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Mike Rutherford interview 2014

Mike Rutherford in conversation with GNC (7/11/14)

Mike talks about recent Genesis releases and the new Mechanics tours

GNC: Whose idea was it to call the compilation „R-Kive“?

Mike: Oh, that was Peter’s idea. We were emailing around some ideas and we needed a name for the DVD as well, which became Sum Of The Parts, and both seem to be nice names.

GNC: While the R-Kive concept is something everybody understands, there has been a lot of criticism about Sum Of The Parts as it’s an unbalanced documentary. What is your own opionion? Could it have been done better?

Mike: Well, it could always be done better, of course. You know that Steve was complaining and I agree to that. It was done by Eagle Rock and I saw the first cut which was awful and it was so boring. There was no solo stuff from nearly anybody, none from Peter and Steve was hardly in it at all. So we had a conversation and they changed the editor and the team. New guys came in and we saw a new draft way past the deadline for the BBC and actually commented on things like there were no Vari*Lites, there was no Steve on the solo stuff and so on. And then we didn’t see that one again before it was finished. We were not really in control, we got in too late really.

"The name 'R-Kive' was actually Peter Gabriel's idea"

GNC: That is also the reason why Calling All Stations is not mentioned at all?

Mike: Well, the directors also have to make a choice, what they show and for me … I wanted the Vari*Lites story in it which is fantastic you know, since Genesis changed the world lighting and huge productions, but it wasn’t mentioned. You can’t get in everything, I suppose. But it was disappointing.

GNC: You mentioned in an interview a few weeks ago that the original plan was to produce a documentary about The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, which made perfect sense, since the album tuns 40 this November. Why didn’t you go forward with this idea and do the documentary on the band later? Will the documentary about The Lamb happen at a later date?

Mike: The trouble with The Lamb is, there is simply so little footage. But who knows, maybe we do that later. I know the guy who runs Eagle Rock, he’s a friend of mine. He wanted to do The Lamb, we talked and then thought it would be a nice documentary to be done about Genesis and the solo careers. The reason we did it - the documentary justifies the record. I wouldn’t have done the documentary without R-Kive. I mean, obviously you and all the fans know Genesis but a lot of people out there do not know much about us. They don’t know Phil ever played drums or didn’t know I’m in Mike + The Mechanics or Peter was ever in the band. they don’t know this stuff. A lot of people join the band at a different times and miss certain things. So it’s a way to remind people of our history.

Mike 2014GNC: So you would not exclude the possibility to do a Lamb documentary in the future?

Mike: No, of course not.

GNC: You also introduced a new band logo, which looks a bit strange and is, to be honest, not very pupular. Who’s idea was that?

Mike: We had a guy who came up with some ideas and we said, ok we take that one.

GNC. So you didn’t want to stick to an old logo?

Mike: No, it’s a different project and we wanted something new.

GNC: We were talking about The Lamb. If there’s one album you’ll have to pick from your Genesis career you are most proud of, what album would that be?

Mike: I can’t say that really. Having done a lot of revisiting stuff from my past with this project and also my Living Years book I kind of learned more about my music than I used to know … I am very proud of Supper’s Ready, that stands the test of time. I’m also proud of the last three albums, too - I mean the Mama-album onwards, because something happened with our writing, we just seemed to get into a flow. The albums seemed to have been written by itself, in a matter of days really, which was really great. So it’s very hard to pick the one album.

"New Genesis music is unlikely at this stage"

GNC: After the last Genesis tour in 2007, you and also Phil said in interviews that it might be an option to get together to record a new song, probably to be released in digital format only. Do you think there’s still a chance to do that?

Mike: I think it’s unlikely at this stage.

GNC: Which means „in the foreseeable future“?

Mike: Well, my line has always been ‚never say never‘, but there are absolutely no plans at the moment to do something like that. When it comes to the Sum Of The Parts project, the crucial thing was to get all of us together in the same room for a couple of days and chat. Without that, it would not have been worth it, I think.

GNC: In 2011, you did a new album, The Road, with the Mechanics, have been touring quite a lot with the band and now we learned that Daryl will join you on various shows in North America, how did that happen? Will Daryl also join you on stage during the main set?

Mike: We haven’t thought about that, maybe he might. And with the American tour … the promoter came to see us at the Hammersmith Apollo, enjoyed the show and he booked a tour in America. A nice tour in the North East, just four weeks. So we try that and see how it works really. Because in England we came out a few years ago with The Road and a tour and it was quite a hard work, we needed to prove ourselves again on the road. the Mechanics also never toured much ever. It was a bit like the early days, playing a lot to show yourself. So now we’re doing North America and we had a couple of ideas about support acts and then Daryl came to me and said, what about me? He’s not coming with his band, he’s on his own, and I think it’ll be great.

GNC: So he’s doing a solo show, supporting the Mechanics?

Mike: I think so, yes

GNC: The biggest success in the states happened with the first two albums for the Mechanics. Are you considering to change the setlist to meet these expectations?

Mike: A very good question, I asked myself - i don’t know the answer to it yet. We might change it a bit and at the same time, we play quite a lot from the early albums right now, like Silent Running, Seeing Is Believing, Nobody’s Perfect and so on. We will see what happens. But it’s a good question, we have to think about some options.

GNC: When you did the Living Years 25 tour, people were expection more songs from that album. In the end you played like 4 songs from that album. Did you discuss playing more, probably the whole album?

Mike: I didn’t think so, since there are songs on there which are not really good live songs. Four or five are, and I think that’s enough from that album, yes.

GNC: You are coming to Europe after the North American tour … are there specific plans for the European shows or will they follow basically the same concept?

Mike: I am actually not certain. We need to change some things, that’s for sure. I quite enjoy the little acoustic section.

GNC: Me too. About the gigs, the fans appreciate that you are indeed a great live band, but you always play a quite short set. Why don’t you just do a 2 hour set?

Mike: Well, the UK tour will be 1’50. The other thing is, Genesis does have this huge production which does help you, but The Mechanics don't have that. I was thinking about the English tour, maybe we do two sets and have a break in between. So maybe we play longer then. I thought about that and I may consider it.

"We may do two sets with an interval"

GNC: You have enough material to play more songs.

Mike: We do, we have more songs we could do. But the set has to work, it shouldn’t bee too long. But with the interval, maybe we start part 2 with an acoustic set, that could work. Just an idea, we’ll see.

GNC: Speaking about new stuff, you were thinking about writing new songs and brainstorming ideas for a while now. Any chances for a new Mechanics album?

Mike: There are chances for new songs, but I am not sure what form they will take. I did some writing in the last month and we will do some more in December and maybe some recording in January. But a whole album is quite hard to justify these days. It’s a lot of work. But there will definitely be new music! We will put that out somehow, we will see.

"A new Mechanics album is unlikely, but new songs are written"

GNC: So there won’t be any major release before the tour starts.

Mike: No, i don’t think so, but maybe we get some songs to radio stations and see how that works.

GNC: James Walsh will support you during the UK tour. I got the CD and I saw there’s a „Rutherford“ credited on some songs as co-writer. Is that you or Harry?

Mike: I didn’t write anything. I was slightly involved in chosing some of the songs for the final album list. Harry produced the record.

GNC: So it must be his Harry’s writing credit then ...

Mike: Yes!

GNC: How did you get in contact with James Walsh?

Mike: We have the same promoter, John Giddings and he is managed by him.

GNC: Would it be an option to have James sing on any future Mechanics track?

Mike: I don’t think so, because we have two great singers.

GNC: So you are also not considering to work with Arno Carstens again?

Mike: No, there are no plans. I like his music, but he lives in Cape Town now.

GNC: About the Singles compilation. There are plenty of different 7“ versions of your tracks from single releases in the past, the versions on the compilation are quite often shorter versions of album tracks. Why didn’t you put all the available singles versions on that record?

Mike: I only know of two of them, which tracks do you mean?

GNC: For example Over My Shoulder had a singles version, made for the US.

Mike: Ok, no we didn’t think about that option. There are two longer songs, All I Need Is A Miracle for example, and we used shorter versions.

GNC: A new track is One By One, which is obviously from the past as well. Which period is that from?

Mike: That must have been mid-Mechanics era, probably M6, I think. It was a left over from the writing and recording session, we didn’t finish it, that was done lately, really.

GNC: Speaking about the Living Years 25th Anniversary Edition. The bonus CD contains live tracks. Where have those been recorded?

Mike: They are from American shows, one in Philadelphia, one in Boston I think. There were on cassette and they sounded quite good actually.

"Reissues of Smallcreep's Day and Acting Very Strange is something we might consider"

GNC: Any plans to release your first two solo albums, remastered with bonus tracks? I think there would be an interest for that, especially the first one

Mike: I haven’t thought about that. Good question, I’ll get into it.

GNC: The second album, Acting Very Strange, hasn’t been available on CD for a while, in fact it was only released on CD in North America and is quite hard to get these days

Mike: Oh, ok. I think some independent label approached me and wanted to put out my solo albums again, so I ask them.

GNC: Speaking about the Living Years book, which is quite enjoyable and was a great read for most of the fans - how is your impression about the general reception. Are you pleased with the feedback?

Mike: The book kept me busy for two or three years, and the reviews are great actually, I am really surprised. I think the point is, I wasn’t doing a book about rock’n’roll, life on the road, excesses … this has been done so much by others and so the key story is about generational change in the 60ies. And I think it worked.

Sum of The PartsGNC: Did everybody in the band read the book and, even more important, have they approved it?

Mike: Yes, there were little complaints by Tony Banks, I teased him too much, but it was ok. And the funny thing is, when we are talking about Sum Of The Parts now, I did the book with quite a good timing. I sent the book out late last year to everybody and they all read it and liked it. But I think what the book did: Before we started this project the book reminded people in the band what a great time we all had together. So I think everyone was slightmy more engaged because of the book.

GNC: Armando Gallo did a beautiful App about his book. Can you imagine you will do something with this technology with Genesis or The Mechanics in the future?

Mike: I haven’t seen Armando’s App yet and I am also not sure whether there’s a market or a demand for it or not. Do you think that could work?

GNC: I think so, if there’s a good concept, you can easily do an App that would please the fans. First thing that comes to my mind would be the Board Tapes project. We still haven’t given up on that and this could be an option to get things started.

Mike: Maybe it’s a good idea, we have to consider that. You are full of fresh ideas, Christian, thank you!

GNC: You’re welcome. You told me a new album would be too much work, also with all the things connected with that. Are you these days thinking about album sales and stuff like that or is that something that does not really bother you?

Mike: The amount of work which is required to do an album is really a lot. So I think of something smaller these days, maybe an EP, something different. And about the sales, the amount of work has to be balanced by some feedback. Not in financial terms, but in appreciation.

GNC: I think the last Mechanics studio albums didn’t do as well as the previous ones in terms of album sales, but you were on tour a lot. So, is that a different drug now compared to earlier days with the band?

Mike: I think, regarding record sales, with the Mechanics I can’t sell that many records anymore these days. I’ve been doing records for 45 years now and obviously it can’t stay the same. So now we found an area which is popular and works, which is the live music. And also the mechanics never toured much. And these songs are good live songs. For the last 3 or 4 years, you come closer to be a band by putting miles on the clock, you know? And we’ve done that and the Mechanics on stage are very strong.

"We could involve the fans more. Let's see how far that can go"

GNC: Last time we spoke I asked you whether it could be an option for you to ask fans which songs to play. I’d like to come back to this question with a different approach. We talked about various ideas and stuff that may please a lot of fans like the Board Tapes. Do you think it’s possible to involve fans more in such processes - more than you did in the past 10 years? The reason I am asking: Some fans believe you have no interest in what the fans think and may want.

Mike: It could be. It may sound bad, it’s not meant like that: What inspires me, has to inspire me. I do that for me. I do love the appreciation, but I have to decide for myself whether or not to do it. But on the other hand, more things are going on on the websites, we’ll have some things going on next year, so let’s see how far that goes.

GNC: Do you work on other projects?

Mike: Not really, my life is pretty much focussing on the Mechanics. At my age, I am fine with that at the moment. The last couple of years - like the book in the middle of a Mechanics tour, it’s all great, but also quite enough for me.

GNC: What is the status of the Farm Studios?

Mike: It’s still doing well, we are working on Mechanics songs there. Of course it’s not used that much any more, the old control room is now stripped and Tony's keyboards and my guitars are in there. In the past all the guitars were in cases in the barn and now I got them out. It’s like a shop, they are hanging on the wall, it’s beautiful.

GNC: What do you think about your colleagues of Pink Floyd, they did this swansong album for their late bandmate Rick Wright?

Mike: That was a nice thing to do. The reception seems to be great, so it justifies doing it.

GNC: Are you in contact with these other bands from your period, like Floyd or Queen?

Mike: From time to time, for example I saw Roger Taylor a couple of weeks ago, we met Nick Mason recently. But not regularly.

GNC: One last question - what’s the size of your shoes?

Mike: 10,5 / 11

GNC: That’s not so big ...

Mike: But it’s an unusual last question - well done.

GNC: Ok, thanks for taking some time for us!

Mike: Was nice talking to you again, Christian. See you next year. Bye.

Interview conducted by Christian Gerhardts
Special thanks to TSPM for arranging the interview!

related Links
Genesis - Sum Of The Parts - review
Genesis - R-Kive - review
Mike + The Mechanics - Tour 2015

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