"A Trawl Through The Archives..." - Interviews with Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel about "The Lamb...". Transcribed by Alan Hewitt.
In keeping with the series of features about "The Lamb..." I thought it might be interesting to put together some bits and pieces from our archive of radio and tv interviews the band have given. So here are a couple of items first an interview done on KNAC (where ever that is?!) on January 16, 1975 and then a rather strange interview with Tony from SWF in Baden Baden Germany in April 1975....
KNAC Radio interview January 16, 1975
INT: Hello, Peter what's going on this morning... afternoon, it's morning where I am...
PG: We're just puzzling over food here.
INT: So you guys are coming on the twenty-fourth to the Shrine Auditorium, which is a Friday evening, and I am kinda disappointed because I have to work, and a lot of people seem to be real excited abut the show, because you guys haven't been in town for some time.
PG: We are playing pretty much all of our new album... we are doing all of that for almost all of the set.
INT: Which is just an amazing release...
PG: It's funny that we have been getting... we have almost switched round the audience with this album in some ways. Some like us, who haven't liked us up to now, and some who liked us previously don't...
INT: It encompasses a lot of new things that I hadn't heard you guys do before, but I think it maintains the imagery of the band and Melody Maker named you "Best Live Act" in their 1974 poll, which was probably one of the only fair things they did in the last poll, and the best act I have seen, bar none! I would imagine that there are some new visuals in this "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" show coming up...?
PG: Yeah, we had a guy to extend the slide work quite a lot further and I think the emphasis between music, slide work and performance each now has about 30%. The slides I think are a lot stronger than before.
INT: It is interesting that the new album moved so quickly up the American charts for primarily an esoteric English band that most people weren't tuned into. There was a large cult following not as mass as it is now but the new album took off like gangbusters...
PG: We were very pleased with that and our career for want of a better word, has always been a slow grind I think, in the past.
INT: I had a chance the other evening to have a listen to the first album on Decca which was a good album and definitely indicated some movement toward some kind of strange sound. Most people who will enquire about the roots of the band are amazed to find that you go back so far with only one change... Mayhew left and Phil joined, I guess...
PG: And Anthony Phillips, actually. Anthony was the old guitarist and he was the most significant change in the line up as he used to be a large part of the writing force in the Decca album and then "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: It is... we are very much a co-operative venture and I think as far as the nature of the stuff that write and you may have heard on the Decca album, we started off as fairly traditional pop writers really and then the subjects that we wanted to write about as composers sort of eliminated the ability for us to remain as writers in the background really, because we could get no one else to actually record the stuff and so we had to do it ourselves.
INT: How did you manage to acquire Eno for that little synthesiser section that he does?
PG: I met him in the gentleman's toilets at the recording studios [laughs]. He was working upstairs and both the upstairs and downstairs studios share the same toilets . We had it in mind to ask him anyway because he is so able with synthesiser terms and treatments which would have taken us a great deal of time to do the same thing.
INT: To move on to a different area here, Peter. How do you assess the music progression here in 1975, everybody is looking for a new direction, and Genesis are certainly one of the front runners of the "New Wave" of music but how do you assess musicians will treat "style" in 1975? What do you see that is offering something new?
PG: I don't know. There are all sorts of things being done and a whole lot of influences are spread around musicians . I'm not being very coherent here at all [laughs].
INT: What do you think we can look forward to in 1975? A rehash or something startling that will be construed as a new direction?
PG: I think musicians themselves are much less conscious of interpretations as far as new directions and all that sort of thing goes, but what I would like to see is as a wide a range of musical activity taking place as possible because the wider that activity receives focus from whatever it is; be it radio, press or public, the healthier it is for all the people working within it.
INT: Do you think that the visual aspects of a performing band will expand or that they will be de-emphasised?
PG: I am certain that... I hope that both paths remain open and that music can hold and retain an audience without ever needing visuals and yet other artists think that they can do something good with things to look at and things to listen to and they will extend what is being done beyond all recognition.
INT: I think you have found that fine balance between a remarkable stage show and a fine album. I suppose John Burns helps out in those areas?
PG: Yeah, he helps a lot with the sounds and so on and I think that as far as visual things go we are just tossing around some ideas at a very early stage and what will happen.. 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, and video people or whatever can work towards a co-operative all round entertainment.
INT: Back to the album, reading the liner notes on the album... could you give us briefly, a run down, conceptually of 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. Again I am being incoherent [laughs]. I try to avoid this, actually [laughs]. He overcomes fears and meets himself and the idea of presenting the character was to have someone who was earthy and not some sort of wishy-whitewashed sort of gullible figure but to have some guy off the streets who people could relate to, and that in each situation would be an earthy point of reference.
INT: Here's a question that is asked a lot... of all the things that you have been involved with recording wise, and excluding the new album for the time being, which one do you think is the most potent that you have come up with as of yet?
PG: Well, personally and I do vary from time to time in my choice and excluding the new album which I like the best; "Supper's Ready" I think; "Stagnation" on "Trespass" and various things.
INT: What are you doing besides working with Genesis? I know that you personally have received a lot of acclaim for your mime ability and your general stage prowess and that you have had offers to do a film and offers to do activity outside of Genesis. What would you say is in the future for you as an individual artist, or can't you comment at all?
PG: There are various plans. I was asked to write a film, and that would be... it fell through in the end but that would interest me more than doing the performing. I enjoy performing but I feel prouder of the writing things than the performing. It is good to do a bit of both because one brings perspective on the other.
INT: Before I let you go Peter, because I know you want to go and get something to eat, and so do I. So, we can expect on the twenty-fourth at The Shrine all of the new album?
PG: Yeah, the whole thing with some rewards for people who manage to stay awake [laughs].
SWF Baden Baden interview, April 1975
TB: The first album ("From Genesis To Revelation") means very little to us... we like it but it isn't really worth mentioning. The "Trespass" album, being the first sort of proper album, and my favourite track off that is "Stagnation". Off the next album, I think my favourite track is probably "Fountain Of Salmacis". Off the next album, it's "Supper's Ready", and when you play that it is almost half an hour's worth of music, but for us, and if you are not going to play a lot off the new album then that, for us, is the most important work we have done before the new album, you know. I would say that "Supper's Ready" and "The Lamb..." are the two key things in our career but we still feel strongly about songs like "Firth Of Fifth" and "Fountain Of Salmacis".
Off the latest album... it is more difficult, more difficult to divide it up but things like "Carpet Crawl" and "Chamber of 32 Doors" and "Colony Of Slippermen". It is difficult to pick out things you know, and we haven't really formed our preferences to such a high degree and a lot of people will like a lot of different things. "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", the track itself - we like that a lot.
We actually started out at school about seven years ago where three of the remaining band; that's Peter, Michael and myself, met. We had a different guitarist at that stage and a different drummer and we were just a school group doing our own songs. Well, we started off in fact, doing other people's songs and then we did our own songs and we did tapes and really we were just trying to interest other people in doing our numbers because we didn't think we were good enough to do them ourselves. We were encouraged by various people and advised that the only way to get anyone interested in our songs was by playing them ourselves, because they were just wrong for other people. So we did that and we made our first album, "From Genesis To Revelation", during this period and this was without the benefit of playing on the road or anything. It was a very amateur LP. I don't think it's that good although we enjoy listening to it from time to time but it is more nostalgic than anything. It was released in 1969 in England, I'm not really sure of the date and we had a single out before that; "The Silent Sun", which was not released anywhere else other than England, I think... It was released in America actually but it didn't do anything anywhere and the LP sold about 600 copies in England and that was it. Obviously since then it has sold a lot more especially with the current popularity of the band and it has now sold quite a few thousand I think but I am not sure if it deserves it...
So after that we went our respective ways, I went to university because that was what I intended to do, and the rest of us did various things, and then we decided to come back together again and play on the road and we played on the road for a year and then made the LP "Trespass" and then after that... this was in fact with a different drummer, we went through about three different drummers, we didn't really have a permanent one. Then after "Trespass", the guitarist left us and the drummer too, so we got a new drummer and a new guitarist for "Nursery Cryme" and we have kept that lineup since then.
The important things for us are the albums; and the music we compose but the show... if people come to the show we really aim to get them interested right from the word go and aim to get them involved in Genesis and everything else. I think in the end, what people like about us is that they usually start with alive show and they end up liking the music more than anything and end up going back and buying the LPs and finding that with every LP released, there has been a sudden surge of sales and that is good, they are all quite close to each other in the number of copies that they have actually sold. When Trespass was released, it sold about 5,000 copies but now with the success of the later albums, it has sold something like 70,000 copies and that is the thing that they do.
INT: How important is it to have a single in the charts?
TB: Well, it's not important. We found that with the "Selling England By The Pound" album, we had a hit in England with "I Know What I Like" which was off that album and that sort of made the album sell half as much again, which made a lot of difference and we don't object to having singles off the album, but we don't aim to write them and if one comes up that people think might do something, we release it. We tried with this album, we released one or two but nothing seems to have been... right, certainly not for English radio. I don't know about elsewhere. They tried different things in different countries. The song we wanted releasing as a single, the English record company wouldn't release... they didn't think it was right. It's a song called "The Carpet Crawlers" on the album which we are releasing as a single in Italy, well the record company decided to release it as a single in Italy and it will be interesting to see how it does, because if it does well there then maybe it will encourage them to release it in other countries as well because I think it is the only record on the album that has any chance of being a single success.
INT: What about your audience; what is your best audience...?
TB: The most enthusiastic audience I think would be the Italians because they really react very strongly for us and have done for along time now, for about three or four albums. In general, the reaction around the world is similar. In Europe they tent to react slightly more, they will react during numbers if they like something they will react to it. In America they will wait until the end of numbers and more particularly until the end of the set and that is probably true in England, a bit as well.
INT: Which album do you think is your best?
TB: Well, I always think that the latest one is the best even though that I now feel that in retrospect, "Foxtrot" was a better album than "Selling England By The Pound" and I like the latest album best, now. It is very difficult; you have a different image of the earlier albums. You come back to them and listen to them and you say: "that sounds really nice" and in your mind you are not really sure about them. Whereas with the latest album you are playing it every night on stage and you are a bit bored with it and you can't listen to it and I never do. I think it is the most consistent album we have ever done, and the most ambitious album we have ever done and it has some excellent moments on it.
Our thanks to Mike Jackson for providing the copies of these interviews, more from the archives next time.