An Interview with Daryl Stuermer

Much has changed since we last sat down with guitarist Daryl Stuermer roughly five years ago. At the time, Stuermer, who was hard at work on recording his fusion-influenced album, Retrofit, had re-established himself as more of a contemporary jazz player than a rock guitarist, with a string of predominantly smooth jazz orientated solo projects. Daryl had not worked with Genesis on tour as a collective since the early '90s, and there were no signs of any sort of reunion on the horizon. 

Fast forward to 2006. Daryl Stuermer releases Rewired: The Electric Collection, a compilation showcasing some of Stuermer's more rock-fusion orientated solo material. This was followed with 2007's Go, a new Daryl Stuermer solo album much more in the vein of what a Genesis fan would salivate to hear from Daryl. Like his solo debut, Steppin' Out, and the Rewired album, Go is loaded with progressive rock influenced power riffs and stunning epic guitar solos - a very radical departure from the smooth jazz sound we have become accustomed to hearing. As if that wasn't enough, Daryl finds himself being back in Genesis for the 2007 Turn It On Again reunion tour, which features the ultra-popular late '70s to early '90s touring line-up of Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Chester Thompson and, of course, Daryl Stuermer. The Genesis tour has already played to in excess of 1.5 million people in Europe alone and is currently working its way across North America.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2007, World of's own Dave Negrin was granted a fan's dream come true - an All Access pass to go backstage at Genesis' second of three Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shows to talk to Daryl about his new solo album, his change in direction as an artist and... oh yes, the first Genesis tour with this band line-up in 15 years.


...But we didn't actually get together for another year after that. We got together in New York City for two weeks, just to get together and kind of play to see if the magic was still there. Within a couple of hours, we knew it was back. The magic was there. They decided to continue on for the rest of the two weeks, and just basically got the songs together that they thought we would do for the tour. We did most of them. We only deleted about three songs from our rehearsal. But we didn't get together for many months after that, maybe almost a year, for the actual real rehearsal.        

WOG's Dave back stage with Daryl Sept. '07


WOG: Of the songs that were cut, were they removed because they weren't working out or because they didn't fit in the set list?

DS: Its more like one song did the same thing that this song can do. So, which of the two do you think is better? Like "Hold on My Heart" or "In Too Deep" and they picked "Hold On My Heart." They thought that maybe in gigs like Philadelphia, where we are here for a few shows, what we would do is one night do "Hold On My Heart" and the other night do "In Too Deep." In the end, we decided that "Hold on My Heart" was working too well. We rehearsed "In Too Deep" even just recently, and it sounded good, but its not as strong as "Hold on My Heart."

World of Genesis: Go represents a radial change in direction from your last several solo projects and is more reminiscent of your solo debut, Steppin' Out. What brought about this change?

Daryl Stuermer: Well, like you said, my first record was in this vein - sort of. I wanted to kind of go back, and I think the reason was that all my records in between, which I like, are all across the board very different. I mean, each song was more eclectic. Some songs were nylon string, some were electric, some were energy, some were middle of the road, and also I was trying to get at least some kind of airplay on some of the contemporary jazz or smooth jazz radio stations, because that is virtually the only place where they play instrumental music, basically. So, I took some of that music and condensed it a little more or edited it to make it a little more radio-friendly. Not all the songs, but just a few. Although, in retrospect, by doing that I think sometimes I diminished some of what I really could do.

So, I thought this time, what I wanted to do, is to make a higher energy, more edgy record than I have done in the past and focus a little bit more on the guitar playing. I mean, when I write a song, its mainly about the composition and then the guitar goes on top of it. A lot of times when I put the guitar on top [of a song] I kind of stayed away from making it too flashy. This time out, I said, "What the heck! I'm just going to go for it." That's why it's called Go. It's like - pull up the choke - Go! That's basically why I did it this way, and I also wanted to return to what I really came from, I think, with Jean Luc Ponty and my own band, Sweetbottom. We were more rock-jazz-fusion, and I think Go is more of a progressive rock fusion record.  
  Another one was the song "That's All." I think we're not doing it only because were trying to put a song list together of two and a half hours and that wasn't one of the stronger songs in rehearsal. So, we said, "Ok, let's just not do it." It's pretty much that simple.

WOG: You've toured Europe and part of the North American leg. Is there a particular night of the tour so far that you felt the band was exceptionally good?

DS: Actually, you know last night, I thought the band was really good. It was really a powerful night. I think the fans were great. We've not done that many shows in North America yet, but I think the first night in Philly and, believe it or not, Buffalo, New York, was a really great night. I think we all really felt very comfortable with the set, and we walked on stage and we were like, "Wow!"

You know how they reacted to stuff last night? That affects us as well. It was a great crowd last night. You know? We play well, they come back at us well, we continue to play well. If we're playing great and the crowd just isn't reacting, we kind of look at each other and go, "Huh?" But it's rarely that way. The only thing that could happen sometimes is that maybe your first row of people are a boring crowd. Maybe because they are a little intimidated being that close to you? Like, you'll see a guy sitting there with his arms folded. He might love it, but you don't know it. When you get a crowd like Philadelphia last night, you know they were all loving it. So, we were all pretty happy with last night show.


"A lot of times when I put the guitar on top
[of a song] I kind of stayed away from making
it too flashy. This time out, I said, "What the heck! I'm just going to go for it." That's why it's called
. It's like - pull up the choke - Go! That's
basically why I did it this way, and I also wanted
to return to what I really came from..."

  WOG: So, at the end of this tour will you be touring in support of Go or doing the Electricoustic Duo project?

DS: A little bit of both, I think. What I really need to do is start writing for the next album, but at the same time, we are trying to put some kind of touring together. Maybe even start in Canada or something like that. We're also talking about going to Europe.  

WOG: Hopefully, you'll get some East Coast dates for the United States in there as well. Maybe Philadelphia?

DS: Well, I'll try. I would like to.
WOG: It's interesting that, even as a guitarist, you don't necessarily start writing a song with a riff.

DS: Not always. I probably wrote half of the songs on the guitar and half on the keyboards. I tend to write more simply on the keyboards, because I have limited technical ability (laughs). I know what it is, but I can't play anything fancy. So, I tend to write chord pattern first. Then, maybe over top of that, I'll get the guitar and start working on a melody... I might have a melody already in my head, but I'll try to make it a little more interesting on the guitar. So, I'll usually use a keyboard and a drum machine to start a pattern and work from there. But after that, its pretty much the guitar at that point.

What I don't like about a lot of guitarist's records is they are great guitar players - real flashy... but the songs aren't interesting to me. What I am trying to do, and hopefully, I am succeeding, is writing a song first with melody and atmosphere - and then the guitar comes on. In a sense, almost second.  Although, I didn't want to take away from the guitar either. I thought, this time I want to, maybe, let go a little more than I used to. I was a little more subdued on some of the earlier records, but this time I thought, "This time, I'm going to go for it. I want people to know that if they come to see me live, this is what they are going to hear..." and maybe even more live, but at least this is going to give them the sense of energy and whatever they take from it, but in a live performance.

Genesis live in Philadelphia, September 19, 2007 with Stuermer (far left)

You know, when you talk about touring, it's all about logistics and about how much money are you willing to lose (laughs)! That's what it really comes down to. You know, if I could break even on a tour, I would be happy. So, we're hoping to tour for the Go record along with playing some of my older stuff, but I still need to start writing. Just because the process itself takes so long - From the day you record it to the day its actually coming out.

Daryl Stuermer on bass with Genesis at the Wachovia Center 2007

: After you left GRP Records, everything you released as a solo artist has been independently released until Go. What made you consider going with a record company on this release? 

DS: I left because GRP actually didn't resign me. That's really what it came down to. I thought the first record was really good, but they really didn't know how to sell it because they were selling contemporary jazz but my record had a rock edge and I think they knew they couldn't do anything with it. They put a sticker on the front that said, "Guitarist for Phil Collins and Genesis." I mean, that's not enough! So, they didn't know how to promote it and it wasn't an airplay type record because [jazz radio stations] didn't play anything that was even that heavy. I mean, I didn't think it was too heavy, but I mean I am a musician and I would love to hear that kind of stuff on the radio. There are many records I would like to hear on the radio. Like an Eric Johnson record. I would love to hear that on the radio, but you're not going to. It's too good (laughs)! 
WOG: On the Japanese CD issue of Go, there is a bonus track of your take on "Land of Confusion" from your Another Side of Genesis album. However, the Japanese disc says "2007 Remaster." Are you reissuing your Urban Island albums as digital remasters?

DS: Are you talking about on the Rewired record?

WOG: Actually, no. On the Japanese pressing of Go, it has this as a bonus track and it specifically states that it is a 2007 remaster.

DS: Oh! I forgot (Laughs)! Well, I don't know. Now that I remember we did that... I always wanted to have that song out there. It was on the Another Side of Genesis album, but that album was pretty subdued. It was a little more of a jazzy album, but "Land of Confusion" was the one song that really had a lot of energy to it. That's why we put it on there. Plus, we wanted people to say, "Oh, where does that come from?" So, that they will look into the back catalog and maybe check out some more things I've done.

The album before Go was called Rewired: The Electric Collection. That was basically collecting songs from all of my previous records of this kind of genre. This kind of edgy, progressive rock fusion. I thought it would be a good introduction to Go, because actually I finished Go before that record, but the record company didn't want to put out the new album until the start of the Genesis tour, because that was sort of built-in promotion and we're selling Go and Rewired at the venues where [Genesis] are playing. So, I'm trying to focus attention into that genre of music. So, that's what my goal is anyway.    
WOG: You mentioned that you had considered doing a live album or DVD at some point when I spoke to you last. Is that any closer to a reality?

DS: I don't know yet. A live DVD is a tough thing to do. That's a very expensive journey, but I definitely want to do a live record, because I really like my group. They are such talented people, and I think we even shine more when we play live. That's why when we play a live show, after the show, I will set up a table where they sell CDs. I can sell so many CDs in one night after a show. People get excited, they like what they hear, and they say, "I want to buy that!"

WOG: On this Genesis tour and on the last Phil Collins tour, you dropped many of the songs a key or two to put the music in line with Phil's voice. Is it difficult after playing a song a certain way for so many years to remember to change it when you play it live now?

DS: At first, but pretty much that's gone after we've rehearsed it. You get into a couple of weeks of rehearsal. We didn't just do it because... Well, no matter what, as you age, your voice does lower a bit, but Phil he can still sing a lot of these songs in the original key. But remember, when you are doing multiple nights in a row for several weeks at a time, you want to be sure to have a little safety valve in there. 

WOG: There are a lot of instrumental sections on the 2007 Genesis tour. In fact, there is one section in particular during the "Firth of Fifth" solo where you are featured prominently including your image being blasted across the massive video screen monitors above you.

WOG: How did your old Phil Collins touring band mate Lee Sklar involved on Go?

DS: Well, we've known each other forever. We first worked together in 1984 on Phil's No Jacket Required album, and we've been friends ever since. I didn't even know this at the time, but after I was working with him for a few weeks, I said to him, "By the way, I know you live in California, but hardly anybody I know was born in California..." and he says, "I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin," which is where I was born.

So, we had this whole connection that way. Of course, I didn't know him then, because he was only 5 years old and I wasn't even born yet (Laughs)! Alright, maybe I was, but I didn't know him then...

WOG: You weren't gigging at the time? (laughs)

DS: (Laughs) No! No (laughs)! They moved to Pasedena, California when he was 5 years old. Anyway, I've known him all this time, some 23 years, and he really is one of my favorite bass players - for real. In fact, when I play bass with Genesis, in a sense, I kind of emulate him. I think, "How would Leland Sklar play this?" I kind of put his style into my style of bass playing because I play bass on about half of the Genesis show. I just love the way he plays. He is on my first record, he's on my second record, and he's on Go as well.

: I heard that (laughs)!

WOG: Do these things make the set list more appealing to you to play? There has always been the Chester highlight moment in the show with the drum solo with Phil, but this is kind of your first spotlight moment with Genesis as a guitarist in a sense.

DS: Yes, it is appealing, but I also like that there is this great mix of instrumental and vocal music. Phil also gets to play more drums on this tour, along with Chester. I definitely get a lot more feature. A lot of people mention that song and the middle section of "Ripples." I love those songs.

WOG: Any plans to work with your brother or Sweetbottom again?

DS: No, nothing at the present time. No reason why not, but there are not plans currently.

WOG: When did you start playing guitar and who influenced you as a young player?

DS: I started out playing guitar when I was 11 years old. I started like a lot of kids from my era. My brother was a musician before me. He is two years older than me. He was really into Elvis Presley, so I liked Elvis and I also like Ray Charles, but what really got me going was this band called The Ventures. It was all instrumental guitar music, and that was what really got me going.
WOG: I was just surprised that you brought in another bass player since you've had a fairly stable solo band for the past five years or so.

DS: Yes, that's true.

WOG: How rough was that conversation? After having Eric Hervey as a constant bass player in your band for so many years and having to explain that you were bringing in Leland to play on some of the new album?

DS: Not rough at all. Eric's on almost half of the record. He's on four tracks and Leland is on six, I think. See, a lot of times on other records, I played bass myself, too. This was the first time that I made a conscious decision not to play bass. I thought I want to just get the influence, kind of the vibe of the album and the atmosphere, from the bass players.
: Have the guys in Genesis talked much about the forthcoming double live album from the European leg of the tour? Will this title be in surround?

DS: Yes, it will be in 5.1 surround sound. There will be a DVD in surround as well. The live album has things from all different countries in Europe and the DVD is all live in Rome, because there was about 500,000 people there.

WOG: Is there any chance that you and Chester Thompson will work together on a record?

DS: There is always that chance. Especially, if I have another record coming. I might want to have a few drummers on a different record. It depends if he's available and how that goes, you know? We'd have to talk it though, but I would love to.

WOG: As far as Phil Collins' hearing loss is concerned, what precautions are being taken to ensure that he is ok on this tour? I know on his solo tour, he mellowed some songs down for this reason, but you didn't appear to do that with the Turn It On Again Genesis tour.

DS: Mainly, its not having amplifiers on stage and blasting so that he does not have to fight with our volume. So, we have them under the stage, which actually works well, and we're on in-your-ear monitors now. It honestly works out better for us, too. That's the only, if you want to say, precaution. Just stage volume.
I thought, I'm going to give Eric what I think are the best songs for him and I'm going to give Leland what I think are the best songs for him. I came to Eric, and I said, "I hope you don't mind, but I thinking about getting Leland Sklar on this album also," and he said, "No, I'd be honored!" Which I thought, "Boy, did he make it easy!" I see what you're saying though, it could have been a touchy subject. Eric knows what a good friend I am of Leland's, and he loves his playing.

WOG: When I last interviewed you about five years ago, you mentioned two projects you had in the works. One was your drummer John Calarco's solo project that you were producing and a duo project with John as well. What is the status of these albums?        

DS: We're not... That just kind of fell by the wayside. I am working on a sort of a duo project with my keyboard player, because we are now doing gigs together. We call it the Electricoustic Duo. We've done a few dates together - nothing major. We did a couple of dates opening for people like Rick Wakeman, who did an acoustic piano tour. We opened for him. We opened for Robert... (laughs)... I can't remember his name!
: Will your next album be remain in the progressive rock-fusion style, similar to the Go record?

DS: Yes, it will be more in that vein. I guess I can mention this... I am even considering possibly taking some of Genesis' instrumental songs and doing a medley. Not taking the vocals like I did on Another Side of Genesis but taking the actual instrumentals and putting it together in sort of my kind of medley, because I just love those things. So, just taking an instrumental approach to an instrumental song, but not a whole album just maybe a 15 or 20 minute thing that just all fits together. I think the fans would like that, and I would definitely like that.       
WOG: How has the added access of fans via the Internet impacted you? Is that added exposure a blessing or a curse?

DS: It's both, really. On the positive side, I've sold more downloads than actual CDs recently. Its the way things are going, and I like that people can check out different songs if they want to. Largely, its a positive thing, but of course there are always exceptions.

In any case, we'll open for other people or we'll play at a jazz festival as just the two of us. When we're a big festival with more of a rock edge, I'll use my band. I mean, it's just a side project. We're thinking about putting out an album of all original music and then possibly taking some of the music from my old records and re-doing them in a sort of electricoustic setting. Just the two of us.

WOG: When did you first hear about the Genesis reunion, and are you surprised that the 50+ date world tour came together the way that it did?

DS: I was on tour with Phil's band at the time. So, it was about three years ago. They were having a meeting while we were in Glasgow, Scotland. We were having a gig the next day, but we were there for a day off and they had a meeting. I forgot all about it, and I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel, and all of the sudden I saw Mike (Rutherford) and Tony (Banks) walk out of the elevator. I said hello and we started talking, but they never mentioned anything about it.

The next day, their manager (Tony Smith) came up to me while I was in the catering room before the gig and he said, "Mike, Tony and Phil got together and they decided that they would like to tour again, but they want to do the band with you and Chester." I thought, "Right..." (said with some skepticism)


         GO                                    REWIRED                   NYLON STRING         LIVE: THE REUNION

WINGS              OF GENESIS                                                                     


LIVE AT  WEMBLEY            THE WAY WE          ARCHIVE #2                 THE WAY WE  WALK           THE WAY WE   WALK              THREE SIDES LIVE                      1983-1998   
         STADIUM (DVD)                    WALK (DVD)           3 CD BOX SET         VOL. 1: THE SHORTS                     VOL. 2:THE LONGS                                                                     SACD/DVD BOX 


Special thanks to Daryl and Michaela Stuermer, Gary Tanin, Urban Island Records, Tony Smith, and Hannah Charlesworth for this interview. For more information on Daryl Stuermer, please visit the official Daryl Stuermer site. This interview is 2007 David Negrin and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

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