"Genesis vocalist Mike Rutherford about the past, present and future: Supper's Ready is my proudest musical moment" - Mike Rutherford talks to Øystein Hage.
When Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford looks back over his shoulder, he thinks the song Suppers Ready is his proudest musical moments. He are also very satisfied with the success with Phil Collins on vocals after Peter Gabriel left and the production of the last three albums he did with Phil Collins.
Øystein Hage (text)
- They are my Genesis highlights. The three last albums were fun to make. We jammed together and made a lot of good music, says Mike Rutherford (64) when he looks back on the 46 years long story with Genesis.
Bassist and guitarist in Genesis was last summer in Norway to play two concerts
with his hobby band The Mechanics. We met him before the concert at Rockefeller
Arena in Oslo.. Rutherford enjoy being on the road, and he was very relaxed
before going on stage in Oslo. And he is more than happy to talk about his career,
the Genesis story and the life on tour.
- Its funny that this is the first time in Norway. I did not know, he says when he becomes aware that Mike and the Mechanics have never played in Norway before.
But he will be back this summer. It just got announced he and the band will be playing at a small festival, “Osfest”, just outside of Bergen on the west coast og Norway in August.
The band planned to come on the"M6" tour in 2000, but the concert was canceled due to ex-singer Paul Young's sudden death. With Genesis, he has only visited Norway three times. With "The lamb lies down on Broadway" in 1974 for "And then there were three" tour in 1978 and with the "Calling all Stations" tour with Ray Wilson on vocals in 1998.
Mike and the Mechanics was started as a hobby band in 1985, whith Paul Young (not he famous one, but the vocalist of Sad Cafe) and Paul Carrack on vocals. The band managed to release five records and a compilation album before Young died in 2000. Since then Mike and Paul Carrack releases an album before Carrack concentrated fully on his solo career in 2004. Mike and the Mechanics took som time off, and first appeared in the 2011 with the album "The Road" and two new vocalists. British Andrew Roachford (known from the band Roachford) had taken over Carrack songs, while the more unknown american singer Tim Howard sang the Youngs songs. Since 2011, Mike and the Mechanics have toured every year.
- - Was it difficult to find the two new vocalists?
- - No, by no means. Brian Rawlings at production company Metraphonic is a friend of mine. He recommended them both. It is often ok to change vocalists, such as we did with Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. The songs lives on even with new vocalists.
- Have you still contact with Paul Carrack?
- Yes, but we have not seen each other for quite a while. I think in many ways it was the best for all that we parted. He has never had a solo career, but now he has.
You have not released an album since 2011. Is there anything new going on?
- We've written a bunch of new songs, which I think is very good. We played one of the songs at the concerts last year, "Learning to fly". I want to write some more songs and then record them.
-The first album with Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, "The Road", was a bit like with the first album with M + M in 1986. We wrote the songs first, then came the vocalists, and then we formed the band as it became. Now we have been three and a half years on the road with the new lineup, and in many ways we are in a new phase with that band.
- You used to write songs with Chris Neil and BA Robertsen (which he wrote
"The living years with"). Are you still writing with them? Or are
Andrew and Tim included?
- No, the new songs I've written with Andrew and Tim. Luke Juby (keyboardist in M + M) is helping too, and Clark Datchler, vocalist in Johnny Hates Jazz has helped too. He was a songwriter before he joined Johnny Hates Jazz. He is more a writer again, and the cooperation has worked very well.
- You're also a member of Genesis. Do you think there are some fans who are
only M + M fans and who do not know your past in Genesis?
.- No, I do not think so. There is always a cross over. After the Internet, I think most people know that I am in both bands.
- If you had performed some old Genesis songs like "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" (from "Nursey Crime", 1971) at M + M concerts, how do you think the audience would react?
- - It would be hard to do. When you play concerts like in Oslo, people come
to hear songs like "Over my Shoulder" and the other hits.
- Who is the audience at your concerts?
- It's probably a combination of younger M + M fans and older Genesis fans. When we are playing at new places there are probably many people with a strong Genesis connection.
- So on this tour you play the usual songs.
-Yes.. You get all hits with Mechanics and a couple of Genesis songs.
As the first member of Genesis Mike Rutherford released his own biography entitled
"The living years" in 2014. The book is very much about his relationship
with his father, his father's life and of course a little bit about Genesis
and Mike and the Mechanics.
- What was the reason you wrote this book? And when did you start thinking about writing it?
- I got the idea when I found my father's unpublished memoirs. That's when it all started. I've always been fascinated by his generation, and what they experienced. It was a generation that was characterized by major changes. First two world wars and some major changes in the postwar period. My parents were still in a kind of shock after the Second World War, when the society in the 60s and 70s changed even faster. Especially among young people in the UK much happened at the time, and there must have been very special for my father to experience all the changes. The book is very much about that.
- The first part of the book is very detailed about your childhood, about growing up and the beginning of Genesis. But it seems like you have skiped a lot of 80s and 90s. Why?
- It is the first part of the story that is the most interesting. It was then that the great social changes occurred in the UK. It was the beginning of pop music, a new youth culture and it was great economic and social changes in those years. What happened later is much more well known and well documented. Genesis toured, and people know what happened to us. This last period of the band's history is well documented already.
Mike and the Mechanics have in recent years made many concerts in smaller places.
They toured for years throughout Europe, several concert rounds in Britain and
visited last winter USA for the first time in over 20 years.
- How is this compared to the gigs you did with Genesis in 2007
- This is very different. It's fun to play with both bandsm, and for many and few people. But with The Mechanics we play mostly in theaters. It's really fun to play in some smaller places.
- But do you miss the big concerts?
- - They are great too, but quite differently from what we do today. Mechanics are not in position to play for as many people as we did with Genesis.
It is perhaps better to see the audience in the eye?
- Yeah, it's a little harder on the shows with Genesis. On the big stadiums there are never individuals, only whole crowds.
- When asked about Genesis you always answer that we'll see what happens. But
do you meet Phil Collins and Tony Banks regularly and do you miss the band?
- I meet Tony quite often. He lives relatively close and we have a studio together. But Phil lives in the United States and doing well there. He spends a lot of time with the his boys.
- So you do not jam together anymore? Do you miss it?
- No, that's right. I miss the writing part, but you know when we start writing something together it opens up a whole new scenario. It means so much more than just writing some songs.
- So there's no hope of seeing the three of you back together again?
- No, nothing is planned, but we are all still alive and good friends, so you should never say never. I started in Genesis when I was 18 years old, and it has been a long history. There are no plans. And Phil has no plans.
- So it's more up to Phil?
- Yes, partly, but maybe we've had our time as a rock band. We are aware that our time in a way has been.
- What do Tony and Phil currently do. Have both retired?
- Tony relaxes, writes a bit and has ust released a compilation record. We meet regularly. Phil spends a lot of time with his family.
(Phil did start the re-release campaign with his old records after this interview was done)
- You have always said that Genesis never made the really big album, such as
Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". But if you look back. What are
you most proud of today?
- No, we never made that album, but I can pick out some things that I really look back on with pride: Firstly the song "Suppers Ready". I'm very proud of that song. Secondly, we succeeded after Phil became the lead singer and thirdly the last three albums we did with Phil. They were fun to make.
- The 2007 tour showed that you still have a large audience and it showed that
Genesis should not be history. What do you think about this?
- You are right, but who knows which project is situated around the next corner? I will not rule out anything.
- But now, it is the Mike and The Mechanics that matters?
- Yes, right now it is, but it's not like I choose one over the other. It has been good to be with the Mechanics. We have been on the road for about four years, and I have found out two things. Firstly, that the songs and the sound worked really well live, and secondly that the audience enjoyed what we played. They came to the concerts and knew all the songs. We have in many ways not got past that stage that there are songs, not the band, they know.
- - It was tough to start touring again in 2011. We had to work hard to make
an audience. The concerts last year was more or less sold out. It has been a
bit like the beginning of Genesis. We have traveled around and proved that we
were capable. And I feel that we have managed, he says.
- Even at my age we must sometimes prove something, he adds smiling.
- Is the Oslo concert the last on this tour?
- No, we have a festival in late August and then a charity show in September.
- - And then you will begin to work with the new album?
- No, we will begin at once.
- How was it to tour the US last year?
- - It was very good. They concerts were not sold out, beacuse it takes a time get an audience again. I was not really ready to do it all over again, but it is very satisfying to succeed. So it turned out great and I am very happy.
It reminds a bit about Genesis and Calling all stations area. Back then you
said that you would not start on again from the beginning with all small concerts?
In many ways is thia what you are doing now with the Mechanics.
- No, you forgot one important thing. Genesis was big and therefore I was not ready to start over again with Ray and Tony. The Mechanics have never been there. I never toured very much with The Mechanics. In this perspective, this is new to me, what we're doing now. That's the big difference between Genesis and "Calling all Stations" and today with The Mechanic.
- Did you use a long time planning the 2007 tour with Genesis?
- No, it happened pretty fast. We had a meeting in Scotland in 2005, but Peter Gabriel had plans so we thought why not do it the three of us. And when we started the year after.
- And Peter has still not released the album that stopped him from being with you?
- - Oh, he hasn’t? But he made the orchestral album "Scratch my back" in any case
- What do you think about Calling all stations today? Are you proud of the,
or would it be best undone?
- By no means. I'm very proud of that album. But if we had continued we should have brought in another songwriter in addition to Tony and me. I've always looked at Tony and myself as the two most intimate in Genesis, but in retrospect I see that we were not. It was Phil who was the glue in the middle. It was especially visible in the songwriting. Ray Wilson was no experienced songwriter, he was primarily a vocalist.
Steve Hackett was not particularly pleased with the new Genesis-DVD you launched
in 2014, "Sum of the Parts". He felt his entire solo career was neglected.
What do you think about that?
- There is always something that is not perfect. There was much I'd wanted to be there which was not. For example, nothing about our our use of light at the concerts "Varilights" changed the concert world radically. Many other things were not mentioned too.
- And there was not a single word about Calling all stations?
- You can not fit it all. That's just how it is.
- - What was it to be you five in the same room again?
- That was nice. It was the first time in many years. We still go well together, so it went very well.
- Both Steve Hackett and Ray Wilson tour under the Genesis name. What do you
think about that? They even tour with all your old songs? And what about all
cover bands such as The Musical Box. Do you have any relationship with them?
- Anyone may play my songs, but I would not have done it myself. It is old songs from the past. I think it would be wrong to play the old songs all over again. But many cover bands are good. I saw The Musical Box many years ago. They are really good.
This interview with Mike Rutherford was made the same day it became known that
Yes bassist Chris Squire died. They were both bassists in the two leading prog
bands in the 70s.
What do you think about Chris dead? Did you know him well?
- I've known Chris for years, but have not met him so often lately. He lived in the United States. But we've meet occasionally, and I met him at Prog awards a few years back. A great bassist, good writer and good singer too. Very sad, he concludes.
Text: Øystein Hage, Bergen Norway