Phil Collins recently made good on his declaration that he is "no longer officially retired" by booking a nine-date European tour that kicks off June 4th with a five-night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall before touching down in Cologne, Germany and Paris.
While in New York to promote his new memoir Not Dead Yet, Collins tells Rolling Stone that he hopes to book more shows. I would like to play some shows in South America," he says. "If we do that, I'm sure we do some shows in the States too."
The backing band for the tour will include musicians who have worked with Collins for decades, including guitarist Daryl Stuermer, keyboardist Brad Cole, bassist Leland Sklar and percussionist Luis Conte along with a horn section and backup singers. This time around, however, his 15-year-old son Nicholas will be on drums. If fans had any doubt the newcomer could handle the gig, he proved himself at the US Open in August when he nailed the iconic "In The Air Tonight" drum fill.
The European tour coincides with Nicholas' summer vacation, but his school schedule won't be an issue if it continues through the rest of 2017. "I've already met with the headmaster and he's very enthusiastic for Nic," says Collins. "That's not the problem. It's just a question of him being able to continue with homework and things."
Rehearsals begin in May, but Collins has already met with lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe about the stage setup. "It would be dangerous to give too much away," says Collins. "We're working out a way to make a show special. At the moment, there won't be any new material, but we can bring out some songs that we haven't done so they'll appear new." The show will focus heavily on his solo catalog, but he does plan on playing some Genesis tunes. "On the last tour we did 'Invisible Touch' and 'Misunderstanding,'" he says. "We'll put in a couple of [Genesis songs] in, two or three."
I've gotta get into a routine of practicing. When I hold a pair of sticks now, it doesn't seem natural.
Collins hasn't released an album of original material since 2002's Testify, but he has a studio in his Miami Beach house. "For a while, my excuse has been that I was busy with the book," he says. "Now the book is out and I can't be busy with it anymore. There's a triple CD of singles out in Europe, which kind of completes the reissue thing. I think now, apart from getting a little fitter, I'll have time to turn the studio on and see what happens."
Playing the drums has been nearly impossible for Collins over the past nine years because of nerve damage he suffered on the 2007 Genesis reunion tour. Recent surgeries on his back and feet have furthered weakened him and he now walks with a cane, but he set up a drum kit in his garage and he hopes to regain some of his chops. "I've gotta get into a routine of practicing," he says. "When I hold a pair of sticks now, it doesn't seem natural. Most of my playing now is done from fingers, not grip. That's what I've lost."
Now that he's back on the road, the inevitable question of Genesis comes up. Is he willing to consider another tour with them? "Writing the book reminded me how close we were," he says. "We're still great pals. Tony [Banks], Mike [Rutherford] and I went out on my birthday in London. Anything can happen, really. I just don't want to suddenly take the break off and start flying off and doing things. I just want to do things carefully and think about the consequences."
If Genesis did tour, it would most likely not include Peter Gabriel, who hasn't played with the band since a one-off reunion show in 1982. "If I was an able drummer I'd gladly get behind the kit and drum for Pete," Collins says. "But the fans need to know what they'd get. I told that to a German journalist once and he said, 'It would be fun to see Peter sing 'I Can't Dance' and to see me sing 'Supper's Ready.' I was thinking, 'I can't argue with this…'"
Hypothetically, how about a scenario where Nic Collins played drums and Phil sang backup and provided light percussion? "In that case you've made me say, 'Never say never,'" he says. "But there's no plans."
© RollingStone, by Andy Greene