. A lady called Jennifer Elizabeth wrote: I am one of those old folks who saw Genesis at the time of the Genesis/Lindisfarne concerts and, since then, I have seen them forty plus times. One of our favourite things to do in a concert was to count how many times Mr Banks moved or smiled. Now we are all in our mature years does Mr Banks think he moves around more or less when he plays?

Tony Banks: Well, I hope I haven't changed. Something has to remain stable in the group (laughter). The truth of the matter is, it can come out now though it's never really been a secret, I never felt natural up there at all. I was just up there and did what I did. I could play the music and make the right sounds and let other people do all the rest of it as I always felt awkward up there - it was not where I was meant to be. I should have always just been a writer but, unfortunately, you had to do both. You get used to it. In those early gigs you used to get people shouting "smile Tony". It didn't help really, didn't help. I've got one of those faces, I suppose, that naturally, when it's doing nothing else, tends to go into a sort of scowl.

Webmaster: But, inside your smiling (laughter).

Tony Banks: Inside I'm smiling? No. In this day and age where you can get anywhere if you smile- (at this point, TB wanders off into a digression about Richard Branson, which it is best not put into print-). Anyway, that's how far a smile can get you and that's why I haven't got that far. But I'm smiling now.

Webmaster: And your current classical project. How is that progressing?

Tony Banks: I'm about one third of the way through the project, though I'm more than one third of the way through the budget! It's very exciting really, getting your pieces done with an orchestra. It's such a different way of working. In the time it would take us to plug in a bass guitar and make a sausage sandwich I've recorded thirty minutes of music. The stress is incredible. The moment the clock starts you've got eighty musicians out there waiting for you and the first time you play the piece back half of it's wrong. Then slowly, over the period of an hour or two, it coalesces into something close to what you intended. But, at a certain point, you have to say 'that's it'. It's not like doing a rock track when you can keep going modifying it and changing it and adding to it. You've finally got something and you've got to say "well, that's it" or you've got to re-do it completely from scratch. And it's quite a difficult thing because at little moments you think "the speed is not right" or "the orchestration's not right".

Phil Collins: You accept the fact that this orchestra is not interested in necessarily playing or sounding the best. You'd think they'd say 'let's work on this, this is our orchestra and we're going to sound good playing this guy's music'.

Tony Banks: They do their best, they're doing a really good job, it's just that you've got all these people playing music they've never heard and where the arrangement is unknown. And, as you're recording it, you're assessing it. That's the difficult part about it. Are the notes right? Is the arrangement right? Is the speed right? Should we have done this here and that there? If you could take two or three days over each piece you'd get a far better result. But that's the way it is.

Phil Collins: And the reason you can't-

Tony Banks: -is expense. You've got eighty people and they've got to be paid and they're not being paid a fantastic amount of money. It's the number of people. If you only had four people like in a group you can spend the time.

Phil Collins: But they don't encourage newcomers do they?

Tony Banks: Well, it's not quite like that. You're entering their world, you've got to kind of do it their way.

Phil Collins: I'm suggesting they could modify their world.

Tony Banks: But it's fun. It's sounding negative but it's not. Ultimately, I'm very pleased but there's much more to do.

Webmaster: Do you have an idea when it might be finished?

Tony Banks: Realistically, some time in the middle of next year.

Webmaster: Would it be something you would like to see played live?

Tony Banks: I would, I suppose. I'm really not thinking that far ahead.

Phil Collins: Promotion! (laughter) Breakfast TV-

Tony Banks: I would like to believe that the classical world is different and that they don't go for the hard sell-

Phil Collins: Number 18 with a bullet!

Tony Banks: -but I reckon that it's almost worse. My little brush with it so far makes me believe that the hard sell is even greater because they're working with small margins. You can see the sort of way they try to sell records with girls wearing as little as possible and all the rest of it. It's become very commercialised. I never really think ahead, unfortunately, but making the record has been a lot of fun and that's as far as I can look at the moment.

Webmaster: Phil, you're working on some songs for a new album. What's the timetable and plan for that?

Phil Collins: Well, I've done what I think is the record. I've got to get it mixed with a pair of ears rather than one and a half. So, it needs to be tightened up. But I've got seventeen or eighteen songs. There's an obvious album and there are some very good contenders. So, they will be tightened up and finished in the Spring and the album will come out before Christmas next year.

Webmaster: Will that involve touring?

Phil Collins: No. At the moment just a studio album.

Tony Smith: There will be no promotion and no touring (laughter).

Phil Collins: There will be no touring. My ear is not good, my other ear is fine. So part of me will be out on tour (laughter). I'm not anticipating doing gigs. I'd like to do a few special things.

Tony Banks: I blame the Chinese cymbal. The Slipperman-

Phil Collins: No, it's years of playing his (Tony's) solos (laughter). No, it's just one of those things. Life is like that. I am doing this charity gig for me and my wife's Foundation thing in January but that's a different kind of thing. But there will be the odd gig probably to do with the album. But, because the songs have been written on the computer and I've played everything on it, I'm reluctant to let people loose on some of the things that would be necessary to make it possible to play live. That's one of the handicaps I've got at the moment but maybe it will open up a bit. One thing at a time. The album first-

Webmaster: And Mike, you've been working on some new songs for a Mechanics album-

Mike Rutherford: I've been writing with Paul Carrack and B A Robertson for a Mechanics thing. But I'm not sure I envisage any concerts afterwards. You kind of think after Youngy you'd call it a day but I still like to write with Paul. There still may be a Mechanics audience out there and we'll see where it goes really.

Webmaster: Going back to that archive thing, are you aware of that four CD Mechanics bootleg that's circulating?

Mike Rutherford: No.

Webmaster: I can get you a copy if you're interested.

Mike Rutherford: Yes...

Tony Banks: Please don't get me one (laughter).

Mike Rutherford: ...I can't wait-

Tony Banks: I don't really have a problem with bootlegs. It's something that record companies get excited about but our feeling is that no-one buys a bootleg who hasn't already got something else. It's an addition and they're fun and as they are a bit rare it adds to the excitement of it all.

Tony Smith: We've got to go-

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