After enjoying a string of hits, Mike and the Mechanics split up. But now they’re back with a new album and tour. Dave Owens speaks to frontman Mike Rutherford.
Mike Rutherford says he’s not cut out for life as a solo performer. "I’m doing no more solo albums," he says. "I can’t really sing and if I write a song I want a good singer for it."
But he’s not giving up on music altogether – far from it.
Instead, he’s reforming the band he originally started as a side-line to his full-time role with Genesis.
Mike And The Mechanics are back with a new line-up, new album and a new tour, which includes a date in Wales this spring.
Rutherford originally formed the outfit back in 1984 with Paul Young (ex Sad Café) and Paul Carrack, and between then and 2000, the band enjoyed hits with the likes of The Living Years, All I Need Is A Miracle and Over My Shoulder.
But in 2000, Young died suddenly of a heart attack and the band reconvened (as Mike And The Mechanics and Paul Carrack) to record the 2004 album Rewired.
"I thought the band had run its course," Rutherford explains. "Especially after we lost Paul Young.
"There was a chemistry between the three of us that really worked," he adds.
"Then I got involved with the Genesis reunion tour in 2007."
After the Genesis jaunt, Rutherford carried on writing songs and the idea of bringing back The Mechanics came to the fore.
"Basically, I love to write," he states, matter-of-factly. "And I was writing some songs with Chris Neil, who had written and produced for the old Mechanics, and we thought, why not go back to the beginning again and find some new singers.
"The band always was a bit of a project."
Ultimately Rutherford has repeated the successful formula of the original band by recruiting two lead singers.
The two vocalists he has turned to on this occasion are Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar.
Roachford is one of the most successful UK R & B acts of the ’90s, having scored hits with Cuddly Toy and The Way That I Feel.
Howar is a Canadian actor-singer who has had success in the West End in shows such as Tonight’s The Night, in which he played the role of Rod Stewart.
"Andrew was recommended to me and we asked him to come down," says Rutherford. "We actually wrote some stuff on that first day.
"Having an R & B type singer in the band works, and Tim has this theatrical background which also makes him suitable for the songs that Paul used to sing."
Joining the trio on stage will be Gary Wallis, who played drums in the old band as well as touring with Pink Floyd, Anthony Drennan, who has toured with both Genesis and The Corrs, and keyboard player Luke Juby.
Rutherford admits he is really looking forward to taking his new band on the road.
"We’ve already done a couple of small sets and there’s a new energy within the band," he reveals.
Plus Mike And The Mechanics have a new album to look forward to. The Road is to be released in April, just in time for the tour.
"Obviously I’m a bit biased," Rutherford says in his quiet, unassuming way. "But it’s pretty good really. The Mechanics sound is still there.
"Some of the songs are obviously Mechanics’ songs, but there’s that new energy and nice personality. There’s the conviction of the voices."
Naturally, the album will feature in the live shows.
"Yes, we’ll do about four or five songs off the new album, the rest will be the old hits and a couple of Andrew’s songs.
"I’m looking forward to playing in the UK, it’s a great way to promote the album. I have a great band here which I feel has slightly more mainstream appeal than the heavier stuff I did with Genesis."
Speaking of Genesis, following Phil Collins’ official retirement from music it appears that there’s not much chance of that band touring again, but is the legendary rock outfit no more?
"There’s nothing planned, but I never say never, we’re good friends still," is all that Mike will say on that particular subject.
Having toured for years with The Mechanics, Rutherford admits he’s accumulated many great memories of life on the road.
"Yes, most of the best memories involve Paul Young getting into trouble, plus as a frontman he was always great at getting the audience joining in," recalls the musician.
He’s now hoping that the new line-up will prove a success.
"If it works, we’ll carry on, it’s fun to tour. Also, what drives me on is songwriting, it’s easier to write for a band and I’ve a lovely vehicle in Mike And The Mechanics."
The Road will be released on April 11. Mike And The Mechanics play Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on May 17.
© Walesonline, by David Owens
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