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The Last Domino? Tour
Rated PG
Rocking Horse Music Club

Genesis' tour drummer about the past, the present and the future

He played in bands like Weather Report and for Frank Zappa before he joined the Genesis live-band. With the exception of the 1997 Calling All Stations tour, Chester Thompson played drums on all Genesis tours since 1977. Before the Genesis show in Düsseldorf, 26th June 2007, Helmut Janisch and Christian Gerhardts from met a very relaxed and experienced, yet still excited drummer to discuss the Genesis tour, the past and his future...

it: If you compare Phil's with the 2007 Genesis tour - what is the main difference?
Chester: It‘s no way to compare these two. They are completely different. There‘s nothing to compare. Phil‘s music is completely different from Genesis‘ music. It‘s smaller groups - so it‘s simpler.

it: When whre you told that Genesis will do a big stadium tour again?
Chester: They did contact me in the summer ... maybe around August.

it: You then rehearsed in New York City. How was that?
Chester: It was actually really good. It was never heavy. We were just playing through the songs to see what‘s good and if there‘s something to do. The good thing was, it was very lively - a lot of laughing, much more than before. It was a very good mood and being very happy to be there. So, more like old friends jamming.

it: Did you have a list of songs that were to be rehearsed?
Chester: Of course everything is very organized, you know that.

it: You then went over to Cossonay for further rehearsals. It was said that you changed the tracks that you‘ve rehearsed? Is there something that you would have loved to play, but you didn‘t rehearse?
Chester: Hmm .... we played some things in New York that we didn‘t play in Cossonay. I think before that they talked very carefully about songs. We talked a lot about things in New York also. When you go back, there are so many songs - it‘s impossible ... it‘s really difficult. There could be a completely different show - two and a half hours of completely different songs. I think they found the best combination. I don‘t know if there will be any changes for the U.S.. Maybe small changes. We‘re not doing Abacab - I don‘t know if we will do that again. I thought we would play Abacab. First I thought we would play maybe Behind The Lines with vocals also. Both of my sons wanted to know if we play Dodo because they both were believing in this song.

it: What was your impression when you saw the stage for the first time in Brussels?
Chester: Oh, it was amazing. I never saw anything quite like this. It looks like something to ride roller coasters on.

it: But the place where you actually play together is smaller than on previous tours ...
Chester: My eyes are closed - I don‘t look. Then when I‘m playing I cannot be distracted. So, I never pay attention to the lights. I look at the audience sometimes. My eyes are staring but I don‘t really see because my concentration is on this thing.

it: So, you are never looking what Tony or Mike are doing?
Chester: Oh, just for the timing sometimes. And we are laughing about a lot of things on stage also. When there‘s something happening on stage we all look each other and really laugh. I don‘t think the audience knows what we‘re laughing about.

it: If you compare this show to the 1992 show which was also a huge production, what‘s the difference? Is it less pressure and more fun now?
Chester: ... I can‘t remember that ... Well, I‘m a freelance. I do all kinds of music. It‘s not like I‘m waiting for the next tour. I‘m teaching at the university. I make all kind of recording sessions. So, for me ... I don‘t know if I can compare it really. I think in general there‘s more fun now for everybody. For me it‘s always fun. I think the relationship with everybody is better because everybody made their lives for fifteen years. They did Calling All Stations, they tried some other things and everybody is doing more solo work. I think when you come back together like this, then it‘s because everybody really wants to. Of some bands you know that they are fighting and crazy stuff. Genesis has never been this way. For me everything is actually better especially the feeling between us.

interviewit: Talking about the drum duet that you are doing on this show. It‘s actually starting on bar stools. How did this evolve?
Chester: We‘ve always written it that way. We never start on the drums with this thing. Normally we are playing on one chair together in a hotel and then we make a recording. This time when we made the recording it was different. Normally a stool would be with cork - this time it was with leather and the sound was really nice. And we made the recording into the computer - normally it used to be like a cassette or something. When we heard the sound it was very powerful. So, Phil had the idea to try this on stage. It was very funny. Everybody was running around looking for the right stools. Danny was going to furniture stores ...

it: Apart from the drum duet, is there any favourite song of yours from this show?
Chester: ... hmm ... Throwing It All Away has always such a nice groove - it is so different, very soulful. I should say there‘s nothing that I do not enjoy. There‘s nothing in this show where I feel I didn‘t want to play this. I have a different philosophy: When I‘m playing in your band or with Genesis or something, I have no opinion. My job is to have no opinion. My job is to play the best I can play. So, I listen, I‘m learning to know every detail. And if I‘m really focused on listening there‘s no time for opinions. When I listen back to a recording of the show or something then I think „oh, I really like this” or something like this. While I‘m actually playing, to me they are equal, because my focus my concentration has to be on this. It would be dangerous if I‘d like this more than I like this.

it: Are there any other projects you are working on apart from the Genesis tour?
Chester: This takes complete concentration right now. I have been teaching at university. I maybe should not. It would be easier if I were not teaching, because I am so busy when I‘m teaching and I‘m still making recording sessions for other people. And to prepare all this music as well is really difficult. I was so happy to get on the airplane and rest because before there was no rest.

it: Talking about the future. You are touring with Genesis and Phil Collins for thirty years now. Can you imagine that there will be a point where you‘ll call it a day?
Chester: If I‘m in the hospital and I‘m dying then I won‘t do it again.

it: So, you‘ll do it as long as it‘s fun and your enjoying it ...
Chester: Always, always.

it: Are there any other major artists that you are working with at the moment or just the teaching?
Chester: I‘ve been doing that and I‘m also doing recording sessions for lots of different people but not as far as project. This one takes a lot of energy.

it: So, there‘s nothing like the Weather Report ting that you did back in the 70‘s?
Chester: No, not unless you have a band that I will play with.

it: Our final question - We are doing a fan convention every year and had a few special guest over the years. Could you imagine coming over to Germany for one of our next conventions?
Chester: It would depend on the date.

it: Thanks for taking the time for this interview.
Chester: You're welcome...

Chester Thompson was interviewed by Christian Gerhardts
transcribed by Helmut Janisch
photos & header-design by Helmut Janisch