Cottage in Switzerland, a yacht, a bimbo girlfriend, a new album on the charts, soundtrack for the next Disney cartoon...at 45 PC doesn't want anything else...
The little bald man broke up with his past and says he's never been so happy in all his life. He left his long-time companion Jill ( after a bitter argument and lots of dirty linen washed in the tabloids), dissolved a 25-year marriage to Genesis, abandoned England and... settled down in a cottage on the mountains, half hour from Geneva, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland with a 23-year-old Swiss-Thai woman, named Orianne. Located on the margin of a big and beautiful lake (whose name is Geneva as well) the city has six hundred thousand inhabitants and its a symbol of civilization and perseverance of cultural values. It was there that Phil met his mew love, found inspiration for the album DITL and received Showbizz for a pleasant chat.Showbizz: How did you end up in Switzerland?
PC: Well, its rather complicated. Id never thought of living in another country. I'm an Englishman and wouldn't be able to live even in the US. My ex- wife and I even bought a house in Los Angeles a few years ago - its been restored and done over since then. But I ended up moving because it was here where I fell in love. I started coming over here any time I could on tours, free days. I was separated already and didn't have a home. Id always check into a hotel by the lake. After the latest tour we found this little house and moved in. Two months ago we went to a bigger place.
S: Do you miss England, like, British football for instance?
PC: I have a lot of British channels on TV. I don't miss it at all. To be honest, that surprises me. I've really integrated myself into this place. I still don't have the right to buy a house in Switzerland, Ill only have it after 5 years living here. Then I rented this house. It belongs to Jacky Stewart (former Formula one champion) a long-time friend. He's in England seeing about his new Formula 1 team. We look after the house as if it were ours. But its a kind of a cottage and decorated by...Jackie Stewart, who is a Scot. I don't lack anything but I keep on buying cheddar cheese, piccalilli, this British pub stuff.
S: Well, there are no pubs in Switzerland...
PC: I miss my local pub but I was never a boozer, the kind of guy who goes to a pub and drinks 10 pints. Id enjoy to go the pub early to be able to talk to friends. This I miss and also a bit of the British sense of humor. But my home now is over here. Every time the plane flies over the lake I've got the feeling I'm getting home. Its beautiful over here! I spent my childhood sailing with my parents. I'm the honorary president of the Richmond Yacht Club in London, which is the club my parents have attended for almost 40 years. Thus I thought appropriate buying a boat here. I bought a 20-feet motor boat.
S: About the influence of African music on DITL you mentioned Youssou NDour, Ginger Baker when he played with Graham Bond Organization...
PC: That was a reaction of mine to the association people have done between my new album and the music of Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon. Its obvious PG was the pioneer and everybody knows that Paul Simon recorded an album in South Africa. I didn't make this album because of them! I don't even have PS records though I like "Graceland" very much. As for Peter, well, he deals with the dark side of African music. And if you listen carefully I was already doing things which had to do with African music in my drum duets with Chester Thompson while still with Genesis! Id play a kind of tribal drum. But my favorite drummer in the 60s was a guy called Roger Powell from a soul group called The Action. They were produced by George Martin! It was the only other group he produced besides The Beatles. Roger Powell was the drummer who influenced me most and he loved African music.
S: You're preparing the soundtrack for Disney forthcoming Tarzan, then you've dealt with African music again...
PC: Oh, yeah! Actually, African music was only one element on my album, one of many influences. Suddenly, "Lorenzo" lyrics showed up and talks literally about Africa, and then I was invited to write the cartoon soundtrack and the story is in Africa! Then I thought; "Sorry, but, what's going on?" (laughter) "All was leading to Africa!"
S: Soundtracks for Disney cartoons always have great chances to win an Oscar...
PC: I know it. I've already had 2 bids: for "Against All Odds" and "Two Hearts" , but haven't got any. Yet Disney made Hollywood to set a new category: "other competitors!" (laughter)
S: Do you play the guitar? At least that's what is written on the latest album.
PC: I lied! (laughter) I don't play the guitar. I use a keyboard, an Emulator, which has excellent guitar sounds. If you play typical piano accords then people will realize that its not a real guitar being played. But I found a way, using fewer fingers, to sound like a real one. I ended up playing some solos and slide parts.
S: People have regarded DITL as a cheerful, positive record. Rather curious, once one theme which is always there is the fear of loneliness, a sad feeling. Do you agree?
PC: Each one interprets it in his own way. The other day I gave an interview for Marillions ex vocalist, Fish, on his radio show and he also didn't find it happy. As far as I'm concerned I think its much more cheerful than Both Sides, which I regard as my best album ever.
S: In general the reviews for your latest album haven't been good.
PC: Most of music magazines are made by people who don't like me. Its very hard to find a critic who has no prejudice against Phil Collins. I have 25 years with Genesis, the fame of being Mr. Nice Guy, the square, friend to the royal family, rich and so on. I think the only way to dig a positive review would be to use a pen name. If DITL had been released under an unknown name many people would have said, "Gosh! Great! Who's this?"
S: Have you gotten over this last turbulent time in your life?
PC: I found happiness. I quit Genesis, went through a complicated divorce, walked out on wife and kids but I met this young lady and moved to Switzerland. I'm very happy.
S: Is it true that you've recently stated that you hate Genesis old songs?
PC: (thinks for a while) Last night, I watched the laser disc for the latest Genesis tour. I saw "Hold on my Heart" and "Dreaming While you Sleep" and found them fantastic. Then the 70s medley began and I suddenly realized why I quit Genesis. I have a love/hate relationship with the groups history. Tony Banks loves our past. I honestly don't like many of the songs. The way they sound doesn't appeal to me, I don't like what I do on them, the way I sing, the too complicated lyrics. In several songs I didn't know what I was singing about.
S: You were to have performed in Brazil in 1995, but the gig was called off two weeks before. What happened?
PC: I think the promoters were not able to raise enough money. The same happened in Uruguay The costs for that tour were too high. We ended up playing Peru, Venezuela, Chile and Argentina.
© Showbizz, by Thomas Pappon