"For Men Only" - Mike and Phil interviewed by Joan Goodman for "Men Only" Magazine April 1977. Transcript by Alan Hewitt.
First of all a little disclaimer action here. I do NOT subscribe to such vicarious publications as this and have one of our readers who will remain nameless to thank for sending in this article for the TWR archives. Anyway, enjoy....
Right now the group's on top, touring the world. But during the last five years it has suffered critics, and basked in praise. Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford have seen it all- rock business, show business, seedy business - and lived to relax, reminisce and remind us that the only important business is just music.
Five years ago Melody Maker said a Genesis concert was "pure magic". Since that time, they've undergone several transformations; most notably when lead singer Peter Gabriel left last year. No one expected them to bounce back, least of all the music press, which proclaimed: "Peter Gabriel WAS Genesis". Well, wrong again!
Reopening London's famed Rainbow Theatre for the start of their world tour, Genesis came on like gang busters and proved again , that the whole may indeed be greater than the sum of the parts. Added to the four regulars: Tony Banks, Steve Hackett; Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins - is ex-Zappa drummer Chester Thompson. We caught up with Phil Collins, 25 ace drummer and lead singer - a small larky man - and bass guitarist, Mike Rutherford, 26, lean, lank and subtle, a few days before they left on the North American segment of the tour.
Off stage as well as on, they work well together - one often finishing a thought for the other and both mugging outrageously for the camera. Odd this, given their very different personas. Phil Collins., former child actor (his mother runs a theatrical agency for children), is all drummer despite his lead singer status. He enjoys nothing better than racing back to his drums and playing a set off Thompson between vocals.
Besides Genesis he has organised Brand X, a group which operates when Genesis isn't touring. The fact is, Collins looks for any excuse to hit the skins. He played all night when a friend opened a pub in Islington and he once played anonymously with George Harrison at Abbey Road. Just to make the point, Collins has been called "the most anonymous superstar in Britain". That may be, but chances are not for long. The film Genesis of alive concert ought to take care of that. He is also married with two children.
Mike Rutherford, ex-Charterhouse, is one of the founder members of the group and thinks he might like to take some time off to write. He means books. He does a lot of reading - "everything from fantasy and Science Fiction to the Classics. Poetry, too, especially obscure people.." Rutherford still thinks there is a place for visual interpretation in their concerts and is trying to work out something that will be less costly and not the same as what they've done before.
Special effects were responsible for a large part of their touring expenses. "There were times when we would finish a tour having made £168,000 and find we had spent £162,000 getting it right". He recently married model Angela Downing and understandably likes taking her on the road with him.
MO: You are about to start a big American tour, what worries you the most?
PC: Getting a ticket!
MR: Nothing. I have my ticket.
PC: I don't know. I am very confident actually. Last time we went we were like a brand new group - what with me singing and Bill Bruford playing, it was more of a risk. This time we have already played the set in because we have been doing a tour of England.
MO: What do you do before a concert to get yourself up to a high? Do you smoke a joint or drink?
MR: That's not vital to it being a good gig. I think the audience affects us.
MO: But don't you have to psych yourself up before going on?
PC: If you saw us before a gig, sometimes we all look half asleep.
MO: Then how do you get up for it?
PC: It depends. Now, Chester is into meditation and meditates before a concert, sometimes. Tony and Steve don't smoke; they just drink and if there is a good vibe , there's a good vibe. When I was just drumming I used o smoke an awful lot before a concert. Of course, as soon as I had to sing and talk and remember words it was like; "straighten up!" so it's not quite as bad as that now. But the audience is the main thing.
MR: The house lights go off and you go on stage and there is this huge roar and there's such energy; there's something that even if you are feeling a bit sluggish, it really lifts you.
MO: Do you have groupies following you around on tour?
PC: Males mostly.
MR: Some. We are not the kind of band that brings them all running.
MO: Bill Wyman says once you done all that it becomes rather boring. Have you done it yet?
MR: Oh we've done our share.
PC: Speak for yourself! My wife might read this. It happens but most bands are more extrovert off stage than we are. This may sound boring but after a gig we tend to go back to the hotel.
MR: I think a lot if groups really encourage a bad image. To them it is half of what they are doing.
PC: I saw an amazing thing once at a Bad Company concert. After they had come off the drummer - on the way out - was spitting on this girl. It was incredible actually seeing this kind of high powered stuff. Strange scene. A lot of groups we meet are quite normal people just like us. There's an element of course. I remember the Mersey Beats used to have orgies according to The News Of The World but normally we travel with wives, dogs and kids.
MR: OK, I will tell you the truth: I've done it!
PC: He's done it for me. It's not as good as playing on the drums.
MR: You should be interviewing our roadies.
MO: Do they organise the birds?
MR: There's not much organisation needed. In America they bang on your door in the morning.
MO: What do they say?
MR: They don't actually say why don't we fuck...
PC: It's so impersonal. It's quite strange. I remember in Toronto there were three girls... no, that's kinky! I met a girl in Germany once and we went out for quite a while before it started to fizzle out. The next time we played in Germany she came to the gig and asked if we still had a relationship or not . I was just about to get married so I said "no". She said "Okay, I'll go with this other guy, then.." It's that impersonal. They are there when you check into a hotel and it's like a roll-call.
MO: In America they follow the ball clubs, too.
PC: When we pulled out of the hotel in San Francisco, the Harlem Globetrotters were just getting in and there were a lot of chicks with them as well. Puts a bit of colour in their grey lives. They do their thing I do mine. I get off on the drums and they fuck.
MO: I've heard musicians lead double lives - the life they lead on the road, and the one at home- do you?
MR: A bit because the road is a very unreal situation. Basically we all act like spoilt schoolkids. There are people to look after your every whim. If you are late, they wake you up; they take you to the airport; you are their responsibility.
MO: Do you enjoy male camaraderie on the road?
PC: I do. There are different attitudes within the group, though. To me the whole day kind of leads up to the concert. I am quite happy to sit down in the hotel room with a joint and listen to last night's concert. When my wife and kids are on the road, I can't do that.
MO: What groups do you like?
PC: I am a big fan of Weather Report and Zappa. I don't like groups that are like us. I veer towards Jazz. I 'd love to play with Miles Davis.
MR: I like some very heavy stuff but I like soft stuff as well. There's a Love album I think is incredible, early Crosby, Stills and Nash; Judy Collins.
MO: There's a Jazz underlay to some of what you do.
PC: We w each write what we like, so the Jazz things come from me mainly. Some of the Classical chordal pieces might come from Tony and the simpler, more folky acoustic vein from Mike. You can't really define it that clearly but you can get from chord A to chord B via five or six different routes.
MR: I think that is what it is all about. There are these four different influences. Everyone sort of brings in his own personal style and there's an area where we meet and it makes up this thing called "Genesis". It is never one person; it is a combination.
MO: You once said you quarrelled a lot. Do you?
MR: We used to. Since Pete left, we have had a change. Not because he left; but because of the change. We really had to pull together. We kicked in another gear then. There was a changing of roles at that point and the whole thing was new and fresh and ever since there has been less friction.
PC: In the past when we disagreed; there used to be a walk out. Down tools and that would be it.
MO: Did you try to talk Peter Gabriel out of leaving?
MR: Of course.
PC: We were all doing something else. I was doing Brand X so there was the feeling; hang on, there can't be anything we really can't work out. Nothing is really worth the group splitting up. But once Peter was adamant it was a fact of life, so we went with it.
MO: Was there any animosity between you?
MR: I think there was none at all. Personally I hated the thought that there was someone in the group who didn't want to be there; didn't have the same energy as me. That upset me. I wish him all the best.
PC: I have got to say that I can't get excited about him doing well. It's a rotten thing to say and I wish him all the best of luck but at the same time I feel very removed from what he is doing. His new album is different. It's very good too.
MO: Now that you have proved yourself without him don't you think that Pete must have a great deal of pressure on him?
PC: He said this to us. The fact that we are a success has made his job a little bit harder. Also without giving his game away; people will expect him to do something that he won't actually do. They have always looked on him as a mysterious traveller from another planet. He is not really like that. He just has some strange ideas.
MR: He has chosen a hard path. He is moving away from us musically, in a direction that few people expect. It takes guts.
MO: What about dope? Are any of you heavily into drugs?
MR: A lot of people think we are very spaced out, that we are on it all the time.
PC: We played Oxford University once and a guy came up afterwards and said.. "Its evident from your records that between Trespass and Nursery Cryme you all took acid.." you know. I still haven't taken acid - I shouldn't have said that!
MO: Are you stopped and searched when you are travelling?
PC: There's a border between Buffalo and Toronto where we had a very heavy scene. They stripped the car, stripped us, found a little roach in my wallet and I thought that was it. I'm going to be in jail for Christmas. Then the heavy brushed it off the table as if to say if that was all they could find , they weren't going to do anything about it.
Obviously when you go over a border you clean everything and make sure you don't have anything on you but when it gets to that; you are never quite sure you have cleaned everything. Poor old Keith Richard. He must have that all the time. He must be immune to it by now. That's the main thing about him; the fact that he never sleeps - Death on Wheels. I have a great respect for Keith Richard!
MO: What about the Punk Rock people, do you like them, too?
PC: They are an insult to the senses. I saw them once on television and I enjoyed it because they were so bad. It's like watching a really bad movie. But if you don't like someone being sick over you, don't see the Sex Pistols. There was a thing where they used to beat up one of the audience as a climax of their gig. I can't believe it actually happens. It probably happened once, and people assume it's a normal thing.
MO: Some people say hat sort of thing appeals to the Public School crowd - Mike you went to Charterhouse, do you agree?
MR: I think Public School people are probably too polite to say "fuck off". I find the Punk Rock thing incredibly humorous, but it is not a musical force. It has caused a bit of a stir and it seems to have died down. Remember Brian Jones in a Nazi uniform standing on top of a naked lady? That was a week's worth of action. Those were the days when The Stones were really notorious.
MO: Do you ever say; let's make some headlines, let's do something outrageous?
MR: We thought about one of us dying. We nominated Steve actually.
PC: He didn't know this. The first time we played The Rainbow Theatre was the first time Peter Gabriel used costumes. When he put the flower mask on he made the front page of Melody Maker and the next week our earnings as a group shot up from £250 or £300 a night to £650 or £700. That was the closest thing to a publicity stunt, but it wasn't done for that reason.
MR: We think we have a responsibility to the people who like us. It's a trust thing. We are very careful about what we do.
MO: Talking about money - there's a seedy side to the music business. Have you ever been done out of money?
MR: We were. Since Tony Smith became our manager, though, things have definitely changed.
PC: In the polls we are up there with The Who and Pink Floyd and they all have incredible amounts of money and we haven't. Up until a year and a half ago, we had an enormous debt. We are just starting to make a little money now.
MO: Do you see yourselves beginning to do other things as well?
MR: I think we are all getting to the stage where we are able to do other things, but the group keeps going as much. Steve has done a solo album, and I would like to do some book writing.
MO: Phil, you do Brand X....
PC: That's a group that exists when Genesis is not on the road. I enjoy playing with other people, I would also like to do some acting - I was a child actor - but I see myself as a musician really and Genesis is my primary interest. Things have changed a lot recently. In the old days, if you joined a group; it was like getting married. If you wanted to leave the group it was like getting a divorce. Since the early '70's, attitudes have changed; people are more flexible. Genesis can exist ad infinitum so long as the attitudes within the group are like this. As far as I am concerned, we could all not see each other for six months and I would still be just as if I had never done anything else. I have got a lot of other interests, but obviously Genesis takes precedence.
MR: There is a thin balance. There has got to be a certain amount of communal energy, otherwise it will never keep going. In the early days there was only Genesis, nothing else came into it, but you cant keep that up.
MO: Someone said you made Pink Floyd and Yes redundant. How do you feel about that?
MR: Embarrassed. They make good music.
MO: Thank you Mike and Phil.