We Can't Dance (Virgin)
Hitlisteplaceringer i releaseugen, Aalborg Stiftstidende 11/91
Dato Titel Placering
021191 No Son Of Mine (sg) 8
161191 We Can't Dance (CD) 3
Have, Aalborg Stiftstidende 11/91
Mageløst. Efter sit fjerde og hidtil bedste soloudspil, "But Seriously", og de veloplagte koncert-optagelser "Serious Hits Live", står Phil Collins for tredje år i træk klar med en sikker millionsællert til julehandlen. Uden - og det er kunsten - at det virker beregnende eller presset frem. Ikke mange nemme løsninger eller billige effekter. Men et næsten ødselt væld af slagkraftige og slidstærke melodier, formfuldendte detaljer i et tilsyneladende ret skrabet, meget luftigt lydbillede - og masser af fortættede stemningsbilleder.
Med Collins' robuste, udtryksfulde stemme, bakket op af Tony Banks og Mike Rutherford, kommer Genesis godt rundt i følelserne. Fra det stolte, stædigt-trodsige og spydige over glødende forelskelse til harme og bitterhed, vemod og sorg. Pladen er lidt sværere at gå til end forgængeren fra 1986, "Invisible Touch", der med sleben lyd og otte skarpe hitmuligheder nærmest gik ind ved første lyt. Men Genesis har højere kunstneriske ambitioner og vil tydeligvis lægge afstand til fordommen om at være en musikalsk og åndelig letvægter efter Peter Gabriel's afgang. Og bandet har både modet og talentet til store krævende ture. Som i et af højdepunkterne, den 10 minutter lange, seje hyldest til 1800-tallets britiske jernbanebisser, "Driving The Last Spike". Noget af en kraftpræstation - en smuk velfunderet mini-suite på linje med den lige så lange, men blidere "Fading Lights" om at leve, som om livet aldrig får en ende.
Pladen har flere kontante her-og-nu-radiohits nok isĺr "Tell Me Why", der ligesom Collins' egen berømte "Another Day In Paradise" harmes over at nogle må leve på gaden. Lige på går også den enkle "No Son Of Mine", der samler det bedste af Genesis-lyden også Collins' meget karakteristiske, støt rumlende garagetrommer. Og der er gentagelser: den tyste "Hand On My Heart" har samme stemning og næsten samme melodi som Collins' "Father To Son". Men Genesis prøver også at komme videre, overraske med længere, jam-agtige passager. Og man glemmer næppe den beske "Jesus He Loves Me" om falske tv-prædikanter. Eller den dystre "Dreaming While You Sleep" om en flugtbilists dårlige samvittighed.
Lidt for meget rytmebox og overfladisk synth-dyt her og der. Ellers lidt af et mesterværk i fin balance mellem kontant pop og stor, ukrukket kunst.
Aalborg Stiftstidende 1/93
Phil Collins med venner, altså Genesis, har efter stor succes med nyeste plade, "We Can't Dance", udsendt maxi-single med "I Can't Dance" (også i et såkaldt "sex-mix") og et nyt nummer, "On The Shoreline". På ny mini-CD i meget begrænset oplag findes begge numre plus et par ældre, "In Too Deep" og "That's All", i live versioner.
Arne Vollertsen, Gaffa 12/91
D'herrer Rutherford, Banks og Collins har været i det muntre hjørne. Men hentydning til de seneste års danse-bølge, som de tre har valgt totalt at se bort fra, har de spøgefuldt kaldt deres nye album "We Can't Dance". Desværre er titlen stort set det eneste humoristiske indslag på pladen, der er lang, tung og alvorlig. De gamle Genesis-fans får leveret den vare, de forlanger, med lange, C-, D- og E-stykke-mættede numre, der slæber sig afsted med en katastrofal mangel på dynamik. Men Genesis synes udgået for kreative ideer. Genesis er bedst på pladens indædte indledningsnummer "No Son Of Mine" og værst i den alenlange dødbider "Fading Lights".
Men detaljer kan stadig nydes hos disse konceptrock pionerer, der engang stod øverst på ønskelisten til skolefester i undertegnedes gymnasietid. Phil Collins er stadig nyskabende, når det gælder trommelyde og selv en hi-hat kan han få til at lyde anderledes og interessant.
Måske var der brug for !idt mere munterhed i disse panderynkende pop-millionærers univers. "We Can't Dance" er der i al fald ikke meget grin i.
Chris Welch, ? mag. 92
'We Can't Dance' is the long awaited follow-up Genesis album to the hit packed 'Invisible Touch' which topped the world's charts back in 1987. Due out on November 21, it should yield at least three number one hits, including the moving first single off the album, 'No Son Of Mine'.
Genesis are too modest to make such wild claims themselves. However the old firm of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks are quietly delighted with the results of their intense writing and recording bash last summer at The Farm studios, in Surrey. We tracked them down at the studio for an exclusive chat about the album and their touring plans for next year.
It's strange. We have known Genesis for many moons, and yet there is something daunting about probing the innermost thoughts of three eminently self-sufficient people who have achieved so much. Why, only the other night we were watching Phil on TV, starring in his hit movie 'Buster'. Mike and Tony have a string of solo albums and singles behind them, as well as the vast musical achievements of a band who have been part of our rock lives for over twenty years. In their presence we feel respect - and no small amount of awe.
Mercifully, they remain essentially the same team of down to earth musos who made '...And Then There Were Three' back in 1977. Joking, relaxed and patient, they fended off a giant spider that suddenly emerged from the studio woodwork, Phil had a quick bash on his drum kit, and we all ate sausage rolls.
Genesis charged into making 'We Can't Dance' with the sort of speed normally expected from a hardcore thrash band. Mike Rutherford, however, remains his usual calm and insouciant self when debating such arcane matters. "It only took two months to write, out of which two weeks were lost for solo stuff and promotion, so really it was done in about six weeks." To many Genesis watchers, it seerns only a short while since their last album, the hit packed 'Invisible Touch'. Said Tony Banks: "As you get older, distant events seem more recent. A lot of people have been born and died since the last album was made!"
The next step, of course, is their world tour which is planned for the middle of 1992. Explained Phil: "We start rehearsals in April and the first gig is on May 16th. We'll be going out with Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar but nobody else. A lot of bands like Dire Straits go out with extra musicians to try and make the show sound like the album, which is great for them. But rather than go that way, it's best if we keep it nice and tight. We have talked about this and the songs sounded great before the extra percussion and harmonies went onto the album tracks. It will sound good enough without it. Anyway, we do more instrumental stuff than we do on my solo tours. We will be doing the 'Turn It On Again' medley in some shape or form, and then we normally do an 'In The Cage' medley from 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway'. I think we'll do a really good medley that encompasses the whole history of the band. We stil get a Iot of grief from old fans. They aren't satisfied with how much we play of the old stuff." Says Tony "The trouble is you can't please everybody, so we just try and keep ourselves happy and we get more pleasure out of paying more recent stuff because that's what we are into at the moment." Phil: "There's a couple of young Liverpudlian guys we met aged about 17, who would just like us to play 'One For The Vine' (from 'Wind And Wuthering', january 1977). If we didn't play anything else, they want to hear that. They can only have been about ten when that came out!" Tony: "Quite honestly, even when we picked it when it was contemporary, it used to get shouted down".
Phil: "Even in arenas it's not so bad, but if you are playing football stadiums, which is what we'll be doing, with 50,000 people there, you just need an element of that audience to be mumbling or talking to each other and you've got an awful lot of ambient noise Floating about. The stadiums will be Europe and the States. We have tried to eliminate fields. Roundhay Park, Leeds is one place well play and that is actually a field, and Knebworth is a field. After the stadiums, we are thinking of doing another tour of theatres" Tony: Thats a nice idea, and if we do it, we could consider doing some of the quieter songs It would be a different sort of show if we did that, but on the main show we will be concentrating heavily on more recent stuff. We have been shooting a video for 'No Son Of Mine', the first single on the new album."
Phil revealed that he is making a new movie to follow up his successful role in 'Buster', recently screened on TV. Had he watched himself on TV? Phil winced and shook his head. "I'm doing the new film at the beginning of the year. It's been four years already since 'Buster'. It's funny, I went to a restaurant the other night, and as we walked in a couple were leaving and they said: "Were just going home to watch you!", which was rather weird. But I wouldn't have watched it. I couldn't have faced it. It was good fun to make, but it had its flaws. Half the fun was giving it that sixties feel and making Jubblies. We were all trying to rack our brains to figure out what a Jubbly container looked like. They were triangular shaped Frozen orange juice containers - remember you used to squeeze at the bottom and your lips used to go orange? The idea for a new movie has been at the back of my mind for about a year now. I've not been having acting lessons! But I have been going to a voice coach who I saw when I did 'Buster'. ''She is very good at helping me to slow down and think about what I'm doing. I have to think about what's being said and why even Meryl Streep goes to her! The new film will be made in Australia, but there won't be an Australian accent in it. It's a bit of a surreal, zany story."
Apart from Phil's phenomenal success as a solo artist, the other two Genesites have been busy with different projects. Tony Banks brought out his excellent album 'Still' earlier in the year, which featured singers Nik Kershaw, Fish, Jayney Klimek and Andy Taylor, and Mike Rutherford produced a new Mike & The Mechanics album 'World Of Mouth' with his brace of vocalists Paul Carrack and Paul Young. Tony was rather disappointed about the slow response to his album. "It's been out a few months and didn't exactly set the world on fire. We are going to try with one more single, and if Genesis are back again, and things go okay for us, people may remember who I am - briefly!" Genesis are fortunate they can go on and lead quite different musical lives. "We're very lucky we can do that", said Phil. "There is no other band like us. Others in the same situation would have just split up after a world tour. And then maybe they'd decide to come back together again and reform after doing other things. I am sure some people think that is what we do. 'Oh, you're getting back together again are you?' But we have never actually stopped. It's only in people's minds. They can't seem to relate to the fact that you can actually do more than one thing! Mike: "We have been doing stuff outside the band now since 1974, and people are still worried that it's going to cause the breakup of the band." Tony: "Yet it has the opposite effect, because if you can work outside the band, you don't have that frustration about trying something different. Back in the early days when Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett left Genesis, it was for that reason. They wanted to do things without being tied down by the rest of us. Later we felt we could all do different things but still keep Genesis together. It certainly hasn't affected our career. Phil couldn't be any more successful if he hadn't been with us..." In effect there was now a Genesis school of talent? `,You can't get away from it, although people try!" smiled Phil. Meanwhile Genesis are itching to get back onto the road. Added Phil: "I heard our old record of 'Carpet Crawlers' the other day. For a moment there I got all choked up and emotional about it I thought it would be nice for us to do that again, and audiences would like it. But we mustn't get too excited about it yet, because it will be another five months before we go on the road!
A Band's eye view of "We Can' Dance":
'No Son Of Mine'
Tony: "This is the first single off the album. It's a bit long at six and a half minutes, but we have got away with it before. The track was built up in the same process as alI the others. The elephant sound we got on an Emulator, which we combined with the chord and vocol melody and the whole song developed from there."
Phil: "Because we use machines to write to, I end up singing all the time. If you just free you mind - that sounds very cosmic, but if you just open your mouth and sing words, sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don't. I didn't know what I was singing at one point but Mike said 'it sounds like you're singing No Son Of Mine' In fact I hadn't been singing that, but that's what it sounded like. Straight away there was a thread, a handle to hang a song on."
'Jesus He Knows Me'
Tony: "It gets more and more confusing to know exactly who is playing what on an album these days, but that's me playing the keyboards and it's not the guitar at the beginning and the voice - well that's obvious! This is pretty fast with a lot of energy, and the chorus is one of the strongest on the album." Phil: "The main gist of the words in the chorus is 'Jesus, he knows me and he knows I'm right'. It's another chorus that has written itself and we went back and developed the song from there. I have become deeply religious now y'know! Nah, there's two ways you can take it. Some people on first listening will think I have gone Born Again, but itęs actually about TV evangelists.
'Driving The Last Spike'
Phil: 'lt's about driving railvoys across England. The original working title of the main melody part was 'Irish' and that kind of set the tone for the whole thing. The Iyrics went on to talk about navvies and the railways."
'I Can't Dance'
Tony: "Mike had been trying out this riff for quite a few days, and wouldn't stop! We tried it a few ways and it wouldn't happen, then I started playing keyboard drums which gave it character and Phil started to sing and instead of being a heavy song it became a little lighter."
Phil: "Mike played the guitar and in case there is any doubt about it, Tony played the drums. I play the real drums at the end, but the machine starts it! While we were recording it I was writing the words, and it literally all happened in about an hour. The voice is very close up because we used different mike. It is unlike anything that people would expect from Genesis."
'Never A Time'
Tony: "This what we used to call a rock-a-ballad. It's the shortest track on the album. I think the Americans will like this, but I know nothing about singles - look at my track record on singles! But the working title was B.B. Hit-which means Big Big Hit!
'Dreaming While You Sleep'
Phil: No - that's not keyboards - it's a drum machine this time! There are real drums too and there's even a bass xylophone which I've had for years. It makes it sound very mysterious. "
'Tell Me Why'
Phil: "Musica!ly this is a pop song, and quite Sixties-ish. The working title was 'Rickenbacker' which summed up the energetic Sixties protest thing. It has overtones of The Beatles and The Byrds. In fact it is a Nineties protest song about bad news on TV."
Phil: "Those wire brushes at the beginning? No, they are not real brushes, it's a machine! I coudn't play that well. I just got some new discs for the SP 1200, and one of them was Jazz Kit Brushes. We just wrote this little pattern using the sample, and they are quite sophisticated."
'Hold On My Heart'
Phil: "This is very restrained with lots of space in it." Tony: "Managed to creep in a few more chords than I'm normally allowed to on this song, so it has a sort of Burt Bacharach feel. It's a song that at one point in the recording seemed like it might be ditched, then it come right back up again and became a really strong track. It's very much a one o'clock in the morning song. "
Phil: "The original Iyric was 'Hold On To My Heart' which we thought sounded like a medical song, so we changed it!"
'Way Of The World'
Mike: "l had the Iyric but Phil just song the line'When the blue sky meets the red sky' It just came out!" Phil: "In amongst all the lo, la, las, and all the rubbish I was making up, that line sounded really good. Suddenly it worked well and Mike wrote the rest of the Iyrics. It's all about balance in life."
'Since I Lost You'
Tony: "This had a more Sixties' orchestral approoch in one of those six-eight rhythms. It was very Phil Spector-ish, a bit like 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', that kind of thing. I just played chords in that rhythm, originally as a joke, and didnt like it much, until Mike said it sounded great. We kept it as an idea to try later and it turned out really well. Phil: l brought in my old Phil Spector boxed set of albums to check out the echoing drum sound! "
Tony: "This is a sad song, that Iyrically reflects back on times past. It's the age thing, when you realise you are not going to do a certain thing again or see that person again. It's one number on the album with an extended instrumental section where we let ourselves go a bit with more drama."
Russell Scott, Keyboard Magazine 2/92
Tony Banks explains the art of non-soloing; Phil Collins debunks the Phil Collins drum sound; Mike Rutherford wonders what he's doing in Keyboard; And all three giants of Genesis speak out on the latest chapter in a pop music saga.
"Gawd," said Tony Banks: "This is a big car!" There docked in front of the HBO offices near Grammercy Park in Manhatten, waiting to sail majestically uptown to the new WNEW studios, was the mother of all limos. It didn't have its own pool, like the one in the back of Phil COllins' car in the "Take Me Home" video, but it would do. So, with the Keyboard cassette recorder firmly in our grip-an earlier tape machine had been lost a few nights before in Soho, but that's another story- we followed Banks, Collins, and Rutherford into the megamobile, praying all the whiie for a traffic jam.
Though our interview time had been cut short due to the usual scheduling chaos, we wound up getting nearty everything we needed by the time we reached the radio station. Banks, Collins, and Rutherford, a.k.a. Genesis, are pros in the interview department. After some 20 years in the pop music whirl, the last 13 of them a trio, they've learned how to speak both very clearly and very quickly when time is short. A nice trick, especially since few comparible huge showbiz phenomens try so hard to really answer the questions they're asked.
With "We Can't Dance" just released and the debut single, "No Son Of Mine," already shooting toward the top of the Billboard charts in its first week, Genesis is about as big-time as you can get. So of course, they deserve that big car, especially since there are three of them. In an era when pop icons tend to be singular-Madonna, Paula Abdul, name your Jackson-these guys are a bona fide band. They have the same sense of interplay, the same preference for collective creativity, that any other band has. Though each has his own solo career and side interests, when they come together as Genesis they are just as much an all-for-one kind of outfit as they were back in the '60s, when they founded the group specifically as a "song-writing collective."
The cars were smaller then, but music was in some respects bigger. By the early 70s, working as a fivesome with guitarist Steve Hackett, and singer Peter Gabriel, they were honing a style based on extended pieces whose marathon structures were tempered by a disclination to indulge in the kinds of flashy, wanking-off display some of their collegues in the progressive rock movement embraced. Where ELP, for example, sometimes created the impression of three guys duking it out in a Battle of the Virtuosos-"This band ain't big enough for the three of us, stranger! Take that drum solo!" "Oh yeah? Well, watch this arpeggio, hombre!"-Genesis always came across as the product of a unified artistic vision.
Further, their flair for drama, their interest in sound, and their pursuit of simple central ideas even in the most distended arrangements, anticipated those qualities that guide pop music in the '80s and '90s. After whitling down to trio size, they pared their sound as well. But even on their new bite-sized singles-"That's All" from 1983, ''Invisible Touch" from '86, and the current hit-their old prog sensibilities add a feeling of dimension rarely heard in mainstream radio today. What other band, for instance, risks the kinds of titanic climaxes heard in "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight," from "Invisible Touch" or more recently, 'Driving the Last Spike" from "We Can't Dance"?
When we met Genesis at HBO, they were just staggering out of several hours' worth of banter with a sequence of interrogators who, in their own remarkable display of inadvertent collectivism, seemed to ask the same questions over and over again. This left us with an obvious opening gambit.
Keyboard: So what haven't you been asked yet today?
Rutherford: Nobody's asked about keyboards.
Keyboard: Okay. So, Tony, what kind of rig did you use on 'We Can't Dance"?
Banks: A lot of the stuff has changed in the five years since we did "Invisible Touch". I was using the Emulator 11 a lot on that. On this record, I used the Korg Wavestation a lot; that's really the most important one. I also used the Ensoniq VFX, the Roland JD-800, and the Elil.
Keyboard: So you've moved up from your old Emulator.
Banks: Yeah, although in some ways the Emulator 11 is much easier to handle. The main advantage with the Elll is the fact that it's stereo. It's great to be able to do stereo sampling; you end up with a much better sound. The fact that you can manipulate that sound to a greater degree is good too. But by the same token, I quite like sampled sounds that are very imperfect; sometimes that gives them a strong character. Rather than fiddle around too much with the samples I've taken, I tend to use whatever I end up with. If I can make it sound good in a piece of music, I'm happy.
Keyboard: Would that noisy sample that you play in "No Son Of Mine" as a minor third be an example?
Banks: Certainly, although cheated a bit because on the video it looks like I'm playing a descending minor third, but in fact the sample was [hums the figure]. It was a bit of guitar noise from Mike, slowed down. It sounds like this fabulous thing, but it wasnt.
Rutherford: Thank you very much [laughs]!
Banks: What I mean was, it was very ambient, very distant. It wasn't set up like, "Okay, Mike, I'm gonna start sampling now." I've often got a mike set up on the Emulator, and every now and then I switch it on without telling anyone what I'm doing. I'll just sample around 18 seconds in the room and see what happens. In this case, that was what I did, and that sound, which is like an elephant trumpeting, is what sets that whole song in motion. Sounds like that don't necessarily end up on the track, but they can set you off on an idea and change the mood.
Keyboard: "No Son of Mine," where you brighten your pad sound as you go into the chorus, is also a good example of how you often use changing texture as a dramatic device.
Banks: In the old days I used to do that a lot on the filter with Polymoogs and stuff like that, but on this song I used a simpler method, which was to play one pad and, through MID, fade a second one in. I had an ooo-ey sort of sound on the Wavestation, then I faded up a brassy VFX sound. It's more controllable than opening up the filter, which I was always desperately trying to do not too fast. Also, it's easier to do in the rehearsal room. The idea came out of the improvisation while we were writing the song. All the sounds on the record are pretty much what I played when we were first working out the ideas.
Collins: On the overdub stage, we all chip in a bit on the sounds
Banks: ...because every overdub we do is an extra thing that wasn't part of the original song and can therefore change the character of a song. You want to be careful about what you add, so at that stage we do confer.
Keyboard: The electric piano sound on the title cut certainly seems to have been a fundamental ingredient in the concept of the song.
Banks: That song actually went through lots of changes. Whan we started playing it, we did a much heavier thing. Mike had a basic riff, and I was playing the same part on synth at that stage. Then we extended it and did a few little turns to make it into a 16-bar pattern. We defined the song that way, but it wasn't very exciting.
Rutherford: It was getting to sound a bit older fashioned, like something from "Squonk" (from "A Trick of the Tail'', 1976), with more layers. But the minute Tony hit that pattern on the drum machine, it made it a littie bit ...
Collins: ...more modern.
Banks: It changed the whole character. One thing about playing the drum part on the JD-800, as I did on that, is that it stopped me from playing any keyboards at the beginning of the song. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but as soon as you put a keyboard on that kind of song, you change it's character. Without the keyboard it sounds a bit Stoneish; with the synth playing the riff it souncis a bit more slick.
Keyboard: When you do come in on ''I Cant Dance," your part is very minimal. In some places, you're just playing two quarter notes.
Banks: The piano part on that one is one of the most minimal things I've ever done. I was thinking of early Traffic. "Feelin' Alright" was a great song, but very simple.
Keyboard: Was that an actuai electric piano?
Banks: It's the Roland \/K-1000, set on a very middle-y kind of sound.
Keyboard: Why did you do the drum part on the JD-8007
Banks: It was quite fun to use the special drum setting, which I didn't even know was there when I bought the instrument. I got the JD-800 because I like the idea of fiddling with the knobs. I hate multi-function buttons. They're the bane of modern keyboard playing. Even here you've got a degree of multi-functioning; otherwise there would be too many buttons. But I didn't realize it was going to be such a good preset instrument as well. The sounds on the JD-800 are really good. They've got great clarity.
Keyboard: Do you use the onboard effects on the JD-800 and the Wavestation, or do you add your effects in the studio?
Banks: I've started using the effects in these instruments more and more because that makes it easier to change instantly from one sound to another without having to set up everything again in the rack. I've never been very good at doing MlDI control of multi-effects manualy, so it's nice to be able to go from a radically ambient sound to a very dry one just by flicking a button. The effects in the Wavestation are particuiarly easy to access. It's got a great variety of fuzzbox-type stuff, which I love. The best thing about it, though, is its lovely sustained sounds. I also use a couple of the Wavestation's tead sounds quite extensively.
Keyboard: How do you decide whether to use live drurns or a drum machine on any Genesis song?
Collins: If the part is more percussive than usual, and not just a simulation of real drums, we usually end up keeping the drum machine part and overdubbing drums to the percussion part, which is really important to the mood of the song. But when the drum sounds are regular snare and regular bass drums, you usually need real drums. It also depends on how intrinsic the drum sound is to the mood of the song. On something like "Fading Lights, the atmosphere is set up by the drum machine.
Keyboard: You seem to have a trademark drum machine sound - basically the sound of the pattern on "Take Me Home."
Collins: The Roland drum machine definitely have got the edge on anything else when it comes to those kinds of sounds. They're all percussion sounds - not timbales, triangles, and claves, but odd percussion sounds that you can't identify.
Keyboard: There were several cuts on "We Can't Dance" where those types of sounds played a major role. Are these drum sequences typically the starting point when you write these songs?
Collins: Quite often. Sometimes there are patterns which have been floating around in the machine from my home use. They can be a good basis to start something, then you can just take them out at the end. At other times, I'll just turn the machine on in rehearsal and start mucking about. It's like bait: You wait to see if anybody picks it up [laughs].
Keyboard: On "Living Forever'' the live drums come in midway through the song to supplement the drum machine pattern.
Collins: The original working title for that song was "Hip-Hop Brushes." I had gotten some new disks for my (E-mu) SP-1200. One of them was a jazz kit, and while the regular drum sounds didn't interest me, the brush concept did seem original. So I wrote a pattern with them that happened to be a hip-hop kind of thing. I tried to make it sound like what a drummer would actually play. Then we started playing off of that.
Keyboard: Do you play brushes yourself?
Collins: Not for quite a while. On a Clapton tour I played with brushes on "Can't Find My Way Home."
Keyboard: It would seem harder to get the subtleties of brush work into a drum machine pattern than to do a convincing stick pattern.
Collins: That's true, but to be honest, the brush pattern on "Living Forever" took me ten minutes to write. Normally at a writing session, in the moments of silence between one idea and the next idea, l'll very quickly program something at random. That's how this pattern happened. All our drum machine parts happen quickly. You have to get something going before everybody pust his instrument down and goes for a cup of tea (laughs).
Keyboard: Your drum sounds are a hot item on the sample market. How do you feel about that?
Collins: Well, I do think that the sound is only 50 percent of it. It's how you use the sound that really matters. You can sample Eric Clapton's guitar and get that sound, but you still needs the personality to really get his sound.
Banks: And the sound is never the same twice, in actual fact. This is the illusion: A sound can seem the same on two different records, but in fact a different sound was used to produce the same effect on the second song. So if you take what may be a Phil Collins snare and put it in another song, it doesn't always sound right at all.
Collins: People are always saying that I have a big ambient sound. But with (previous Genesis producer) Hugh Padgham, and even with Nick Davis, even if we kept the mikes up between songs, we always stripped everything down in the sound and started with a clean sketch each time.
Banks: Sometimes people think there's more magic in it than there actually is. It's quite easy to produce these sounds yourself. Whether it's drum sounds, keyboard sounds, or anything else, you don't have to think, "If I steal this, I'll have something really great." You can recreate those sounds yourself.
Collins: The other thing is, of course, that the two most widely sampled [drum] sounds are "Sussudio" and ''Don't Lose My Number," and both of those are drum machines. I actually bougth an [E-mu] SP-12 with those sounds on it. But "Don't Lose My Number" is a Linn, although tom-tom files occasionaily drop up. And the backbeat and bass drum on "Sussudio' is a Roland, with a mixture of Oberheim DMX. I didn't even do that one; David Frank did.
Keyboard: Still' when you're actually playing, is there a consistent approach that you follow in order to attain some sort of continuity in sound?
Collins: I always mike my drums in a regular fashion, pretty much the way everybody mikes drums. But the environment is interesting. The room at the Farm, where we do our stuff, is loosely based on the room where we did Peter Gabriel's third album and my first three solo albums. When you clap your hands in it, it seems dead but it's incredibly live. Even with the carpet on the floor and padding on the walls, it's surprising how live it is. Thats why my drums always sound so ambient. We put mikes in the left and right top corners of the room to get that ambience, and they're compressed as hell, squezzed almost to the point of distortion. If I'm not using cymbals, we often put gates on the drums to make them sound more interesting. Of course, if 'm using cymbals, we can't use gates, becauses that would screw up the decay.
Keyboard: Is it a problem to reproduce that effect live?
Collins: Yes it is. That's why on my tours and on the last Genesis tour we ended up triggering sounds. When you're onstage, you've got no confined space to work with. If you put compressors on overheads above the kit, all you get is the audience noise coming up when youtre not playing. Unless you put the drummer in a soundproof box, which obviously alienates him from the audience, you can't do it. I wish we had more sophisticated triggering at this stage. There's always the problem with double triggering when you're dealing with an acoustic instrument like drums.
Keyboard: What role did the drum machine play in composing "Driving the Last Spike"?
Collins: That was basically written on the 1200. The same drum machine pattern worked at various stages of loudness throughout the whole song. Bit by bit, we took each section as it came once we put real drums on it, then started working on what to keep from the original drum machine. We replaced the machine cabasa with two live cabasas. It's nice to have certain elements of the drum machine in there but at the same time to make it human.
Banks: There's an old drum machine pattern of Mike's, actually, that all the bits were originally written on. We had three of four different jam sessions on it, and different ideas emerged on different days. All the bits worked, so we thought it would be nice to find some way to stick them all together. So Phil wrote a rather more subtle part than what we originally had...
Rutherford: Guys! Guys! (Laughs.)
Keyboard: Phil's entrance on snare marks the peak of a crescendo that seems to rise throughout the entire song up to that point, and it seems that you have to rearrange everything to accommodate that sound (the song is "Driving the Last Spike").
Banks: It's the other way around. The arrangement was almost there when the drums were put on. The real basis of the end section is the guitar riff. I just did this chord sequence that took it somewhere slightly different. All we try to do is to make the drums fit with what's already there. Let's be honest: Sometimes you know that you're going to have to add more to bits, to build up to the chorus and all that.
Keyboard: That brings to mind the big rise in level on ''Dreaming While You Sleep." Why did you decide to have such a huge change in dynamics there?
Banks: That's what came out of the improvisation.
Collins: It's all based on the drum machine.
Banks: We had one drum machine pattern going all the way through. There were no drums added when we did it. Really, we had two very different feels going on the one rhythm. We were all playing on one sort of keyboard sound, then I started playing a few chords. At that point, Phil started singing a melody line. We had this chorus bit that sounded great; it was just a question of trying to organize the improvisations that ended up being the verse and all the
other parts of the song to fit with that chorus. So the whole thing was there; it was never a decision to make the dramatic transition between the two.
Collins: The real drums didn't sound good on the verse. They weren't necessary, because the drum machine pattern held its own. It was one of those patterns that set up half the atmosphere of the song. Then, where the big change came in with the smooth chords at the chorus, I started playing along in drums. You then say, "Okay, that part sounds right. Now let's get a sound for it that makes it sound good." Of course, it all has to get past quality control [laughs].
Keyboard: Several cuts on the album have keyboard solos, a relative rarity for Genesis.
Banks: In more recent years, yes. The last one I did on a Genesis album was ''Home By the Sea" (from "Genesis", 1983), which wasnt really a bona fide keyboard solo.
Keyboard: Your solos have a very composed quality.
Banks: Yes. I think of them more as instrumentals. We have a good groove going, and I just play around on top. On "Living Forever," there were two feels in my solo. On the first bit, where there was a bit of menace. I was playing all kinds of diminished notes, and then suddenly it goes happy.
Collins: This is your idea of heaven, isn't it? No question about Iyrics (laughs).
Banks: We always get questions about Iyrics. Anyway, when you first get into this solo, it sounds very dramatic. But the natural feel of the bit was more light. At some point I knew I'd have to change, so I thought I'd make the change quite suddenly - a change in tone, from the VFX to the Wavestation, and a change in notes-and immediately bring in a different feel. I just wanted to keep this a lightweight solo, a breezy sort of thing, without being too intense, because I knew I had a more intense solo later on "Fading Lights".
Keyboard: Your solo on "Fading Lights" has a rough line, amost vocoderish quality.
Banks: That's a modification of Wavestation sound. I liked it because I could play very aggressively on it. Those sounds are great for leads; they automatically attract attention to themselves. Two or three different sounds are actually used on that lead at different times.
Keyboard: How often do you rely on third-party vendors for sounds?
Banks: Not much. I either use presets or some easily-available sounds, or else I make them myself. I nearly always edit whatever sound I've got to some extent. On the early instruments, I used to do all the programming myself. I like programming. That's half the fun of it. I would hate to have someone else trying to get sounds for me. But with the Wavestation, the VFX and the JD-800, so many of the sounds that you get are so great that you can sometimes use them as they stand. You could just sit down and improvise on sounds that you find when you're fiddling with the machine, and that's often all you need to do. "Hold On My Heart," for example, was just a question of finding nice sounds to do the job for me. I didn't have to struggle to find a totally new sound. In fact, I wrote the chord sequence on the instrument I ended up using to record it, which was the Wavestation.
Keyboard: What was that light harmonica-like line that you played in that song?
Banks: That's another preset sound, this one on the JD-800. It sounds almost like rubbing the tops of wine glasses. The thing about that song was that at one point it looked like it wasn't going to end up on the album. Then we did a series of overdubs. We added a few vocal harmonies, and that gave the song a focus that it didn't have before. It doesn't sound like that would make all the difference in the world, but it did. Suddenly, having been something like number 13 in the rankings, it came up to number three or four. It's funny how these little things can affect the way you listen to the rest of the song.
Keyboard: Mike, when Tony gets a keyboard sound together, how does that affect your sound on the guitar?
Rutherford: I don't even think about that. It just happens. He'll do a soft noise, and I'll try an aggressive noise.
Collins: If Tony has a thick, woodgy sound, everybody goes for something a little thinner.
Rutherford: You adjust, but you don't consciously think, "He's doing a soft sound, therefore I should do a soft sound." The way we write, we usually have the sounds early on. We don't write the songs, go into the studio, and then record with different sounds. The recording process is usually quite easy because we're already halfway there.
Keyboard: The chord voicings are so meticulously constructed that is would completely alter the character of most of your songs if you change them even slightly.
Banks: That's true. Chords are my speciality. The thing that I understand best is the way chords fit together. You can't just add or subtract notes. Inversions are very important too; a particular inversion of a triad can make a lot of difference. On a lot of songs, the bass note comes from me, since Mike is often stuck to playing guitar. Not that I end up playing the bass, but the natural tendency of any keyboard player is to put a left-hand part in. Often that will define the shape of the chord.
Keyboard: Do you try to stay as close to Mike's bass sound as you can when covering the bass notes?
Banks: When I'm doing it, I'm just playing the bottom parts. Since most bass guitar parts are put on afterwards, its very important that Mike doesn't disturb the chord emphasis, because it's so easy to change that with a bass. We have one chord in the song 'Dreaming While You Sleep" where there was no bass note, so he doesn't play one. Any bass note would give the wrong impression to the chord. This is why the bottom note of a chord is often just part of the keyboard part.
Rutherford: During the chorus of "Dreaming While You Sleep," I tried playing a bass guitar because we wanted a low, powerful sound from the bass end where the drums are a very big part of the song.
Keyboard: Do you ever sequence bass parts?
Banks: "Land of Confusion" had a sequenced bass part. So did "Hearts on Fire," which didn't end up on the album. Those are the only sequenced bass parts we've done. Most of the time we use very little sequencing in Genesis. I mean, you often have a sequencer running the drum machine parts. And sometimes, when I'm doing solos, it's a good way of recording my ideas. But that's it.
Keyboard: Phil, do you have a sequencer at home for your own writing?
Collins: I've got this new Korg 01 /W FD, and I've started mucking about with the Elll sequencer. But it's all too complicated for me.
Keyboard: Do you mainly compose on piano?
Collins: I use the Yamaha CP-70, same as Tony. The Korg Wavestation has also been a big boon to me, along with the Roland D-50.
Banks: One of my favorite ways of writing at home is to play on the CP-70 and have everything MlDled to it, each with its own volume pedal. That way, I can fade in any sound that I want at any point. If I want a nice stringy background, there it is.
Keyboard: Don't you have a real acoustiv piano at home?
Banks: I have a Steinway grand, which I bought when we did "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway". We needed a piano because we did that album on location, so I bought it and I've kept it ever since. I also have a Yamaha upright, which I use a lot. But I've never liked real pianos. For me, the greatest invention in all of rock music was the Yamaha electric grand. In the times before samplers, it gave you the abililty to play piano onstage in a controllable manner, without all that terrible clunking you get when you put microphones on the piano.
Keyboard: That's interesting since it's become fashionable for keybaordists these days to cite the piano as their favorite instrument to play.
Banks: I always said that too. I was a pianist to begin with. I switched to playing organ when I joined Genesis, purely because it was the only electronic instrument there was, so you needed it to play in clubs.
Keyboard: Phil, is there ever call for you to do a keyboard part with Genesis?
Collins: (Makes gagging noise) No! And I'm happy with that. If I brought things into the band, I'd want them played the way I had written them. But I didn't write the keyboard parts on this album. Tony did. So it's fine if he plays them. It's a question of interpretation. There are certain tuned percussion bits that are my sounds.. Even the (Yamaha) DX7 had some interesting marimba, woodblock and kalimba sounds; I'd like to get involved with playing those. But I can wait and do that on my own, no problem.
Keyboard: Both Mike and Phil have worked with a variety of keyboard players, who you must have some interesting observations on working with Tony as part of a rhythm section.
Collins: "Rhythm section?" Isn't that a contradiction in terms? (Laughs).
Keyboard: Are there aspects to his approach to rhythm that affect you in a different way than the other keyboardists with whom you've played?
Collins: Tony tends to be more original and less technique-oriented. That's true of all of us, but since we're talking about Tony, let's say he's not interested in techinque for technique's sake, which rneans that he gives you some very original results. A lot of keyboard players want to make their statements mainly with technique, so that people will say, "Hey, that guy's a great player!" But that doesn't seem that important to me. Obviously, you want to take technique into consideration, but it isn't the main reason for doing things.
Keyboard: Given Tony's restraint and his emphasis on long chorded textures, does that give you more than the usual amount of freedom for your drum parts?
Collins: It helps. The less busy Tony has gotten over the years, the more enjoyabie it has been to play with him. But we all went through that. If you listen to our earlier efforts, we're always going hell-for-leather behind the vocalist.
Keyboard: Mike, would you tend to play a more active rhythmic role in Genesis than you would in "Mike + the Mechanics"?
Rutherford: Yeah, probably. Having worked with the Mechanics, I can say that the great thing with Genesis is that when you're using other keyboard players who you haven't been with for so long, you'll say, "Try something in this song, and they''ll head off in a direction with all kinds of chord inversions. If you tell them that one note is wrong, they'll change the whole thing and not see the difference. Then, when you point that out to them, they get cross. I had a big row with one guy that came to play with the Mechanics. He had to play a very simple part. I don't remember what it was - two chords four times, while the bass ran down. He was running the whole thing down with the bass, and he couldn't see why that was a problem. It annoys you when some keyboard players don't realize that one note makes all the difference.
Banks: Well, guys, that's the problem with keyboard players: They have too many fingers.
US magazine, June 1992
Still going and going... they're absurdly rich. They're critically despised. They're even successful solo. So why, then, does Genesis continue to thrive?
In Chiddingfold, a commuter village forty miles south of London, the morning rush hour gets under way around 7:00 am. That's when wealthy middle-aged men get in their middle-of-the-range Audi's, Saab's and Rovers, shove something middle-of-the-road into the tape deck and speed off toward the city's investment firms, merchant banks and real estate offices. At certain times of the year, however, there's another kind of rush hour in Chiddingfold. It also involves a sleek pack of rich middle-aged men. This group is "absurdly" rich, and it calls itself Genesis. Because this Surrey village is close to where the band members live, they often rent the hall behind the single-story Chiddingfold Club for rehearsals. "I used to drive up to London when I was doing my first two or three solo albums. I'd spend an hour and a half driving there and another hour driving back," says Phil Coliins, who resides in nearby Loxwood with his second wife and three-year-old daughter. "It's fantastic to, sort of, drive just ten minutes from the house."
This is the world of commuter rock. This is the life of one of the world's most successful and longestserving rock groups, and this is the England to which its members still claim attachment. It's a commuter England of ex-serviceman's halls, weekend cricket, gin-and-tonics and men in Rovers playing Genesis tapes. Gary Clifford, manager of the Chiddingfold Club, is a likable, friendly man who wears a bravely loud shirt and a medallion. What does he make of Genesis rehearsing in his back room, thudding that nice, plaintive music through the wall, rattling his framed cricket prints and disturbing his morning drinkers? "F---ing hell," he says. Later, he answers, "They all eat in here. They drink in here. They're not as bad as when we had Gary Brooker of Procol Haru1 in here. That was "noisy"."
Around back, Genesis is rehearsing in a maddeningly start-stop way. One is struck by the fact that this is a big room filled with bad hair - from Phil Collins to Tony Banks to Mike Rutherford to the roadies and electricians who'll support the group during its upcoming American tour. It's odd but somehow heartening that in this telegenic age forty-year-old men, who are either bald or have Spinal Tap hairdos, can still manage to have a hit album ("We Can't Dance"), a bigger hit single ("I Can't Dance") and the confidence to undertake an American stadium tour. But why on earth are they doing it? Why are these men still singing about "too many problems" (from "Land of Confusion") in a Surrey village hall? What more does Phil Collins "want"?
"What do I want? Power! Money!!" He laughs. Tony Banks explains, jokingly: "He's a man driven. "Compelled!"" But why bother with a tour? With Genesis? "I just want to see if I can do it," says Collins "I don't think it's any more complicated than that." "There's fun in it," Banks says. And Collins agrees, "We haven't done a tour since 1987, and that's five years ago. This stadium tour isn't anything like my 127-date solo tour. That is totally different. To me to all of us - it's a totally natural thing to do. But we don't do it all of the time."
No, Genesis doesn't do it all of the time. In fact, the group is doing it less and less. "We Can't Dance" was Genesis's seventeenth album in the band's twenty-six year history, though only four of those seventeen have been made in the last decade. Genesis meets now and again. Genesis makes a record. Genesis tours. Then Phil Collins makes an album, does a tour. It's not what we expect from our rock heroes. "The whole "group" idea," says Mike Rutherford, the calmest, most cheerful and by far, the tallest member of Genesis, "started just before we started, but this idea that you spend all your time with just three other guys is "damned" unhealthy. I can't imagine just doing Genesis. Yes, the first ten years, you've got to put your all into a group, obviously. But after a period of time, you loosen up." Perhaps Genesis has loosened up just a bit too much. No band could have an image so unlike the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Monkees - you know, a fantasy family that hangs out together, has adventures together, "lives" together. Genesis doesn't surf together, doesn't barbecue together. Most of the time, Genesis doesn't even play together. And for those who missed the record, Genesis doesn't dance together. It might look as though the band doesn't care - doesn't "mean" it. It might look as if Collins, Rutherford and Banks merely turn up at their accountant's office twice a decade, patting their pockets for loose change, thinking, "Let's be Genesis for a bit". One has to ask, is Genesis a band or just a gentleman's agreement? A group or the rock equivalent of a commuter car pool? "Maybe," argues Phil Collins, "the cynics think we don't mean it, and we just get together when we're a bit hard up - which is what the Stones, apparently, do. But we only get together now and then, because there are other things we want to do. I'm forty-one. I have to do other things."
These other things have made Phil Collins even richer than his colleagues. He acts in films (there was "Buster", and he's expected to co-star in "The Three Bears'' with fellow short people Danny DeVito and Bob Hoskins); more importantly, he makes double- and triple-platinum solo records, which puts him up there with Madonna and Michael Jackson. It's Collins who gets the freak fans - Iike the French woman who thinks every song is written about her, and has turned up at his door asking why he's taken out a contract to kill her. It's also Collins who gets the calls from his teenage son, Simon, who lives in Canada with Collins's first wife. A little while ago, Simon told his dad he was going out with a "fantastic, fantastic" girI. Some time later, he called to say he wasn't going out with her anymore. The girl had only wanted his father's autograph.
Meanwhile, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford lead lives of relative anonymity. Like Collins, they both have wives and children, and live locally. And they both have solo careers of sorts, although Rutherford, as Mike + The Mechanics, outsells Banks, who had a solo album with the archetypical commuter rock title "Bankstatement". According to Collins, Banks and Rutherford used to fight, and perhaps that has something to do with their similarity. Both have soft voices, affable manners and immaculate middleclass cornmuteriand credentials, as suggested by Rutherford's flamboyant string of Christian names Michael John Cloete Crawford - and by the fact that the pair met at Charterhouse, a well-known, oldfashioned and expensive private boys' school just a few miles from Chiddingfold.
Peter Gabriel was also a student at Charterhouse. Together, they wrote songs, thinking they would sell them to rock bands. They later realized they would have to play them, and eventually became a band. In 1969, soon after leaving school, they recorded their first album, "From Genesis to Revelation". Phil Collins became their drummer in 1970. His background - his father worked in Londonts financial district, his mother was a theatrical agent: - was as comfortable as that of the others, but he was a little taken aback by his band audition. "It was at Peter Gabriel's parents' house", he remembers, "out in the open air, out on the patio in the back. "He" (Collins points accusingly at Rutherford) came in a dressing gown, a red-satin dressing gown and slippers". The band held a vote on Phil Collins's suitability. Banks and Gabriel voted yes, Rutherford may or may not have voted no - it's a difficult fact to establish. With a politician's caution, Rutherford will neither confirm nor deny the accusation. "I can see this story growing: how I fought to keep Phil Collins out of the group."
Whatever. Collins got the job. Album followed album and Genesis, gradually shedding band members (including Gabriel in 1975), shuffled through the Seventies in flares, cloaks and beards, with a cluttered English sound heavy on folksy woodwind and meandering keyboard. With a self-confidence born, perhaps, of private education, Genesis spurned pop's usual formula - songs about sex that are easy to dance to - in favor of long and unashamedly incomprehensible narratives presented in stage shows described, at the time, as "theatrical" (as if theater people shaved their heads, wore grotesque face masks and sang songs with Iyrics like "Foxtrot"s "We're happy as fish, and gorgeous as geese, and wonderfully clean in the morning.")
And then two things happened. One is that Genesis, by mid-1977 a three-piece group writing shorter happier songs, started having hit singles ("Follow You, Follow Me" went Top 30 in 1978). The group kept its old fans, who were trading in their bell-bottoms and turning into commuters, while it acquired a new wave of teenage fans, in America especially - the MTV generation who were kind enough to fill bigger and bigger stadiums. Soon, commuter-bores sat next to computer-bores.
The other thing that happened was Phil Collins recorded his first solo album, ''Face Value", and became big, - big enough to be the only person to play Live Aid on both sides of the Atlantic. It was an odd experience for the group, as Rutherford cautiously admits, remembering the success of Collins's first hit singie, "In the Air Tonight". "We were surprised. I don't think we thought it would do that well." He laughs and teases Collins: "We couldn't believe it! We were [to use the London vernacular] "gobsmacked"!" And then he says seriously: "It took a little bit of getting used to. Nothing really changed, but things "do" change. It's quite hard to describe it."
Now Genesis is a part-time "song-writing collective" (Collins's phrase), which is what it was meant to be in the first place. They meet, bringing no tunes or words and compose as they record. All three share writing and producing credits. They release pleasing sentimental songs that are vaguely regretful but, cleverly, never really depressing. The sound has been stripped down, the keyboards eased out, and the Iyrics have evolved - this is progress - into fourth-grade social commentaries: "People starving everywhere / There's too much food but none to spare / Tel Me Why."
With this, they have conquered the world. What they do next is uncertain. The group makes no promises to keep going. It may or may not do another album. It may or may not tour again. The band likes the supposed casualness of it all - the suggestion that they're just ordinary blokes who toss an occasional record out to an unknowing world. Malcolm Craggs, Genesis's longtime tour manager, says, "They live their own lives, do ordinary things. Tony loves his garden. Phil builds his model planes. Mike plays polo." Polo? Craggs checks himself. "If that's ordinary."
Genesis hates any "corporate rock" jibes, so even though Billboard reported on a sophisticated "megaGenesis promo" for the album and tour that included banners at Thanksgiving weekend football games, deals to play the "No Son of Mine" video on TV sets in Sears department stores and sponsorship by Volkswagon, the band tries hard to project the official image of Genesis as a rural cottage industry. "Somewhere down the line," says Collins, "it may be a big business to somebody, but to us it's basically whether the three of us like it." Occasionally, this commercially innocent face seems to slip, as when Collins describes the horror of being forced to cancel a stadium date. The order in which he places the nuisances seems significant: "There's insurance," he sighs, "there's the disappointed fans."
The image is of ordinary family men living ordinary lives, in ordinary coats and jeans. In one way, this ordinariness is a defensive larrier against the press, whicn has always given them a hard time. Unlike many of its 70's contemporaries, Genesis survived punk, which was intended to destroy commuter rock. In Britain, the band has never been quite forgiven for that, it's survival was thought ungracious. But survive it did, even expanding its audience. It outlasted punk, and now, a few years short of its 30th anniversary, the band intends to do the same to dance music. "Personally," says Mike Rutherford, explaining "We Can't Dance", "We all think that there's too much dance music at the moment. We thought we'd make a statement, 'Hey, we don't do it."'
Indeed, they don't do it. In the hall of the Chiddingfold ex-serviceman's club, there's no dancing. There's a fair amount of eating - big English fried breakfasts (eggs, baked beans, toast, tea) - but no dancing. They go through the songs, playing to the blank wall of the hall - it's the same blank wall that served as an ideally ordinary backdrop for the group photograph inside "We Can't Dance". They stop and start. Between songs they do what all rehearsing bands have always done - slip briefly into R&B, smiling at each other ordinary guys in commuter-land, ordinary millionaires.
Jenny Boyd; "Musicians in Tune" book-excerpts, 1992
Singer and songwriter Peter Gabriel, formerly of Genesis, also broke lose from the restrictions of lessons - both musically and educationally: "I used to sing in the choir when I was very little and I started listening to the radio and taping things off the broadcast, and then dancing. I stopped piano classes when I was young because I hated all my lessons. Then i started relearning it when I was twelve or thirteen, picking out a note one finger at a time. At school there was a sense that I could cut through the repression, just letting my hair down and dancing and screaming. It was physical and emotional and intellectual all at once."
Beginning in childhood, singer, songwriter, and Genesis drummer Phil Collins did not follow a traditional path, preferring his drum kit to toys. During adolescence he became dissatisfied with his successful career on the British stage when he discovered he could not express himself honestly through drama. Phil's musical drive was so great that he gave up acting to play music professionaily although it meant disappointing his parents, who had encouraged him in the theater. He recalled: "I had a pretty normal upbringing. My clad used to have a little boat, and he belonged to the yacht club with about one hundred other people who had boats. Because of that, they used to put on dinners and dances, and a couple of times a year they'd put on pantomimes, and I would play in them, usually as Humpty Dumpty. When I was five my uncle made me a small drum kit that fit in a suitcase. I would play these shows, and so I was exposed to that kind of thing from very early on until I was eleven or twelve. My mum started an agency to book kids for commercials and TV, so I started gong to auditions. When I was fourteen I got the part of the Artful Dodger in 'Oliver!'. That's when I moved from my grammar school (the British equivalent to high school) to stage school. "All along, though! I didn't want to do anything else but play the drums. I'd bypassed all the train sets and stuff. I knew from a very early age that I didn't want to do anything but that. I used to come home from school and just practice and play, although I realized I couldn't do that professionally until I was grown up. Other kids would be playing football more than I did. All I wanted to do was sit at the drum kit upstairs and play along with my records. "At the time that was a lot different from my friends, who had no interest in music at all. I used to be in my own little world. I always used to play in front of the mirror because I had read that it was good to watch yourself play so you don't look down at what you are doing. I would put the record player on as loud as it would go and play along with it. It must have sounded horrible downstairs where they were trying to watch television. I remember sitting in the living room and playing along with the television while everyone else was trying to watch it. When I was fourteen I started drum lessons - I'd taught myself from the agent of five - thinking that as this was what I wanted to do in my life, I should try and do it properly. I decided I'd do the pop group thing when I was old enough, then after that finished, l'd probably go do sessions or go into a big band - that seemed like the kind of thing to do in your late twenties, early thirties - and then I'd end my days in a pit band, like an orchestra pit. "I used to go home with all the orchestra musicians in 'Oliver!' I was in the show on the West End for seven months, then I started being asked to do other things. At the point when I was sixteen or seventeen, I told them I didn't want to do any more acting. I just wanted to play the drums and I was finally old enough to get into a professional band. My mum and dad weren't very happy about that, especially my dad' because he liked showing me off at the office - 'My son's in the West End stage!' as opposed to being in a rock group. There was deathly silence around the house for a couple of weeks."
Mike Rutherford, member of Mike+Mechanics and Genesis, said that being a prisoner to the muse is actually the greatest release: "l've got no control over the choice to create. I'm like a man incontinent. I have a respect for whatever it is that enables me to do it. I try not to abuse it. The biggest high comes when you write something. By not abusing it, I mean I try not to force it; it's too precious. If it won't come I just leave it and do something else."
Technical playing appears to come from the conscious mind, whereas the feel springs from the unconscious. Phil Collins explained: "You can have the feel for playing music and then cultivate it into something more; you can't buy it, or learn how to do it. Some of the most famous drummers, like Carl Palmer, someone like that to me is a very unnatural drummer. He was taught, and it just sounds like it when I hear him play. There are other guys out there, you can tell, who just picked up a pair of sticks and started playing. Without putting down Carl Palmer, I've never hear anything from him that sounds convincing to me, and yet there are other drummers who can do far less, but move me far more - like Ringo, for instance."
Musicians represents a type of archetypal idea from our collective unconscious....lt is through exploring these symbolic expressions of the collective unconscious that we can recognize parts of ourselves reflected by the artist. As Peter Gabriel said, "I put a lot of myself into my music and so l think people find echoes of themseives in it."
Mike Rutherford said he has "feit" the mood portrayed by certain musical styles: "I just sense moments, the feelings that are going on in young kids at certain stages; you hear a song, or you hear a mood or an atmosphere. It's there somewhere, you can feel it. I've always felt the strongest things are subconscious; a heavy Iyric or a heavy sound is never as strong as some of those subconscious feelings. I think everyone inside is feeling it, even if not aware of it."
Many of the musicians are keenly aware of the opportunity to speak through their music about various political and social issues. According to Mike Rutherford, message songs are meaningless unless they come directly from the heart. If written just for the sake of consciously making a statement, songs fail. He observed: ''For a while, I didn't like songs with messages, I didn't feel it was my place to tell peopie what I thought they ought to do. It wasn't my place to preach, and I didn't like it when people did that. I think it can very often be power misplaced and misused, but I'm changing a little bit. "For a Genesis album, I wrote a protest Iyric called 'Land of Confusion," which shows how I've changed. As I get older' maybe I'm feeling more in a position to comment than I did before. I fight not to analyze it; everything I do is pure gut feeling. I let something inside tell me where I'm going. It's in your stomach, you know, it's just that feeling inside you. I found myself changing the way I write Iyrics and being slightly more grown up, whether I felt older or wiser, I dont know. "This particular song, 'Land of Confusion,' was a terribly simple message, which was really; "We have a wonderful way of living and what a complete fucking mess we're making of it". It was a very direct Iyric, but it was still done subtly. It's more a social comment, but I'm becoming more positive in my writing that I used to be. I think it's all to do with, we grow up, we change, and I like that movement. This creativity thing is affected one hundred percent by that.
"I know a lot of people feel they owe it to themselves and to the world if they're in a position to reach a lot of people, they ought to use it, but I'm very cautious of that. I haven't felt convinced of their genuineness a hundred percent. The way I work, I do it for myself, it's purely for my satisfaction. And I'm obviously changing as a person because I'm looking at the world more than I used to and making more comments, but it's only because I want to do it. It feels right inside, not that I "ought" to. I can't ever feel I ought to do something and then channel my work in that way."
Mike Rutherford finds he is better able to lose himself while writing, rather than when performing, and thus it is during the writing that he experiences the peak-experience (times in life when one experiences moments of euphoria, when everything comes together - a heightened state of awareness, sometimes called inspiration or intuition): "It's an incredibie high, a rush of energy. It's slightiy hallucinogenic. I come back sort of a bit bleary-eyed and vague; I'm not quite sure when I am. I'm somewhere else for a while; it's like I come back to earth. Something breaks the moment and I'm back. You don't realize you're gone till something happens and you're back. It's a moment's magic that from time to time touches me, and I don't control it. Like Tinkerbell, it just goes past. "When I'm playing, though, I never get lost. I never lose myself in the same way. While playing I get a different high: feedback from the audience. It lifts me somewhere but I always know where I am."
Peter Gabriel explained how he uses certain techniques in the studio to prevent his concentration being broken and ensure the spontaneity required for a peak experience: "I think you plug into this electricity it's like a river in a way. No question when the magic's there, everyone in the room feels it. You're a bit like a radio aerial and you quiver when you're onto something. One of the things we try and get a lot more conscious about now is to make sure we record those moments in whatever form possible at "that" moment. You don't take an hour trying to get sounds right, trying to get all the bits and pieces operational and then find you've lost it. Immediately you put the red light on and catch whatever is around. And then even if it's only on two tracks of the twenty-four, you can always pull them back up again, even if it's not usable in its own form. It will then speak in a language of magic to the musicians."
Peter Gabriel is very sensitive to the vibe given off by the audience and reacts to it accordingly: "Performers feed off the audience; sometimes you can tell how a gig's going to go at the moment you walk on stage. You know what sort of electricity and energy is being put up toward the stage. I respond to that a lot. Sometimes you can generate that from nothing, but it is a lot harder."
Peter Gabriel spoke of the ethereal element that music brings to the artist's life: "Music is spiritual and is a doorway into that world. Its power comes from the fact that it plugs directly into the soul, unlike a lot of visual art or text information that has to go through the more filtering processes of the brain."
Peter Gabriel disparages the use of drugs as giving a false sense of enlightenment: "Mind-altering substances of one kind or another have been traditionally part of many cultures and have a place in shaping creativity. But I don't think it's something I would recommend to anyone nor that it is necessary. I think it's possible to get to wherever you want to go without it. Perhaps sometimes it does short-circuit longer routes that maybe allow you to look through a window perhaps at a state that might be arrived at through spiritual work. I'm not sure you actually get there. It's a very dangerous road."
Phil Collins recalled a telling anecdote about the debilitating effect of drugs: "It's so easy to get diminishing returns. I have used drugs, certain albums are a bit of a blur, not a blur that I don't remember anything; I just wish that I hadn't been so uptight. I know myself now, I know my capabilities, and I know I can't do it, so I don't do it. I haven't smoked for years. Coke and stuff, I just cannot function on that. An experience I had with smoking: It was about 1978 and we were playing in LA, one of the Forum gigs and Chester Thompson came up to me and said, 'l've got this Hawaiian stuff, just one puff, you don't need anymore.' So of course we had two puffs, we went on stage, and there's a song we used to do - most of the Genesis songs were more story-oriented, so if you lost the thread, you lost it. So I started this song. I was standing there and the verse was coming at me and I though, God, what am I going to sing? And just at the last possible second my mind took it away and I knew what to sing. I was in a cold sweat. So I vowed from that point, no more."
Mike Rutherford has found that one's own natural state of being is more conducive to creating: "For myself drugs have been a destructive force, without bringing any good. That's the main thing - writing and creating have always felt like such a natural thing. It's like you need to cleanse your body to do it. It's the feeling of purity I think.''
Encouragement can allow dormant creativeness to emerge, Phil Collins has discovered: "There is probably something in most people that just never gets tapped, or they don't think about it, or they dont have the opportunity. For exampie, every year the Princets Trust La British charitable organization that helps underprivileged children has a holiday camp for a week in Norfolk. There are four hundred kids there, between the ages of fifteen and twenty, from Liverpool, Manchester, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and so on, all potential football gangs. The purpose is to encourage any natural talents they have. They're taught how to apply
themselves, how to get on with other people, how to apply for a job. There are all kinds of different workshops they can go to throughout the week.
"I'm a trustee, so I go up there on the last day. I get all the musicians together in the music workshop and form a band for that particular day. Some are musicians, but most of these people have never touched an instrument before. They're encouraged to pick up something and play, and from there maybe they will take an interest in it. We learn a couple of songs and perform that night. There was one guy there, very introverted, and during the week he had plucked up enough courage to get up and sing in front of these four hundred kids. He'd never done anything like this before. The reception that this bloke got was absolutely fantastic because they'd seen him get strength through the week. They knew what he was going through, and they went mad."
Peter Gabriel gave several examples to show why he believes that anyone who gains confidence can be creative: "I'm absolutely certain that everyone has the potential to be creative. The example I used to use, which isn't perfect, is that if I could convince someone in the street - anyone - that their survival was dependent on producing something very creative - whether it was music, painting or whatever - if they took me seriously then they would find they were creative. I'm sure music, poetry, painting, all of the arts, are languages - no more. Some people are more adept at speaking them, but no one is excluded or no one need be excluded. If a baby is dependent on drawing to get his milk, then he would become as talented as possible. I remember reading about some music students in Czechoslovakia who were hypnotized into thinking they were their favorite composers. They sat down at their instruments and didn't play new sonatas or whatever, but sat down with a self-assurance that they lacked left to their own devices, and that enabled them to really raise their standard. We put our own limitations on nine times out of ten."
Phil Collins told me what it was like, as an established musician, to overcome the fear involved in attempting new artistic challenges: "You sort of push yourself to the edge to see if you can do it, because you want the challenge: If I can learn from it and see if I can pull it off. I had this terrible feeling after "Face Value", the first album, that that was all I had. I thought; Will I be able to do this, or will I get up there and nothing happens. I'm scared as well, so I have to keep going to convince myself that it isn't al gone. It's a personal challenge each time."
Mike Rutherford agreed that forcing creativity doesn't work and described the euphoric state that occurs when he is able to open himself up to the muse: "When I write, if I try too hard it's completely hopeless; nothing happens. It's like you have to free yourself up, and if I think about how it happens, the more I analyze it, the more it pushes it away. A perfect example: if I go in one morning to write with the idea that today I'm going to do something wonderful, nothing happens. If I don't try or think about it, with the attitude of 'I'll give it ten minutes,' it all happens. It's frightening because ideas come so fast. It's a wonderful feeling. You get these moments when you can do no wrong. Everything you play is wonderful."
Phil Collins explained the group process that Genesis uses to compose songs and emphasized the need for trust among band mates: 'When Tony, Mike and me - the guys in Genesis - go into the studio, we have nothing written. Nowadays we just keep all the songs we've written for ourselves and we go in and just turn everything on and start playing, and we improvise and improvise for days until something works. I'm taping everything and we'll listen back to it and say, 'That sounds interesting. What happened there?' And we'll develop that into songs, so to do that, you have to have no inhibitions, to sit down and not be afraid to play badly, because if you're playing safe all the time, then nothing really new happens. You have to have the knowledge that the other people involved don't mind that I start to sing out of tune, if I'm going to try and sing a melody that isn't written. Just try and go for things that you might not be able to reach. We all know we've got to let our trousers down without worrying about it. And that's like a chemistry that you do get in certain bands, and that's what makes the band great, at least the experience of doing that. It's very enjoyabie because you're creating something out of nothing."