TONY BANKS
... A Brief History
Part II: 1993-2013
 

In 1993, Genesis reunited to perform at a charity concert co-organized by Mike Rutherford in England. For this charity event, Genesis performed along side of the equally legendary rock group, Pink Floyd. Unbeknownst to the band or the audience, it would be the last time Phil Collins would be performing live with Genesis in front of a public audience for 14 years.

 Shortly after the charity concert in 1993, Phil Collins informed Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford that his personal life, solo career, and other outside projects had become to difficult to manage around the band's schedule and officially tendered his resignation as drummer and front-man.
  In September 2005, Genesis released their seemingly posthumous 3-CD anthology, The Platinum Collection, in North America. This new multi-disc 40-song collection spanned the band's studio efforts from 1970's Trespass through 1997's Calling All Stations. The release met with a weak response in America selling only 65,328 copies, primarily due to the fact that the European version was released almost a full year earlier in November 2004, and many copies had been imported for U.S. sales. In late November 2005, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett confirmed that the band was to have a private meeting to discuss the possibility of a Genesis reunion with the early 1970s line-up of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Hackett.
The news of Collins departure would remain a well-guarded secret only shared with the closest members of the Genesis camp. Banks and Rutherford informed Phil Collins that the band would carry on without him. Both Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to take time off from Genesis to work on outside projects before potentially looking for a new lead singer and drummer for Genesis.

During this period, Tony Banks began working on a new solo album. Much like Bankstatement, his ne
w project, Strictly Inc., was more like a solo album than a genuine group project. This time out, Banks enlisted ex-Wang Chung vocalist Jack Hues and guest musicians like Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer and Phil Collins' former touring bassist, Nathan East.

The Strictly Inc. album was Banks' most commercial release to date, but despite a number of catchy tunes and the longer, fan-fav
orite, "Island In the Darkness," it failed to capture any commercial interest. To date, the Strictly Inc. album has never been released in North America.

No announcement of Phil Collins' departure from Genesis was made public until March 26, 2006 when Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks announced the news for the first time. Banks and Rutherford confirmed that the search was on to replace Collins who, like Peter Gabriel before him, left very "big shoes" to fill.
  The comments quickly circulated through out the media with everyone from Rolling Stone Magazine to CNN reporting the news.

The news was quickly squashed by Peter Gabriel in December of that year, and Genesis' management released an official statement that there were no plans for a Genesis reunion in 2006 - however, there was no denial that talks had or were still taking place. Many fans have speculated that 2007, the band's 40th anniversary, seemed like an obvious time for a potential reunion.

On November 7, 2006 in London and on March 7, 2007 in New York City, Genesis held press conferences announce an official 2007 reunion tour with members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford accompanied by long-time touring members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, bringing back the vastly popular late '70s to early '90s line up of Genesis. The tour included 48 shows (23 European shows and 25 North American shows), climaxed with a free concert at the Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy, in front of an estimated crowd of 500,000 people. The Genesis tour earned $129 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing tour of 2007.

In conjunction with the tour, in April 2007, the band released a 12-CD + DVD box set called 1976-1982, featuring newly remixed and remastered stereo and surround sound versions of the studio albums from that era along with rare video, period music videos, and new interviews with the band on each album.
When he heard of Phil's departure, Chester Thompson contacted Mike Rutherford about permanently taking over the drummer's chair. Much to Chester's disappointment, the band opted not to add any additional permanent members of the group, splitting drumming chores between two session players, Nick D'Virgilo and Nir Zidkyahu. 

D'Virgilo was best known for his work with acts like Tears for Fears and the modern progressive band, Spock's Bread. Nick D'Virgilo heard through the grapevine that Banks and Rutherford might be looking for a new drummer and managed to get a demo disc into the hands of the band's management along with an invitation to see him perform at a gig in England. D'Virgilo got an audition at the Farm, Genesis' studio, but soon realized that he would be joined by Nir Zidkyahu, who himself, had built an equally impressive reputation as a session drummer. Zidkyahu has played with acts ranging from John Mayer to Billy Squier, and had an aggressive playing style that caught the attention of the band's manager, Tony Smith. 

Rumors began to spread wildly about Phil Collins resignation and who would replace him. Fans and magazine writers speculated everyone from fellow Mechanic Paul Carrack to Fish (formerly from the progressive Genesis influenced band, Marillion) to the return of Peter Gabriel... Obviously, none of which were true.
 
In September 2007, Genesis released Turn It On Again: The Hits - Tour Edition, an expanded double disc limited edition version of the album, which surfaced at the start of the North American tour (it was released in Europe in June at the start of the European leg of the tour).

The second Genesis box in the series, 1983-1998, included comparable material from the studio albums from this period, and was released in November 2007. A third such collection is anticipated for release in September 2008 featuring the studio albums recorded between 1970-1975.

November 2007 also saw the release of Genesis' sixth live album, Live Over Europe, which featured recordings from various nights of the European leg of the tour. Live Over Europe peaked at #44 in Europe, but did not fare as well in the North American charts. This release will be accompanied by When In Rome, a video release recorded at the Circus Maximus concert in Italy.
This release was accompanied by When In Rome, a video release recorded at the Circus Maximus concert in Italy. The video was recorded in high definition and was released in 2008 on DVD (despite being filmed in high definition, the video has yet to receive a high definition release).

On June 6, 1997, Banks and Rutherford officially announced that Collins would be replaced by ex-Stiltskin vocalist Ray Wilson.  Wilson had already earned success in his own right with the Stiltskin single "Inside" which had climbed to the top of the charts across Europe. 

In September 1997, Genesis released what would be their final studio album, Calling All Stations. Rutherford touted that the new album would be "darker" than that of more recent projects, leaving fans to believe that the project would be reminiscent of Genesis' sound in the 1970s. 
                                                            
GENESIS In 1997: Rutherford,
                                                                                      Wilson and Banks
 
November 2008 saw the release of the 13-disc CD + DVD set, 1970-1975, spanning "the Peter Gabriel era" of Genesis. In 2010, for his work on the project, long-time Genesis Engineer/Producer Nick Davis received a Grammy Award nomination for 'Best Surround Sound.'

The string of archive releases continued in September 2009 with the 11-disc CD + DVD set, Live 1973-2007, and November 2009's 5-DVD set, The Movie Box, featuring the band's commercially released concert videos along with an updated version of VH-1's Behind The Music documentary on the band going up through the 2007 Genesis world tour. This officially ended the three year flood of archive Genesis releases. While more unreleased live and non-album material remains "in the vaults", at least for the time being, there appear to be no immediate plans to release to release more archive type product (Although, I hope they do!).
As it turned out, the release was not an extremely dark album, but rather slightly less commercial than what fans had come to expect in recent years. Calling All Stations met with a cold response, selling only 109,583 copies in the United States. The weak U.S. album sales later resulted in the scaling back and eventual canceling of the band's North American tour.

Genesis chose to carry on with a European tour using backing guitarist and bass player Anthony Drennon along with Calling All Stations session drummer Nir Z to support the new line-up in late 1997 and early 1998, but the response from fans was significantly less than that of their previous several tours. Shortly after the conclusion of the tour, Banks and Rutherford notified Wilson that the decision had been made not to record another studio album. Again, this decision would remain secret for some time.

On May 11, 1998, former Genesis members Steve Hackett, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, and John Silver reunited with Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford for a press conference at Heathrow Airport in England to promote the Genesis' first box set, Archive 1967-1975.  The box set was released in June of that year, and included rare and previously unreleased recordings. The collection sold a mere 35,237 copies in the United States.

For the box set, Banks and Rutherford enlisted former members Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett to re-record a new version of the song "Carpet Crawlers" from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. While the track did not make the first Archive box set, it did surface in October 1999 on the band's first sanctioned compilation, Turn It On Again: The Hits. Turn It On Again reached the top five on the UK album chart but failed to crack the U.S. top 40 chart. The collection did, however, sell more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning yet another gold album for Genesis.
 


Genesis Press Conference in 2006

In November 2009, Tony Banks' first solo album, Curious Feeling, was reissued in celebration of the album's 30th anniversary. A standard version of the album with newly remixed and remastered sound (courtesy of long-time Producer/Engineer Nick Davis) was issued along with a deluxe version of the album featuring both the stereo CD and a bonus DVD with 5.1 audio and bonus video content. Sadly, to date, its the only Tony Banks album to see a remastered edition.

In March 2010, Genesis was inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.  Trey Anastasio, the lead singer from the band Phish, inducted the band saying: "Every musical rule and boundary was questioned and broken. It's impossible to overstate what impact this band and musical philosophy had on me as a young musician. I'm forever in their debt." On hand that night were members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and long-time touring members Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. Mysteriously absent that night was Peter Gabriel who allegedly missed the event due to preparation for the European leg of his 2010 tour. While Genesis did not perform that night, it was the last time the group appeared on stage together as Genesis. In September 2012, Genesis was honored again with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first Progressive Music Awards in England. Members Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford were on hand to accept the honor.



In 2000, Genesis released Archive #2 1976-1992. Like the first Archive collection, this box set included rare and unreleased material. Also like the first Archive box set, its reception was brisk with only 21,031 copies sold in the United States.

On September 21st
of that year, Genesis members Collins, Banks and Rutherford reunited with Daryl Stuermer at the Dorchester Hotel in London, England for a private acoustic performance in honor of their long-time manager, Tony Smith, who was receiving the prestigious Peter Grant Award for his accomplishments in the music industry (Peter Gabriel was also in attendance, but did not perform).

Tony Banks' signature Genesis compositions always tended to have a very strong orchestral quality. Whether it be unusual combinations of chords or a chorus of sweeping angelic sounds. Using that orchestral style for a true classical project has been an idea Banks first contemplated when he recorded the soundtrack to The Wicked Lady in the early 1980s. When it came time for Tony Banks seventh solo project (which also happens to have seven tracks), he decided to take on the challenge, enlisting the help of Mike Dixon and the legendary London Philharmonic for his first true orchestral album.

 
Seven was orchestrated by Simon Hale, who was referred to him by long-time Genesis Producer Nick Davis. Davis, who has been involved with the production of many Tony Banks solo efforts, also co-produced this release. This ambitious new classical album was recorded at Air Studios in England in July 2002.

The project, which was released through Naxos Records worldwide in 2004, received critical acclaim in classical music circles. Seven featured a combination of newer Banks compositions along with some older, unreleased material, including "The Gateway" which was actually initially developed as a demo roughly twenty years prior to this album's release.
 

 

 

In March 2011, Tony Banks went to Smecky Music Studios in the Czech Republic to record his second orchestral project, Six Pieces for Orchestra, with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Paul Englishby. The album was eventually released in April 2012, earning high praise from the classical community and critics alike. 

In April 2013, Tony Banks finally reissued his soundtrack to The Wicked Lady on CD. The title, which was not only remastered, but was the first time the album had been released in a digital format, received surprisingly little fanfare upon its independent release on Tony's Fugitive label. Later in 2013, Tony Banks was commissioned to write a new orchestral piece for the Cheltenham Music Festival in England. The piece will be premiered at the festival's 70th anniversary concert on July 5, 2014. Banks commented, "I am very flattered to be asked to write an orchestral music piece for the 70th Cheltenham Music Festival. This will be especially exciting for me, as it will be the first time a classical piece of mine has been played live in concert."

While pop commercial success may continue to allude Tony Banks as a solo artist, he has remained one of the most influential artists in the sound of Genesis through the ages from the group's inception through to their final note on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in California in 2007. Banks may not have returned to the rock world (outside of Genesis' 2007 reunion) since the Strictly Inc. album, but he has finally found his own, much overdue, critical and commercial acclaim as an orchestral composer.
 

David Negrin, 
November 2013 


Special thanks to Tony Banks, Tony Smith Personal Management, Armando Gallo, Naxos Records, Atlantic Records, Giant Records, EMI Records, and Rhino Records.
 


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