Current track

Title

Artist

Current show

Spectral Wednesday

12:00 am 11:59 pm


Melody Maker Band Breakdown – From Melody Maker, March 3, 1973

Written by on March 3, 1973

From Melody Maker, March 3 1973 – pp. 28-29
Words by Chris Welch

Genesis are in that exciting time when life seems rosy and prospects are good. After many years of toil, uncertainty and blind faith, their ambitions are being realised and their talent recognised.

America beckons, the next album will probably be a smash, and concerts are a sell-out, wherever Peter Gabriel unfurls his wings.

Genesis have always been determined to play their own music without compromise, right from the days when they played to five people in the room upstairs and Ronnie Scott’s Club. And they will concede no compromises now they have joined their brother groups amidst the hullabaloo of acclaim and exposure.

In many ways Genesis are of the old fashioned breed of group, who originally laid the foundations of the whole modern group structure. Most of them went to school together. Few have played with any other band. When they started out they were rough and unready and held quaint ideas about writing and playing that no one would touch.

While other groups went to fame and fortune they teetered on the verge of breaking up, quarrelled, but slogged on and won an essential grass-roots following.

The music the band feature has been compared to Yes, and other bands that specialise in arrangements. In fact one of their earliest influences was the Nice. {ED – Keith Emerson’s first primary band.}

Genesis do not however place much emphasis on solo work or extended improvisation, and the use of Mellotron and Steve Hackett’s “non-guitar” guitar sounds don’t lead to any direct comparison with anything else that is happening.

Genesis are eccentric and very English, and blues hardly enters their work, even the term “rock” is irrelevant most of the time.

Nevertheless it is gripping often startling, with a thorough understanding of the use of dynamics, light and shade.

It is a textural montage, in which classical music, jazz and rock can all be seen to have had an effect.

Mike Rutherford Box (pic)

A Charterhouse school veteran, bass guitarist Mike Rutherford treats a mean pair of Mr. Bassman pedals, which supplies the mysterious bass pulse, when he is strumming at an acoustic guitar with Steve. He also plays regular bass guitar, and two 12-string guitars, all of which help in the vital shading and pastel tones the band employ. He tends to ramble in a pleasantly coherent fashion, often a trait among public school chaps, and blithely admits if it wasn’t for this rock and roll business, he would probably have gone into the Foreign Office.

“We seem to be on the up at the moment,” he observed lightly. “We do feel there is a frightful lack of new material. We write so slowly…” Mike shook his head in sorrow. He laughed and explained that “to me at any rate” had been his favourite expression ever since he heard Peter Sellers use it as Nancy Lisbon interviewing Twit Conway on “Songs For Swinging Sellers.” A man who could conceivably have devoted himself to hunting tigers in India, explained how he became a vital force in Genesis. “I started off writing with Anthony Phillips, our old guitarist. Just songs y’know. I’ve always had a thing about songs.

“When we left school Peter was getting a band together and I joined on bass and rhythm guitar. I love strumming. Never really wanted to be a dynamic lead guitarist. We used to write pop songs, and I thought they were rather nice.

“The first thing we wrote as a band was a 45 minute piece that we didn’t record, but we still use bits to this very day. When we started the band we knew nothing about the business or what bands did, which was good, really. We were incredibly green but luckily we didn’t sign anything. “We didn’t know how to set up the equipment for a gig and we used to travel around with a picnic basket, containing hard-boiled eggs, pots of tea and scones, that we set up in the dressing rooms. The other bands were frankly amazed. But we were very fond of tea.

“We had no conception of what would happen, and I’m really glad we did it. I had led such a soft life up and until then, and being in a group doesn’t do you any harm at all. I was studying English and Edinburgh University, but I couldn’t go back again.” How did mike intend to use his studies at University? “Actually, I wanted to be a pro golfer. I take clubs with me wherever we go. But we’re all unfit. I just play when I can.”

To what extent had Mike studied musical theory and the art of bass guitar? “I sort of picked it up. I’m starting to learn to read music now. I suppose our present musical form started to develop about three years ago. We used to change much quicker than we do now. But of course there were fewer people coming to see us.

“I wish we could have had Phil then. His arrival gave us an awful lot more confidence. There has always been a lot of friction in the band, but its not too bad really. “When Phil joined and saw us all quarrelling, I think he thought we were splitting up! We argue a lot less now and there is more give and take.”

Phil Collins Box (pic)

Phil Collins, the drummer, is one of that breed of drummers with a fine technique who devotes it solely to the band’s music.

He rarely if ever solos, but the intelligent and dramatic shading that he employs is exciting in itself.

He has played drums since the age of five, and at one time pursued an acting career which he now prefers not to talk about, but like Steve Marriott, included a stint in Oliver as the Artful Dodger, and a whole string of radio and TV appearances.

“The only band I was in any consequence before Genesis was Flaming Youth,” he says.

“I thought they were a good band and were quite influenced by Yes. We would do a 15 minute version of Norwegian Wood.' We did the albumArk II’, but at all gigs we’d play half our own material and half somebody else’s and didn’t please anybody.

“My own playing was quite influenced by Bill Bruford and John Bonham. But when I started out I liked Joe Brown and the Bruvyers. I’m not really a jazz freak y’know, although big bands always appealed to me. I liked the way the drummer accented or filled-in. It appealed to me the way you didn’t have to play a set rhythm between the accents.

“I used to watch all the big band drummers, and thought Harold Jones with Count Basie was excellent.

“I’d like Genesis to get a bit looser, while keeping the arranged things. When you’re playing on tour you begin to want to change things.

“I want to get more into different time signatures. Some of my best playing is on the 9/8 things on `Supper’s Ready.’ It’s interesting to play.

“I was taught by Frank King (the late drum tutor). I realised that if I wanted to be a pro drummer when I was 40, I’d have to learn to read.

“I got my first drums when I was five, and my father used to hide them in the cellar. Later on I sold my train set to buy some drums. When I quit acting my parents were a bit upset, but I’d always seen myself as a drummer.

“I was a drum fan; I liked everyone. Ringo, Keith Moon, there were such a lot of good drummers. Buddy Rich, of course, and guys you don’t hear so much about, Ian Wallace and John Halsey with Patto. But I don’t like rock drumming as such, I like to tune my drums properly and there should definitely be a musical approach to playing.

“I think my playing has improved a lot, and two recent influences have been Billy Cobham and Bernard Purdie.

“I’ve done some sessions to get the frustration out of me, and I even did a season at a holiday camp, wearing a bow tie and playing waltzes. That can be fun, too! I’m not playing, I’m listening and learning. All will be revealed on the next LP

. “I think of myself as a drummer rather than Genesis’ drummer. I’d like to get back into two bass drums sometimes, I heard a tape recently made when I was 15 and there are some things on there I couldn’t do now.

“I think Mike and I work together really well, and with Tony. {ed: How prophetic!!} I think the band will loosen up. We actually had a jam session at the Rainbow rehearsal, and we never normally do that kind of thing. I think some sparks are going to fly!”

Peter Gabriel Box (large pic)

There are many facets to Peter Gabriel’s role in Genesis. He is a remarkable singer with a variety of tonal effects at his command from and unexpected soul shriek to clipped, precise phrasing; agonising howls to grotesque rolling accents delivered with theatreical venom.

Sometimes he sounds like Anthony Newley or Ron Moody. He teeters >from angelic pose to supernatural devilry, as he beats time on a solitary bass drum, the remnants of some long forgotten kit. He plays lyrical, in-tune flute, and can also be seen practising the oboe.

On stage, he will remain motionless for minutes on end, or disappear, only to burst forth in some stunning costume, perhaps the famous head of a fox.

But as Peter realises, such tactics can only work when they are unexpected, when they are timed to emphasise or illustrate some twist in the lyrics. There is a great deal of humour in Peter’s approach, but there is also a power that cannot be dismissed.

There is an opaqueness to his character. An indefinable mist comes down on certain subjects. He seems open enough in discussion, but more lurks beneath the surface. Asked if he believes in the characters he takes on during a stage performance his simple reply is, “Yes.”

Some years ago there was a brief infatuation among groups for magic, by Black Sabbath and others. Graham Bond has frequently talked about the subject.

But in Peter’s performance there seems to be more than just an attempt at theatre. The various efforts he makes to take an audience with him seem to have an accumulative effect that works.

The wildness of the audience reaction at the Rainbow for example seems to confirm that, for the music by itself is not conducive to dancing in the aisle, in the manner of a soul or rock band. Gabriel does seem possessed in some way, when he performs, and his shy stutter off stage in no way invalidates this impression.

Our conversation began in fairly normal fashion, but as his piercing eyes and crooked smile, beneath a partially shaven head, bore into them, I felt in some way, I had made contact with the unknown.

“If our present success continues, we’ll be in the situation where we can realise most of our ambitions in music and creative presentation. I hope what we do will be completely new. We need two months in one building to write and experiment.

“At the moment we are still in the first stage of audio-visual, in the way that the first stereo engineers experimented with trains passing from one speaker to another.

“After a while people became bored with that, and after the train noises, gained a great understanding of the medium they were using.

“I wouldn’t say we have discovered anything yet – we are still talking about it in wishy-washy terms. But after the last couple of years of development, we can now see the possibilities. I hope we can clear ourselves of debt from record royalties, and plough back any profit into realising more expansionist ideas.

“I don’t like the word show. It’s not sort of Hollywood dancing girls. It’s very difficult to put into words the visual concept. It’s a visual and musical concept expressed at the same time.

“My things are my own and the more we present ourselves as a co-operative band, the happier I’ll be. I don’t want to project myself above the band. I just poodle about and put on silly costumes.

“I do have things I’m interested in outside of the band. There is a song writer called Martin Hall and there is a possibility of my doing an LP with him. As it is – the band comes first.”

Will success change Genesis?

“Well, it will have to improve on past performance if we are going to keep together. We were losing money fast. We believed in what we were doing and that’s all.

“Yes, it does place certain pressures. A trap I hope we won’t fall into, is that after an artist has received a certain amount of success, he is given the conviction that even his most insignificant fart is a work of art. Mumble, mumble, second verse follows the first.

“We go on stage and do a bad gig and everybody says its the most brilliant thing they have ever seen in their life. The time comes when you believe they are right. We should be cautious about that.

“We are learning all the time, and on the whole in this business, it is the easiest field in which to be highly successful and mediocre at the same time. One should be constantly maintaining higher aims.”

Is there a danger of Genesis being trapped in a formula?

“I’d like to change the act after every gig. One gig should be totally theatrical, and the next one dressed in denim. I would feel happier if you could come to a Genesis gig and not know what you’re going to see. But some people have already complained because we dropped the fox’s head. I’d like to get a regular change in the music as well. Eh? Oh, I’ve got the fox’s head at the moment. We’re thinking of giving it as a prize in the Giant Hogweed Youth Movement competition. I must give a plug to the mask maker – Guy Chapman, who made the pinballs for the Tommy opera. Erica Issitt does the costumes.

“I want to create a fantasy situation. The flower head should be hamming it up. It’s consciously supposed to be unreal. I don’t specifically want to frighten. Let’s say I would prefer to be Fellini. In fact the flower walk was probably more influenced by Shirley Temple, which is better than ripping of Eric Clapton.”

Next LP?

“We’ve got our little bits ready. April we’ll start, but in the meantime we’re going to America. I’d like a more acoustic feel than we did on ‘Foxtrot.’ We want to extend the degree of contrast in the music. I want to spend the next 50 years of my life learning.”

Tony Banks Box (pic)

Tony Banks is one of the main men when it comes to unravelling who contributes most to the Genesis sound.

His mournful Mellotron cries and sustained chords are vital in maintaining the mood and aura of a performance and by the nature of his instrument he takes the lead in structuring the arrangements.

Ex-Charterhouse and Sussex University, his musical training included nearly ten years classical piano studies. He first played in The Garden Wall, a school group with Peter and Anthony Phillips, original Genesis guitarist.

“My particular role in the band? Well, I’m not an improvisor in a group situation. I can improvise and will play away for hours on my own at the piano. But when I’m restricted to a riff or chord sequence, I find it difficult to improvise. I prefer to work out my playing in advance. And I don’t have any desire to improvise as my sole concern is the composition and playing of the arrangement.

“We spend weeks getting a song together. We’d like to speed up the process because you can soon get bored playing the same thing each night. But I’ve found I’m enjoying playing more than a year ago.

“There are two main ways we get material together. One of us might write a complete offering and the group arranges it. This doesn’t often happen! Otherwise we all work together on a ten second idea and then develop it. Each member takes a part in the writing.

“You see we originally got together as writers, and this is the strength of the band. In fact each member writes enough to fill an LP. When I write a lyric, I try to think of Peter, who has to sing them. Peter’s own lyrics tend to be more abstract and I tend to have reservations about obscurity. I think he wrote `Supper’s Ready’ too hurriedly.

“I started playing classical music at school. When I was about 13 I went off classical piano and didn’t want to play it anymore. I would pick out Beatles tunes instead. But at 16 it was back to the classics again.

“The first group I ever saw was the Nice, and didn’t think anybody played music like that. It was pretty early days for them at the Marquee and it was pretty simple stuff I suppose. But I was quite impressed by the possibilities of a visual act. They were never as good after that first time, and they weren’t half the band after the guitarist left. It was all organ and I thought the guitar was essential.

“I like Yes quite a lot and I liked The Yes Album,' but I wasn't impressed byFragile’ and I haven’t heard `Close To The Edge’. I don’t feel influenced by them at all. I suppose when we did ‘Nursery Cryme’, there was a superficial likeness, but if you listen to the LPs for any length of time, the similarities will disappear. We listen to a lot of music. There is no jazz influence on what I play, but Phil can make it sound like jazz and I like that.

“We’ve all been evolving since we were at school, and Peter, Mike and myself never played with anybody else. It’s quite satisfactory really, because I never played organ before, and learned through Genesis. Mike hadn’t played bass before and was a guitarist.

“Everything you do changes you. I enjoy a lot of aspects of being in a group. I don’t enjoy traveling. I stayed a year at University and then when Genesis started I took one year’s leave of absence to see how it would go. I’ve never been back.”

Tony admits he doesn’t always entirely enjoy the visual aspect of Genesis and admits there has been friction between him and Peter Gabriel in the past. “I don’t have much to do with the presentation and didn’t always like it. But Peter is a natural for that and I’m more happy with it now.

“We’ve tried never to compromise and we’re not going to now. I enjoy taking the music seriously and we want more people to listen to us. I was irritated by the fox’s head that Peter used, and didn’t think it was justifiable. I always regretted it. But now I’m getting more excited about the visual aspect. And I’ve known Peter too long to be frightened by him!”

Steve Hackett Box (pic)

Screaming effects and whispering melody lines, unison work with the organ, brass, and gentle acoustic guitar, behind the vocals are all Steve Hackett’s forte.

One of the most recent members of the band, which worked as a four piece after their original guitarist left, Steve has a dry humour, and enjoys telling the saga of his running advertisements in the MM’s famed Musicians Wanted columns.

Educated at Sloane Grammar school in Kensington, Steve enjoys composers Eric Satie, Albinoni, Searliatti and Bach, as well as King Crimson. He is one of the quietest members of the band and on stage prefers to remain static, rather than attempt uneasy rock style leaping.

“On stage I do tend not to use the guitar as a guitar, but rather as a voice in the oneness of sound. A lot of the time people say: `Where’s the guitar? I can’t hear it.’ It’s more of a special effect department.”

Does Steve covet the freedom to blow more?

“On the next LP I’d like to use the guitar as a guitar. The music does tend to be over arranged. On gigs ninety per cent of it is arranged. The reason I sit down by the way, is because of the battery of foot pedals and fuzz boxes I use. There are a lot of crescendos and miminuendos, and I have to keep level right with the pedals. But I admit I’m the most non-visual member of the band, and I don’t find it easy to be on stage.”

Did Steve ever cherish the possibility of becoming a front man?

“Not really. I’m pretty obscure you know. I tried to form a band for two years and had 30 musicians passing through. We played two gigs.

“I used to play harmonica, so it was a kind of John Mayall situation without any gigs. The band had several names as well, like Sarabande and Steel Pier. It was all down to lack of finance.

“I was one of the most regular advertisers in Melody Maker apart >from the A Able Accordionist. The style of the adverts changed as time went on from Blues guitarist/harmonica player' toGuitarist writer seeks receptive minds determined to strive beyond existing stagnant musical forms.’

“The last one Genesis answered. It was a bit high-brow, but I still got a lot of nutters replying, obviously completely hopeless. I could never bring myself to tell them. In the end I had to say, I don’t htink we can work together. After Peter phoned up, we did two weeks rehearsals and did our fist gig, which was a disaster of course. I forgot everything.

“When I first started to play guitar, my main influences were C, F and G. They were good for the blues. I was a big fan of Jeff Beck and I still am. Eric Clapton of course and Peter Green. Then something happened. I’d go to Eel Pie Island a lot and hear all the blues guitarists. Then suddenly the magic didn’t work. I’d come to the end of the blues. As I acquired more technique I could understand more what they were playing, and the more I knew, the less the magic worked.

“When I joined this band, I thought I could improve the guitar department, which was more folky than it is now. I thought the acoustic side lacked drive. Now with the addition of Phil it has got much stronger. I could see what the band were trying to do and where it failed. I thought it could be polished up. And I can’t emphasise enough the importance of the addition of the Mellotron. That gave us a whole new spectrum of sounds, and a wider perspective.

“I don’t really like playing long solos, and prefer more short statements. You can say much more in two minutes than you can in 20. It’s like drumming. A drum solo would be completely out of context in this band.

“I like to think we conjure up mental pictures for people and create moods. When Peter wears a flower on his head or shouts `all change’ it could mean nothing. But within the context of the music, it can help get the number across.

“We all relate to fantasy, although I’m a bit more down to earth. `Get ‘Em Out By Friday’ is more specific statement for me. I like Lennon’s lyrics. Simple, but effective. Bare bones and a bit more honesty – that’s what I’d like.”

Equipment list

Tony Banks:

1 Mark II Mellotron
1 L122 Hammond Organ
1 Hohner Pianet
1 Epiphone 12 String Acoustic Guitar
2 760 Solid State Leslie Cabinets
2 4×12 Hi-watt Cabinets
1 Custom built 50/75 Wallice Amplifier
1 Custom built Stewart Keyboard Mixer
Michael Rutherford:

1 Custom build Zemaitis 12 String Acoustic Guitar
1 Rickenbacker 12 STring Guitar
1 Rickenbacker Bass Guitar
1 Set `Mr Bassman’ Bass Pedals
1 100w Hi-watt Stack
1 Acoustic 370 Bass Amplifier
1 Acoustic 201 Cabinet
Steve Hackett:

1 Gibson Les Paul deluxe Guitar
1 Hagstrom 12 String Guitar
1 100w Hi-watt Stack
1 Marshall Super-Fuzz' Fuzz Box 1Duo’ Fuzz Box
1 Schaller Volume Pedal
Phil Collins:

3 Gretch Drums: 20″x18″ Bass Drum, 16″x16″ Floor Tomtom, 13″x9″ Little Tomtom
1 14″ x 5 1/2″ Ludwig Snare Drum
Paiste Cymbals Including 1 20″, 2 18″, 1 17″, 2 16″, 1 pair 14″ Hi-hats
3 Gongs: 1 20″, 1 13″, 1 6″
Hayman C Sticks
Assorted bells, finger cymbals and whistles, etc.
Peter Gabriel:

1 Hayman 20″ Bass Drum
1 Haines Flute
1 Howarth Oboe
PA (on hire from Sound City Hire Limited)

4 Kelsey Morris Bass Reflex Cabinets
4 Altec Mid-range Horns
4 JBL 070 High-range Treble Radiators
2 700 w Phase-Linear Power Amplifiers
2 100w H/H TPA 100D Monitor Amplifiers
3 Two-way Passive Cross-over Slope Back Monitor Cabinets including Vitavox Horns and Speakers
1 20 channel Kelsey Morris Stereo Mixer
1 Sound City Echo Master Mark II
1 Sony Cassette Player
Sound Technicians:

Tim Stewart (Stage Gear)
Brian Grant (P.A.)
Alan Cranston (Drums and Mikes)
Richard MacPhail (Personal/Tour Manager & Sound Engineer)
Lighting Equipment:

20 2K Thorn 6C24/2B Dimmers
36 Hartman Par 64 Lanterns
32 Pattern 763 Mark II 1K Leeko TH Profile Spots
2 Hersey Towers
4 Hartman Towers
1 Mirror Ball
3 Freeze Lights
8 Ultra-Violet Flourescent Tubes
6 175w Ultra-Violet Radiators
1 Tubular Ripple
2 Custom built Flash Admission Boxes
75′ Aluminum Scaffolding
12’x40′ gauze (white) curtain
Lighting Technicians:

Adrian Selby (Lighting Designer)
Martin Day and Jeremy Thom (Lime Operators)
Transport:

1 Ford `D’ Series 3-ton truck for sound equipment
1 Commer 3-ton truck for lighting equipment
2 Saloon cars for group


Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *