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Mike + The Mechanics - Interview in Dresden (I)

GNC-interview with Mike Rutherford, Anthony Drennan, Luke Juby and Gary Wallis

Backstage in Dresden, Germany, Mike Rutherford discussed the recent development with the Mechanics and future plans with Christian Gerhardts from Genesis News Com. After that, Luke Juby and Anthony Drennan were also available for short interviews.

GNC: Hello Mike, it's good to have you here in my hometown. Back on the road again - with some setlist changes obviously. What was the reason to change these specific songs ...

Mike Rutherford: First you have to do some changes! The main change is having this acoustic section and I think it works very well. It was a chance to include some old songs. I did not want to play Everybody Gets A Second Chance with the whole band because it sounds a bit corny now, but acoustically, I would say it sounds very interesting and also A Time And Place. With the old productions, they are a bit glossy. And that sounds a bit wrong now. So, doing these 2-3 songs acoustically is really quite nice. Then, Silent Running is back in the set. And for the first time it sounds good. I never liked playing that a lot. It always sounded ... weak, I don't know. It's a lot stronger now and finally feels right.

GNC: So now you have 4-5 songs from the Word Of Mouth album in the set. It's Get Up, Everybody Gets A Second Chance, A Time and Place and The Way You Look At Me...

Mike: Ah really? I never thought about that. The Way You Look At Me actually we are not doing now because it is just one song too many in the set. It sounded great, I like the groove and Andrew's voice, it was really nice, but just that one song too many.

Mike RutherfordGNC: That's a good point, as people keep asking, why the Mechanics don't play a couple of songs more to do a 2hrs+ set. You've got so many songs, so you could play for 2 hours.

Mike: I don't think it feels right to do more. The more we do ... it's a bit longer than last time. I think it feels right the way it is at the moment.

GNC: You played I Get The Feeling and fans always ask for old songs, but that was an odd choice. What about a song like A Call To Arms, which is very popular among fans?

Mike: Well, I mean, I hope we will do more and I think it's nice to have all these songs and bring them in at different times.

GNC: I heared an interview with you and you were talking about the Living Years anniversary thing ...

Mike: They're going to remaster that album Living Years and there will be a couple of B-sides that have not been released yet, apart from the one .... Too Many Friends! And I have also done another version of The Living Years that sounds so different with Andrew singing. I've recorded with an African Choir. They are quite popular and play around the world doing Opera. And they sing on that. They come from Cape Town. I recorded them about a month ago - they sounded really great. And with their ingredient, I then knew how to do it differently. It has to be a bit different. It's not like the same version with another voice. But if Andrew wasn't singing, I wouldn't do it again, but the change of singer justified that.

GNC: So it will be remastered?

Mike: There will be this one new version of the song that will be on the whole package. There will be two CDs with some songs from us playing some of the stuff live, I then found about 8 b-sides, I've got a couple that never got finished ...

(we give Mike a list with all B-sides and unreleased Mechanics songs we are aware of)

Mike: ... yes there were plenty from the Beggar album. Then there was one from Living Years - ah, Too Many Friends! And I've got one song, One By One, that was never finished, that will be on there also, with both Pauls singing which no-one ever heared. I have finshed it.

GNC: Do you consider a 5.1 version?

Mike: No, it's just a Stereo remaster.

GNC: About B-Sides - will that be a separate project?

Mike: I think we will first do that Living Years package. The new recording of the title track is done and One By One is also finished. We'll see how it goes from there.

GNC: So you do not consider to stretch it further to other albums such as Beggar?

Mike: I'm not sure, it can be an option. On Living Years, there can also be live tracks on the second CD.

GNC: You are recording this show...

Mike: Yes, but only stereo, not multitrack.

GNC: Do you have plans to release something live from this band, either CD or DVD?

Mike: I'd like to, we will probably record it at some stage.

GNC: What do you feel about this tour now? Last year you said you need to get out again to see if it works. Now it seems to work, so how does it feel?

Mike: It's a funny year for touring, everybody is finding it a bit hard. But it's good to be out and playing.

GNC: What about the drummer? It seems like Gary and Ben are changing drum stools all the time

Mike: What happened is that Gary is also involved in Tom Jones' tour, so they simply mix the match.

MikeGNC: Is it important for you how successful The Road was in terms of album sales?

Mike: I was disappointed last time, it didn't really connect. But it's a different time. Of course Beggar and other albums did better - you always want to do better than you did, there's no question about it. But a lot of acts work all the time, the Mechanics haven't done very much for a long time. Record sales are just dropping all the time for older acts.

GNC: And plans for a new album?

Mike: I think we just finish this tour but I am already writing again with Andrew. So we see how it goes, as always.

GNC: What about Belle In The Garden and the Blur songs?

Mike: Belle And The Garden was never finished and the Blur songs got lost somewhere.

GNC: Do you follow Tony's activity or Steve's plans as he wants to do a Genesis Revisited album and tour?

Mike: What does that mean?

GNC: He's going on tour with guest singers and will be doing some of the old stuff and is also recording an album at the moment ... so you are obviously not involved there?

Mike: Well, I find it kind of strange, I know Ray does it a lot. I rather live in the "now". I find it strange, going back and play these songs ... it's not for me. If I were Steve ... I'd rather do something new. Actually we are also doing three Genesis songs, more than ever before, that is okay, but I wouldn't go further.

GNC: Remember what happened 15 years ago? Calling All Stations was about to be released

Mike: Oh, really? We just passed the Fernsehturm in Berlin where we did the album launch.

GNC: What do you feel about the whole thing 15 years later, was it a mistake?

Mike: I would never say it's a mistake because it was my choice to do it, so... I think if we done more it might have got better. But regarding writing ... the writing team was incomplete. I felt that me and Tony and Ray, that was not quite enough. Maybe if we had done more, we would have found some answers to that question.

GNC: Any plans for an Acting Very Strange rerelease on CD?

Mike: Is that not available on CD?

GNC: It has been in North America for some time, but generally - no.

Mike: I haven't heared it for a long time, there are no plans.

GNC: Ok, I think these are the basics ...

Mike: Let's talk after the show, how you liked it!


Anthony Drennan

Anthony Drennan was a surprising nomination for the Mechanics line-up. He was the replacement for Daryl Stuemer in Genesis during the 1998 Calling All Stations Tour. We discussed a few things with him before the show.

Anthony DrennanGNC: New faces, old faces in the band. It's been a long time, fifteen years now. How does it feel to be back with Mike in a band after the Calling All Stations tour?

Anthony Drennan: Yes, that's right, with Genesis I was with Mike. It was very nice to do it last year, and to be back for the Mechanics album.

GNC: How did you feel when Mike called you for Mechanics shows?

Anthony: First he just asked me would I send over a guitar tune for the song, The Road, just out of the blue and I sent over a little bit and he liked it. Then he said he might do some shows and then he got back to his request and asked me to do join the live-band also - and it was very nice. I enjoyed playing with him before so it was a pleasure.

GNC: You've been on the road for a couple of shows last year, obviously, so now you're back, how do you feel?
Anthony: It's good, the show's good, we're enjoying it.

GNC: I heard you went on the road with Chris Rea. What else do you do besides Mike & The Mechanics things that we might not know?
Anthony: I think Chris Rea and I played already 20 years ago and he asked me to join again so I did Chris Rea. And also I was working with The Corrs, I did that for ten years. I'm sure there are a few things, I can't remember them all.

GNC: So what do you do during the year?
Anthony: I record at home, and I work with different musicians on different project in Ireland, sometimes Irish music and different kinds. I haven't done the kind of thing for a while so it was good this year to do Chris and the Mechanics.

GNC: Are you more of a session guitarist then?

Anthony: Yeah, I suppose so.

GNC: … than a live guitarist?

Anthony: Bit of both. I do a lot of recordings so more of a session in Dublin, yeah. TV
music and film music and stuff.

GNC: Do you think there will be a new album next year or in the
foreseeable future?

Anthony: Yeah, the thing is it's the 25th anniversary, of Living Years, so... who knows

GNC: So you would be up for it?

Anthony: Yeah, sure!

GNC: If we look back at the last involvement with Genesis... it's a quite long time ago, but looking back on it now, what was it like?

Anthony: I know it was different because we didn't have Phil Collins. But it was great. Ray was marvellous. It was a great band. I see some videos on Youtube and it sounds great to me, sounds powerful. I know it's some fans who find that it hasn't the feel of Peter Gabriel. Well, it isn't, you know?

GNC: Are you still in contact with Nir or Ray?

Anthony: Sometimes, mostly on Facebook and stuff. Nir is in Nashville, I think. Ray actually asked me to do some shows in Germany recently, you know, with his orchestral thing, but I couldn't.

GNC: So there might be a combination with other musicians in the near future?

Anthony: I don't know, maybe.

GNC: Thank you for your time, Anthony.

Anthony: Thank you.

Luke Juby

Luke Juby wasn't feeling very well, but he agreed to answer a few questions.

GNC: Luke, we know little to nothing about you apart from what's on the
internet. So, where are you from?
Luke Juby: From Windsor, in England.

GNC: On Facebook you describe yourself as a producer, writer, musician.
What's your basic profession as a musician?
Luke: Writing. I love creating new songs. I do a lot of studio work now, although I started my career doing a lot of live music. Mika, Delta Goodrem, Just Jack, Olly Murs etc. Mike's pretty much the only thing that I do live now apart from Leona Lewis. I do some live stuff with her, and besides that also with X-Factor and the TV-Show Britain's Got Talent. I work in the background on that sometimes (on and off camera), but most of my days are spent in the studio writing.

LukeGNC: Since you are a writer, do you hope or have plans to be involved in the writing team for the next Mechanics album?
Luke: You know, I've done a little bit already on the new version of The Living Years - editing recording that is. Just little bits, as my writing partner is another Rutherford - Harry Rutherford, Mike's son. Harry and I have a studio in London, and we've been working together for about a year or so now. We've been writing with some great people. I've got a couple of co-writes with Emeli Sandé. Do you know her? She's quite big in the UK, I've also done some stuff in France writing for Amel Bent, and more UK artists like Professor Green, Pixie Lott, Leona, so I've been doing different things like that. This Mechanics tour is like a nice holiday for me. I keep thinking I need to go back to work soon, and then realise I am actually working!

So you got in touch with Mike through his son, basically?
Luke: It did come through a son, but Mike's other son! It's a weird one. At the time I was working for Olly Murs, he's very good but very pop. My friend and fellow writer/musician Chris Leonard gave my name to Mike's son as someone who could (hopefully) do what they wanted within the band and I got the phone call. I had to make a choice between Olly and the Mechanics because the dates clashed. So this was my choice obviously. From that I met Harry and he started to help me record some of my songs and we worked very well together. Harry plays the instruments I don't and is great in the studio. However, he's not very good at basketball...

GNC: You're the whistler on stage, as we know now. Is this the song you like most, or are there other songs you like better that are not played at the moment? What's your connection to the music of Mike + The Mechanics?
Luke: Ha, yup. I'm always the whistler... never the keys player. Ha. The Living Years is a classic, a Top Ten Ever, isn't it? I love Over My Shoulder, because it's another classic. But I enjoy playing Coffee, because I get to sing on that one. I get to sing a few, and there are a few I really enjoy singing. Another Cup Of Coffee and Try To Save Me.
Those two are cool. And then the big ending of All I Need Is A Miracle. I love that. Must be the loudest my keyboards have ever been! At the beginning of Miracle, there's not much else going on apart from keyboards. Hope I don't play the wrong notes... I've also loved the acoustic section on this tour.

GNC: What instrument do you play best? Is it keyboards, guitar, bass?
Luke: You know I play sax this time?

GNC: Yeah, I saw that during soundcheck.
Luke: I'm not a bass player, necessarily, I'm doing a lot more now. I've been playing on some records recently which is odd - no, I'm not a bass player. But when I got offered the gig with Mike, they basically asked 'can
you play keyboards?' I said 'Yeah'. 'Can you sing?' I said 'Yeah, sure'. 'Can you play bass?' I said 'How many songs?' Mike said there are two songs. I said 'When are the gigs?' He said it's in a month's time. And I said, yyyyyeah I can play bass and then practised like crazy until the first rehearsals. Actually... I think it was only a few weeks. Not sure if anyone in the band knows this, but during rehearsals I had to put plasters on my fingers to play the bass as I had such bad blisters from practising. You need to build up some calluses. So... now I play bass.

after the show

Mike: That was a good gig, so what do you think?

GNC: The Acoustic set was a brilliant idea, the set feels stronger than last year

Mike: I like to have this loose atmosphere, were we sit down and play some stuff, it's a lot of fun. Both voices sound great, I really enjoy that. The whole band plays great, it's great fun to go out and play with them!

Anthony: I love this band, it's great to do these shows. It's also nice to share lead parts with Mike.

GNC: You once did a guitar battle on stage with Mike
Anthony: I remember that guitar battle - it was The Dividing Line, one of the best moments on stage I had. He's a great musician to play with.


Gary Wallis

Before the rest of the band arrived at the venue, Gary Wallis appeared on stage to check his drums. We followed his personal soundcheck and talked to him before and after the show.

GNC: Gary, what's the reason for continuing change of drummers?

Gary Wallis: The swapping thing is quite simple - we were thinking about the tour for the beginning of the year, and then for different reasons the tour was rescheduled and it looked like we will tour in fall and that changed ... but, because I had this big hole in the middle, of course I agreed to play with Tom Jones. And then they didn't do the Mechanics tour at the beginning nor the end of the year, but at the same time as the Tom Jones tour. And I said 'come on guys - are you kidding me?' anyway, this was the reason. I've been playing with Tom for many years and it worked out that way. I sopke to Tom and to Mike and said look, I am in both bands and you have to realize you've booked me at the same time - this cannot happen. And they said look, you can play on both tours, kind of the important shows on both tours. And what's lucky enough is that both tours have a lot of days off, which coincide. And I think I only miss 4 shows with the Mechanica and 4 shows with Tom Jones.

GNC: Ben Stone is someone you are obviously familiar with?

Gary: He's an old friend of mine. We met some years ago and I thought he knew what he was talking about as a drummer. Then I saw him play and I though, Oh he REALLY knows what he's talking about. He is really good. And when the situation came up last year that I couldn't do a Mechanics show, he was the perfect replacement. And it went from there.

GNC: Isn't that difficult for a band to have suddenly another drummer?

Gary: It's hard, not the same thing. Although we both play very well, it's different. But it kind of had to work that way, there was no real choice. The timing of this tour was strange - it wasn't the first idea to tour during the summer, but anyway.

Gary WallisGNC: You played with Pink Floyd, you did the jumping drummer on the Division Bell tour. It's a long way since then, what was your most favorite project?

Gary: Very hard to say. Because you can tell, I generally like playing. I love playing my arse off. Mike + The Mechanics have always been great. Mike is one of my best friends in the world. We really know each other very well. Just being in this environment is so nice. He's my good friend, we have a beer, play good music. You have to consider when playing that half of the experience is who people are. You can play your arse off and be in the shittiest band in the world and it would mean nothing. But when you play great and have great people with you - the whole thing is just fantastic. It's like having a sexy hot girlfriend. She's really good in bed but otherwise she's a pain in the arse, you know? That ain't gonna work for long. Music is like that. You have to have both sides, the excitement and the people. It's that balance.

GNC: Have you ever missed to be in one big band?

Gary: You mean my own band? Well, I think I've been a session hore for so long. I've considered that often, but there's one thing: When you have your own band, that comes with its own trouble. And stress and failure and so on. Doing what I do, I really get to see the best bits of most bands.

GNC: Have you ever experienced a time of unemployement?

Gary: Never! Over 30 now without any unemployment.

GNC: What's so special about the Mechanics, you're doing this now since 1994. There were many changes in the band, what's so special about this thing?

Gary: Since the Beggar album, yes. The specialty is Mike. He's my dear friend, one of my best friends. We've had a long journey together. We've been in a lot of buses togetherm, hotel rooms etc. You form a friendship of steel out of this. Either you love each other or you hate each other. And we were lucky to love each other. Obviously there's this great friendship underneath everything that's really important. I am part of the band, playing on the songs, I get hell of kick go out and playing them. It's great. So I play good music with my best friends. How good is that? And then they pay me! That's really great (laughs).

GNC: What kind of music do you listen to privately?

Gary: Oh, my record collection is just as mad as its owner. Speaking about Roachford, we have really eclectic tastes and an anormeous record collection. I'm drawn to anything that's good. What's new on the turn table? Alabama Shakes - check them out! Really digging them. Then Vintage Trouble - really great music. The fact that the internet has somehow killed our industry in some ways, in traditional fashion, but there's another aspect to it - so many great people are getting their music being listened to! And so we are all able to go and find people who do good music. It's an interesting time. So the answer to the question, it is an extremely large selection of music. The morning might start with Motown and the evening ends with Slayer. And there could be Stevie Wonder or Kenny Rogers in the middle. it's like that. A little Bob Marley at the side. The thing always gets you if it is good.

GNC: How did you get in touch with Pink Floyd?

Gary: They called me ...

GNC: Why is that? Because you were that good or recommended?

Gary: Well they don't call you cause you're shit (laughing). I just finished a tour with Robert Palmers Powerstation and was playing percussion with Nik Kershaw. Nik was very big then. We did a charity event with Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and also David Gilmour involved. We said hello to each other and had some glass of wine backstage. Next day David Gilmour calls me saying I've been watching you play for a long time. I'm reforming Pink Floyd, would you like to be in it ...

GNC: ... and you said 'I think about it'

Gary: Yes I did (laughs). I was so fucking busy. And I was doing 6-7 sessions per day then. It was a crazy time. We got to talking and things looked great and he said come over and see me and we went to David's place to have a glass of wine and a chat, it looked good, then it looked better, then it looked reallly good and then it looked like something I couldn't refuse. And I went to do Pink Floyd. It was great! So really, David and I met at this charity gig and he said 'would you come play with us' - that's the story.

GNC: Thanks for your time and the great show! And keep playing that way.

Gary: No problem, I will keep rocking my arse off (laughs)