"Just a quick one!"- TWR catches up with Ray Wilson after his gig at Camberley Theatre on Thursday 22nd June. Interview by Stuart Barnes assited by Anthony Hobkinson.
TWR: How’s it going?
RW: Yeah it’s good. It’s always good when I’m touring. It’s when I’m not touring that life’s challenging. Yeah, I’m very happy actually.
TWR: You’re about 20 or so gigs into this tour already...
RW: In the UK I’ve done twenty something…There's a few more to go and then Germany in July and a festival in Edinburgh in August and then the European tour in October/November with Stiltskin. Same guys but with another guitar player too and a heavier set. Definitely rockier.
TWR: Who arranged this tour, because looking at the itinerary, you’ve been bouncing up and down between England and Scotland almost daily...
RW: Yeah, that happens. It depends which nights theatres have available. You don’t want lots of night off if possible because if you’ve got a production on the road, every night off you have costs quite a lot of money. We try and cram them in and sometimes that means going North/South. That’s the way it is.
TWR: Do you find the audiences either side of the border more or less accommodating?
RW: I have to say, when I came to the UK I was not looking forward to it, because I thought “this is going to be a very boring audience”, and I’ve been so wrong, I really have. I was kind of thinking “it’s going to be hard work”. People have been really responsive and they make such an effort eventually. If you can get that kind of response when you haven’t got a full house then I think that’s an achievement and I’m pleased with it. This tour was a little bit of a compromise. I didn’t really want to advertise a tour “World Of Genesis” I have to say, but once I did that got us a lot of gigs in the UK that otherwise might not have happened so it’s a starting point here I think. That’s the way I look at it.
TWR: There is a lot of Genesis in the set...
RW: There has to be, you know!
TWR: How did you decide on what to play, especially with the solo material, the Gabriel and Collins stuff?
RW: I play what I like really. It’s difficult because there’s a lot of good tribute bands out there and they do it very, very well. I just kind of go with what I like. My Genesis albums were A Trick Of The Tail and the Genesis album, Mama, those were the two that stick in my mind. Those were the albums I listened to. I wasn’t the kind of guy that bought every single album Genesis did. That never was the case. I bought every album that Bowie did and every album that Springsteen did, but I didn’t buy every album Genesis did, so I kind of go to the songs I like from their collection in amongst the songs I performed with them too. I’m a big fan of Peter Gabriel more than Genesis and I like Phil’s early stuff as well, but nowadays it passes me by, but in the early years Phil did some really good stuff, you know, in Brand X…. clever stuff…he’s a genius really, but he’s gone kind of middle of the road which is a bit unfortunate. So, yeah I just play what I like. Simple as that.
TWR: Never having heard your solo songs before, I found that I enjoyed them more than the Genesis covers. I commented to Tyla earlier that I would have wanted to have heard more of that and less of the Genesis stuff....
RW: Well that’s what you want people to go away feeling. What
you wouldn’t want is that you’ve gone away and played too much of
it. You know what I mean? It’s a balance. As I say, the tour is advertised
World Of Genesis and it’s only fair to people who are spending £18
or whatever it is, to play what it’s advertised as, and to introduce some
new stuff, ‘cos people like to hear that. I’ve had the luxury of
performing a lot of these songs outside the UK for a while now, so certain songs
work well live, certain songs don’t. I’m able to choose the best
of the bunch. There are others I’d have like to have played as well, but
there’ll come a time. Next time, if I do this type of gig again, in theatres
that is, I’ll maybe tip the balance a little bit more. I don’t know,
I’m not sure where we go from here in the UK.
I thought “I don’t do here at all and I’d rather do here and this type of show than nothing” and that was my decision. And a production like this, we bring the sound, we bring the lights, we bring the band, all the backline, you can imagine how much that costs, and a truck and all the rest of it. To take that kind of production on the road, you have to have a certain degree of income to do it otherwise you end up losing a lot of money. A least on this tour we’ve at least been able to break even, though sometimes the numbers aren’t great, but we’ve still picked up fans and the next time I think a lot of people will come back again because they’re no longer unsure as to what they’re going to get, and they’ll tell a few fans and maybe it’ll busy it up a bit more. It’s something to build on.
TWR: What’s the first single going to be UK?
RW: The first single in Germany is She, which has gone out now. The first single in the UK, I don’t know. It might be Lemon Yellow Sun, it depends on the radio stations that are likely to support it, unfortunately. It’s shit when you have to make decisions based on that. If you put a single out and nobody plays it, there’s no point in putting it out, you’re just throwing money away. Lemon Yellow Sun is a bit more middle of the road. She is a little more modern sounding, less melodic but a bit cooler perhaps, so it depends…I’m not entirely sure…we’ll see how it goes in Germany, ‘cos radio there isn’t all that different to radio here to be honest, they play the same stuff, British bands, Coldplay and stuff, it’s much the same with a few exceptions, so I’ll see how it goes there and that’ll give me some sort of indication of what to do here, but it’s all about Radio 2 in this country, for an artist like me or Genesis. They play it, you’re on. If they don’t, you’re not. It’s plain and simple.
Thanks to Ray for agreeing to the interview at such short notice and to Tyla for helping out with the request.