There have been a number of Genesis and Phil Collins tributes over the years, but Paul D’Adamo’s forthcoming album,
Tell Me Something (which had the working title of Loving Me Back to Life),  is far from a garden-variety tribute record. Paul’s project is actually a mixture of original compositions and re-done, lesser known classics by Phil Collins and Genesis. What makes this particular project completely unique, however, is who performs on the album with D'Adamo. For his new album, he has essentially assembled the core of Phil Collins’ touring band: Brad Cole, Leland Sklar, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson, Arnold McCuller, Amy Keys, Luis Conte, and even renowned jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright (who also worked with the Phil Collins Big Band).  Yes, the virtually entire band is here – playing on one studio album! Of course, many members of Phil’s touring band are active session players, and there have been projects where a couple of them have played on projects together, but Tell Me Something represents the first time almost all of Phil Collins entire ensemble of talent has come together for a project… without Phil Collins!

Genesis fans will enjoy hearing things like Daryl Stuermer’s take on 1976’s “Entangled” alongside a fairly faithful version of the song with a hint more of a jazz feel while original tracks like “Constant Change” offer tunes with a similar hybrid jazz-pop feel. The complete album will be released around the spring of 2010, with download singles available from iTunes expected shortly. Back in March 2009, in between recording sessions for this release, I had an opportunity to talk to Paul along with the album’s Producer Brad Cole in Malvern, Pennsylvania about the making of this album and how this group of musicians came together for
Tell Me Something, along with thoughts from Brad about his long and impressive career in music.

This interview is presented in two distinct parts. Part one features predominantly Paul D'Adamo talking about his forthcoming project with some added comments by Producer Brad Cole. Part two features predominantly Brad Cole talking about his own career in music, including his origins as a musician, working with Gino Vannilli, getting into Phil Collins band, working on tour and in the studio with Phil Collins, and much more!

WOG: Over all, between the cover tunes and the original material, what are your favorite tracks that you have recorded for this album to date?

PD: Overall, my favorites at this particular point, my favorites are “Tell Me Something” which is a co-write, which Brad took to the next level and gave it almost a Steely Dan kind of feel, which was something I absolutely loved.  Of the Genesis tunes, I think “Entangled” and “Please Don’t Ask” came out great! Of the Phil Collins tunes, I’d say “Don’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore.”

I used to listen to them all the time, and now it’s at the point where I haven’t listened to a Genesis or Phil Collins album in months.  Mainly, because I wanted to distance myself from it a bit… I didn’t want to do everything the way it had already been done.  If I’m going to do everything note for note on this album, why buy this album? You might as well just listen to the original versions. I wanted to develop my own artistry on this project, and I think Brad has done an exceptional job with the arrangement aspect of it. I couldn’t have been happier with his work. I mean, I’m living my dream here!

WOG: You mentioned in our first conversation that you’d like to potentially take the album on tour. Has there been any further discussion about that and do you know whether Daryl, Luis, Brad, Chester and the rest of the artists on this record will be joining you should a tour come about?

PD: There’s been talk about doing as Phil would say “a selection of shows” rather than a full blown tour. As to who will commit or not commit to doing live performances, that’s not been discussed.

I think the most important thing is just to complete the project to the best of its ability and the best of my ability. From there, hopefully it generates some interest and we’ll see where we go from there. I don’t think anyone is opposed to working live as long as the opportunity and the dollars all work out. We haven’t put pen to paper yet.

BC: It’s generally too soon to talk about the prospect of a tour. It’s an exciting idea, but you need to stay in the moment. It’s my mantra to stay in the present and not get too far ahead of one’s self. When you are working on music, you need to put 100 percent of yourself into whatever you are doing at that moment and try to stay focused.

World of Genesis: Brad, can you share with us how your first got involved with Paul D’Adamo’s album and how that lead to getting people like Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer involved?

Brad Cole: I got involved with Paul’s album when he contacted me… Probably after checking out the website.  He said he was interested in doing a project. First it was supposed to have been a lot of Genesis and Phil Collins covers... and finally worked it down so that it would be – not exactly 50/50, but so that there was more original material on it than there had originally started out being. 

He had expressed interest in trying to get as many of Phil (Collins)’s people involved as possible. Chester Thompson lives in Nashville, so he’s right there [where the album is being largely recorded] and available, and everyone is totally willing to work on things. There is no “star status” or any of that kind of stuff with these people. So, it was only the matter of a phone call to get Daryl [Stuermer], Chester [Thompson], Leland [Sklar] and Luis [Conte] involved, and they all seemed to have a real good time doing it.

  It’s hard to do, because as Executive Producer he’s got money questions and personnel questions and he’s looking at the long-term project. As Producer, I’m just looking at whatever we are doing right then and there. So, sometimes I need to reel him in and keep him in the moment.

Most artists when they get into the studio, they see the possibilities being limitless. So, their imaginations run wild, which is great, but you’ve got to keep your imagination channeled into whatever you are doing at that moment or you won’t get the best performance.

If he’s out there singing and thinking about 15 other things, the vocal won’t be as good as it can be. Part of my job as the Producer is to keep the artist focused. I want them on the same wave length. In my role, I need to make the artist feel comfortable and safe, which is a real tricky art form, because there are some guys whose specialty, is just that. They are personality producers… they make the artist feel loved and secure…

WOG:  Obviously, Daryl’s done his own Genesis tribute with Another Side of Genesis, but did any of the guys have any reservations about re-working some of the classic Phil Collins and Genesis tunes?

BC:  No, because we kind of made a determination to revisit songs that weren’t commonly revisited.  We initially talked about a lot of songs. My feeling is that if you are going to do a cover… Just like when I recently did one with Phil [for the Motown project Phil Collins recently announced]. Phil picked one a lot of people didn’t know so that it enhances the individual creativity of the remake. If you do one that everybody knows and you do it weird (laughs), sometimes that can work against you.

If you do a song everyone doesn’t know extremely well – I‘m not talking about the fans so much but at least as far as a general audience is concerned... They have less of a firm memory of the original and will probably be more open to another interpretation. 

The fans are very fickle. It’s very hard to determine how they will respond. Some of them will take great offense that things were done to these songs and some will think it’s really cool.  I wanted to do the songs that gave the most opportunity to give Paul some room.

So, we really wanted to do the songs that are not typically covered – like “Entangled.” I didn’t really know “Entangled,” but that was a great idea! That was Paul’s suggestion. I’m not all that familiar with the early Genesis stuff. So, “Entangled” was the perfect song to do and, frankly, I think it’s the best of the covers on this project as far as Paul’s vocals are concerned. We didn’t do anything too dramatic to the arrangement, we just put drums into it. Apparently there aren’t any drums on the original…

Paul D’Adamo: There wasn’t any bass either…


PD: (laughs hysterically)

BC: …And then there is me (laughs)... Who abuses the hell out of him (laughs)!

PD: It’s a very, very accurate statement (laughs)!

BC: It’s tough love, really.

PD: I would rather turn around and have an artistically recognized product and a commercial disaster, than a huge commercial success and people thinking that there was absolutely no artistry to what I am doing. I never looked at this from a dollars and sense perspective of what I will make or not make. I looked at it as an opportunity to work with a collective of musicians that I have admired from my younger days and have immense respect for their work – and Brad made that happen. So, my focus is to give my best performance on the vocals or whatever instrument I may be playing on the album.

WOG: So, for both of you, when you are in a situation like as we discussed before with Paul’s forthcoming album or like Brad just talked about with Unforgettable (discussed in Part II of the Interview), does working with someone who you respect as a musician that add to your personal insecurity as a player/vocalist or does it ultimately help you bring your “A-game” for fear of looking bad to someone you admire?

PD:  Because I don’t do a lot of recording, when I first started doing the vocals for this album, it was very phrase by phrase how I did it. The more sessions we put behind us, the easier it was for me to do the vocals, because I’m more used to now – even in my home studio – running things through Protools and putting headphones on and just doing it. I’m not a big fan of autotune, where you just hit a button and fix a mistake. Neither is Brad. One of the proudest moments I have is working on “Entangled.” I spent 12 or 14 hours in one day getting those vocals done and that’s all me.

:  …It’s really a guitar folk song more than anything else. We put a groove into it, but we followed the structure of that song fairly faithfully. We did turn Tony [Banks]’s solo at the end of the song into a sax solo, but we kept the solo note for note. I mean, His solos are all written out anyway. His solos are arrangement solos as opposed to improvisational solos. That song was not widely known other than to die-hard Genesis fans, so I thought that was a good song.

“Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore” is one of Phil’s [solo material songs], and it’s not that widely known outside of the fans. So that one, and “Long, Long Way To Go” which is another Phil song we did, which is also not widely known, have a lot of opportunity in them to be changed. Both of those songs on Paul’s
Tell Me Something have a radically different groove than the original.  So, that was the key… To find songs that would lend themselves to treatment other than the way that Genesis and Phil did them.

WOG:  Paul, as Brad mentioned earlier, since this album was initially envisioned as a straight tribute album and evolved into more of a mixture of original compositions and covers, did you intentionally make this change to avoid the possible stigma of been seen as a “tribute album” as opposed to a traditional project that just happens to have a some covers on it?

PD: I think so.  At the time when I contacted Brad, I was so in awe of what Brad had done in his career – not just with Phil, but with other musicians as well. After we got in contact, I sent him an e-mail with about 19 songs – probably about 4 of which were mine originals. He said, “I’m all about doing this project, but I don’t think the way to go is to just make it a tribute project. I’d rather see you develop your own stuff with a groove.” Of the songs I sent him, none of them were mainstream Genesis or Phil tunes. 

I would never try to cover “One More Night”, “Against All Odds”, “Mama” or “That’s All”… I always wanted to do the more obscure songs… Songs that had more personal meaning to me over the years. What first developed was “Please Don’t Ask”, because it reminded me of my first divorce and losing my daughter in the marriage.

When I saw Phil do a documentary called [Classic Albums: The Making of Face Value], on the DVD, Phil was at the piano playing “Please Don’t Ask.” What spawned this whole idea was when I saw this and he said, “This is a great song, but it could be done differently now.” That clicked for me. I’ve always loved the standard, kind of [Frank] Sinatra-esque, style of jazz saloon singing. I thought that would be an excellent saloon song, so to speak… and I don’t mean to demean the song by calling it that, but I felt we could really do it justice by giving it a new arrangement in a new style.

I talked to Brad about it when we hooked up. I said, “This is my idea of where I want to go with this, and this is what I like…” He came back less than a week later and said, “Is this what you mean?” Literally, from day one, everything we have talked about and everything he has sent me has been spot on. There isn’t anything that’s he’s sent me that I haven’t liked.


“I’m all about doing this project, but I don’t think the way to go is to just make it a tribute project. I’d rather see you develop your own stuff with a groove.”

  I know I have to bring my “A game” but whether or not I do, as a vocalist… there are a lot of elements that effect it ranging from your health, the amount of rest you had, and the stress of being the Executive Producer.  Like we talked about, Brad will say, “Don’t worry about two songs from now, focus on this song.”

BC: Not even that, focus on this line! See, the thing is, making a record is like making a movie… It’s really little pieces and bits that will be pulled together to make one finished performance.  In the case of Paul, having grown up listening to people like Sinatra where everything was done in one take live in the studio, he had to get used to doing these songs in pieces. It’s like being an actor where you do a five second shot in a movie and it has to have the same emotional thread as all of the other five second shots in the movie. So, when the film editor stitches it all together and makes a single seamless performance, it looks like it was all done in real time when the film is played back.


Most records today are done in pieces. If you are not used to that process, and Paul’s done more live singing than recorded singing, it takes a while to get used to the fragmented nature of how to record an album. It can really put you off for a while, because you don’t know where you are. Once you start to reason through the process and get comfortable with the process the performances get more relaxed and he did. After a few times, he got much more relaxed out there.  He was very disappointed in the beginning when he found out that he couldn’t do it all at once.

So, that’s kind of shocking to realize when you spent your whole career singing live for the most part and you think that’s the way it is, but it’s not. I mean, all of those great vocals that we love on records have been pieced together - syllable by syllable in many cases. It just doesn’t happen all at once by magic.  The reality is, records are made by people who stitch pieces together and then go out on tour and attempt to imitate themselves. They create a performance that was never made in real time, and then they tour and imitate that.

PD: Brad has been very good at helping me, and not just from a vocal perspective in terms of singing properly. Brad is great at taking either something I’ve written or something that Phil or Genesis may have done and giving it a new identity – line by line or phrase by phrase.  I remember he did a scratch vocal of one of my tunes called “Miss You” which is a nice poppy ballad, I think. I listened to his vocal interpretation of it and liked it so much, I thought, “Why should I even record this now?”  He added so much emotion to a song he had no real connection with  – I mean, I wrote it (laughs)! So, I’ve learned a lot from Brad under his direction. We will try a song or a line in different ways and see what happens. He’s really good about being patient to the point where he knows I’m capable of doing it, so he’s just going to work the angle a little bit and see what comes out.

: That song is now kind of like… if you’re familiar with Herbie Hancock’s Joni Mitchell project, River: The Joni Letters, that won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album in 2008.That’s kind of what Paul had in mind, and it was definitely what I had in mind with “Please Don’t Ask.” It’s definitely that kind of song. 

It’s a saloon song on this album, but it’s more Hancock-ish than it is Sinatra-ish, but it’s basically just a trio with a little sax color here and there and some cello. It’s real simple and it’s really nice. It’s jazzy, but not too [jazzy]. Pop, but not too [pop]… and it’s got enough of Phil’s original flavor to keep it in the same ballpark as Genesis. It’s beautiful.

I think one of the nicest compliments I had gotten was when I’d done a scratch vocal of “Please Don’t Ask.” Chester had come in to do the drums and he was listening to the take with Brad. Chester looked up and said, “Is that your vocal?” and I said, ”Yes.” He replied back, “That’s a really nice vocal! I like it!” I’m like, “Man, that was Chester Thompson who said that!” Actually, I get more compliments from Chester, Daryl, Leeland and Luis than I do from Brad (laughs)! Brad reserves it for when it’s really earned!

BC: Well, even Phil says I’m not a push-over. That’s how he describes me, and I think that’s really flattering. He asks my opinion from time to time, and says, “I know you’re not a push-over….”


  The thing about singing at all – but especially in the studio is that the microphone is like a microscope. It reveals everything. It’s probably more revelatory than a camera, because your voice is full of so much more inflection than your body can ever be.  A microphone will identify every flaw and magnify it a hundred times. It will also take any emotional inflection and magnify that a hundred times.

So, it’s the difference between stage acting and movie acting where the audience is 75 yards away but the camera is right in front of you. The gestures have to get smaller or economical. You have to get more bang for your buck. It’s not a question of just wailing at the top of your power all the way through. You have to learn to tailor what you do for the microphone. It’s a real art form...  It’s not easy.
PD: I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on that particular track. Brad and I have discussed this on our own, but I’m on the official Genesis forum (, and like he said there are Genesis fans who absolutely love my interpretation of what we are doing with the songs and then there are those who say “How could you do that to ‘Please Don’t Ask’ it was fine the way it was!” My response was that it was fine the way it was back in 1980 on Duke, but it’s something that I feel we could respectively rebirth now.

BC: Well, those folks, you can’t reason with. They have their taste and their feelings about the original. I certainly respect your passion for the original, but “to each his own” you know?

WOG: I agree. Brad, it would be just like when you tour with Phil Collins. If you did three hours of hits and favorites, there will still be people that will complain that there was some song that they love from the back catalog that you didn’t play…

BC: Yes! There is always that person (laughs)!   

PD: Actually, I was that person (laughs)! I thought that same thing when I saw Genesis at Giants Stadium.
  I learned this from a drummer named Steve Gadd who had always been a hero of mine for years. I finally got a chance to record with him around 1991. I was tracking with him in the studio and I was listening, and I’m not really hearing anything going on.  There was drumming but it was just kind of there. We went into the booth to listen to the playback and it was Steve Gadd 100 percent... Because he played just what the microphone wanted to hear. No more, no less.

He’s such a gifted studio drummer that he was able to put just the right inflections for the mic to pick up to emphasize what he wanted. In real time, it didn’t look like he was doing that, but he was doing exactly what was required and it was all right there perfectly done on the tape. That was stunning! When he plays live, because I also toured with him, he plays broader, heavier and more delineated I guess you’d say, for an audience… but man in that studio, he just knocked me out! I was stunned, and it takes a lot to stun me (laughs)! The point is, studio recording is very microscopic.

WOG: Paul, how do you develop the original material you write?
WOG: Have you had an opportunity to share any of the rough mixes with Phil or any of the guys in Genesis to get their feedback?

BC: Initially, Paul put some snippets of some of what we’re doing out on his MySpace page. He’s really doing that. I’m not involved with that sort of thing. He can tell you more about that. I understand that the feedback has been positive.

PD: Yeah, the feedback I’ve been getting has been extremely positive.  I laughed the other day that all of the sudden I went from having a few hundred ‘friends’ to having a couple of thousand ‘friends’ [on MySpace]. So far, it’s over 33,000 plays and 34,000 profile views. Right now, probably 90 percent of the ‘friend’ base is from Germany, Italy and Japan and many of them left very positive feedback about songs like “Please Don’t Ask” and “Like It or Not.” I’ve also gotten some positive comments on my [original] stuff as well. I haven’t had anybody send me anything derogatory…. Not on my MySpace page. On the Genesis Forums, well, that’s a different story (laughs)!  

People ask me, “Has Genesis or Phil heard this?” Honestly, I don’t know.  I hope that if they did hear it that they would like it.  On the follow up album I do to this, I will do a lot less Genesis and Phil stuff. There are a couple of Tony Banks songs that we’ve been kicking around trying to make some different arrangements to revamp.
  PD: I start off with a chord progression that sounds interesting. Or, sometimes, I will turn around and write a catch phrase of a lyric and see if I can build chords that will work around the lyric. In fact, on “Loving Me Back to Life,” when I told Brad that was the title of the song, he said, “That’s a really cool title.” We started doing a sketch of Brad doing one of my keyboard arrangements.

It’s funny. People say “Aren’t you playing on your own original stuff on your album?” and I say, “No!” I’m proud to say why I’m not. Brad takes my music and interprets it so much better than I do. He gives it more of an emotional dynamic in playing, whereas I tend to not to keep it too simple sometimes when I should. I tend to put in 9s and flat 13s and sharp 11s and he’s like, “Look, it’s not needed, try this…”  It’s his voice more so than anything else. 

It’s like Steely Dan. They write great tunes, but why I’m such a big fan from a keyboard perspective is not so much the chords they are playing but how they are actually voiced. The order of the notes they are playing in. That’s where my writing has started to take me.  So, based upon how I write a song, 90 percent of the time the chords come first. Unlike Phil [Collins], I really have to agonize over the lyrics usually. Phil claims that a lot of his lyrics come very intuitively. Maybe I haven’t suffered enough as a songwriter (laughs)? I’ve been the divorced guy… been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
WOG: His solo work?

PD: Yes, Tony's solo stuff. I think Tony’s solo work has been underappreciated in a lot of different ways. All of these guys’ solo projects have a touch of that Genesis sound with maybe the exception of Phil. I think Genesis fans were more demanding from a progressive rock perspective, whereas Phil gave his work more of a contemporary edge, so to speak, which was totally outside of the Genesis sound. One of thing things I like about Phil’s solo work is that he’s an important part of Genesis, but he had his own sense of individuality when he wrote and when he produced outside of the band.

WOG: Tell me a little about the original songs on this album. Were they all written specifically for this project?

PD: Actually, some of these songs were sort of archived. It’s not like I specifically had a bunch of songs written just for this album. Some of these songs like “Loving Me Back to Life,” which is the title track and one of my originals, is specifically written for the album. Everything else that has been an original composition or a co-write was done years ago.  In fact, I remember doing one of the tracks for Brad and sending it to him. He asked me, “When did you write that?!” I replied, “I wrote that in 1998.” Brad said, “Wow! It sounds like you wrote that in 1985 (laughs)!”

BC: (Laughs)

WOG: As a self-proclaimed Phil Collins fan, what was it like working in the studio with Brad, Lee, Chester, Daryl, Luis and the rest of the musicians involved?

PD: It was very stammering at first. As the sessions progressed though, it was very comfortable. As Brad mentioned, there were no “star” egos or anything like that. I think the hardest thing was working as an Executive Producer on my own album. To have to turn to them and make suggestions of what I wanted to hear - to musicians who I had been seeing in 40,000-50,000 seat arenas throughout my entire concert going career… That was probably the most intimidating at first. It got easier as it progressed.

I would sit on the couch and let Brad do his magic. The bottom line was he would look at me and say, “Was that good or would you like to do it again?” That’s how it evolved.  So, it was easy for me to work with Chester. It was extremely easy for me to work with Luis, Leland, Daryl… all of them were great. I felt honored and extremely privileged all at the same time; it was a lot of fun.
  WOG: Then, she got the t-shirt (laughs)...

PD: Yeah, or at least half of it (laughs)!  I don’t think I’ve ever written a song because I was in a good mood. That’s what I’m trying to work on now. All of my songs have always been because somebody ripped my heart out.

BC: Most pop songs are about trials and tribulations. In Nashville for example, songwriting sessions are usually collaborations when two people get together with their guitars and they sit there and they have therapy with each other. They come up with a song title first, and the song title is always the hook, and they build the backward through the title and their therapy.  They’ll make observations about what happened to them during their day. I mean, Taylor Swift has made an entire career out of her high school romances and made a lot of money from it, too. So, songwriting is personal and when your life is in turmoil, you can expect it to get more dramatic songs out of it.

Paul Simon says that when he writes songs that he pulls out a loose leaf notebook and writes one line per page, and there will be 50 revisions on that same page. That’s how finely he crafts his lyrics – down to the preposition. Then, there are people like Phil will are more improvisational about their words. They just kind of come out… which is not as easy as it sounds.  

PD: …I wanted an album that had more live musicians, which becomes very expensive when you are footing the bill. I tell Brad that on one of the songs, I want to put on steel drums, so now we need to find a steel drum player. Brad will say, “OK, we can do that, but it will cost you…” I’m not in a rush at this particular point. I didn’t want to put something out in six months and say, "Well I guess its fine, but I should have done this or I wanted to do that but there wasn’t enough time or enough money."

The fact that Brad has been very patient, and we’ve built a strong bond and hopefully this will be just the first of many things we do together, he has steered me in a good direction and has realigned my focus in terms of the actual process of recording this album. So, when I come up the an idea, he’s not in the business of pillaging me. If it’s not needed, he’s very direct to say, “It’s not needed here” or “It’s not going to help the track.” If I give an idea and he likes it, we go with it. If I give an idea and he doesn’t like it, we can still go with it, or I can just trust everything he says and does. He has the utmost of my trust and respect.


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