"Maltese Ants" - Genesis in Malta, Julu 1 and July 2, 1997 - A report on the band's video shoot for the Congo single. Reportage by Albert Gouder.

I always thought that it was much more possible for aliens to land in Malta than to have Genesis call by for a couple of days. July first, 1997 proved me wrong! One fine "alien afternoon" I received a telephone call from a friend who informed me that Genesis had booked accommodation in his hotel - the Hotel Phoenicia. The bookings were done through the Mediterranean Film Studios in Rinella. Genesis were here to produce their new video, "Congo" from their forthcoming album "Calling All Stations". After suffering an initial shock, I finally came to my senses and began making plans to meet the band members and see them live at the film studios.

I managed to meet them on their second day in Malta very early in the morning. I was informed that they were to wake up early and leave the hotel at 5.30am [that is early, Albert - AH], since the day's task was to film the silhouette of a helicopter hovering over the band playing the song within a surface water tank.

I arrived at the hotel at 5.00am, and waited patiently in the main foyer. The first to arrive were some crew members, and the famous Italian Genesis journalist Armando Gallo. After an informal chat and some photographs, the band members arrived. I was very pleased to meet the new recruits, Ray Wilson and Nir Z. They were both extremely polite and willing to answer my questions. Ray in particular has a very strong, deep voice and radiates self confidence. He was quick to stress the point that he was not replacing Phil Collins, but giving a new voice to Genesis. He will do his utmost to make things great for us fans. Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford patiently autographed my "The Way We Walk" CD cover and were kind enough to organise a group shot, with myself in the middle on the main staircase of the hotel. For being famous rock stars, these people were definitely down to earth. And willing to make my visit as memorable as possible. I now know that they are not only great musicians and composers, but also great people.

Albert with Tony, Ray, Mike and Nir
Picture courtesy of A. Gouder/TWR

Genesis later proceeded to the Mediterranean Film Studios (MFS) to commence a hard day's work. I followed them there and managed to see the action from a distance. Mr Jack McAdam, general manager of MFS told me that the inspiration for the video came from the "Gold Pit" in Brazil where thousands of workers dig up earth in a massive hole, put it in bags, and climb back up ladders carrying heavy sacks. This same scene was re-created in the studios with the band dressed in black, playing the song within an atmosphere of slave labour, hardship and a great deal of water splashed about. Over a hundred people were daubed with grease and wore nothing but sack cloth shorts, blackened skins and pot bellies. They worked within this pit (water tank) surrounded by riot police and posed as human ants, digging earth and pulling at a very heavy cart. Some were even trapped within a cage wall.


This scene of misery is meant to contrast with the world of luxury and greed represented by a Jean Paul Gaultier female model posing as a shark (carrying a water tank as opposed to a diver's air tank) and coming out of an expensive limousine, splashed in water by a giant 35 foot high tip tank. The film director, Howard Greenhalgh gave "Congo" a dark feeling despite it being dubbed a fun song by Ray Wilson. Howard had previously used the Rinella Film Studios to produce the Ford Ka commercial and the latest Levi's jeans advert. He was pleased with the high level of service and proposed to Genesis that they use MFS and its well equipped water tanks.

Genesis left Malta after two days of intensive filming. A few crew members remained behind to complete some final shots and all footage was taken back to the UK for final editing and music dubbing. These couple of days have been the happiest of my life. Genesis are definitely a great band and they are here to stay. With the charisma of Ray Wilson and the experience of Mike and Tony, Genesis are surely set to conquer the world!


A still from the "Congo" video
Picture courtesy of A. Gouder/TWR