“ReGenesis Revisited” - TWR talks to Tony Patterson and Doug Melbourne about the reformation of the band and their other activities. Interview conducted by Alan Hewitt and Stuart Barnes at the Shepherds Bush Empire London on Saturday 28th November 2009. Photographs by Stuart Barnes.
TWR: So, here we are, backstage at the Shepherds Bush emporium, chatting to one Douglas Melbourne Esquire. So, Doug, if you can, tell us what you have been doing since we last gave you a grilling…?
DM: Right, reproducing. I left the band eight years ago and Charlie was born in 2003 and I had left the band at the end of 2001, which is very strange because now he is six and he is coming down to the gig (laughs) and he wants to know if we are going to be playing any songs by Muse (laughs). He does actually like Genesis and we had a period where for about two weeks he played nothing but The Knife! And not the Genesis version but a really crap rehearsal version where we made loads of cock-ups ; it was an early days of this line up where we were struggling a bit and he just loved that version, mainly because he liked the mistakes (laughs).
I have a Jazz trio but not a lot of music. I have been doing some recording with Carrie (Melbourne, Doug’s wife) and she has just finished an album and I was quite involved with that. Taking it easy really.
TWR: Doing this and you have got a six year old child, I don’t think that is taking it easy…!
DM: Taking it easy musically. Last year I was ill and sort of went through my mid-life crisis (laughs) and decided that I really needed to get back to doing some keyboards and ReGenesis hadn’t done anything for about two years at that point and I ‘phoned up Piers (Delavison, ReGenesis’ keyboard player) and asked “if you’re doing something next year do you mind if I assemble a line up of some description and we do something?”
TWR: That was the next question really, when did you decide to reconvene the “classic” line up…?
DM: Well, I had been talking with Tony for a few months and we had done an album together of Peter Gabriel stuff. We did the album where we re-worked a lot of Peter Gabriel songs so they are quite different. It started off as a piano and voice thing so then we got on to talking about maybe doing The Lamb… that way, actually reworking it and putting a line up and playing at a convention which someone was going to organise but that fell through for various reasons and we thought that we still quite fancied doing something and then this came along and we felt sod it if we push it, it’s ReGenesis, we’ll get gigs and so I ‘phoned up Nigel and I ‘phoned up Andy Gray and Shaun is a mate of mine, I played in a band called The Progs with him and asked if he wanted to do it. I suppose the advantage he has is that he is a really accomplished twelve string player which has allowed us to tackle the material that Ant Phillips did with the band a lot more. So, you will be seeing an increased presence of that a lot more, a bit tonight slightly but a lot more next year. This set is kind of a compromise between doing what we want to do next year and providing a vulgar display of power (laughs).
TWR: So, I assume that this is going to be an ongoing thing..?
DM: It is a temporary thing. The real stuff is next year and then I shall retire again and Piers shall… they more or less have a line up, they have a new line up and a new singer; a guy called Jamie Bell who is extremely good and they will continue in that form we think.
TWR: So, after that, what do you have in the pipeline for yourself…?
DM: I’m going back to doing a bit of Jazz, probably of a Latin variety I think that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to do any more Prog Rock! Having said that, this has been absolutely fantastically fun and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed it more than I did when I was in the band full-time. I spent loads more time on the keyboard parts, completely reconfigured my rig. It’s just fresh and I just want to take a fresh look at it. I have got rid of a lot of my old keyboards and brought in some really sparkly new ones which make life easier. They are easier to play and so I am not wrestling with my keyboards any more and its less likely that I’ll do my back in as seniority approaches (laughs). I think we have all taken a different approach to it and within the bounds of it sounding like Genesis, it sounds quite different and I think you will see that tonight.
TWR: How do you get a band that is in a hiatus to play the Shepherds Bush Empire as their next gig…?
DM: I did some management of bands and I found some gigs for Ray Wilson, a few gigs for John Hackett and some other people so I kind of kept my hand in at sort of having industry contacts. No one was more surprised than me because I ‘phoned up our normal booker and asked if there was going to be any interest in us doing something and he came back and said, “yeah, Shepherds Bush Empire” so panic set in and they have already asked us back. It is already shaping up very nicely for next year. So, the short answer is I have no idea but there seems to be a lot of affection for the band. And people are glad that we are doing the rounds again so… but this was a surprise.
TWR: Well, you guys started it off in the UK for all the bands that have come along since so everybody is carrying a torch for you…
DM: Yeah, there is a lot of goodwill about, we had G2’s manager come down the other night and all sorts of people from the other tribute bands. I have always wanted to do a gig with Face Value because they cover exactly the different period, I always thought that would make a very good evening of music, maybe one day!
TWR: How long does it take to put on a production like this? How long have you been rehearsing…?
DM: We have taken since about March of this year rehearsing infrequently. Then towards the end we have been doing long rehearsals and spent a few days in Real World Studios last week which was hilarious.
TWR: How did you manage that…?
DM: I rang them up and said; “Is Peter in his rehearsal room?” this is a funny thing, to actually record in Real World Studios costs £12000 a day, so I rang up and said “I haven’t got £12000, is Peter in his studios at the moment and if not can we have his rehearsal rooms and if so, how much?” and back came the reply; “No, he’s not using them” so of course I asked, “how much?” and they said “A hundred quid” and so we got in there (laughs) and we were treated like kings, we had this fantastic sound engineer came in to sort out all our monitoring, they fed us and it was all superb so we are going to do it again next year as well. It is a great facility and as I now live in the West Country so it is a local trip for us because we normally rehearse in London.
TWR: How do the logistics work, because Tony doesn’t live locally…?
DM: Expensively! (laughs) It is lots of mucking about with aeroplanes and trains and things. It is quite a logistical nightmare. It will be easier next year because we are going to tour properly so we will get a van and do it over a set period.
TWR: I assume you have already got gigs pencilled in for next year then?
DM: Yeah. It’s an October tour, I literally can’t remember the dates and it involves Leamington Spa which apparently is very nice, the Robin 2 have just asked us back, The Brook in Southampton, here. Nothing in Liverpool yet but we will work on it; the Pacific Road possibly. The Ferry which is always an absolute scream, I am amazed that that place hasn’t sunk! (laughs). It will be a lot of dates. What we are doing for the autumn tour which is different is that we are really basing it on the early material; Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot pretty much exclusively and doing an acoustic section where we will re-work numbers to sort of do an unplugged set which is something that tribute bands don’t usually do. I just think it will be fun to do. Now have the talent on the acoustic guitar to sort of tackle this stuff and I think it would be really nice to strip it back and… not a lot of it but some of it to make it a bit different.
TWR: I think that is what people are looking for, a different slant on an established theme.
DM: We are calling it “Trepassing At Forty” because the album is forty years old and we are all in our forties so it all makes sense.
TWR: Well, we look forward to it and we shall let you get back to getting ready for the gig, and now have a word with this young man….Mr Patterson, it has been a long time, so the last thing I remember you doing, or the last thing I remember receiving, was Ra so what have you been doing since then…?
TP: TV ads, library music for Focus Music, big screen music, lots of library music and building up the studio and considering making a new album. I would like to do another one like Ra but I think the next one will probably be one with big vocal harmonies and maybe a bit more guitar work and stuff… a bit more rocky and stuff. John (Hackett) and I are about to start work on a new album, I don’t know if you have heard about this and it is going to be a very dramatic and semi orchestral album so we start doing that in December.
TWR: I gather you have worked with Nick (Magnus) recently…?
TP: Yeah, working with Nick Magnus on his next album and I have done one track already and I have two more to do and that is going to be happening in December as well.
TWR: And now of course, you are back with ReGenesis, back in the old saddle…
TP: Yes, I ‘m afraid so I never thought I’d be back but here I am! The thing we talked about was doing The Lamb… again and then we thought no, let’s not do that, let’s do a regular Genesis set but do it with some numbers that haven’t been heard before. So, that is the plan with this, this time around. I think these two shows are just to get the band going again and next year as has already been said, we will be doing more dates and songs that haven’t been played before - not that we know of, anyway.
TWR: So, I might get to hear White Mountain live before I die…?
TP: No, because I hate that song anyway!
TWR: Bastard! Bastard! Bastard! (laughs). I think that is the thing that the tribute bands have got to start to do, look at things which haven’t been done before and things which are a little bit different because it is becoming a little bit stale. Don’t get me wrong, it is still great to hear that music but you know what you are going to hear and the fascination has begun to wear off a little bit perhaps.
TP: That ‘s the reason for this, we wanted to start off with a different song rather than Watcher Of The Skies which is what you expect when you come to a ReGenesis gig or indeed any Genesis tribute band, they start off with Watcher of The Skies so we thought we would do it a little bit different.
TWR: So there are plenty of things still in the pipeline then?
TP: Yes, there are yes, maybe some stuff with Steve (Hackett) as well.
And that concludes this somewhat necessarily brief chat to the guys in ReGenesis. Thanks for giving us so much of your time on what was a VERY busy day!