An Interview with Brian Powers from the Genesis Tribute Band Trespass


In the past decade or so, it seems that a number of tribute bands specializing in the repertoire of Genesis' musical mythos have sprung to the surface, leaping out from behind the shadows of long time European tribute bands like The Musical Box and ReGenesis, who were among the earliest of the larger scale 'professional' tributes on the scene in the early 1990s. Among the more recent ones gaining some attention is Trespass, a local Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area based tribute act.

World of Genesis' own Dave Negrin sat down with drummer Brian Powers to talk about the origins of Trespass, what a Trespass tribute show is like, about the tribute band cult following, and how Genesis' 2007 reunion impacted the business of being a "living story" of the music of one of the greatest and best selling rock acts in history.


WOG: With a number of other tribute bands out there, what makes Trespass unique or different? Does the fact that there are so many other tributes out there make it more difficult to be unique? 

BP: As mentioned above, our repertoire of significant material from both the Gabriel era and the early Collins era of Genesis seems to offer something special for everyone who attends our shows. 

The most frequent compliment we receive is regarding this mix of musical periods, and we also get compliments on our show production elements frequently too, lush sound, great lighting, visuals, etc.

WOG: How would you describe a live Trespass show to someone who has never seen the band before?  

World of Genesis: How and when did Trespass come together?

Brian Powers: Well, it all started at Charterhouse back in 1966… Oops! Wrong biography…  The core of the group, Rob Schmoll on guitars, Mitch Fink on guitars, and myself on drums, had been playing on and off… mostly off (laughing) in various music projects since 1980.  In 2000, we began to discuss doing some type of progressive band tribute show. Bands like Yes, Genesis, and Rush were all possibilities. 

The three of us and some other musician friends actually played a few local shows as “Quiet Earth” doing a 4 mini-set show consisting of Yes, Genesis, Rush and Led Zeppelin, which was quite challenging considering the musicianship of those bands, not to mention finding a singer with could sing all four of those bands’ signature material which, in the end, proved impossible.  

So, in late 2005, when Mitch Fink came across keyboardist Alan Lurty and Andre DeChamplain (Bass/Pedals/Acoustic Guitars) the Genesis of Trespass was formed!

Then we auditioned 20 to 25 singers and fortunately found Brian Filone to take on the lead vocals role for the band. At that time Rob Schmoll, who is also a talented Guitarist decided to leave the stage and become our Audio Producer/Sound guru. And, in 2006, Steve McQuaid joined the band on guitar to complete our musician line-up.

We have two guitarists because we choose to play the studio versions of many of the songs, and there were layered/overdubbed guitar tracks throughout their recordings. 

Actually, we have three Guitarists as our bassist, Andre DeChamplain, also plays several different acoustic guitars during the show, too. Anyway, so that’s how Trespass came about.  

  BP: Well here is a blurb from one of our e-newsletters that I think covers his question: We perform many of Genesis’ greatest songs spread over a decade of their finest music. We are not tied to presenting only a fixed "tour", a single snapshot in time, but rather we offer a wide range of their best musical compositions, including songs never performed live by Genesis… and all in one show. So, indeed "Supper's Ready" and it is a sumptuous feast of music for your enjoyment.  I like to say, “Think of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins appearing again together in a single concert and both singing their tunes…With a thoughtful selection of music and the accompanying characters/theatrics of Peter Gabriel's advant garde presentations, to the polish of Phil Collins era shows with elaborate light shows a la Seconds Out, Trespass provides a musical summation of the best of the best of Genesis, all in one night, for your pleasure, and in celebration of this great music.”

WOG: Do you plan to keep your performances limited to the regional northeastern United States or do you plan to eventually expand outside the region?

BP: All of the members of Trespass have families and professional careers. So, we are unable to do any touring per se. For the most part, are only seeking show bookings in quality theater venues in the tri state area... which Tri states depends on whom you ask!

(Laughs) I would prefer Hawaii and maybe Vail, Colorado and Pennsylvania! Actually, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Maryland are all possibilities… and Ohio, too.  

WOG: How long have you been Genesis fans?

BP: Personally, since 1973. I was playing in a rock band, a lot of Led Zeppelin songs, and one of my friends turned me onto Selling England by the Pound and we went to see Genesis at the Tower Theater. I was amazed and hooked. I had to get these records to drum along to, so I begged and borrowed …permanently… copies of Nursery Cryme, Live, etc. and the rest is their history of great music! 

WOG: Why did you decide to focus on the '70s and exclude the material from the more commercial period of Genesis' career? 

BP: Well we haven’t actually done that per se, we decided to begin with the classic Peter Gabriel era and work our way forward thru Genesis’ repertoire. Currently our show consists of approximately an hour and a half of Gabriel era Genesis material and an hour of early Phil Collins era Genesis material. We perform songs from every record starting with Trespass and through to Wind and Wuthering

We are discussing material to add, and it’s a challenge, as there is so much great material to choose from. We will continue to add old Gabriel era songs, but we are also open to material from And Then There Were Three, Duke, and Abacab. So, if that means the commercial period is the self-titled album, Invisible Touch, We Can’t Dance and Calling All Stations, then I guess you are correct; we probably won’t perform any material from those records. Although, never say never…

Personally, I wouldn’t object to playing a few songs from those commercial records, from Invisible Touch, I like “Land of Confusion” and “Domino”, and from We Can’t Dance I like “Driving the Last Spike” and “Fading Lights”, but I don’t think those are in Trespass’ near future.

Maybe I need a side band, I just need to lose height, weight and hair, and magically learn to sing like Phil and do a spin off project. (laughing)!

WOG: I understand that you've recently added screens to your stage show.
Can you tell me a little about the changes and whether you've replicated the originals or is it your own artistic interpretation? Do you plan on adding other theatrics?

BP: I really like your questions, very adroit young man! Our Singer/Flute/Masked Man Brian Filone is a very talented human being. He’s actually a very talented guitarist in his own right, but of course joined Trespass as the singer, he learned to play the flute just for this show, and in about 6 months of practice at that!

He created all of his own Peter Gabriel style costumes/masks/props, and he recently created all the visual imagery for our show, which we debuted at the April 19th Sellersville, Pennsylvania concert. We have received many positive comments, reviews from fans. 

And, as with many things about our band, Brian chose to create/compile “original” imagery concepts to accompany many of the songs. This element of our show is in the “spirit” of what Genesis did back in the day, and not exact copies. I think it’s a fresh and compelling element to our shows. 

We also purposely do not use any Genesis imagery, photos, graphics, font styles on our website. So, other than the masks/costumes and the fact we are playing their music everything else about Trespass is our interpretation of their stylistic sensibilities going back in time… I think that’s enough to borrow, don’t you?!  Regarding adding other theatrics, well I would like to see Brian Filone fly in the air during Suppers Ready (laughing)!

WOG: Have you received any feedback from Genesis or their management about the clips on YouTube?

BP: (Laughing) Well, I hope they haven’t watched the fans’ cell phone clips from some outdoor show early in our project, a show without any lighting or presentation attributes we use in our primarily Theater shows. 

But no, we haven’t received any communications from anyone related to Genesis, but here is my phone number if Phil wants to invite me for lunch... Just kidding, Phil already has my phone number (really laughing now)!

WOG: Do you plan to record any shows for future CD or video release? 

WOG: Do you think the 2007 Genesis reunion has brought or taken away interest in tribute acts?

BP: I don’t really know. I haven’t sent out that fan poll yet but, hey, that’s a good idea (laughing)! I guess if I have to answer, I would say that the core Genesis fans will always seek out and support Genesis tribute bands that perform a quality show and an evolving show further still, like ours!  

WOG: Is there material that you would like to perform, but is too difficult to pull off in a live setting? Which songs from your set lists tend to evoke the greatest reaction from the audience? 

BP: So far, we have managed to tackle all the songs we wanted to perform to date and have not discarded any songs due to inability to pull them off live. Many of their songs are challenging, but the reward in playing them pays off with enthusiastic fan reaction. 

Would I swap “Suppers Ready” for three other easy songs?  No!  There is the musicality challenge and the technical challenge such as instrument choices to replicate lush sounds over a 10 year period where they were changing instruments record to record, tour to tour… 

Especially Tony Banks, he was constantly trying new keyboard instruments and modifying sounds to his perfectionist level.  We used vintage keyboards when we first began playing shows, but they are so old and problematic and difficult to service that we put them all on the shelf and are now using digital technology, just like Tony for the last tour.  We currently use a pair of Roland Fantom X workstations, along with Alesis Ion, QS8 and QS7 keyboards.  I think the results are excellent, sometimes I close my eyes and think… Can they do that for the drums too?! Can they capture Phil Collins’ evolving drum sounds over a 10 year period on a thumb drive (laughing)?!

Regarding Fan Favorites, well if judge that by the many e-mails we get, it’s all over the board. I think almost every song we do has gotten a “my favorite” vote from fans.  But in watching a DVD of our show and judging audience applause levels, I have to say the most enthusiastic reactions are for “Cinema Show”, “Supper’s Ready”, “The Lamb/Fly /Broadway” trio, “Squonk”, “Dance on a Volcano” and “Afterglow”, so you see the mix of songs from both eras seems to really work for us.

  BP: (more laughing) Well you know, Rob Schmoll and I are the owners of a broadcast/video production company, PMTV, and our company does around 500 live TV events a year, but uh… We can’t afford ourselves! 

But Seriously… We are pretty perfection oriented and are waiting for that “prefect” show to be on the horizon before expending time and money to capture our show in its rightful quality. Even then, is there really a market for CD/DVD programs for a Genesis tribute band?

WOG: I suppose you'll have to release one to find out, eh? I hear Wal-Mart does exclusive artist DVDs... Maybe you could give them a call? When In Collingswood? Maybe Live Over New Jersey (laughs)?!

WOG: Speaking of your live show, do you change up the set list frequently or do you tend to keep the same set list for a longer period of time?

BP: We currently open the show with songs from the Peter Gabriel era and then transition to the Phil era of Genesis, sort of a chronological walk down their musical memory lane. 

We do add and subtract songs show to show, to keep it fresh for the many core Trespass fans who come to all of our shows. 

...And speaking of those fans, we would like to thank you all sincerely for your continued support of Trespass and our endeavor to perform the fabulous music of Genesis at our live concerts.  Without the fans we would be playing this music in my basement - as we had for quite a while -  but it’s better to share than horde it all to ourselves don’t you think??  And if you agree, please come on out to our upcoming shows! 

Our next Trespass next show is: Friday, May 30, 2008 at 8:00pm at The Scottish Rite Auditorium Theater in Collingswood, New Jersey (For ticket information on the May 30th show in southern New Jersey, which is about 30 minutes from Philadelphia, go to: 
Trespass May 30 Scottish Rite Tickets Info). It's a very intimate theater, and is a great place to experience the music of Genesis!

Special thanks to Brian Powers and Trespass for this interview. For more information on up-coming Trespass shows or to get more information, please visit: While you are there, you can also sign up for their mailing list to be sent the latest news on their whereabouts. This interview is © 2008 David Negrin and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.


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