Mike Rutherford looks at his watch and says Genesis will probably make it through tonight’s show



By Steve Newton

British supergroup Genesis–lead vocalist-drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, and guitarist-bassist Mike Rutherford–will be appearing at the Pacific Coliseum this Monday, January 9. They will be joined in concert by touring members Daryl Stuermer on guitar and Chester Thompson on drums. 

I spoke to Rutherford over the phone recently while the band was touring in Florida and asked him about the band’s career, its reunion concert last year, and their new self-titled LP.

It’s been 17 years since the nucleus of Genesis was first formed…

Not 17. Please not 17. Not quite 17.

I thought it was ’66?

Well, we knew each other then. We didn’t really start till ’67, ’68.

In your eyes, what have been the biggest highlights of the band’s career?

It’s very difficult to say, because my memory’s gone. No… one remembers the last two or three years much more vividly. I’ll mention some albums that were, to me, highlights of our careers, starting with Foxtrot and Supper’s Ready. Then The Lamb [Lies Down on Broadway].

I thought Selling England By the Pound was a really good album.

As a band we never liked that one that much–it had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. We liked “Cinema Show, “Firth of Fifth”, and “Epping Forest”, but there were some low moments. It was very inconsistent. The Lamb, I think, was one of our best albums. And then Trick of the Tail, because that was quite the challenge, of Pete leaving and Phil taking over the vocals. And then to me Duke, Abacab, and the last one I feel very close to.

Genesis have obviously done well with their present lineup. But do you ever wonder how the band would sound today if it still included Peter and Steve?

It just wouldn’t be possible. You name me a band that’s been going for quite a number of years that’s had five strong individuals who all write a lot of music and all have strong ideas. Bands like the Stones and the Who–they’ve got one or two writers. No band has five strong writers and can last that long–it’s just not possible.

Were the transitions, first from a five- to a four-piece, and then from a four- to a three-piece, hard ones for Genesis to make?

Not really. Five to a four was harder than four to three, because perfecting the voice is always harder.

Was there a lot of pressure on you, when Steve Hackett left in ’77, in handling both bass and guitar?

There was, but a large chunk of the guitar-written material had been written by me, actually. People never really knew who wrote what until we started writing it down. And I normally play half guitar and half bass, so it was only the lead work that was difficult.

Had you picked up much from Steve as far as lead is concerned?

Oh I must have done, yes. I’m sure I must have started with his influence in mind. But I’ve gone in a very different direction now–I feel much more away from the effects. I’ve gone much more for a natural guitar sound, probably because I think that, with all the keyboard sounds, you want the guitar to sound like a guitar these days. It stands out more that way.

What about in concert? Does Daryl Stuermer play guitar as well?

Yes. Daryl’s a brilliant guitarist. We alternate. I tend to play guitar on the new stuff and he plays guitar on the older stuff.

So he plays some bass too, then?

He plays very good bass now.

And is Chester Thompson touring with you as well?

Chester’s drumming again, yeah. It feels very much like a five-piece band on the road–has done for quite a long time.

Last year you recorded your second solo album, Acting Very Strange. I haven’t had the opportunity to hear it yet–what’s the music like on it?

Brilliant. No, it’s interesting–it’s starting to move away from Genesis. The first album I did on my own was very like Genesis, and on Acting Very Strange I feel I’m moving away. I sang for the first time on it, and I learned so much from that. I’ve always thought it would take me two or three albums to actually know where the hell I’m going outside Genesis.

Have you become more confident as a singer in recent years?

I wouldn’t say I am confident, but I’ve gained more confidence, yes. I learnt so much about it. I had only sung backing harmonies, and I discovered that a lot of the stuff I’d written was really hard for me to sing. Whereas now I only write the stuff that I can sing well.

It’s been approximately ten years since Peter Gabriel called it quits.

Yeah, a long time actually.

What’s your honest opinion of the music he’s made since then?

I think it’s very very good. I like his third album best of all.

Last year Peter and Steve joined the current lineup for a one-time reunion performance in Britain. How did that gig go?

Great. It was a charity show. Peter got involved in a music festival involving music from all around the world that got him into very bad debt. I’m not a great one for reunions, but this time there was a good reason for having it.

Did the magic from the old days come back?

It was very nostalgic. That’s why I was very very keen not to record or film it. There must have been almost 60,000 there, and they flew from all around the world. It was a very magical night. But we didn’t play that brilliantly. You don’t, you know, the first gig together like that. There were mistakes.

I think the strongest thing about it was the atmosphere and the emotion, and that never comes out on film. I think for those that were there it was a fantastic night–us included. But I’m happy, though. I’m almost glad that we’re where we are and Pete’s where he is now.

I wanted to ask you about the first single from the new album, “Mama”. What is it about?

It takes place in a brothel. There’s a very strong feeling of heat and steam and sweaty bodies. And this young guy has an obsession with this old hooker, and she doesn’t reciprocate.

So it’s not about a real “mother”.

No. A lot of people thought it was an anti-abortion song, ’cause if you listen to the song with that in mind, it’s good too.

I’ve seen your video for “Mama”. Are there plans for more videos?

We’ve made one for “That’s All” that they’re showing on the telly now. And the best one of all, “Illegal Alien”, is coming out next.

Why the self-titled album? It’s your first one.

Well, it’s the first album we’ve actually written together totally from scratch. No sort of prewritten material, you know, like no bits from me or songs from anyone. We just went in and wrote it with nothing in our heads–just from jamming and improvising.

It’s been quite a few years. How much longer do you think Genesis can keep on going?

Let me see, as I look at my watch we’ll probably make it through tonight’s show. No–I don’t know. For the last 14 albums, every time we go in to write it I think the future of the band is in the balance. We have to write something good in the first five to ten days that makes us think there’s a reason for being together, you know. That incites us to carry on. And so far it’s happened.

But every time we write a new album I think we ask those questions. It’ll happen next time. It happened this time.


To hear the full audio of my 1984 interview with Mike Rutherford subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, 1997
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Robin Crosby of Ratt, 1989
Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, 1984
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Eric Carr of Kiss, 1984
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Ivan Doroschuk of Men Without Hats, 1984
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Michael Lardie of Great White, 1987
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Huey Lewis of the News, 1983
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
Mark McEntee of Divinyls, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Jack Semple, 1993
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
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Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
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Derek Trucks, 1998
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Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
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…with hundreds more to come

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