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Mechanics of a good team

Think Mike and the Mechanics and it's the sweeping emotional hits like The Living Years, Silent Running, All I Need Is A Miracle and Over My Shoulder that instantly spring to mind. Here were driving anthems that transcended regular genres and spoke to heart and soul through rocky melodies and soaring choruses.

An unusual beast, driven since 1984 by Genesis bassist and songwriter Mike Rutherford, the band has always been distinguished by its lack of singular lead singer; for the first album there were four or five but in its most distinctive early 90s guise it was Paul Young (previously with Sad Cafe) and Paul Carrack who vocalised the Mechanics sound.

With the untimely death of Young in 2000 and the departure of Carrack following a brief reunion in 2004, the band seemed to have run its course.

Nearly seven years down the line, the Mike and the Mechanics concept appeared unlikely to return, but in 2010 came the announcement of a new record deal with Arista Records and fresh blood in the form of Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar.

Now there's a hot-off-the-press and distinctly Mechanics-flavoured album The Road and a UK tour, which comes to the Westcountry in mid-May.

Mike Rutherford has a talent for drawing together an effective team; although clearly the band's stalwart, he is musical director rather than dictator, celebrating what each individual brings to the mix. Some might be surprised by his choice of new singers and co-writers.

Andrew, known generally as Roachford in his guise as massive UK soul and RnB act in the 1990s, he broke into the scene in his early 20s, storming the charts with Cuddly Toy; he was Columbia's biggest-selling UK act for ten years, creating international hits like Only To Be With You to The Way That I Feel.

By contrast, Canadian Tim led the rock band Vantramp, supporting the likes of Rod Stewart, Paulo Nutini, the Sugarbabes and Newton Faulkner. With a parallel acting career he's played on Broadway and in the West End and starred as Rod Stewart in the show Tonight's The Night.

Mike is delighted by the diversity of his team, which also features Gary Wallis on drums, Anthony Drennan on guitar, and Luke Juby on keyboards.

"I'm certainly not a frontman – you have to know what you are good at," says Mike. "Getting people together, showing their individual talents and making it all work seems to be a particular strength.

"I like the fact that Andrew and Tim and I are all from slightly different areas. It's a good chemistry.

"The songs are going to sound 'Mechanics-y' because I am there and I can't help the way that I write, although I always try to create something that moves me, but there's always development and progress."

Mike has always loved writing and composed his first song when he was still at school.

"Longevity is about good songs," he asserts.

"When we started Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and myself had really wanted to be songwriters, but there was a new trend for bands of that era to perform their own material, so that's what we ended up doing."

After a lengthy hiatus and a worldwide tour with a revived Genesis in 2007, Mike started putting the new material together a couple of years ago, then got Andrew and Tim involved in the studio.

The current live show will revolve around the weighty Mike and the Mechanics back catalogue, but with some nods to the past – and the band's new recruits – with a sprinkling of Genesis, and a couple of numbers from Andrew and Tim's personal repertoires.

© This is Bristol

Last modified on Thursday, 05 May 2011 19:00

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