Tony Banks interviewed by Richard Skinner on GLR Radio 24th May 1991. Interview transcribed by Alan Hewitt.
RS: Tony Banks has just joined me in the studio, Tony welcome. Now we have a new album which is called…?
RS: Why is it called Still? Is there a story behind that?
TB: Well you look at all the titles on the album and I had got one called Still It Takes Me By Surprise and I couldn’t fit it all on the cover. I also like the word because it has several different meanings actually, depending on how you think about it. It has got a sort of continuity and yet it has got a sense of; could this be it… that sort of stuff.
RS: How do you balance out your time between a project like this and your obvious commitments to Genesis as well?
TB: Well, with the Genesis project we kind of said that we would get together at a particulatr time which was earlier this year, about three moths ago. And the idea was that from then on we do just Genesis. Obviously both Mike and I overran with our projects both having to do a bit of promotional work on the record. Most of our time now… about ninety per cent of our time is being spent on Genesis stuff, we’re in the middle of a record at the moment.
RS: I have this vision of Mike being out somewhere with the Mechanics, and you’re in here and Phil’s in the studio changing everything! (laughs).
TB: That’s right, we can’t stop him! (laughs) We said, look Phil, take a couple of days off please, and he said no, no I’m putting a couple of drum tracks on and we’ll come back in a couple of days and say that’s no good and take it off again (laughs). No, we won’t it’ll be great.
RS: I like a co-operative band like this. Is it linking together again because it has been a long time actually?
TB: Once we get back together again it’s like we have never stopped actually, we just carry on. I think because we work in the same sort of way I suppose we seem to have no lack of ideas.
RS: I think you should release an album of the working title versions.
TB: I can tell you we make some really horrible noises on our own and it is one of the things you can do when you are with people you have known for twenty years is that you can … you don’t care if you play a lot of bum notes ...you are not sort of embarrassed if you like.
RS: We’re going to talk next about the Still project which must have been approached in a very different way. You chose to surround yourself with some very interesting companions, vocalists for this album. How difficult was it to decide who you did want to put on the album?
TB: Well it wasn’t too difficult… with Fish who is on the record as well, I had worked with him before and we were friendly and I didn’t … I love his voice and I wanted to work with him again and that wasn’t too difficult a choice. In the case of Nik Kershaw, he is someone who I have admired for a long time. I liked him when he was popular and I have liked him more in recent years. I particularly liked his last record which was called The Works which didn’t have much success but which I thought was tremendous. And after listening to that I thought well, why not ring him up and see if he wants to do something and at the time he was really quite busy working with Chesney Hawkes and everything but he seemed keen to do this and so that worked out.
RS: A while ago I was talking to Mike Oldfield and he has made albums for many years on which other people have done the vocals and one day he decided to do it himself and it has worked out OK for him, he has discovered a voice inside there… you know what the question is going to be… (laughs).
TB: Well I have done it before I have to say I did go through this process a long time ago and the one thing I thought: being a song writer the one thing you should do is try and sing an album so I did a while album many years ago and….. It worked out OK I dig it out and play it and it sounds good to me. I still sing in fact, there’s one track on this album I sing and one track on the previous album I sing as well. My voice is limited but I do like to do a little bit. I get letters from people saying: please never sing again and others saying please sing everything so… I am very happy not to sing, I don’t care if I am a singer or not, I like writing songs. I have no desire to promote myself as a sort of front man at all I leave that to other people who I feel do the job better.
RS: So you employ in a sense, front men. You employ people who have that…
TB: A bit. I employ a voice really, I don’t think too hard about it. But it does mean that when you have to do a video or something like we have done for this song: I Wanna Change The Score I sit back which is excellent.
RS: You’re going to do it live? We’ve seen Mike Rutherford and The Mechanics do it?
TB: Well, no. I mean could you imagine taking five singers on the road with you? I don’t anticipate that but you never know what happens. It depends on how things go really.
RS: For the next few months you are tied up with Genesis recordings. Then do you HAVE to take that out as a Genesis tour as well?
TB: I don’t feel we have to but we will feel obliged to I suppose. No, we’re going to do it. We intend to try and get this record finished and out before Christmas this year and then do some touring probably late spring next year, which will probably involve quite a few biggish places I’m afraid. We want to try and do some smaller places as well but we haven’t really decided about that yet.
RS: It would be great to see Genesis in a sort of intimate atmosphere.
TB: Yeah but then you have the old problem that if you play smaller places most people don’t see you at all so you have to make the choice between playing a bigger place which isn’t so good where everyone can see you and smaller places where only a few people can see you and normally the people who get to see you at smaller places have some sort of way of getting tickets that has nothing to do with being first at the door.