"From the Archive" - Genesis in conversation with 93 WMMR Radio in 1992. Transcription by Alan Hewitt. Memorabilia: TWR Archive. Photoraphs courtesy of David Scheinmann and Carl Studna.
We’ve had a trawl through the archive of interview recordings in the TWR archive and thought this one from 1992 might prove interesting. Over to you, guys…
INT: How did it feel to get back together in the studio after so many years apart from one another?
MR: It felt great, it was very easy you know it is always the test, we get in to record some songs and it has kind of happened for us in the last couple of weeks and I think we were probably surprised. We were also surprised that it had been such a long gap, it didn’t feel like three and a half years since the last tour but it was and it has been a doddle. Do you have that word in America? Doddle?
PC: A doddle is when it’s easy and I will translate everything he says (laughs).
INT: The album has a really nice, clean sound to it, is that something you were keeping an ear open to as well? Were you aware of that when you were doing it? Was it something you were trying to get to?
TB: well I don’t think, you know we were trying to go for a slightly different sound I think and that is one of the reasons why we changed engineer and co-producer on this one instead of using Hugh Padgham who we have used for many years, we used a guy called Nick Davis who I had worked with recently and I think the other thing is that over the years we have tried to hone down the sound of it so that we don’t have too much kind of superfluous sound in there and too much over decoration of all the bits. So I think from that point of view there was not that much overdubbing on this album which was kind of strange and the first time we have done as little as this and that is probably what you are hearing.
INT: There is a lot of music on the new CD, twelve tracks and seventy minutes and I think the breadth of the song writing that you have covered on here what were your ideas going on to the recording sessions of the songs you would include on the new CD?
PC: Well, we didn’t really know what we were going to do, to be honest. We sort of went in there and started playing around and the result is what you hear so… lyrically the ideas tend to come a lot later. A song like Living Forever for example which was a lyric that Tony wrote and that was written with a completely blank piece of paper so some of the other songs like Tell me Why which I wrote the lyric for and some of the lyrics were improvised when we were writing the song so those kind of phrases come up and certain things sound good with the music and so you write them all down and you fill in the holes a bit later and all of a sudden you have finished your lyric, you know.
We tend not to talk too much about what’s going to happen or what’s not going to happen and if we lay down rules and laws for ourselves we tend to end up going in the opposite direction anyway so we really just let it happen.
INT: You haven’t done an album since 1986, do you look at the musical landscape out there and think, the time is now to do a Genesis album, there’s a market for it or is it simply a matter of doing the album, getting it down and getting it out of your system?
PC: I think we certainly don’t plan it that way, no. we came together now because it was the first opportunity we have had to do things together without doing solo things. Tony and Mike have both done solo albums and I did a film and an album and a tour so we have all been busy doing outside projects and we kind of decided to come together again in 1990 and at the end of the Invisible Touch tour we said that we would get back together and do an album and it was a bit later than we originally anticipated but we certainly didn’t look round and say the marketplace is waiting for a Genesis album because who knows if they are?! It was one of those things we said let’s do it and let’s do it now and hope people are listening when we have finished!
INT: When I went through the CD the very first time the one that really caught me was I Can’t Dance, tell us about that tune?
MR: Tony dances brilliantly! (laughs). That was one of the songs that happened quite late on we had a guitar riff which we likened to a blue jeans commercial so the working title was “blue jeans” and we recorded it in a different way because we had the riff and we left it till the end of the session and said it will either come out good or it will die a death and we recorded it literally in a day, we put the guitar riff down, the keyboards and Phil was kind of writing lyrics in the corner like in the old days and it was down in a matter of hours and it worked very well for us.
INT: I’d like to ask Mike a question: when you have been busy with your own band, Mike & The Mechanics, when you come in to a Genesis project do you bring anything to the table from your own band that you think might be helpful working with your other Genesis band mates?
MR: Probably but I don’t know what it is! It is usually a more indirect sort of thing, all the time you are writing and recording and you are learning new things. One thing I do remember is on the Mechanics thing, some of the lyrics that Paul Carrack and I wrote together I actually went through them with him quite early one before they were finished and he changed certain little words because they didn’t sing well and this time with Phil I spent a lot more time going through the lyrics I had written and letting him look at them and pick at them and pull out words which weren’t very important to the meaning but made him sing better. So that’s one thing.
INT: As we move into the 1990’s what changes do you see in the music industry over the next few years?
PC: Well, we are living in a period when it seems that a lot of radio stations seem to be playing, I mean dance and rap and I don’t know what MMR are doing here in America but a lot of stations seem to be more formatted and a lot of people who we have spoken to at interviews have picked up the fact that we are doing long songs and those that aren’t necessarily aware of Genesis’ history won’t know that we have always done long songs but to them it is an extraordinary thing to have songs that are longer than four or five minutes. If there is anything to at could be done to change that I think it would be great to have things with more substance on the radio rather than just things that are top forty orientated or dance orientated.
INT: What about the future of music videos? Where do you see that going?
PC: Well, they’ve got to be done because as long as there is music television, videos have to be made. I think once you accept the fact that you are going to make them, we enjoy them. It is not the kind of thing, if nobody else was making them then I don’t think we would necessarily say ‘hey guys, let’s go and do a music video’ but as part of reaching the people that you can reach through the music television we get very involved and we enjoy making them.
INT: Will you do one for every single that you release from this album?
TB: I would think so, yeah.
INT: Tell me about No Son Of Mine?
PC: I wrote the lyrics to it but the song, the music to it came more from the improvisation that were talking about earlier and Tony sampled a bit of Mike’s guitar playing which is the sound you hear at the beginning of the song, the elephant trumpeting noise and the lyric on the chorus came as a sort of improvised piece when we were writing the music and then I took that and wrote a story around it and it is about abuse, violence really in a household and you are not quite sure if it is the son being abused or the mother being abused but the father is a bit of an animal and it is a very sad story of course which happens behind lots of closed doors all over the world but here it is.
INT: The coming years is going to bring a tour, I am sure for you guys Stateside?
TB: It will indeed. We are going to be touring in… let me get this right… May and June and it is about a six week tour over the whole of the States and then we do another same period in Europe so the tour is quite short from our point of view but as far as America is concerned we are covering everywhere I think.
INT: Any chance that any of you will write a book about Genesis? Do any of you keep a journal about your travels through the years?
TB: I’ve got it all down! (laughs) I’ve got all those things they said about me!
PC: I don’t think so, I don’t think we have done anything interesting really! (laughs).
And there the interview ended. Some food for thought amongst it I think hope you enjoyed reading it. “nothing interesting” indeed, Phil!