To The Beat of A Different Drummer

~ An Interview with Nick D'Virgilio ~
 

Back in late July 2001, World of Genesis' own Dave Negrin got an opportunity to chat briefly with Nick D'Virgilo, the drummer best known to Genesis fans for his contributions on the final studio album, Calling All Stations. Nick is an accomplished musician in his own right with a career as both a session player and as the drummer for his own progressive rock group, Spock's Beard.

Nick sat down to talk about his involvement with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, his past work with other bands, and his debut solo effort, Karma.

World of Genesis: Since Karma is your first solo album, after having spent most of your time working in a band environment and as a session musician, what was it like having complete creative control? Can you share some background on the project?

 
WOG: Since, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks used two different drummers on the project, which tracks on the final album mix feature your work? What was it like recording with these two guys who, at some point in your life, had strongly influenced your musical tastes?

NDV: They were my favorite band in the world -- by far! I played drums and guitar and whatever else to their songs every day after school (laughs). So, it was pretty amazing to be actually in the same room, let alone being on their record. I never would have thought that in a million years! It was very cool. 

WOG: Was it originally proposed by Genesis that you just do a couple of songs?

NDV: When I went and auditioned, I played every song that they had, which was 20 songs or something like that. They just put it up and said, "Play what you feel." It was fairly low key. I guess they just wanted to see what I would do with it. 
Nick D'Virgilo: I've been writing some of these tunes for quite a while. I basically got the opportunity through being in my band, Spock's Beard, and through some of the other things I have done. The record company in Europe, who puts out he Spock's Beard albums, said that they would put out something for me. They pretty much said, "Just make a record, and we'll put it out!" A real simple kind of thing. So, I did. 

It was perfect, because I needed that kick in the butt to really get going and commit to something (laughs). I'd start to think, "Well, I don't know if these songs are good enough..." or "I'm not that good of a writer..." and all that kind of stuff, but it ended up coming out really cool!   
 

NICK ON WORKING WITH GENESIS:

They were my favorite band in the world -- by far! I played drums and guitar and whatever else to their songs every day after school (laughs). So, it was pretty amazing to be actually in the same room, let alone being on their record. I never would have thought that in a million years! 

  When I went back to actually start doing the recording, that's when I found out that Nir Z was actually going to be doing it, too. I still played quite a few of them, it just ended up being four and a half songs that they used when they mixed the album. 

WOG: Was "The Dividing Line" the track where you only did half? Which half did you do?

DNV: Yeah, I did the second half and he (Nir Z) did the first half. I have no idea why they picked what they did. I also did the ballad "If That's What You Need" and "Small Talk." Off the top of my head, I honestly don't recall the other ones.
WOG: Was the band (Spock's Beard) comfortable with you taking time off to do your own thing?

NDV: Oh yeah! In our band, everybody does other things, so that wasn't a big deal at all.

WOG: Will you be doing a big tour in support of Karma?

NDV: I don't know how big just yet, but yes. I mean, I'm planning on going out and doing some duo stuff in the beginning. A whole band would be ideal, but that's more of a money issue. So, we'll start out as a duo, me and my friend Rick, who played on the record, and do some promo stuff and see what happens and what kind of "buzz" or interest there is.  
  WOG: As far as Spock's Beard goes, do you have plans to get back with them in the near future once your touring for Karma is done?

NDV: Sure! We're going to start recording a new record in September. We always work (laughs). I think if we stop, it will dry up, ya know? (laughs) We keep it going. So, we're going to record a new album in September, and probably due a new tour maybe around March or February (2002). 

WOG: How did you get involved with the Supper's Ready Genesis tribute album on Magna Carta Records?

NDV: That was through Kevin Gilbert. He got that whole thing together. Before the Supper's Ready CD, we did another one... A Yes tribute record called Tales From Yesterday. From doing that, Magna Carta asked him to do the Genesis tribute.

WOG: Will that tour just be in Europe or in the U.S. as well?

NDV: I want to try and hit everywhere I can.

WOG: Can you tell me how you first got involved with Genesis on Calling All Stations?

WOG: Are there any other new session projects you've been working on?

NDV: Well, my record (Karma) comes out on September 18h in America and August 27th, or something like, that in Europe. Rolland Orzabal from Tears For Fears has a new solo record out (Tomcats Screaming Outside), and he's trying to get it released in America... and I'm on that. I also just recorded a new song with him and Curt Smith. The two guys are getting back together for a new Tears For Fears record, but I don't know when that's going to be out. I recorded that with them a couple of months ago. On top of that, I just got off the road. 
NDV: The way it happened for me was, I was playing with Tears For Fears on the Raoul And The Kings of Spain tour in 1996. I had gotten the gig through their old drummer, named Brian MacLeod, and we were both playing for this guy named Kevin Gilbert... In a round about way (laughs). 

Kevin was a huge Genesis fan like me, and he had heard a rumor somewhere... I don't know where he heard it... that Phil Collins had quit the band and that they might be auditioning drummers. So, I was in London doing a Tears For Fears show, and I took down a couple of Spock's Beard CDs, the ones that I had at that time, and invited them to the Tears For Fears show. I told them who I was and that if there was ever an opportunity... If that was ever happening... that I would love to audition. I don't know if anyone came to the Tears For Fears show, but I got a call about five or six months later from Nick Davis, the guy who produced the record. He said that they wanted to hear some more stuff, so I made a DAT of a whole bunch of different things I had done and mailed that to them. Then, they called me a few weeks after that and flew me over to England to have an audition.   

 
  WOG: So, recently, it's been a little quiet...

NDV: For a few minutes at least! I have my two kids and my wife at home, so it's really never that quiet (laughs)!
 

SELECTED PROJECTS FEATURING NICK D'VIRGILIO:


                    
Karma (2001)    Genesis - Calling      Spock's Beard -
           Solo debut!        All Stations (1997) Kindness of Strangers (1998)

Special thanks to Nick D'Virgilio or this interview. For more information on Nick, visit his official website or the official website of Spock's Beard. This interview 2001-2007 David Negrin and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

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