Phil Collins receives in a Genevese hotel room. To smile, relaxation, attention, kindness: the star to the 150 million sold albums readily delivers, without fuss, a point of irony in the voice, and an intact pleasure in spite of a handicap (loss of sensitivity in the hands) of which it does not make a whole history.
|Phil Collins: “The fact of having to sing opened other prospects to me,
and allowed me to write my own songs. My musical tastes are very
diverse” | Lorenzo Agius
When the project in concert in Montreux did take form?
I made this disc, Going Back, of the resumptions of titles drunk person of the Sixties, of the Motown label, which leaves in September. Two or three people convinced me that to play it on scene the process would supplement. I went to the doctor to Lausanne to look after my problems of hands, and I said myself… Montreux! It would be perfect.
How did Claude Nobs react?
Claude Nobs always said me that no matter what I want to make, I was welcome. I know Claude since the Seventies, it is somebody whom I love deeply. So that the dates agree, it even added a day with its festival! I am happy, because Montreux is really a special place. I would so much have liked to know Montreux Jazz Festival of the glorious years, when the great names of the jazz were still of this world. I nevertheless played several times there, with Genesis, Eric Clapton, my big band and at the time of my “Final Farewell Tour”… (Note: in 1996, it even drew the poster of the festival.)
What makes of Montreux a so special place?
It is traditional… I know many American musicians who come to Europe in jazz festivals, and which feel that they will be able to leave the usual framework. Montreux is the place which incarnates more this philosophy. It is known that one will be able to attend unexpected things to with it.
And… what do you prepare the unexpected one?
Nothing which comes from my compositions! I bring 19 musicians, of which Funk Brothers - three of the five alive members of the original group: Bob Babbit with low, Ray Monette with the guitar, Eddie Willis with the guitar, which exploited all the recordings of the beginnings of Motown. These types are really out of the commun run. To see playing closely me fills with enthusiasm, I hope that the public will appreciate.
Did the Motown music rock your childhood?
Yes. In fact, I listened of all. Beatles, of the jazz (Buddy Rich, Count Basie, John Coltrane), of the drunk person. As I was beater, I tried to absorb all the influences. The beaters want all to hear, one is undoubtedly more open than other instrumentalists.
To become musician, be beater… An obviousness of always?
Absolutely. I made the child actor, in particular in the Oliver musical comedy!, inspired by the novel of Dickens, because I was not enough old to play of the battery in a group! I do not know from which this musical obviousness comes. Nobody played of an instrument in my family. My brother made his life as draughtsman for magazines, my sister was skater on ice, it did not have no objective reason for me there to launch me in the music.
How that did it occur?
I received a battery of kid when I had 3 years, and I there am put with so much intensity that my “uncles” - in fact, two family friends - built me a true battery for my 5 years… I never dreamed to make another thing. I followed a school of theatre, where… we had a supergroupe music. One played of traditional of Motown, and after having left the school, I became a professional of hearings - never a true job before Genesis!
Which are the decisive moments of your life?
I suppose that the departure of Peter (note: Gabriel) of Genesis was revolving major. When it left, I did not want to really be the singer, I did not even think of it. One received full with cassettes, one auditioned eight types per day, every Monday, during the writing of the Trick album off the Tail. There was a “finalist”, one carried out a test with him, on a song which is called Squonk, but that did not sound at all. I had my little idea, I asked to test, and I saw the smiles in control… It was a moment-key, because I became more conscious of the role of the voice and the words. The fact of having to sing opened other prospects to me, and allowed me to write my own songs.
Then there was your first divorce, in 1980…
It is terrible to say. The life has strange contours sometimes. If there had not been this cataclysm in my existence, I would have perhaps made an album solo of instrumental jazz.
Then, you everywhere were seen!
It is true. I did not have any intention to occupy the scene as much. With the passing, I think that I had to be rather tedious… But one asked me for things which I could not refuse. Initially, I wanted to remain with Genesis, which started to write like a group and did not encroach on my own career. And when Eric Clapton, a large friend and quasi nearby, proposed to me to produce his next album, I could not refuse. Then there were Robert Plant, Philip Bailey, Frida (the singer of Abba), Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, John Cale… I felt obliged to say to them yes, because I had the impression that, if not, they would call me never again!
How the project to work for Disney was born?
It is funny, because Disney belonged to my life since childhood. As much my idols was musicians, as much those of my brother were the draughtsmen of the Disney studios. My sister played in several representations of “Disney one Ice”. My father sifflotait airs of Pinocchio. Then, when I received a telephone call asking to me whether I wanted to write the music of the Tarzan cartoon well, I at the same time was honoured and died of jitter. But that was a success, and blow one also required of me to write the original soundtrack for Frère of the bears, then the Tarzan musical comedy in Broadway.
You wanted to touch with all?
My musical tastes are very diverse. I also wanted to push art, or rather the exercise, to further write music which I could. I remember that certain fans did not understand that I make the music of a Disney. “It is a trick of kids!” they said. Me, I wanted to know what it is to write a title of film credits with Against All Odds, original soundtrack of cartoon, musical comedy. These people-there say to you if they are not good, they oblige you to raise your level. So much so that I regard the Tarzan musical comedy as one of my best compositions.
You entered the era of the last times… How do you live it?
I thought of it still today. When my boys have 19 or 20 years, that they will not need more their daddy at the house, I set out again in round… Good, I will have 70 years (he laughs). The problem, it is that I like what I do. And if I did it thoroughly, I would miss the children… I leave myself the possibility of setting up of the shows like this one.
You spend much time on the Coast of Vaud?
Oh yes, I live in Féchy, and I will live here as a long time as Nicholas and Matthew will live here. I mean myself very well with Orianne, one is the best friends of the world, even if we are not married any more… (it lowers the voice) and I wonder sometimes well why one is not it any more. I will continue to write music until the end of my life, even if it is right for me. Most important, it is to write music, to do it rather than to sell it… I am proud of what I achieved. I am happy thus, with my sons close to me. And perhaps although I will remake an album, but perhaps also that nobody will understand anything any more me.
© 24heures, by Thierry Meye
translated by Babel Fish