(CONTINUED FROM PART I)
 
WOG: For the Genesis Movie box set, the bonus disc includes an updated version of VH-1’s Behind the Music. I understand that Eagle Rock was doing an official documentary for the band. Is the updated Behind The Music and the Eagle Rock project one and the same?

TB: I’m not sure to be honest. There have been so many documentaries out there recently. People keep ringing me up and saying, “I saw you on the telly last night!” and I’ll say, “What was that?” and they’ll say, “Some documentary…” and there seem to be about five different ones out there. So, I’m a little bit lost on all of that. The thing that is probably the most fun, in terms of extras on that next box is during the Mama album, Phil had just gotten a video camera. At that stage, a [home] video camera was very much a new thing… It involved the camera and then you had the recorder and then you had to have this big battery. You sort of had to walk around with all of these things strapped around you… not at all like the cameras of today. 

Phil sort of used it on and off throughout the sessions, so he’s got sort of home footage if you like. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much of us playing, because if he’s playing drums he couldn’t record, but I think it’s quite entertaining for people….well, mainly eating actually (laughs)! …But mainly doing things in the studio that they would have never seen before.  So, that’s kind of a fun extra. Obviously, it also includes
The Mama Tour [video] all remixed and remastered in 5.1. It’s a nice collection. It’s a mixture of some stuff that hasn’t changed very much… the latter two DVDs haven’t changed very much, but the earlier stuff [like Three Sides Live and The Mama Tour] have changed a lot.
 

WOG: Of the keyboard rigs you've worked with over the years, both with Genesis and as a solo artist, which one do you identify or connect with most?

TB: I think some of the instruments go with the eras, really. The early synths, the genuine synths as opposed to the sampling instruments, that give you those fat sounds which are very present on albums like A Curious Feeling and albums around that period when I first started using synths, which I guess was around Selling England by the Pound, I suppose. Of the last one of those I used a lot was the [Yamaha] CS-80 which had a nice fat sound and was used on Duke and things. Of course, the Prophet [5] kind of took over after that being an important instrument on Mama and Abacab.

The [Yamaha] DX-7 as well. The DX-7 was more
Invisible Touch where you get the much more percussive sort of sounds. Of course, the sampling instruments that started to come in. I started to use the [E-mu] Emulator III. I think that was Mama as well, as I think about it. We just sort of sampled everything around the place to see what sort of effects it had. I do think the instruments did affect the writing quite a bit. I do think when you go back and hear the sounds, I do love the sort of fat synths.

Polymoog was another crucial instrument on
A Curious Feeling. It had this marvelous Pedal you could use to open the filters with, and it had this extraordinary sound which was used on things like “From the Undertow,” for example. It just gave you this wonderful sort of swell… just volume and opening the filters. So, the instruments have been very important to me over the years.


TONY BANKS ON HD GENESIS VIDEOS
:

"I suppose if high definition becomes
more and more of a thing then these
things will become more important,
but it’s not something we’ve really
thought about too much..."
 

  Another thing that changed things a lot was in the late ‘70s when the [Yamaha] CP-70 came out, and I could actually use a real piano as part of my rig. I had struggled for years trying to play piano parts like trying to play the opening part of “Firth of Fifth” on electric piano and it just didn’t sound good at all, really.

When you got real piano with the CP-70, then suddenly all of the songs we couldn’t play live before started to sound possible on stage.  That was a real bonus for me.
 

WOG: Are there any plans for a high definition version of the Genesis Movie box set?

TB: No. I don’t think there is at this point in time. We did the ’87 Wembley show in high definition, but the machine it was originally done on no longer exists. We struggled to actually find something to transfer it on at the time. So, at the moment there is no plan. Obviously some of the early stuff wasn’t shot in high definition, so it [may not benefit from the technology].

WOG: What about When in Rome? Any plans for that to be reissued in high definition?

TB: I don’t know quite what it exists in originally. I can’t really answer that question, because I don’t know what we did it in. The version you’ve got of it is probably as good as we can do.

WOG: I believe Nick Davis mentioned on the Genesis-Music.com forum that it was a high definition recording…

TB: Then it may be a possibility sometime in the future. I can’t remember. I suppose if high definition becomes more and more of a thing then these things will become more important, but it’s not something we’ve really thought about too much.
 

 


WOG
: Last time we spoke in 2004, you were toying with the ideal of either doing a new orchestral project at some point or a new rock solo project. Have you begun work on any new solo material?

TB: Well, yes, I think the next thing will be another orchestral piece. I’ve gotten fairly far with the writing of that, I think. I’ve almost got it written, but there is a lot of work to do yet in terms of trying to hone it down and orchestrate it. Then, I need to think about how exactly I’m going to record it. Whether I do it the same as I did before with an orchestra, and do it genuinely like that, or whether I try to do it more piecemeal. I don’t really know. I think that’s the next thing I want to do.


Live Over Europe: Tony Banks in 2007

 
WOG: When you did the Seven album, you seemed to make a conscious choice not to play on the orchestral pieces. If you use a full orchestra, will you deviate from philosophy that on your next orchestral album?           

TB: It’s a difficult one for me. I know it sounds crazy, but I never really intended to be a player or performer. I kind of got caught up in it because, no one else would ever play the [songs we wrote]. So, we just did it. I love writing music, and that’s really what I want to do and I’m happier almost just being in that role. I did play a bit of stuff on Seven. I played a bit of piano, but it wasn’t very prominent. I wanted the last album to sound very definitely orchestral, a sort of bonified classical style.

Although, having just remixed
A Curious Feeling, I do get quite excited about the idea of doing another album… more in that kind of vein… A combination of vocal and instrumental stuff. So, I don’t really know. It’s all there, but probably the orchestral is the next thing, because that’s almost completed in terms of writing.
WOG: There was talk at the beginning of the decade that Genesis would release soundboard tapes.

TB: Yes...

WOG: Is that still the plan or is that not happening at this point?

TB: No, it’s still there! It will happen. I get asked this quite often, actually. I get embarrassed by it, really, but it will happen at some point. There was a possibility of including some of it with [Genesis Live 1973-2007], but we decided that by comparison the sound would be so poor compared with what else is on there. It seemed like a waste of time, really. That’s why we put the [1973] Rainbow concert on there instead, which I think is much better. It’s a much better thing to have on there. As these things do, we need to decide a little bit whether we want to go through any quality control. Are we going to listen to them all first or are we just going to put them out? If someone’s got to listen to them all, it’s a lot of work to do that. We are going to do this. It’s definitely something that’s going to happen, but we’re not quite ready for it.

WOG: I know at one point, you guys looked at putting out the BBC sessions you did in the early 1970s, but that was later shelved. Will that be part of this board tape series?

TB: No, I think that’s a separate thing. The BBC have asked about doing that sort of thing. At the moment, we not doing too much of it. A certain amount of BBC stuff came out on the Archive albums we did – kind of the best stuff if you like. It’s a little bit difficult to know where you draw the line with all of this. There was some talk about doing it around now, but with all of this live stuff coming out, we thought it really wasn’t the moment for it. I think that it will be at some point in the future.

The BBC are sitting on so much stuff by so many people that I’m sure bits and pieces will come out. It’s not something that we’re so much involved in. The board tapes are something very different. We’ve got board tapes going back for a very long time. There are probably some reasonable stuff in there, although they always sound a bit dry. So, we’ve got to work out whether we just put them out like they are or do we try to make them sound a bit better? We just don’t want to flood the market with stuff that’s really sub-standard. That’s what we don’t want to do, in a way. You want to try to keep a certain degree of quality out there. That ‘s the only thing that worries us a bit.
  I felt that had I played a lot on [Seven], it wouldn’t have been because my style of playing isn’t like that, really. I tend to do things that are not quite right for that. I’m happy to play on solo albums and other things, but in the orchestral world, I prefer to do it like that. I prefer to write for an orchestra. I’m not really keen on writing a piano concerto or anything. My main love is when the orchestra is kind of doing the whole thing. I would probably look to not play if I possibly could.

WOG:  In what seems to be a growing trend, have you ever been approached about doing a Rock Band video game for Genesis' music similar to what has been done with The Beatles recently?

TB: As far as I know, we haven’t been approached. Although, I doubt Ringo [Starr] had very much to do with the Beatles video game in all honesty. I think these things just sort of happen. Someone asks would you mind, and someone says give it a go and see what happens.

It’s not really close to my heart. I don’t really a video gamer, really. When they first started, I enjoyed them, but I haven’t played one in about 20 years.  So, its not something I really care too much about, but if other people want to do it and the final product is of a certain quality we’ve got nothing against it, I don’t think.      

WOG: Bill Bruford commented in Chapter & Verse and on his website that he knows he must have irriated the band repeatedly back in 1976 with his "behaving badly" (his words) and his interest in trying to play music a little differently each night to keep it interesting on tour. As an improvisational drummer, which Bill is and was highly regarded for, was this ever an issue in terms of the band’s live performances for A Trick of the Tail?

TB: The nature of Genesis when we’re playing the songs… They have a certain kind of structure. If you’re playing “Robbery, Assault, and Battery” you had to play it as written.  I mean, it’s a song – everything in it has been composed. There is no improvisation in it, but the drummer can always do what he likes within that [structure]. If he can do it, he can fiddle about with it.

Bill is a close friend of mine, and I also think he’s a great drummer. I’m not sure he was a great drummer for Genesis, and that’s the truth of the matter and I think he would feel the same way. Perhaps he may have wanted more freedom?



WOG: One of the things I find more fascinating that board tapes are things like the “Mama – Work In Progress” from the Archive #2 box set. To hear early demo versions and get a glimpse of the creation of songs like that or, for example, of you singing a demo of “Keep It Dark” or “Me and Sarah Jane” I find really interesting.                                  

TB: I thought that the “Mama – Work in Progress” was one of the most interesting things we did on that. I was surprised that it didn’t get more of a response than it did, actually. A lot of people didn’t seem to get so excited about it. We don’t have too much of that kind of thing. I know we have bits and pieces and the [demo] with me singing “Keep It Dark” (laughs), I don’t think it exists anywhere. If it does, I might have a cassette of it somewhere... I don’t know if the world is ready for that necessarily (laughs)!

The “Mama – Work in Progress” thing I liked quite a bit. There are a couple of bits in there that we didn’t actually use, which I thought were quite interesting. If just to show how it was and how we used to improvise and try things. You’d see that some of the middle part was there, but not all of it. It is often the way a song like that develops.

Sometimes, it’s a little arbitrary how the final version is the point when we decide to stop, when you could have gone and taken it elsewhere. There are lots of rehearsal tapes with bits and pieces on them that might be interesting from that point of view. That’s probably another area which is different from the live [board tapes]. It’s a little more interesting I think, but again it’s an awful lot of stuff to go through to hear what might be worthwhile.

 
 
He did actually struggle a little bit with one or two things. I always remember on “Dance on a Volcano” there’s a sort of a big drum riff coming out of the middle of it, and he very often didn’t come back down on the on-beat. The song is in 7, and if you’re playing a riff, you really have to think about that if it doesn’t come naturally to you. So, if that was improvisation, that’s fine. On something like “Cinema Show” where the drummers were allowed to do quite a bit of stuff – him and Phil playing together – there was quite a lot of freedom within the drum part, but it still a written part within the structure of the song.

It was never a question. We were never going to improvise. We’re not a jamming band. It wasn’t what we did. If you wanted Ten Years After with endless guitar solos, that’s fine. We weren’t interested in that, and I don’t think Bill ever made any attempt to make us do that. He might have been happier if we had, but there was never an argument one way or another about it. I think what he said about us was fair enough. He said he didn’t like it, he didn’t dislike it. That’s probably how he felt about it, but I think he liked one or two bits more than he let on. I know that he enjoyed playing “Cinema Show” very much. I remember, he’d get very involved in that, but he didn’t enjoy playing some of the other… He wasn’t the man for “Squonk” for example.  He would do it, but he’s not a heavy drummer. He doesn’t have that in him, really.

WOG: Back in 2001 when I interviewed Paul Whitehead, he mentioned that back in the ‘70s there was a break-in at Charisma and the original paintings for the covers of Trespass, Nursery Cryme, and Foxtrot were stolen among other things. Were there any Genesis items that went missing and what is your recollection of that situation?

TB: I honestly didn’t know anything about that if that happened. I don’t know the story. We used them as album covers but we never thought about the artwork after that. I remember doing the cut on Trespass. It actually is a photograph version of the painting having been cut by this dagger. I always assumed that Paul had them, actually. I didn’t know they were stolen.
WOG: When Peter backed out of the reunion talks with the band in 2004, did you feel that was probably the last opportunity for the 5-man line up to reunite?

TB: Well, yes in a way. It wasn’t as if Peter backed out. He was the one to kind of instigate the meeting, I felt. I had assumed that he’d never want to do it. Then, he suddenly said, “Well, I might be up for it.” So, we all had a meeting and then it sort of didn’t happen really. I find it difficult to see it happening in the future, but you never say 100% never. I mean, at the moment, Phil couldn’t drum. He’s still physically a little bit… He’s had an operation to help his hands and stuff. So, that’s another factor as well.
 
 

Peter was a little uneasy about the idea of having to go out there any play Rael. Sort of dancing around the stage, which he wouldn’t be able to do in quite the way he used to… Not being quite so fleet of foot (Laughs)! ...But I think it would sound good!

If the opportunity came up, I think Mike and I would say, “Well, I’m up for it.” And I know Steve always been keen on the idea, but I think the odds of getting Peter or Phil or both at the same time to do it… It’s good to do a project like that, but like the
Turn It on Again 2007 Tour... it took us like a year or a year and a half to put that together.  That’s what it takes, you know? I don’t know that Peter, in this stage of his career or in his life, feels that’s what he wants to do. 
 
  WOG: What are your thoughts on Genesis’ recent nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? As a band that has been called “The band the critics love to hate,” knowing that the nomination comes from industry professionals, does that hold any significance to you? If voted in, do you think the band will reunite for their induction ceremony?

TB: Hmmm… Well, the reason we’re on the list is because they are running out of names, probably (laughs)! I mean, I was surprised to see that ABBA hadn’t been on there before.  They were on this list along with a couple of people I’ve never heard of before.  It’s a different thing… This is American. It’s what they consider Rock ‘n Roll. I understand that they’ve not put through any of the so-called Progressive Rock influenced groups like Yes or anything.
WOG: In your opinion, what is the likelihood that you, Mike, and Phil might hit the road for a "selection of shows" one more time? Or, is that door closed at this point?

TB:  I don’t think anything is closed.  We just say 'we never say never'… It’s as simple as that, really. I think Phil is definitely very much on hold at the moment as to whether that’s a possibility for him in the future, I think. We looked at this last thing that we did [in 2007] and thought that’s probably it.

I think at the time we thought, “Well, maybe we could do a few more shows.” That was the only thing we thought. I was quite keen to play South America and possibly parts of The States we didn’t do. We didn’t do the south really at all and maybe even a little bit more in London, where we got a much better response than we thought we were going to get.

So, those were the things we thought of doing, but I think that’s gone now, really.  So, we won’t be doing that. .. Well, who knows? In ten years time, we might suddenly wheel ourselves out again (laughs), but I think it’s unlikely. I do think you’ve probably seen the last of either Genesis in that format on stage, but Peter and Phil may very well do stuff individually, I think.
  WOG: Yeah, the only one so far was Pink Floyd, but largely you’re right. No King Crimson, no Yes, no ELP, no Rush…

TB: Yes, well Pink Floyd I suppose, like Genesis, is slightly broader than just Progressive Rock group. Who knows? I’d be happy to if we’re inducted. I always like to be on anything.

The theory is if you stick around long enough, you’ll always end up getting an award of some sort... Even if it’s just for still being alive (laughs)!

WOG: (laughs)

TB: You laugh, but we’ve gotten one or two of those recently (laugh). I mean, most of the awards tend to go to our singers, which is fair enough in a way. I’d be happy to do it though. In terms of us playing, again it comes back to Phil and his ability to play right now.  I mean, he could sing something. We could do an acoustic version of “Follow You Follow Me” or something. I don’t know. We haven’t thought about it. If we get it, we’ll face that one when we’re inducted… Or, is it induced? I don’t know (laughs).

"I do think you’ve probably seen the last of either Genesis in that format on stage, but Peter and Phil may very well do stuff individually, I think."

 



SELECTED RELEASES FEATURING TONY BANKS

(For more titles check out the Shopping Section)

 

WOG: Anthony Phillips just recorded with Steve Hackett for Steve’s forthcoming solo album, Out of The Tunnel’s Mouth. Would you ever consider doing a studio collaboration or live show with one of your former bandmates outside of the Genesis moniker?

TB: I certainly don’t rule it out. It’s not something that’s really ever sort of occurred. I still see Ant, he’s still a good friend. So, anything is possible. There was one point when Steve did that Genesis Revisited thing. He contacted me and asked if I would do it, and I say, “Yes, I would” but then it got a bit difficult because we got involved with the Calling All Stations project with Ray Wilson. At the time, I thought that it would be very confusing if I start turning up on that at the same time. So, I didn’t do it.

I wouldn’t rule it out though. I would have no problem with playing, I’m a big fan of what they do.  I think it would more likely be a studio thing than anything live but I’ve never actually played on anybody else’s album ever. It would be a first for me, which is quite something when you’re nearly 60!

WOG: When I interviewed him a few years ago, Jonathan King mentioned that your management has never attempted to obtain the rights to
From Genesis To Revelation. Is there are reason you never attempted to get the rights back from King?

TB: (laughs) I think Jonathan was probably being a little bit disingenuous with you. Honestly, I have no idea. I think we have, at various times, made the odd contact. He wants vast sums for it. It’s outside the main body of what we did. The difference between [From Genesis to Revelation] and Trespass is so different, as opposed to Trespass and Nursery Cryme, which has got sort of connections to each other.

It just seems like an album on its own. I don’t dislike it at all. It’s got some good tracks on it and everything. I would quite like to own it in a way, but it’s always seemed so different in a strange way.

We almost forget about the album and think our first album is
Trespass, but it was the first album. We never played live when we did it. It was just done from school. I never played an organ before… apart from a little bit on that album… It was all acoustic guitar and piano with Pete singing. It was just one stage on from the demos we did from that period.

There are some songs though, like “In the Wilderness” that are good and I think “The Silent Sun” was a good pop song.  It was a slightly different era and approach. So, I wouldn’t mind having it, but it’s not something we need too badly.
 

 




Tony Banks - A Curious Feeling (CD + DVD)
New for 2009! 2-disc LIMITED EDITION pressing featuring special packaging with newly remixed and remastered stereo and 5.1 surround sound by Nick Davis and overseen by Tony Banks himself! Also includes bonus 1979 promo music videos for "The Waters of Lethe" and "A Curious Feeling" (NTSC DVD format).



Tony Banks - A Curious Feeling (CD only pressing)
New for 2009! This standard single disc edition features a newly remixed and remastered stereo mix by Nick Davis and overseen by Tony Banks himself (this version does not include the DVD with the 5.1 surround mix but is less expensive for the casual fan).



 Genesis - Live 1973-2007 (CD + DVD)
Massive 11-disc anthology spanning all of the band's live albums (except 2007's Live Over Europe which has a space in the box, but is purchased separately) in newly remixed stereo, with Genesis Live (1973) and Seconds Out (1977) also available in 5.1 surround sound. As a bonus, select tracks from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway concert from the Shrine in 1975 and the complete 1973 concert at the Rainbow are included in both remixed stereo and 5.1 surround sound (NTSC DVD format). Available now!

WOG: When I first heard that album, and then compared it to Trespass, it is hard to believe it is the same band. Of course, when you hear the version of Archive #1 without the strings it makes more sense in terms of how the band evolved to where you were with Trespass

TB: Right. The strings tended to clutter it up a bit. They made it sound a certain way. There was a song called “Visions of Angels” that was originally recorded for the first album, and we embellished it somewhat and made it into a big number and its one of the main songs on Trespass. I think you can find the original on Archive #1? Anyway, it was as much of an arranging thing as it was a writing thing.

So, we developed our writing very much and we decided that once we left Jonathan King we weren’t going to just write three or four minute songs. We wanted to write longer songs and see where that took us. I think that’s the main difference. Most of the songs on
Trespass, especially songs like “Stagnation”, “The Knife,” and “Looking for Someone” are much more extended pieces.  Whereas the songs like “Dusk”, “White Mountain” and “Visions of Angels” were slightly more what we started out doing. More of a simpler song.

WOG: We learned a little about your musical origins in
Chapter & Verse, but when did you first start learning the piano and how important was your classical training to the way you have evolved as a songwriter and player as opposed to someone who is known to play more ‘by ear’ like Phil Collins?      

TB: Well, I play mainly ‘by ear’ myself. I was taught classical piano in school and I never got that good at it. I was always much happier playing ‘by ear’ and that’s really how I do it. I mean, I can hear chords and I can hear melodies and I can reproduce them. That’s what I enjoy doing. I think one of the useful things is bringing some of the useful techniques that I sort of learned and, perhaps, one or two of the chord changes that came from that.

My favorite piano composers of the time were Rachmaninoff and Ravel. Rachmaninoff because he had this sort of fire and these big epic chords and things and the technique of playing the two hands almost alternatively, which I used on
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway but on other songs as well. It an interesting technique that actually fits very well into pop music, because it’s very rhythmic; it almost takes the place of a hi-hat… playing the piano like it’s a drum.  So, it’s useful. 

As I said, [I also enjoyed] Ravel… some of those kind of compound chords and things that he was very fond of that I use that a lot. Particularly on
A Curious Feeling, actually. On the latter part of “The Waters of Lethe”, for example, has a lot of those sort of Ravellian type chords in it.

Apart from being just another pallet of possible sounds and ways of playing within the group, I think I’m much more influenced by what I’ve learned ‘by ear’ playing Beatles songs, The Beach Boys, and all of those groups from the ‘60s that really got me going, and it stayed with me all the way though when I’m writing more poppy songs.
 

 



Genesis - The Movie Box (DVD)
5-DVD box set featuring The Mama Tour (1984), Three Sides Live (1982), Live at Wembley (1987), and The Way We Walk (1992) with rare bonus material including the updated VH-1 Behind The Music (NTSC DVD Format). Tentative Release in November 2009.




Genesis - Live Over Europe (2 CD)
Genesis live from their 2007 European tour (not included in the Genesis Live 1973-2007 box set)!



Genesis - 1970-1975 (CD + DVD)
Massive anthology spanning all of the band's studio albums from 1970-1975 in newly remixed stereo and in 5.1 surround sound. A bonus disc is also included featuring non-album tracks, such as the never before available "Genesis Plays Jackson" recordings! (NTSC DVD format).



Genesis - 1970-1975 (180 gram LP set)
Limited edition 180 gram LP box set featuring newly remixed stereo version of Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (does not include non-album material available on the 1970-1975 CD + DVD box set).


Special thanks to Tony Banks, Tony Smith Personal Management, Esoteric Records, and Krissy Fleckenstein for assistance with this interview. For more on Tony Banks, check out the official Genesis website. This interview © 2009 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole or in part without permission.
 

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