of A Mechanic
An Interview With Mike Rutherford
continued from Page One)
WOG: Was having so much time to contemplate and fiddle with those Rewired
tracks a blessing or a curse?
MR: I would rather spend time writing more songs than more time working on
less songs if you follow me.
WOG: Do you think that is something that, in a sense, may have hurt the Rewired
MR: It took a long time to evolve, which is not always a good thing. Paul
Carrack and I like a bit more spontaneity sometimes.
WOG: After you completed
Mouth, Adrian Lee and Peter Van Hooke left The Mechanics. Can you tell
me why they left and what sparked Peter’s return on Rewired?
Peter’s return on Rewired seemed to coincide… He’s a bit of a producer, Peter. He
came back more as an executive producer than a drummer, really.
WOG: When I interviewed
Tony Banks a few months back, he mentioned that you had come to him with
the decision that you did not want to pursue another Genesis album after
the modest success of Calling All Stations. In retrospect, that an album that you regret
I don’t think I regret anything, really. I felt really good about it at
the time, but I think in hindsight I underestimated how big the hill was
that we would need to climb with Genesis. I think that what kind of hit us,
was that between the making of [Calling All Stations]… agreeing with the concept of carrying on
and doing it, finishing it, and finding a singer took about two and a half
In that time, everything seemed to change in music, especially radio. A
band like Genesis with a new singer needed to get more radio to be heard.
If I had known then what I knew after two and a half years later with the
changes in the (music) business, I might have thought twice about it. Not
because we couldn’t do it, but because of what was required, I
seemed to be part of the chemistry that worked well with me and Paul
(Carrack) at a time when we were trying to find a new way to work, if you
know what I mean… A new kind of dynamic between myself and Paul, and
Peter was a good part of it, to make a diversion, that time around.
Originally, I think, Peter left because he was producing quite a bit, and I
wanted to get someone a bit more constant. Also, I wanted real drums, and
Peter played a lot of electronic drums.
I did a concert with Gary
who did a charity concert I did near me that I organized…
God, I don’t know, ten or more years ago with Genesis, Pink Floyd, most
of Queen, and Eric Clapton… It was a good gig.
was the drummer for that, and he impressed me very much.
Adrian Lee left… Well, I can’t remember now, actually. I think he left
because he got in a bit of a grunt about the fact that we didn’t go on
tour for that album. The Mechanics have always been a little bit of a
stop-start thing, and he wanted something more permanent, I think.
For the Mechanics’ Rewired album, how did you go about selecting all of the new
musicians you involved in the project?
was probably the main one who did not to want to do another album, I’m
afraid. In order to make Genesis with Ray (Wilson)
work, we would have had to do an album and tour every year for the next
three years. I didn’t want to do that. I’d done that with Genesis and
I’d done it with The Mechanics, and I thought to go around again was
just sort of not right for me.
WOG: Ray Wilson had mentioned early on when he joined Genesis that there
was talk of doing two Genesis albums with him. At what point did you
decide to walk away from Genesis?
MR: I’m sure that was the intention, yes. Looking back, it didn’t do
well in America
at all, really. Aside from that, it probably sold one and a half or two
million copies in the rest of the world, which for most bands is more than
they ever even get to, you know?
WOG: Back in 1978, when you were auditioning guitarists for the
Then There Were Three tour, you auditioned Alphonso Johnson, Daryl
Stuermer, and a few others. What made Daryl stand out in that audition?
I think primarily, because I felt he understood what Genesis was about.
There was a guy, a great player, who did a lot of early Steely Dan
stuff… I’ve forgotten his name. He’s done a lot of session stuff. He
came in and was great, but when he came in, he was about to play
“Squonk” with me, and he was like, “How do you want it?” Daryl
order to make Genesis with
work, we would have
had to do an album and tour
every year for the next three
years. I didn’t want to do that.
I’d done that with Genesis, and
I’d done it with The Mechanics, and
I thought to go around again was
just sort of not right for me."
In those days, English bands, in what they did and how they felt songs,
was very foreign to the American bands. They weren’t at the same kind of
starting point, and I think Daryl understood what Genesis was about, what
the songs were about, and how you needed to play them to make them work. I
was right, I think.
Thompson mentioned to me back in 2002 that when he heard that Phil had
left Genesis that he contacted you to talk about joining the band in a
creative capacity and whether you would consider him as a permanent member
of Genesis. At the time, you declined. Can you tell me about why you
decided not to bring Chester
Through trial and error. A lot of the guys came through Peter Van Hooke,
who has a lot of young guys sending him tapes and stuff. It’s hard to
try and change, and I think part of it worked and part of it really
didn’t work. I think Will Bates who came along, a sort of
programmer/player, was a very good find. He’s quite a brave sound man…
And also Rupert Cobb (who did programming on “Perfect Child” and
“One Left Standing”). They just came though Peter mainly, through
tapes and word of mouth.
These were unusual choices; these are not the normal session guys who are
out there doing all of the albums. These are slightly more avant-garde,
weirder guys, which I liked.
WOG: Was it their contributions that largely account of the modernization
of the Mechanics sound on Rewired?
MR: Yeah, very much so, but I’m not sure that we got it all right. At
least we tried, and I think if we do another one, we’ve put it in a
place that we’ll find it a little easier.
WOG: The last time I
interviewed the Mechanics for the Beggar
on A Beach of Gold album, Paul Carrack and Paul Young mentioned that
it was around that time that you started to relinquish some of the
creative control around the songwriting process to the other guys. What
brought about that change?
MR: Oh God, I can’t remember! Maybe he did, I can’t recall. I suppose
we had never actually written anything together before. I can’t remember
that, really. If he said he did, he did. I think all of our efforts were
focused on finding a singer. Everything else seemed unimportant or not so
important at the time.
As a guitarist who evolved to a bass player who has evolved back to
primarily a guitarist, I noticed that you’ve been using a lot of synth
bass on your records in recent years. Do you find yourself pulling away
more and more from using traditional bass on your albums?
MR: No, not really. I love bass. I always forget about how much I enjoy
bass until I start playing it. Possibly…You may be right, I probably
would like to regress that balance a bit. I think bass is such a great
instrument. You express the songs so differently. You can change the feel
of the song. Maybe you’re right. I should probably be careful of that.
WOG: We are now in an age when some of the most successful acts of the
last twenty years are now finding themselves without a major record label.
It sounds like you have just secured a deal in
with Warner Brothers, but if you had no major label support, would you
ever consider releasing an album independently?
MR: I think it’s very natural, really. I like being in a band and
collaborating. I don’t like being in charge. I suppose because of the
Mechanics’ history, it’s always felt a bit like it’s my baby, but I
don’t really like to work that way. I’m a believer that if someone’s
got a great idea - bring it on, you know what I mean? You shouldn’t
stifle the creativity of the guys you work with, you should give them
every chance to put out any ideas that they think are good.
Do you think that was the case with the first couple of Mike and The
MR: It depends on what level, really. It’s quite hard, because it
requires a lot more time in terms of promotion and selling something when
you’re independent. I wouldn’t say no, but I would probably question
Yes, I think so. I would sort of feel that maybe if the time comes that
you can’t get something that is quite an attractive deal… I don’t
mean money-wise, but in terms of being able to get it out to the people,
maybe there is a little voice transmitter in the back of your head saying
it’s time to stop doing it… Maybe it’s not your time.
Mike & The Mechanics: Rutherford
(left) and Paul Carrack in 2004
Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack
live at Royal Albert Hall in May 2000
MR: Well… Yes,
because we were a new band. The trouble originally, with the first couple
of albums, was that they were written primarily by myself, B.A. Robertson,
and Chris Neil.
So, writing-wise, Paul Carrack and Paul Young didn’t do so much, but I
think it’s natural that as we became more of a band that they became
more active writing songs, especially since Paul (Carrack) is such a great
So, was Beggar on A Beach of Gold
really the transitional album that took The Mechanics from being a Mike
Rutherford led project to the start of a true band?
MR: Kind of. I think that one made it a little more fuller I think, yeah.
Tony Banks had mentioned that during the making of The
Lamb Lies Down on Broadway that there was a period when Peter Gabriel,
I guess, needed to be lured back to complete the vocals on the album due
to the distraction of possibly working on a script with William Friedkin.
In the interim, the rest of the band recorded the instrumentation for the
album in his absence, which is why Tony felt so comfortable recording the
follow-up album, Trick of The Tail,
without him, musically speaking. Was there a point where you felt Peter
was just not coming back?
MR: Well, yeah. Pete left, as far as I was concerned, in the middle. He
had this offer to do some film work with William Friedkin who did The
Exorcist and stuff. He said, “Well, that’s it, I’m off!” So we
said, “Well, that was it,” I thought. I think William Friedkin thought
“Christ, I don’t want to break this band up,” and he sort of pulled
back a little bit and Pete returned.
Mike Rutherford in concert with
Genesis on the We Can't Dance Tour
The Mechanics' first publicity
in 1985 with Rutherford (center)
With the Rewired
album, the band’s name appears to have been expanded to Mike & The
Mechanics + Paul Carrack. Why did you expand the name? Was that something
that Paul wanted this time out?
MR: It sort of seemed the natural thing to do, just to mark a bit of a
change with Paul Young gone… Just to give it a bit of a name change,
WOG: Are their future plans for another Mechanics album?
MR: I’m not sure about another one. I’ve been chatting about it with
Paul and we’re going to meet up in January to talk about it and see
where we go.
This album was fun to make, Paul and I got along really well,
and the playing band: myself, Paul, Rupert Cobb on keyboards and trumpet,
Jamie Moses, and Gary Wallis felt really good. I mean, it really played
well. I really enjoyed the tour this time.
WOG: Now that Genesis is sort of officially disbanded, would you consider
working with one of your former colleagues on an outside project, such as
some songwriting for something non-Genesis?
MR: Nothing is ever impossible. I always say whether I get together with
one of them or even both of them (Phil Collins and Tony Banks), who knows?
I always say never say never. There are no plans to do anything together
as Genesis or otherwise, but we get on rather well.
think that was the first time that we sensed that people in the band had
other things that they wanted to do outside of Genesis, which was quite
fair enough, I suppose. Pete was sort of the first one to see the
possibilities. After that, I was not surprised when he left at the end of The Lamb tour. Tony was right in saying that it made Trick
of The Tail, after a long double album, a lot of fun to do. It was so
contrasting, so quick and easy to make.
WOG: In your recent interview with Alan Hewitt from The Waiting Room, Tony
mentioned that you had recently acquired a copy of the “Genesis Plays
Jackson” recordings and that their may be a potential web-only archive
release in the future featuring this material. Are their other unreleased
tracks you, personally, would like to see included on that release should
it come about?
MR: There is one track we can’t find called “The Wooden Bridge” or
“Wooden Mask,” I think it was called. We recorded it as a single in a
proper studio, and we seem to have lost it (laughs).
What year or time frame was that?
MR: Oh God! …It was during the Peter Gabriel period right after
Cryme. Maybe 1972 or 1973? It was a good song, I can sort of half sing
it, but I can’t think of how it went exactly. We seemed to have
misplaced the masters on that one, which is a shame.
WOG: Classic Rock Productions has put out two unauthorized DVDs, Inside
Genesis 1970-1975 and Inside
Genesis 1975-1980 which feature your music and video clips. I
understand that your management was pursuing legal action on these
releases. Can you tell me if this is still happening?
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