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Interview French TV M6

Phil Collins - TestifyNEW ALBUM

"I spent more time than usual to write the songs for this album. It took 2 years for it all to come together, I did not rush anything.

Many people tried and failed to persuade me to work with young producers who supposedly could make my music enter the 21st century. For me this suggestion was not a good idea. I always have done what I do how I do, because I write my own stuff.
It sounds as it does because I wrote it. So I said to myself, that I should…The record should be as I desire it, as faithful and honest as possible, and TESTIFY is a word that sums this up.


I play drums since I was 3 years old. At 5 I started seriously and by 12 I had a full drumkit. However, in those days , in the 60's (I was born in 1951) you could only be a professional musician at from 18 years old.

I've been an actor, I went to Drama school. Up to 17, all I was doing was that, in films, TV and on stage. Until I could leave school and become a pro musician, that's what I did. After that all I did was playing music, without earning. I was just looking for a band and, when I was 19, I replied to an ad : It was for GENESIS.


I have a real soft spot for this period. We never knew what would happen…we just played, that's all we wanted
to do. We would get up in the morning, get into the van, and there was a 50% chance that it would break down on the way out or back. We used to really hoped we'd get there in time to play the gig! These days, it was fantastic! It is a cliché to say: It was better in my time, you should have seen it…but we really had fun. I was with Mike Rutherford the other night, we had dinner together… and I told him: we were playing together 30 years ago and today we're having dinner together. It great, I love that!


My main influence is without doubt the BEATLES, It always will be. The Beatles songs, especially those written between 1962 and 69 are gems of composition and production. It is something that I still admire and analyze sometimes asking myself: What is that so special? A track like "She Loves You" is extremely simple, it was a great success on it's release. All it is really is a succession of
elementary chords and it's the fantastic melody laid over those chords that makes this song special. These tracks are unforgettable. Sometimes, people underestimate their genius. As a singer I'd say the Beatles as well, for their collective  harmonies, but also Aretha Franklin, Otis Reading, Wilson Picket, Percy Sledge, Sam and Dave…The groups from Motown , like the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Supremes…they were not really artists by themselves but the Motown sound really influenced me. The Beatles were the tip of the iceberg but there was also the Hollies, the Stones…all these 60's bands. I bought all the Yardbirds records, and the Animals…they all were my heroes. I was a music fan. There are very few new artists for who I think: I cannot wait for their new album, I loved the previous one… There are some like Eminem, who is very clever, just like Madonna. He is a very bright guy. When he hums "na na na na" (Without Me) it's fantastic.


It changes the way you compose. I have 4 children, from the ages of 30 right down to 2 years old. Depending of the periods in our lives, we react in different ways. When I had Joely and Simon, who today are 30 and 26 years old, I was with Genesis and we were going to conquer the world. We worked very hard. Its very different from today as I do different things. I have achieved many things and am very proud. Today , I do "Daddy" things, like writing original soundtracks lol. You change at 52 years old. Your approach to life, your ideas and views of life change. You mature.


Wine, Women, Sun ! LOL… What I do, is writing the music I love. I am not sure it pleases everybody, some of my records have been loved more than others…but all in all, I have been blessed by the Gods. I never take anything for granted, I always think that one day, everything will stop. This is one of the reasons why I am not…I don't buy sport cars, I only have one house in Switzerland… My parents always taught me that nothing is guaranteed, that I should manage my money well. I still have this mentality.


At my beginnings, when I was playing with Genesis, well in fact with Genesis as well as solo, the game was very different as it is now. I think that people trusted us. They used to come to see us as much as possible et bought our records knowing that they'd love it, because they'd seen us live. A certain loyalty was born out of this relationship, that's why we sold millions of seats for Genesis gigs and mine. People knew what to expect. Today everything goes so fast. Artists go off so fast that its difficult for most of them, to collect a good fan base. Many fans follow them when they are 14, and when they reach 16, they have already moved on. I realised that in the 80's with bands like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. Their fans were from a certain age group and as soon as they were getting older, they go onto something else and there was nobody to replace them. These groups seemed to have a limited viability period. Our trade is like that. The fastest the ascension is, the most brutal and murderous the fall is…I would not want to start up today…I'd be scared…(smiles)…and with my mug, I would not even get a contract! lol


The Yardbirds, in 1965, the day Jeff Beck re-joined, at the MARQUEE Club. I loved the Yardbirds but had never seen them live.
I remember not feeling well, because the bassist Paul Samwell-Smith… (Phil imitates the bass sound) I never heard him play so loud! It never happened again and it was the first time I experienced something like that. That is what I remember.


When I played with Eric Clapton, as his drummer in 1985/86. I produced 2 of his records. For the second one "August", we did a
tour. I was every night at Madison Square Gardens, Eric on the guitar, me on the drums…it was PERFECT! I love Eric.


There are a few. One of them would be…The most embarrassing one must be when I played "Against All Odds" for Live Aid at Wembley. My finger slipped on a note. It produced a horrible sound…thousands people saw it, it was extremely embarrassing…

When I was 14, I was an actor in the Musical OLIVER. My voice broke, on stage …I was singing and…(Phil mimics his voice breaking). That was too most embarrassing…the worse of all!


I always wanted to be a footballer, a goalie (goal keeper). I think that if I had not been a musician, I would have been a
footballer. But, I was not good enough at it…

© French TV M6
translated from a recent interview

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