The Extra Bits That DIdn’t Make The Magazine Feature
How did you go about compiling_ R-kive_ as a democracy?
We were allowed to choose three individual tracks. When I chose mine, I had a slight regret because I wanted a Paul Young track. I liked All I Need Is A Miracle, but that meant we’d have two tracks from one album, and that didn’t feel right. It wasn’t that hard [with the Genesis stuff] really, because they’re obvious choices. Towards the end we were emailing each other and having a laugh. The question really was choices – ‘If that track’s on there, then those two can’t be on.’
Going back to your own stuff, The Living Years and Silent Running probably picked themselves, but what made you go for Over My Shoulder?
I chose three songs from over the full period – one quite early one, one middle one and a more recent one. The interesting thing is that putting the solo songs alongside the band songs, they always sound less different. When you think of Gabriel songs or Mike + The Mechanics or Phil songs, in your mind they’re quite categorised. But when you put them on the same disc, they’re not as far apart as you think they are. When you see Turn It On Again followed by_ In The Air_, then Biko and The Living Years, there’s an amazing strength and variety of songs.
R-kive has three selections from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Given that we’re coming up to the album’s 40th anniversary, did that bring back certain memories?
Yeah. Having done the book and the DVD, I’m quite an expert on my life now. I know the songs better and I think I appreciate them more, actually. I hadn’t really heard them for a long time, so I had to listen to them again to get into the mindset. There’s a lot of great music.
Is it true that you weren’t initially convinced about Peter’s lyrics for The Lamb…?
I think convinced is the wrong word. It’s a wonderful journey, really. The one thing that’s difficult about it, and which is also its strength, is that you can’t summarise it in a sentence. Which is why any idea to develop it into a musical or film is quite hard. But the imagery is fantastic.
Is it a slightly bittersweet memory, given that Peter left the band around that time?
Peter leaving didn’t really affect my feelings about the music. It all happened so long ago that most of the things I can generally tolerate. It was a hard album to make because of what was happening with Peter and the fact it was a double album. It was a weird time. The recording of it was hard, we had a deadline and the rest of it. It’s probably why the next album, _A Trick Of The Tail _, felt so easy, because we’d just had a long double album.
On R-kive, there’s nothing from A Trick Of The Tail, but there is Ripples…
On the very first day of those sessions, Steve was away doing solo promo stuff. So me and Tony and Phil went into the basement in Acton and the first thing we came up with was that. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is good!’ That and a bit of Squonk. If they hadn’t have come out on the first day, we might never have made it. It still sounds powerful now.
What about future plans?
2014 has been a nice year. I’ve had a good time with the Mechanics and we’re due to go to America next year, which we haven’t done for a long time. Plus I want to write some new songs. The Mechanics have been touring for three years and we need some more music. I don’t start touring again until February, so that should give me time.