"Blasts from the past" - A series of interviews with the various members of Genesis past and present lovingly transcribed for your delectation by Alan Hewitt.
Well, whilst having a trawl through my tape archive not so long ago, I came across a variety of interviews mainly from radio with the various band members at several stages in their collective careers and thought they might prove interesting to TWR readers. We begin this series with an interview with Peter Gabriel from early 1975 prior to the band's famous Shrine Auditorium show... enjoy!
INT: Hello, Peter? How are you...? You guys are coming here on twenty-fourth to the Shrine Auditorium which is a Friday evening and I'm kinda disappointed because I have to work but a lot of people seem to be real excited about the show because you guys haven't been in town for some time
PG: Well, we are doing pretty much all of our new album which is almost all of the set.
INT: It's an amazing new release...
PG: It's funny because we've been getting something of a switch round with the audience with this one; people like it who haven't liked us and people don't like it who have liked us previously...
INT: Well, I think it encompasses a lot of new things that I hadn't heard you guys do before but it retains the imagery of the band and Melody Maker named you guys "Best Live Act of 1974" and that was probably one of the only fair things they did in that last poll and I would imagine that there are some new visuals in this Lamb Lies Down On Broadway show coming up?
PG: yeah, we have a guy to extend the slide work and I think the emphasis between slide work, music and performance.. each has about thirty per cent. The slides I think are a lot stronger than before.
INT: Its interesting that the new album moved so quickly up the charts for primarily an esoteric English band that most people weren't into, that there was a large cult following but not as mass as it is now but the new album just took off like gangbusters...
PG: We were very pleased with that and our career plan for want of a better word ha always been a very slow grind in the past.
INT: I had a chance to listen to the first album on Decca, which was From Genesis To Revelation, which was a pretty good album, but it was totally different to the preceding album and it certainly indicated some strange movements toward a different type of sound. It's amazing that people will enquire about the band; "what are their roots?" and they are amazed to find that you guys go back so far with only one change... Mayhew I guess who left and then Phil joined...
PG: Anthony Phillips was the original guitarist and he was the most significant change in that he used to be a large part of the writing force in the Decca album and in Trespass and he left with John Mayhew.
INT: I see.. How has the writing changed then? Has it shifted just in your direction or is everybody participating more or less?
PG: No, no, we are very much a co-operative venture and I think as far as the nature of the stuff we write from the stuff we wrote on the Decca album.. we started off as fairly traditional pop writers really and then the nature of the subjects that we wanted to write about and the music.. the nature of the music eliminated really the possibility of us being in the background as writers because we couldn't get anyone else to record the stuff bar ourselves.
INT: How did you manage to acquire Eno for the new album?
PG: I met him in the gentlemen's toilets ; we were working upstairs and both the upstairs and downstairs studios share the same facilities.
INT: It was a good chance to find someone to work on the album?
PG: I had a mind to ask him anyway because he is very able with synthesiser tones and treatments which it would have taken us a great deal of time to do the same job.
INT: To move on to a different area here, Peter how do you assess the music progression here in 1975? I know everybody is looking for new directions and certainly Genesis are one of the frontrunners of the "New Wave" music as it were, How do you assess musicians will treat style in 1975? What do you see as offering something "new"?
PG: I don't know, there are all sorts of things being done - its all sort of very healthy and a large amount of influences are spread around a large amount of musicians.
INT: What do you think we can look forward to in 1975? A rehash or something startling that could be construed as a "New Direction"?
PG: Well, I think musicians themselves are much less conscious of interpretations and analysis as far as new directions and that sort of thing goes. What I'd like to see is as wide a range of musical activity taking place because the wider activity receives focus from whatever it is; the press, the public the better it is for all people working within it I think.
INT: Do you think that the visual aspect of a performing band's work will expand or do you think that the visuals will be de-emphasised? I probably think that they will become more increased...
PG: I'm certain.. you know I hope both paths remain open and I hope that a band can become popular and hold an audience without ever needing to use visuals and yet other artists; musicians whatever feel that they can do something good with things to look at and things to listen to and that will, I think extend what is being done for more recognition.
INT: Well, I think you have found that fine balance of an exceptional stage show and the ability to produce a remarkable album and I suppose John Burns helps out somewhat in those areas?
PG: He helps a lot with the sounds and so on. I think as far as the visual things go that we just toss around some ideas at a very early stage, what will happen I think, or what could be done could be a whole new area of entertainment in which the band, or musicians as such do not play the dominant role. In other words where artists; video people and so on work towards a co-operative all round form of entertainment.
INT: Back to the album for a second, which is brand new and is remarkable, I can't help but heap accolade upon accolade upon it. It's such a good, good album. Reading the liner notes is an arduous task, it takes a couple of days. Could you give us briefly, a run down of... conceptually what the album is all about?
PG: Well, it is quite difficult. Basically the imagery is the structure for me in that if one tries to tie it down to a finite series of events, which I did try to incorporate partially... it becomes less powerful. Well... I try to avoid this actually (laughter). He overcomes his fears, meets himself and the idea behind the character was to present someone who was earthy rather than a wishy whitewashed gullible grey figure but to have someone off the streets that people could relate to that in each situation would be an earthy point of reference.
INT: Here's a question which has probably been asked a lot but it would be interesting to get your comments on it... Of all the things that you have been involved with, with Genesis from a recording standpoint and excluding, for the moment, the new album. Which do you think is the most... potent you have come up with as of yet?
PG: Well, personally, and I do vary from time to time in my choice, but excluding the new album; Supper's Ready I think; Stagnation on Trespass and well, actually, various things.
INT: What are you doing besides working with Genesis because I know that you personally have received a lot of acclaim for your mime ability and your general stage prowess I would imagine that you would have had offers to do a film and to do activity outside Genesis, so what would you say that maybe in the future as an individual artist or can't you comment on those things at all?
PG: Well, there are various plans. I was asked to write a film and that fell through in the end but that would interest me more than the performing side. I enjoy performance but I feel pride for the writing things rather than the performing.. it's good to do a bit of both I think and one brings perspective on the other.
INT: So, Peter, before I let you go... On the twenty-fourth we can expect to see the whole of the new album?
PG: Yeah, the whole thing with some rewards for the people who manage to stay awake (laughter).
There you have it, it's great to know that people were misunderstanding Peter even back then! Hope you found it interesting.