An out of the blue conversation with Mike Rutherford. TWR chats with Mike about the new album and tour. Interview at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool on Saturday 23rd February 2019. Photographs by Alan Hewitt.
TWR: Right well we are here to talk about the new album and the tour, Mike so first of all, tell us about the three new songs that are on the album..
MR: I will, but first of all I am going to tell you about the reason we did it which justifies the new songs. Really, I didn’t want to bring Hits out again, and so I just thought Andrew and Tim had been singing these songs for how many years and they have made them a bit different, their own. They have extended them and it seemed a nice moment to record it. And so we recorded the old ones but without those new voices doing it, I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have re-recorded the old songs without a reason to do it. So it is justified because it has got new voices and new singers in a sense. So that was the reason to start the whole thing going. And then I thought let’s write some new songs and I didn’t really have the time to write a whole new album of stuff and go through the business so…
TWR: So who did you get involved with the writing, was it just you or did you get other song writers involved too?
MR: It was the same old team, me and Cark (Datchler) Andrew Roachford as well and I did a bit of writing with Tim (Howar) but unfortunately Tim doesn’t sing any of these as he is so busy in Chess and lately in The Phantom Of The Opera, I couldn’t really get him down . So, on the one hand it is great having a lead role and the lead in Phantom is a great thing in his career, I think. But I couldn’t get him down to write very much .
TWR: So you have mentioned in the tag mile for the album that this is an introduction for the fans to the future of the band, so what actually is the future of the band now?
MR: I have no idea! (laughs) I never have any idea I never really think about that. I have said it before, you do this tour and it has been nice so far, it has sold well and we shall see where it takes us at the end.
TWR: So, you have said you have re-recorded the older songs, how much different are they from the established versions?
MR: Well, we have Gary (Wallis) drumming on them which is nice and I suppose the main thing is on things like All I Need Is A Miracle and Over My Shoulder they have been extended with end sections like the live versions we do and did them in the same form as that. The main difference is the voices really, it makes the whole thing feel different.
TWR: So, when it comes to new songs, how do you, if you are working with somebody else, how do you go about putting the song together, when Clark is off doing his bot and you are doing yours…?
MR: I always start at home with me and I have some ideas and that is how we start and I play them to Clark and Andrew, and the sound and the chords and stuff and it goes from there really.
TWR: So, when you are writing for these things yourself, what comes first? Is it an idea, a subject, a melody line or could it be any of them?
MR: It could be anything really, it could be a chord sequence or a melody sometimes and the third song of the new ones which is called What Would You Do and that was a song which I tried on the last album and the idea was if the world is upsetting you, what would you do ? We tried it last time and it was OK but it didn’t really work but it sounded like some kind of fading popstar being angry because nobody likes him any more (laughs) and that wasn’t the point really. I didn’t mean it like that. So I tried to make it less negative.
TWR: You are obviously busy out on the road promoting this album playing, I think, two of the songs or all three of them? How do you go about structuring a set, given the amount of material you have got to play with…?
MR: We are playing all three of the new songs. Well, this time it is kind of easy because we have two sets and there is no support band and I am not a big fan of intervals but in a way it make sup play more music and I chose to do it this way because I thought I want it to feel different, you know what I mean? We have toured three or four times now and I thought let’s not do another set again so by having the first half, interval and then we start part two acoustically and I think that makes the whole thing feel very different.
TWR: The band got back together in 2010 how much different does it feel now that you got your feet under the table if you like, as a band..?
MR: Yeah, very different it is like I have said before it is just miles on the clock and you play to people and you react so well to us on stage as the years tick by and you play something new and people react to it and they give you the energy and you give it back to them and everyone is enjoying it which makes it more special.
TWR: Do you think that with Andrew having his career and Tim being in and out of so many shows, do they bring something different to the Mechanics when they come back to it?
MR: They do, because they come from different worlds and I like that but the Mechanics is still the Mechanics, you know, but I think they enjoy the break too and Andrew is recording another album and Tim will be vack with The Phantom after this is over.
TWR: And then later in the summer, you guys are going out again with Mr Collins again, so how does that feel? How did that come about?
MR: We did it before in Europe (2004’s Rewired shows, and Phil’s First Final Farewell Tour - AH) and it wasn’t the best time to do it, it was a funny band with just Paul (Carrack) singing and without Youngie, and it was OK, but it didn’t feel quite the same and the energy wasn’t quite right and it will be fine but I think that Phil worries that, am I OK about it you know? (Laughs) and I am very comfortable abojt the fact that it is the Mechanics and we are supporting him and it is great for us because it is bigger audiences and more people will like us.
TWR: The downside of that of course, it will start the dreaded reunion rumours again...
MR: They are never going to go away are they? (Laughs)
TWR: And the future for the Mechanics, will there be another full album in the offing at some point…?
MR: I don’t really know. After this I am due some time off and I said to my wife that after this tour, I hope no big things come up and then Phil’s thing came up and I thought why not, it should be very easy but I am due a bit of time off because last year writing the music, even though it was only three songs, it was just as painful, you know when songs are In your head and you are trying to make them come right and in some senses it is almost easier to do an album and three songs doesn’t seem like that much work. An album you have to put that bit aside and work on other stuff.
Once again our thanks to Mike for giving up his time during what is a busy schedule for him. To Steve “Pud” Jones for making me watch an English rugby humiliation by the Welsh and for all him help and to Jo Greenwood for organising everything for us.