"The A to Z of Genesis" - Tony Banks talks about his career
with the band. This time we reach And Then There Were Three and Duke… Interview
by Peter Morton, Jonathan Dann and Alan Hewitt.
Commercially Wind & Wuthering was a bit of a lull probably a lull just like
The Lamb… that was a dip. We had never been motivated by the success factor. Its
just that I thin k it is like friends; you can't help being affected by everything
that goes on around you. I just felt that when I was writing on Wind & Wuthering
and, And Then There Were Three and on Burning Rope, I felt that maybe I had already
done this before and that maybe I should try and shorten it a bit, you know. And
then the idea came up of trying to avoid doing the long songs and keep them shorter
and see where it leads us.
I think it was a good experiment to try but I don’t think it produced… it probably
produced one of our leas satisfactory albums apart from two or three tracks where
there was slightly more expansive stuff. I think that the group at that point
was probably its most fragmented with most of the tracks written by individuals
and two or three tracks written by the group. Follow You Follow Me was one of
those tracks and I think it is probably one of the best tracks on the album and
it happened to be a single as well and that was a group track and that is probably
why it sounded best.
Did you see it as a challenge, being down to three members?
Well… Trick Of The Tail was the first album which was really fun to make all the
way through and we all had a bit more breathing space and, And Then There Were
Three was kind of the same thing and I think with Mike and Phil and myself, we
were older and we knew exactly how far to go with these people and we don't have
to go through all the shouting matches we used to go through. So, making records
since And Then There Were Three has been much more pleasurable and that is a big
thing really, for us. For me personally though, musically I think that And Then
There Were Three was probably one of my least favourite albums although there
are some songs on it which have great atmosphere; like Say It's Alright, Joe and
The album features Phil's first writing contribution to the band with Scenes From
A Night's Dream…
It was basically my song and he wrote the lyrics. Basically I wrote the whole
thing and while we were doing the lyric to it I said… "This is awful…this
is terrible…I can’t face writing all the lyrics to this…" and Phil said…
"I'll write a lyric to it…" It might have been his first ENTIRE lyric,
it was one of the first he wrote the lyric for. What was wonderful about the song
was all the little vocal ideas and I quite enjoyed all of that.
Moving on to Duke, is it true that In The Air Tonight was available for
the album sessions?
Well, Phil says this and I remember it quite differently, because I would have
responded to that because I remember him playing that to us later on without any
vocal on it and after we had recorded Duke and I thought it sounded great with
a really good atmosphere. No, we weren't given it. He did play quite a few tracks
from Face Value which it doesn't worry me that we didn’t do tracks like If Leaving
me Is Easy and Misunderstanding which we all liked. It wasn't as if we kept any
songs back. I played songs I had and so did Phil and I am sure that if we had
heard In The Air Tonight… we would have done it because it is a Genesis type of
song; it is like a streamlined type of Genesis song with those chords and that
doomy kind of atmosphere which was another Genesis trademark, and I don’t think
we may have done anything for it because it is such an effective piece as it stands.
Evidence Of Autumn and Open Door, were both written at the same time?
Yeah…well Evidence of Autumn and Cul De Sac it was a choice of which one went
on the album and I think we went with the right one really.
Was it the first time you wrote everything as a group?
Well, I think because Mike and I had just done solo records we were slightly dry
on material and so we had to write more on the spot. So we… something like Turn
It On Again came out of a bit that Mike had discarded from his solo record and
a bit that I had discarded from mine and we just put the two together. Originally
it was just a link, a tentative link on a longer piece after Duchess and before
Guide Vocal and we recorded it and it sounded so good we thought let’s do it twice
and then do a vocal on the riff and see what happens and we put it down with no
lyrics or anything and then Mike went away and wrote a lyric and melody for it
and it sounded great.
So, it was group track almost by default on that one and it was the bits that
Mike and I had written but it wasn't until Phil put the beat and tempo to it that
it really came alive. The most group track on the album was Duchess where we used
the drum machine for the first time on an album, and we tried all sorts of things
on that with heavy compression on the song and simple chords and I wrote the melody
and the lyrics for it and I thought that it was at that point on the album, on
that song that Phil became the singer. He just got this edge to his voice and
it took off from there really. He took a melody which I had written and gave it
a different twist which is what a singer should be able to do really, and Duchess
is one of my favourite tracks. It is so simple and yet it seems to capture so
much atmosphere. It was at that time that girl singers were becoming popular and
that is where the idea came from.
Also, seen from that perspective it would take it away from the group a bit because
if it had been written about a man, people would have thought it was talking about
the group, but talking about it that way gave it another dimension.