"I Can't Dance - but I can play a mean bass guitar!" - Mike Rutherford talks about the "We Can't Dance" album. Interview by Alan Hewitt.
TWR: On the "We Can't Dance" album you seem to have stretched out again into longer pieces. After the last couple of albums which were a bit more... if you like, condensed. Did you feel the need to do this?
MR: A lot of people thought we had "gone American" with the last album, but the fact is that in America a hit single and video can be so high profile that they can dwarf an album and people tend to forget everything that has gone before and it can overshadow an album. I certainly felt that it was time for a change.
TWR: I think on this album people could actually see where the musicians were coming from, whereas on a track like "Follow You Follow Me" which is a great little track, you canít really see the musicianship whereas on a track like "Driving The Last Spike", it's there for all to see...
MR: I have always felt that some of Genesis' strongest points have been the album tracks actually - where there is more of a mood that is "Genesis".
TWR: Many fans have discussed that on "We Can't Dance" they can't detect where the songs began - "Oh that one's Tony's" and so on. Which of the songs on the album did you instigate?
MR: It's not as clear cut as that, although the obvious one is "I Can't Dance" which was my guitar riff and Tony's keyboard part and is what I like.
On "No Son Of Mine" that, to me, was a great little song because it just happened and we just wrote it by deciding we'll try it out for the album and it will be great; or if it doesn't work we'll throw it away. And Phil had lyrics and it just happened in the morning, and then Tony had the elephant noise and I tried to get two or three chords under it and the atmosphere was just great. "Dreaming While You Sleep" started with just the drum machine; that's why its working title was "Rolling Toms". A lot of the songs just began around the drum machine and then we would get the chords.
TWR: The trend on the last two or three albums has been towards telling a story that not only the listener can relate to directly, but also through the injection of more social observation into the lyrics. Is that how you as a band member feel about the extra element of realism in the songs you are writing now?
MR: It is probably Phil's influence. I tend to shy away from that. I donít want to be seen as preaching to people and I shy away from being that direct and say it in a way which is more indirect. When Phil writes lyrics he never sounds pompous.
Mike on stage in 1992
(Photo - B. Cutler/TWR)
TWR: What influences do you draw upon when writing lyrics nowadays?
MR: I think it is the things you read in the paper - the story of the day, things like that. There are no set patterns to these processes; how a song starts, how it is recorded, it is whatever works really.
Well, it certainly did work and we hope that it continues to do so for many more years to come. My thanks to Mike for giving up so much time to speak to me and I hope that you find it interesting.