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Dale Newman - When In Welkers...

You asked - Dale Newman answered

Like every special star guest we had for our events Dale Newman, too, sat in the hot seat and answered lots of questions during an on-stage interview on May 11, 2008.

it: [in German] First of all, a round of applause for Dale Newman for being with us tonight.

Dale: Thank you. … You could have said “fat and ugly old Dale Newman”, and I wouldn’t know.

it: I did. [laughs all around. After organisational matters:] We’ll start the interview now. The embarrassing questions are at the end.

A: That’s alright. I’ll be the judge of that.

it: Many people know you are connected to Genesis somehow, but few people where you actually come from and where you grew up and what happened before you connected to the band. Could you outline that for us?

Dale: I was born in Indiana [points at his shirt which reads “Indiana”] in the USA in the early 50’s. I just about remember Elvis when I was little. He was the first big star that I can remember. But I wasn’t very impressed by him. I was more impressed by baseball players and football players. But in the early 60s I began to get interested in the guitar after I took some violin lessons at school. Originally I was going to be a violin player in an orchestra. I always had the idea of conducting an orchestra, but The Beatles pretty much put that to rest because the moment I heard I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which was the first Beatles hit in America – from that second my life was pretty much decided. Like everybody else… it was quite overpowering. I was quite interested in a lot of artists before that, Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman was a very influential thing on me. I was becoming… like everybody else I was a guitarist in a group when I was about eleven. I got a guitar, I asked for a guitar, my mom got me a guitar, and I took three lessons and I found the lessons very boring so I stopped having them – they were too slow – and sat down and started figuring out songs with the radio and the record player. Am I speaking too fast?


it:No, but I’d like to use the opportunity to translate. So: [in English:] I was born in …

Dale: I can do that! [laughs all around] The Beatles were a defining moment and when you’re my age you know what a defining moment that was. But they weren’t the only ones. There were a whole slew of bands and there were three or four sounds. I happened to be more interested in the British sound. That doesn’t mean that that was all I listened to, but the Beatles, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five – they did some great songs! – all of those bands. By that time I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years old. I can’t remember what started it but I was in a band. Originally I was the rhythm guitarist. I was a lot thinner than I am now, but my hairline hasn’t changed all that much, and it was just the thing to do. That was what you did if you could play. I hope this doesn’t sound too bad, but I found it was very easy for me to learn to play the guitar. It wasn’t something I found hard work. I didn’t realize I was pretty good. I thought everybody could do this. I could listen to a record and work out the chords, but that’s what music was like back then. The electric guitar was pretty new and the chords the Beatles were playing were pretty new. They weren’t the standard chords. They’ve become the standard chords.

So I spent a few years playing other peoples’ songs after game dances. In America it was very cultural: You go to the football game and afterwards you go to the dance, and I’d be in the band at the dances. I was earning good money but I’d never wanted to be in a bar band. In a bar band you have to play other peoples’ songs, you have to play popular songs people can dance to. I’m not saying it’s not any good, it’s just not for me. You could make a good living from that, but it never interested me. I wrote my first song within a couple of weeks of getting the guitar; it was the first thing I did. I now know it was a direct ripoff off the Four Seasons’ guitar lick in Big Girls Don’t Cry. But that was how you did it. The thing I wanted to do was write my own songs. That’s what it was all about to me.

Then the second era kicked in with Jimi Hendrix. The first time I heard Purple Haze I didn’t know what he was doing. I still don’t know what the heck he was doing. At the same time: Rebellion because I was a teenager and the world wasn’t what I thought it should be. I didn’t fit in at school any more, I wanted to grow my hair long, and in America when you grow your hair long you might get shot. By the time 1968 came around – once more, if you’re my age that’s a very important year – Jimi Hendrix was there, Jefferson Airplane… I go absolutely blank now because I lived in the record shop. Kids today live in front of the computer. That’s what they do today, nothing wrong with that. I lived in the record shop. Steppenwolf was a very big band for me. The second album – I still listen to it today when I clean my house – that whole side that starts with Magic Carpet Ride with the bottleneck guitar and the blues. Coming from near Chicago I also had a connection with the blues. I found blues really pretty easy to play.

And close to Detroit I also had a connection with soul music. And of course the Beatles were throughout that whole period. But then politics became involved because I found myself eligible for the draft to go to Vietnam, and that’s what it was like in those days. I’ll talk a bit about that later on tonight so I’m not going to give too much up. But we were all in the same boat, you know? It was an unpopular war and we were being asked to fight it but we couldn’t vote for the people who were telling us to go. Now I know why they didn’t want us to vote: We were too young, we didn’t know anything, but I agreed with all my fellows at the time and I was very active in that. It was an anti-war country that I grew up in. We went to rallies every weekend and the music was really part of that. It wasn’t something on the side, it was part of it. There were protest songs; unfortunately I didn’t write any of them, but Joan Baez, Bob Dylan… there were some serious politics in music, and it was the only time that I’ve actually been interested in politics and music at the same time.

Now if musicians start singing about politics I lose interest because I just want to hear the music rather than what they have to say about the politics. That’s just me. I don’t have to say a lot about politics these days. I was so turned off by it … I don’t know if people in this room will understand: I went to the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 and it was a turning point in my life because it was a point in history where all these young people in America converged on Chicago and were basically beaten by the police. It was the first time that grown-up America realized that these kids had actually something worth listening to. And I like to think – I don’t wanna go on a long schpiel here (hey, that’s German!) – I got out of Vietnam, I’ll tell you about that later, but I like to think the reason this war ended was because people like me didn’t go. We refused to go, and that caused a problem for the people. For the people who didn’t go it wasn’t very easy. It was a painful thing to do…

it: Now we’re at the end of the sixties. What did you do when you left school?

Dale:  Well, I went to college for about ten minutes [laughs]. There were ways to not go to Vietnam, they made it pretty easy to not go because they didn’t really want the intelligent people there. One of the ways was to get married, so some people got married. Another way was to go to further education and that was the easier way for me. So I went to a local university but I stopped going to classes after about three classes. I found it boring. After the first semester I dropped out because I thought Vietnam had to be better than that. And then I had to face the draft, you know, I had to go take my physical and in those days – it was when they were losing 350 or 400 soldiers every week and people like me went off to six weeks training and then straight in – and I knew I wouldn’t go.

It was just [a question of] what I was going to do. You could go to Canada or Sweden, but that seemed a bit drastic to me. There were a couple of friends who were nurses so some of them went and had water shot up into their veins so they could claim to be a drug addict – that sounded a little drastic to me, too – and I did what I thought was the most intelligent thing to do. I was eighteen years old, remember. By this time I was in a heavy rock band. I was a big fan of Led Zeppelin before they even came out and I was the best Jimmy Page copyist in Indiana, thank you. And I was louder [laughs]. And so a few weeks before my draft physical I had these big speakers and I played very very loud. These big speakers named George and Fred we built ourselves and I put on stands right up by my ears and I played loud with these high notes to damage my ears. So I got out and I thought: This is a crazy thing when I looked back. But that’s what I did, I damaged my hearing. So that’s really smart for a musician.

But it worked. So I went to have my physical – I have to be honest here, I also took drugs to speed up my heart – are you interested in this? So when I went to the draft physical – this was a very traumatic thing, I mean, I am laughing about this now, but it was a very very traumatic thing back then – When I went to the draft physical I’m with sixty other guys. I’d taken speed, you know, amphetamines, did all this guitar playing, and in the middle of the physical they came and got me to say: “You know, you really have high blood pressure and we need to check it again.” I was scared. They took me to this small room and said: “We want you to calm here. Just sit down.” I thought I’d blown it. They could hold you for three days and check it again. I didn’t want that to happen.

So I laid on this table and thought nice thoughts and waited til they came again to take my blood pressure and it had gone up. But they let me go. And then I went to the hearing test, and I still had that ringing in my ears from the guitar. We did it in a room with ten people. You’d put headphones on and a tone would fade in and it would fade out and you were supposed to push the button when you heard the tone and and when it faded out you’d let up. So it had a rhythm to it. I just kept the rhythm in my mind and I pushed the button a beat late and I let up a beat early. They stopped me coming out: “You have signs of some serious hearing impairment.” So they made me do the test again on my own. They did exactly the same thing again and I think my musical talent was helpful ‘cause it came out on a graph and the two lines were exactly on top of each other. They took everybody then into the gym and it was “trousers down, bend over” – and that was the most traumatic thing for my but I didn’t have to do that. I was taken into a psychologist’s office and this army guy sat me down and said: “Well, Dale, you like rock ‘n roll music, I guess, don’t you?” I said yeah. [In a voice that suggests Dale ought to be disappointed:] “Well, you know what your music is doing for you today? Today you cannot get into the army because of your music.” Inside I was jumping for joy and outside [in a sad, disappointed voice:] “Oh, really? Oh dear.” That was the beginning of the next era which for me was about just not taking part in any of the political things. All I cared about was being in the band I was in.

it:Perhaps we could skip the first couple of years of the seventies and …

Dale: Yeah [laughs]. Half an hour and I’ve covered two years!

it:So how did you get connected with Genesis?

Dale: Because of all the stuff we just talked about I didn’t have any career thoughts. All I cared about was writing music. I kept some day jobs so that just about enough money came in so that I could pay the rent. I did earn some money by playing guitar for some time but then in the mid-seventies that all stopped because of the energy crisis and gigs stopped and not so many bands could make a living so I was delivering flowers. That was my career move. I was driving around the town ‘cause all I cared about was getting home from work and spend my evening writing music. That was the only thing I really put a lot of effort into. Some time passed. My older brother died and I went into a hermitage. I tried to come to terms with what was going on with me. A lot of people were in the same place. And out of the blue – literally out of nowhere – friends of mine had had to move from Indiana. Indiana is in the middle of nowhere. What is the middle of nowhere in Germany?


Dale:  Right! [laughter] I come from Fulda! A lot of friends moved to California, moved to Texas because there was more work there, it was not Fulda. Some of them had stayed in music and worked for Showco, which was a music production company. I didn’t know all this because I had lost contact with those other people. One of them carried on and in 1973/74 one of them – he worked for Showco – mixed the sound for Genesis, Craig Scherz. They were on tour in 1974 with The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and Steve Hackett cut his hand. They were meant to take a very short Christmas break, and it was extended for him to heal his hand. They had a guitar roadie at the time that wasn’t working out or for some reason or another he couldn’t do the rest and they had two weeks of shows in America after Christmas and then a long European tour. So the idea was to save money:

We’ll pick up an American for the two weeks and then we’ll get a European guy. So they rang the Showco people: Do you know anybody who can do guitars for two weeks? Craig thought of me, for obviously I was going nowhere and was available. Other people had started careers. So I got a phone call: Do you wanna do guitars on the Genesis tour for two weeks at $200 a week? Genesis were one of my favourite bands. I was a very big fan of progressive rock ‘n roll, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but more King Crimson, Genesis and Yes. I was really into that. So Genesis called me up, one of my favourite bands! $200 a week! That was big money. So I went and got a passport in hopes that it would lead to something. The one quality I had was that I did play 12-string guitar. I was a 12-string acoustic guitarist and a fan of James Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash. So I could tune a 12-string guitar. I suppose that’s a bit of a skill. This was before electronic tuners. For Genesis it was a fairly important skill. I was able to tune a 12 string guitar with my ear up to it on stage with all this other stuff going on, so The Musical Box was actually in tune sometimes.

I got along with Mike and Steve and the rest of the band and so they broke their manager’s heart and asked me to do the European bit. I did and it was quite a long tour. And after that it was quite a long pause and then they did A Trick Of The Tail and Mike asked if I wanted to do that. I said yes. After Trick Of The Tail I’m with the band for three years and I’m 28 years old – that’s a long time at that age. I guess my loyalty was worth something. I was very very loyal to the band. I thought the music was important. I didn’t work for them because they paid me well. They didn’t pay me that well, it was okay. I worked for them because I wanted to. I would have worked for them for nothing. I never told ‘em that. It was important to me.

After the Lamb tour everybody just said Genesis was done, the press, everybody. I didn’t see how that could be because there was something more going on. And I was a big Peter Gabriel fan. But then Trick Of The Tail happened and their career kept going on like that. I think it was when we went to Brazil – before Abacab? – it was around that time when they decided to take on people permanently and Mike – this is how things get decided in my life. It’s not a big plan, you can look out for the small things, the big things take care of themselves. Mike said to me one day when we were on tour: “We’re thinking about taking on some permanent crew” I could make enough while I was touring to take the time off when I wasn’t touring. I had no career plan.

Other guys went off and did other tours. I didn’t wanna do that. I could have worked for Showco and gone out with, you know, the Beach Boys. I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t wanna become a roadie. I became one by accident. Mike came to me once and said“We’re thinking about taking on some permanent crew, and I’d love you to do it, but I think it would mean living in England.” I said: “Okay.” I didn’t move to England, I just didn’t go home. I lived out of the suitcase, I was used to living out of the suitcase. Very quickly The Farm followed. That was ’79 when the decision was made that they wanted to record their next album the way they recorded The Lamb which was that they went off to Wales and had some equipment. They didn’t do it in the studio, they did it at the house. I told Mike that, you know, it was great. It wasn’t about the performing, it wasn’t about the gigs. The gigs were something that happened. I wanted to get where it was being written. The studio was always more interesting for me.

The other roadies didn’t want to know about the studio, it was too boring for them. I wanted to be where the music was being written rather than where it was being performed. I had to do that bit but I wanted to get into the other thing. I had always had my own recording centre. I had my first own quarter-inch fourtrack, I had the first four-track cassette. It was always just a way that I could keep writing music. I thought if I’m with these guys they won’t stop me from writing music. And when they made this decision the brief was: We’ll buy a barn, hang some blankets up and record the next album. But we need to find the barn. Do you want to look for that? ‘Cause I had said to Mike it’s nice handling your guitars, it’s great, but I can do more. They needed somebody to look for that place and that was me. So I was sent out on a search to look for a place to buy….

it: [Where was the final Lamb concert played?]

A: The first thing I would think was Besancon. That just comes into my mind. I didn’t look at my itinerary too much because I didn’t need to. We were on a bus, we were in a hotel, we were at a gig. It did get a little bit hazy. I don’t know the dates that were changed, I know that some dates were changed – somebody said “We’re not going to Barcelona tomorrow, we’re going here” – but that didn’t matter. It was the inside of the theatre, all the mattered to me was the show. In fact, someone gave me something [a copy of the Lamb Event programme which had a list of the Lamb gigs known at the time] and if you toured in the mid-70s, late-70s and you can remember it you weren’t really there. It’s like the 60s. My first guess, my first answer would be Besancon. I do know a gig was blown out because I didn’t know it was last night. I went into the dressing-room to get the guitars, and the band were very relaxed and I just heard “this is the last gig” and it was “oh”. Now it is quite a famous tour inside the business. At the time it was not a popular tour to be on. A lot of people left it, you know, because it was difficult. I didn’t find it difficult ‘cause I was in Europe the first time. But then I got caught up in that, too. The crew, we were only about ten or twelve guys. You get very insular. To answer your question, I’ll be looking at this… I remember San Sebastian, I remember Paris , I don’t remember them in this order. I remember Cambrais, I thought Colmar was much earlier, I don’t remember Colmar. I think Poitiers may have happened. St Etienne I remember, but I remember it being close to Annecy, so I don’t remember it being at the end. And Besancon isn’t even on here. And I know Besancon was near the end.

it: [continues the question and details the techniques in pinning down the dates]

Dale: Reviews would be the best thing to go by. What do you think the options are? – I am almost sure it wasn’t St Etienne and I’m almost sure it wasn’t Colmar. I remember Colmar. I wrote a song there in about ten minutes. It was a hot and sunny day. Does that help? Colmar is [checks the list] in February here. I woke up in a country hotel in Colmar and had a couple of hours before I had to go to the gig and I wrote a song – it was called “Breakfast in Colmar” in fact. So now that I look at it Colmar probably was that late because that’s May and it was a hot sunny morning. So I vote Besancon. – There is a place I might be able to find out because we keep cassettes – board tapes – for reference and I have them. So I could look at that.

it:We do not know much about Mike’s musical influences. Since you were working mainly with him, we hoped you could give us some enlightenment?

Dale: I don’t think I could give you specific information because by the time I met him it was 1974 and we weren’t looking back. We were looking forward: What are we doing today, what are we doing tomorrow? Mike is probably the most eclectic. I wouldn’t like to speak for him because I know him very well, he is one of my closest friends. He listens to a lot still today – he knows what’s going on – I would imagine that we shared a lot of the same influences. But Genesis were very different at the time. They were not like anybody else going then. They had something that nobody else had, literally nobody else had, and this was this dynamic. They’d be playing these very lilting twelve-string acoustic chords and then: BANG! driving music going on and then back down. That didn’t generally happen. I think they really did sort of invent that. When I asked him once a few years ago when I was doing mobile ring tones for my phone – I hate mobile ring tones, I really dislike them. So I was making mp3s of some of the licks in my songs and putting them onto my phone. Not everybody likes that, but I don’t like any mobile ring tones so I’d rather hear mine than somebody else’s. At the time he was kind of bewildered by what I was doing and I said “Well, I’ll put some on yours. What do you want?” so he said Bill Withers, A Lovely Day. That’s a clue, maybe.

it:Mike is known to be very interested in new technologies. Could it be that his influences are more technical than musical?

Dale: Well, they’ve always been interested in new things. They’ve never not been interested in new things. Now it’s kind of new technology to do old things with, because it’s all there now. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on the first drum machine. Mike saw that in Japan, the very first drum machine. We went to the Roland factory. He wouldn’t leave til the guy let him have one. He didn’t want to give him one because they weren’t done yet. He wouldn’t leave and then the band wrote Duchess with it. Always been the case. It’s always the case with all musicians, Tchaikovsky got the celeste first and that’s how he wrote parts of the Nutcracker suite with the newest piece of equipment. They’ve always been that way and always will be that way, I suspect.

I can tell you a funny story about Mike. When I started working with him … Mike speaks, as they all, very proper English and to me it was just duluru-pam. And I spent a long time just smiling at him and going “yeah” because I didn’t know what he was saying. On stage the most important relationship between the musician and the roadie is the eye contact and knowing when something’s wrong and also being able to take it when he blames you. In the middle of the Lamb tour – we’re still in America, I think, and I hadn’t known him very long – he called me out and there were all these curtains and I poked my head out and he goes “Kou-dyou-wo-lie-pum-pa?” “Oh, okay” Some songs went on, I didn’t know what he was talking about: “Gimme a-lie-pumpa!” And I thought he’d said “Give me an electric paste.” .. Yeah, that’s what I looked like, too. So I went back and thought: “electric paste … electric something… what can it be?” This happened for about four or five times and I just looked at him and smiled. So then I went over to the wardrobe mistress who looked after Peter’s costumes. She was English, and I asked her: “Do you know, uh, electric paste?” She said: “Do you mean elastoplast?” “Yeah, I think that’s it. What’s an elastoplast?” I don’t know what you call it in Germany, in America it’s a band-aid. Mike had caught his finger on the string and he was bleeding. And I was running around for “electric paste”! I finally brought him one and after the show I said to him: “If you’d asked me for a band-aid you would have got one.”

it:How did you get to know Anthony Phillips?

Dale: Basically because of the relationship he had with the band Genesis. I was asked to do a couple of things for him because I was then London-based. I spent a few years in London as a roadie but Genesis were so busy I didn’t work for other people. The first couple of times I met him would have been picking up some equipment from him or loan him something and I got to know him through that. We got on very well. His humour I found a bit strange but I could cope with it and I really liked his first album, The Geese And The Ghost. I really liked that a lot. I don’t know if you’ve met him. He’s just a very nice, amiable person. We actually got to know each other when he worked on Mike’s album Smallcreep’s Day. By then we knew each other on a social basis. He had a cricket team and he invited me in as the oddity because I was an American.

it:Are you aware whether The Lamb shows were ever filmed?

A: As far as I know there was never anything filmed of the Lamb. I don’t remember anybody filming the Lamb, and in fact our manager rues the fact that they never filmed the thing. I understand The Musical Box made same mistake [chuckles]

it:You briefly mentioned the board tapes. How many are there of them and what is going to happen to them? There have been talks for the last six or seven years that they might be released. Some of them have appeared among fans, others don’t. What’s the status on that?

Dale: Right now they are just in storage. I was given the job of correlating them, organizing them. If you had said to Phil Collins in 1978: “Here’s the board tape from tonight, and if you give that back to me one day I might release it and the fans will hear” it he’d have burnt it immediately because it was just for reference. Taken directly from the desk. It was mainly Phil who listened to them and Phil listened to them every night. He would always come in and have a comment. It was nothing to do with me at the time, the sound mixer would record it, usually give it Phil, somebody would listen to it, usually Phil, give it back the next day and it’d get chucked in a box. At the end of the tour the box would get taken with the gear and so, when this came up six or seven years ago, I was asked to organize them. I never actually counted them. I would have thought three or four hundred. Could be wrong. But they were just literally chucked in a box. The 90’s tours were far more organized. They were on DAT tapes rather than cassettes. So I found them all and put them round on dates chronologically. The earliest ones were 1971. There were very few then.

Where it really started was 1971/72, maybe 72/73. I didn’t know how to make a list of these because I didn’t know how many more were going to emerge. Mike probably has some in his attic. Tony probably has some in a suitcase somewhere. I talked it over with Geoff Callingham, and we decided the best thing to do was to come up with a precise gig list and then we could use the gigs to match the tapes to and we could use the date of the gig and the city as a serial number. That was my bright idea. Everybody told me Alan Hewitt’s gig list was the most reliable one. He was thrilled that I wanted to use his gig list and he sent it to me on e-mail. But it was a Word document and it was done with tab. Yeah, I wasn’t too happy either, so I created an Excel document and used each row for a gig and put every single gig and any information with it in there. As an aside, one night, one day when the band were in to be interviewed for the book and I was working on 1972 – cause I’d been telling these guys that were writing the book: Everybody who’s filmed us, everybody who’s written about us didn’t get it.

While they were there, it wasn’t happening. If a camera was on it changes things. I’m not saying you perform, but you’re not at ease. I said: If you really want to get something, get Jeff Banks, Steve Jones, me, couple of other people, Mike and Tony around a table, serve a bunch of wine and just let your machine run. Don’t ask any questions, it will all come out. They didn’t do that, they have their reasons for that. Anyway, as Mike and Tony were there and I was doing this thing I turned around and said: “I know why you guys got where you are.” They smiled at me because it was kind of a smart remark to make: “What do you mean?” “I know why you got so good at what you’re doing.” “What do you mean?” “I got it right here” I think it was ’72, some stupid number of gigs – 140? 180? can’t remember – it was just everyday. And the days they weren’t performing they were rehearsing somewhere. Nobody does that now. Genesis don’t do that now. They rehearse for two months and do fourty shows. It was not that they wanted it to be hard work. They were just so into it. We all were. So in about five minutes – just the gig names were triggering little memories from Mike and Tony: I remember this and this backstage thing and we did that gig – in about five minutes I heard more than I saw in the book just because they were relaxed, they were with each other, there was no microphone there…

it:So what’s going to happen with those board tapes?

Dale: Nobody told me of any plan. We did start the project. The idea was we’d turn them into digital information and make them available. I am not involved in the business end of this, I work for the band, not for the management company. It was a project to keep us busy during a period of inactivity. Some of the cassettes were really diabolical, very poor and just screeching sounds. Then of course they decided to tour again and that took precedent. Since then it’s come up a couple of times, but it’s such a big job, taking three or four hundred tapes and putting them into a computer that it hasn’t been done yet. I don’t think there has actually been an active thought about whether to do it or not to do it.

I think it’s just dating, sitting there for a while.

it:Transferring these old tapes into digital information is quite a difficult business, I am told. Have the tape already been transferred?

Dale:  No, they haven’t been done.

it:What condition are the tapes in?

Dale:  I would have thought … I’m not a technical person, I’m supposed to be, but I’m not. They are what they are. The early ones are cassettes. There’s nothing to restore. We restore old two inch masters by baking them. That’s what we’ve been very careful with, to keep that. So we’ve got original masters, we’ve got copies of original masters, we have digital copies of the original masters and we now have hard drives of all the original masters. Nothing lasts forever, you know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. They’re in a box and they’re being looked after, like the crown jewels.

it: A series of live recordings from several shows has recently appeared in the traders’ pool. It is claimed that these recording stem from recordings archived at the Farm. Do you know anything about them or how they escaped? Were they stolen?

Dale:  I am not aware of that but they didn’t escape from us. But like I said before I knew that they would come from different places. They would have been handed around a bit at the time. I didn’t have all the gigs. Who knows? Perhaps “hey listen to this, it was a good gig last week” he’d give it to a record company person. Anything could happen to it. None of them escaped from us. That I know.

it:How did Paul Russell get the recordings he wrote about?

Dale: Paul Russell came and listened to some. We let him come to The Farm and play them at The Farm and then we’d put them back in.

it: Do you know why the upcoming When In Rome DVD will not be released on BluRay?

Dale: I don’t know anything about that. I’m not involved in that level. So I’m afraid the answer is no.

it: Have you read Paul Russell’s book?

Dale: I haven’t even looked at his book. You may hate me for it but I’m not really very interested in what people write about Genesis. It doesn’t interest me very much. I have be honest. I don’t even know why he was allowed to come to The Farm. Lots of people write books. I was asked by Hit’n’Run music to let him come in and listen to the things. Could he have stolen tapes? Yes. Do I think he did? No. As one gets older one trusts people less, and we’ve always had a very tight family. The Genesis family is people you can trust. I never used to have been worried about the studio being locked, my car being locked, cheques being left laying around ‘cause we all live together and work together. Anything’s possible. But I was there when he was there. Did I search him when he left? No.

it:Would you say that the tapes can help establish a definitive list of gigs and their dates?

Dale:  I would agree with that. But then the dates on the tapes weren’t always right. We were on tour. I’m not saying they were very wrong, but I know one or two that weren’t right. The guy, Craig Schertz, just wrote the wrong date down. Not very many. So in that respect his information is probably more reliable because he could see the list. I think that my list is the most reliable, as far as it goes. But it’s not complete.

it:You retired from being a roadie, which you never wanted to be, in the mid-80s. But then you did the LiveEarth gig. Perhaps you could tell us something about this?

Dale:  I was happy to stop touring for personal reasons and it was never anything I really wanted to do. It was fun while I did it. Parts of it. But it was a relief to stop. I liked rock’n’roll when it was in theatres. I liked it when it was smaller. I guess I’m getting old. I don’t like stadium shows, don’t care who’s on stage, it doesn’t interest me. When the band announced they were going to do … what was it you asked?

it:About Live Earth.

Dale: We’ll be getting to that. When they announced they’d be doing this next tour I was the only one in the whole organisation who wasn’t interested. What happened was that they organised the whole thing. I was asking if I was going to be involved because Mike and I were building up his rig and we had a lot of fun doing that. My last few years touring weren’t fun but it wasn’t anybody’s fault but mine. I got involved in the roadie lifestyle. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing and they were killing me. That part wasn’t fun. That didn’t stop just because I stopped touring but for other reasons.

When they announced this nobody was around. Mainly because he kept it very simple. His were some of the most complicated guitar rigs you’d ever see because Mike does so many things in a song. We had whole rigs for one song. What was the song? I remember songs by their work titles. We had a song with the working title Pastoral Sex. It had a bass line that was played in the studio on a guitar synth. They were new. So live I had to carry around a guitar synth and an amp just for that, and a guitar – lots of equipment. On the new tour he wanted to keep it really simple. The bass rig was easy, it was just a bass amp, pretty straightforward, but we spent several weeks trying out amps, miking them up in the studio, very closely monitoring them to see which ones were better. We had a lot of fun doing it. I was beginning to think: “I have to do the tour.” Part of me thought “I could use the money. I need the money” and the other part was “Do I need the money that bad?”

But then it was only four months long and I thought “You can do anything for four months.” Then Mike came and had a talk to me. We had a very nice talk because we are very honest with each other, and I said: “I know I can do this. I can be the best guitar roadie in the world but I’m not sure I wanna do that.” He agreed. It’s better for him to have the best guitar roadie in the world and so they got somebody to do it. It was all sort of winding up around me, and I was in the middle of this hurricane because it takes on a life of its own. The roadies were around getting the gear ready, and it’s this whole thing swirling around me and I’m in the middle of it, quite serene. They were just about to go off to Brussels, no, to Switzerland for band rehearsals. He came in and announced they were doing this Live Earth thing connected with Al Gore. It sounded like it was big news. And Mike’s comment was: “Al Gore. Hum.” I said: “Yeah, he’s either going to be president of the United States or a complete idiot. One of the two.” Mike said: “Well, we’re doing this gig, and it’s going to be between here and Manchester. And we don’t have time to get everybody to do it. I need you to do the guitars.” And my heart sunk.

Then the trouble with something like that is: Until it happens, nobody on the tours is going to be interested in it. Because you’re only interested in the next show, and after that the next show. That’s what you gotta do. So I had to just wait. And then we couldn’t use all the tour equipment, obviously, we couldn’t just pull the tour in. We couldn’t use the keyboards because they had to have them in Manchester and get them set up. We couldn’t use Mike’s rig, so we hired something else, hired a drum kit… but they had to have their own guitars. You can’t play someone else’s guitars.

So the situation was: A couple of the roadies came down, I came from the Farm with some equipment, some equipment came from the tour and some equipment came from a hire company. Luckily we were first on and we rehearsed the night before. So we didn’t have that to deal with. Once we set up, we could leave it. That’s my nightmare. I’ve never done a changeover in my life. Genesis never had an opening act. We only did us. I was a bit spoilt for that. So we did a soundcheck the night before, we had our usual problems, but got it all going – and then we left and came in the next day. For fifteen minutes it was fantastic. They played well, everything worked, and that’s a thrill. If everything works, that’s a good gig. They were happy. But what people don’t see is the half an hour afterwards was the worst half hour in my life ‘cause I had a very short period of time to make sure that the stuff to go back to the Farm went in my van, most importantly to make sure that the guitars and every bit that came off the tour got back. If they didn’t make it to Manchester I was in trouble and everybody was in trouble – and that the hired stuff got back to the company. But it worked. So that’s that.

it: We haven’t talked all that much about your own music. You have released a couple of solo albums. What is your aim in that? Are you going to have a whole band or is it just a side project?

Dale: I don’t plan writing music. I didn’t become a professional musician for that reason. I just love writing songs. I had to make a decision over a period of time. I was in my mid-twenties: If I was going to be a professional musician, if I was going to earn my money by playing the guitar I was probably going to have to play in clubs. There is a small chance I might get lucky and get in a band and make it big. That’s everybody’s dream. I was a little more pragmatic. I thought it highly likely that I was going to play in clubs and play other people’s music. That just doesn’t interest me, so I completely ignored that side and I’ve always kept on writing music. I don’t write music from that angle a professional band does. They set aside some time, get together and write their album. I can’t do that. I can only write if I’m inspired. That inspiration comes at any moment and that’s what I really love. It doesn’t happen very often.

People think I’m reasonably prolific. I write nine or ten or twelve songs a year. That’s nine or ten or twelve ideas that you get. I was very lucky in getting linked up through Genesis with the band called The Musical Box. I don’t know if anybody knows. I opened for Genesis in 1978 in America for three shows. Not many people can say that! I opened for Genesis for five shows and three gigs. I was 25. Piece of cake. I had a partner that I sang and played guitar with. A bit like Simon and Garfunkel, but we were better [laughter]. And the band asked us to do it. They had to have an opening gig. They were very prestigious gigs. Phil came out and introduced us. And I thought: We’ll be superstars now. And I didn’t play again. That was the last gig I ever did. But I kept writing music, that was my thing. And then a few years ago I got linked up with The Musical Box because Peter Gabriel wrote to me supporting them saying “If there is anything you can do to help them, please do”. This is a good story. Have I got time for a story?

The manager came down and was talking about The Musical Box because they were licensed to do the Lamb tour. And I don’t have much to do with the manager. He’s in London doing things, I’m at The Farm. That’s my little world. He was standing there talking quite enthusiastically about The Musical Box because they were selling out some of the gigs we played on the actual Lamb tour. And then he said: “It’s a shame we never had the slide show. It’s a shame we lost the slide show.” And I was sitting like this far from him and I was doing something, and he said: “I wonder whatever happened to that. Should never have lost that.” I said “You didn’t.” He looked at me “What do you mean?” I said “You didn’t lose it. I know exactly where it is.” He was … stunned. “You know where the slides are to the Lamb show?” I said: “Yes. I know exactly where they are. I’ve known exactly where they were for the last twenty-five years.” – “I’ve been looking for those for twenty years!” he said, and I took great joy in saying “You asked the wrong person.” [laughter] “You never asked me.” I cost this man a lot of money over the years, so I’m not a popular figure with him. I went over and brought this box of slides and so then The Musical Box were allowed to… Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks agreed that they could use them. I said “Well, let’s not give ‘em to ‘em.” I suggested: “Why don’t we offer to loan them the slides under the condition that they make copies of them to use and then they give them back to us – in the right order. Because,” I said to Mike and Tony, “you will never do it.” “No”, they said. I said “These guys will sit down for months until they get it right.” Which they did. Now that makes me into a ‘god’ with The Musical Box. I am a god to them. Then they started asking me a lot of questions. When was the first tone set on this song on that part on the album and I wrote back “I don’t care.” I can’t get into that kind of detail but it did make their show a lot more authentic, obviously.

And then some time later – I got to know them quite well, and they’d finished their European tour – Serge e-mailed me “Hi, how are you doing, what have you been up to?” and in the meantime I’d decided I wanted to play live again. Now I realized it was almost exactly twenty-five years from the last time I’d played live. The trouble was I couldn’t play my own songs. Now that didn’t bother me because I was not a performer. But to play them live took an incredible amount of work. For a start, my wrist was killing me. And I played a couple of little coffee-room gigs and I couldn’t believe it because I was nervous. You try and play the guitar when your hands are shaking. I was very surprised because when I played opening for Genesis in front of 12,000 people it was a piece of cake. And The Musical Box said “We heard you’re playing live again. How would you like to open up a show for us?” What an opportunity! Of course, yes. So they let me open at the Hippodrome in Birmingham which is a very big theatre and a couple of others, very prestigious gigs. I had some time developing my songs into a playable format. When I went on stage at the Hippodrome Theatre Mike sent me a text message - he knew it was a big deal for me – to wish me good luck and all that.

Tony Banks said: “You’re the closest thing we’ve got to a live performer.” [laughs] “Go, do it!” I went on stage, an actual stage with spotlights on me – no nerves. I played really well. My focus changed a little bit. It immediately affected my writing. Now I’ve got to write things that I can play. I don’t have a plan, but what happened is I’ve upgraded my computer so it’s easier to write. I became a bit of a computer musician, you know, less guitar and more keyboards and drum machines. I brought back the guitar which is my natural instrument. I’ve got nine new songs, new to me, but I did a CD called Cubed and I printed off a 1,000 of them because Genesis let me list it on their web site which was a very new thing at that time. Genesis fans don’t buy my CDs. Nobody buys my CDs [laughs]. I gave away about 500 of them to friends and family and I’ve got new stuff that I’m doing now. I didn’t write the songs on Cubed for an album, I just wrote songs and then an opportunity came I did it. I don’t do that now because it takes money to do that and I don’t have the money to invest in it now. The Musical Box are following the Genesis career in that the drummer is now organizing A Trick Of The Tail. Their production manager has been over looking for the film, and I’ve been helping him with the slides, and he said “You’ll be opening a few shows for us in England this fall.” So I look forward to that. If anybody has any tours, I’ll do them, you know.

it:We are a bit pressed for time, so short questions and brief answers, please.

Dale: Yes.

it: Are the slides going to be included in the re-release of The Lamb?

Dale: No. I don’t know whether they are. I shouldn’t answer that cause I have no idea that The Lamb is coming out. When is The Lamb coming out? …But I know where they are.

it: Dale, thank you for making yourself available for this session. I think we have heard some great stories and lots of information from your life before, with and beyond Genesis. We are looking forward to hearing some of your music later tonight.

Dale: I hope you will stay and listen. Be nice!

it:Thank you.

organisation of the interview by Christian Gerhardts
interviews transcribed by Martin Klinkhardt
photos by Peter Schütz