Calling All Stations - What The Band Said...
Here's an interesting US radio interview from New York's 1027WNEW FM radio station with interviewer Pathane John chatting to Mike, Tony and Ray about the Calling All Stations album and impending tour….
INT: This is 1027WNEW FM where classic rock lives and I am very happy to welcome the band Genesis into the studio this afternoon. We got Mike Rutherford, we got Tony Banks and we got… Phil it looks like the Regain's working! (laughs) Ray Wilson who is the brand new addition to Genesis. Now, I have had the privilege of hearing this and it is just like a continuation of Genesis which is kinda nice, its not a whole new thing and Ray your voice sounds terrific…
RW: Thank you. I feel good about that, that musically it is a continuation before anything happened; you know vocally I think as soon as I heard the musical aspects of the album which I heard first because a lot of that was done before I joined. I kind of felt that the mood of the music was kind of reminiscent of what Genesis have been about through the years. So, I thought if I can make the voice work on this then we will have a good record and…
INT: I don't hear the accent when you sing which is normal..
RW: Well, this is it I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.
INT: The album is called Calling All Stations and it will be out at the beginning of September within a week of the single being released and now, as you just mentioned; Mike and Tony, you wrote most of this material before Ray was actually a member of the band and then there are a couple of songs that you all wrote together but you guys have been writing together since you were teens…
TB: That's right, yes
MR: yeah, obviously when we decided to carry on after Phil left we decided that we had to not wait around while we found a singer; we could wait for a year or two; you know and so we best start writing…
INT: You didn't consider Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?
MR: They were unavailable at the time I think (laughs) We just started writing because that then got us into the project and excited about it and obviously we couldn’t write very many of the melodies or the top lines until Ray came along and we knew what voice was going to be singing it. As normal we had a lot of the music first of all and the atmospheres and moods of the songs come quite early on.
INT: The band has always had an atmospheric quality to it, and of course the history of the band goes back like thirty years and has gone through a number of changes, in fact you were going to call it quits when Peter left the first time but you decided to carry on …
TB: I don't think we were going to call it quits then. Every time you do a new record you kind of think about it even if somebody hasn't left and we have always looked at it in the way that once we start writing; if things are working well, then that is the incentive to keep on going. In fact it is very seductive and there are moments deep in the middle of a long tour when you wish you weren't doing the band but you kind of forget about those moments when you are writing a new record and it is all happening. It is just such a thrill to create new music out of nothing.
INT: You have always had a …. Taken advantage of the hiatus that you have had from time to time and there have always been those periods whether you have done a solo or Mike has done Mike & The Mechanics thing, you have always taken advantage of that and then it is time to get back to it. I want to ask this; what kind of process did you go through, because I think this is really interesting; to replace either Phil or Peter and be the new guy, Ray . Were there auditions? This is the fascinating thing how did they settle on you?
RW: Well I think I had a band in 1994-95; I was in a band called Stiltskin and we had a number one European hit back in 1994 so there was an album out basically on Virgin Records who are obviously Genesis' record label in Europe and the record got through to the guys and they listened to the voice and thought there was a lot of warmth and texture there that they liked and so that kind of got the process going and I did the audition and sang seven Genesis songs from the past it was quite bizarre really to be there and Mike and Tony are looking through the glass and I am singing away to In The Cage which I was probably five years old when it was written! (laughs)
INT: How nervous must you have been?
RW: I had a nappy on for most of that (laughs)
INT: I know that Mike and Tony … Ray's voice is kind of going to take the band back to a different kind of moodier feel or darker feel…atmosphere, you explain it to me…
MR: Well I think you are on the right track actually, it does which means that if you take Phil's element away, Tony and I tend to lean more towards the longer songs to a degree and the darker more rock sounding tracks and when you add Ray's voice to that which naturally has a sort of drama to it that is the key I think, even songs that are not that dramatic; he seems to give a little bit of edge to them in dramatic terms and I know that makes the album quite a lot heavier.
INT: How did you decide on Congo as the single?
MR: We didn't they (the record company) did.
INT: Mike and Tony, you guys are used to hearing your stuff on the radio, but Ray, this is the first time you have heard this on the radio isn't it?
RW: Yeah, you kind of hear a song differently when you have been in the studio for so long and then all of a sudden you hear it with radio compression and all the rest and it takes on a new life.
INT: Now, of course, you are in a radio studio and so it is not the same as driving down the highway but I suspect that there will be lots of times that you will hear it and get a kick out of it. We were talking earlier, Ray we were talking about the fact that Mike and Tony have been writing songs since they were teens; you have been in a band since you were fourteen and now you find yourself out front doing the vocals with Genesis and that's pretty cool.
RW: Yeah it is quite a transformation really from what I started off doing and I think it has been my whole life playing in bands and I remember the first gig I did was in a bar in Scotland when I was fourteen which I don’t think would happen over here and that was sitting there with an acoustic guitar playing Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan numbers and now here I am going through the rock phase with the Stiltskin success and here I am with Genesis.
INT: What's really nice of course is the band Genesis has had so many fans throughout the world, you broke all kinds of records and sold some ninety million albums and broke box office records and now it is just a continuation and Genesis fans will not be disappointed by this new form because as you can hear the song is very strong and it has got that Genesis "sound" but with a new take on it and I think you are to be congratulated and I am lucky that I have been able to hear this and are there plans for a tour so you can get out and perform some of this? I think there is am I right that there are some dates in England…?
MR: We have already sold some dates in England in February and March which is great and they are nearly sold out and no one has heard the music! (laughs) We are going to play in America in November and December.
INT: So you are waiting for the NBA etc schedules….
MR: Yeah, there is a little plot of where we could be on certain days and we will be coming back and playing "The Garden" (Madison Square Garden in New York City) this time, we are going to go indoors having played outdoors for quite a long time
INT: Don't start calling yet, there is no ticket information yet…I believe that the first concert you ever gave in the States in December 1972 was our WNEW1072 Christmas concert?
TB: That's pretty much right, yes. Well.. we did a concert the night before but people tend to forget that. I certainly choose to forget it because it was one of the worst moments of our career we did a university in Boston where none of the equipment worked right and that was pretty much the first.
INT: It was the first GOOD one! (laughs)
TB: Yes, it was the first good one, how about that!
MR: I remember we went home to England that Christmas thinking that we had cracked America and we came back the next year and New York had forgotten us and the rest of the country never knew us! (laughs)
INT: Well you have certainly had a history with WNEWFM and interesting too, that you have NEVER been an opening act in the States
TB: Well, we did do a few shows … we opened for Lou Reed twice and we supported The Beautiful Day once and that was it, three shows not bad is it out of all this time.
INT: Let me see if I can find something else for you to correct me on. Tony (laughs). One of Scott Muni's Biscuits… "The British Biscuit" that he will play from time to time is an old song called Everyone's Gone To The Moon by Jonathan King. Isn't he the guy that named you?
MR: Yes, he is, yeah. He produced our first record.
INT: Let me ask you guys about the lighting because you guys were the first to use the big screens; the Sony Jumbotrons, is that correct?
TB: Yes, we were and obviously we started off with the Vari-Lite which was designed as a special effect for us which is now almost standard at rock gigs.
INT: Was this the thing that you had invested in…?
TB: Yes, we got involved, we backed the project initially just so that we could have a special effect for our shows and that was what we wanted and then of course the thing snowballed from there and it is a big industry and it has absorbed its parent company.
INT: I bet you didn't know you had Genesis to thank for that!
TB: Not thank exactly but those lights that move all over the place that came from us and the Sony Jumbotrons were used on the last tour and on this tour we are going to use a different kind of screen but covering the same kind of footage but it can be divided up into twelve bits and do all sorts of fancy things and it should look really good I think.
INT: before we get to another cut from the new album people would like to know about the drummer…
MR: On the album it is two guys; Nir Zidkyahu who lives here in New York and is an Israeli and a guy called Nick Di Virgilio who lives on the West Coast and they did the album together although Nir will be on the tour and he is a great drummer.
INT: With this album you are kind of getting back to your roots I think….
MR: That seems to be the reaction so far people are saying to me which I quite like that it sounds like a "Genesis" album which is the best compliment really. The longer tracks on the album might take people longer to get into but once they get into them they can hear them three years later and still enjoy them, you know.
RW: Calling All Stations itself seems to be everyone's favourite song.
Obviously from our point of view we have lived with the album for quite some
while now since we started it and actually recording it in September last year
and I think for me in particular that was quite a special moment when that song
was completed because it had in many respects… Mama was always my favourite
Genesis song I think and this is about as close as we get to that particular
song I think so from a vocalists' point of view it has got enough it brings
out the aspects of my voice that I want brought out.
Interesting interview in the light of subsequent developments with
both the tour and indeed the lighting technology. It also shows that not all
US radio jocks were unenthusiastic about the new-look band either!