Private Parts &
An Interview with Anthony Phillips
- An Exclusive Interview -
As an original co-founding member of Genesis,
guitarist Anthony Phillips reportedly served as one of the band's earliest
dominant figures along with Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks. Despite leaving
the band by 1970, his influence can be heard on their debut album, From
Genesis To Revelation, and the landmark progressive rock album,
July 9, 2001, World of Genesis.com’s own Dave
Negrin sat down to a nice long trans-Atlantic
telephone chat with Anthony Phillips (known by
many over the years as simply "Ant") about his
new studio projects, his recent album reissues on
Blueprint Records, his days with Genesis, and much
Anthony Phillips: You’re from New Jersey, is that
World of Genesis: Correct.
AP: Where abouts?
WOG: Right near Philadelphia…
AP: Oh, right? Oh, Philly?!
AP: Ah, I did my first interview ever in Philadelphia!
I have fond memories of it. I could barely get a word
out straight (laughs)! The guy was really, really
WOG: What year was that?
We were given quite a lot of
freedom. It wasn’t successful, because you needed to be on the
road touring or getting a lot of (radio) airplay; we didn’t
have either and the single didn’t work from the album. So,
what happened then was that we were all in that transitional
point at the end of school…
We were lost
souls. We were sort of finding our feet, going from this kind
of transitional songwriting team into a fully-fledged rock
band. So, he (King) kind of left us alone during that period.
He didn’t have a lot of offer us, really. He thought we had
potential, but I don’t think we knew quite what to do with us.
We needed to develop. So, he left us alone during that period
I think he really didn’t particularly like what he heard when
we first started on the road, and he might well have had a
point. I think he was probably wrong, but he was very much a
singles orientated…. What I would call a simple “Pop Man”…
Nothing wrong with that, but as I’m sure you know, the Genesis
of Trespass and the following albums was by no means a
single orientated band. Far from it, in fact. It (the band)
had to go through the long, complicated, interesting and
arresting pieces in order to arrive back eventually by a
torturous path to more simple music. But I believe it needed
to go there in order to arrive back. It was a logical
think he was a bit bewildered by the sort of ten minute long songs that had
four or five minutes of instrumentals. I don’t know if you’re familiar with
“The Knife,” but I think those (kinds of songs) bemused him a bit. I won’t
say that he completely lost interest, but I think he just wasn’t sure what
to do with us, and, of course, there were much more people in sympathy with
that kind of music.
AP: ’77. I did a promo tour for The Geese and The
Ghost, which ran concurrently with Peter Gabriel’s
first solo tour and actually Genesis’ were also over
there on the Wind & Wuthering tour. We kind of
met up. There were all sort of kind of odd
coincidences. I think I was actually in Philadelphia
again, because it was quite a long promotional tour,
when Genesis were playing there and the Rutherford’s
discovered that they were pregnant for the first time,
and they did a kind of live radio appearance where
they announced to the world that they were pregnant
and I then became the godfather to the daughter who is
now, oh dear…, 24. It’s a long time ago…
WOG: I understand, as you were saying (prior to the
start of the interview), that you’ve been busy in the
studio. Can you tell me a little about what you’ve
been working on?
AP: I have to honest with you. It’s probably not going
to be terribly interesting to you or to the fans of
Anthony Phillips “the artiste” as it were, because
really I spend the majority of my time doing
background music to television. That’s become my sort
of modus operandi, really. Sometimes I do wildlife
programs, but this is what’s called a library CD.
Where you do ‘x’ amount of pieces in a certain style,
and they then get used on TV programs, sort of ad hoc,
all over the world…and you also make money from it,
which is why I’m doing it.
We had no contract with him as a producer …or the record company, so when
Charisma (Records), which was Tony Stratton-Smith, came in for us after a
year on the road, we just moved over to them. So, there was no Jonathan King
saying, “Goodbye, guys!” We just kind of drifted away, really.
Trespass album was quite a departure from that first record.
Was there a conscious effort to do something completely
different or did it just evolve that way?
AP: I think it just evolved, really. I mean, we also did find
that when we started on the road that we did do more acoustic
numbers, like on From Genesis To Revelation, but it was
very hard (to perform) live. There wasn’t the amplification there is now for
acoustic instruments, therefore, things had to be more electric. You
couldn’t dominate an audience in a way that you would need to. You’ve got to
remember, we weren’t doing concerts, we were doing… I don’t know what you’d
call them in The States… We were doing what we’d call some Tech Gigs,
like universities or technical colleges on the weekend. When people just
want to have a few drinks and rock, basically. Almost the equivalent of
dance music today, but not so participatory. We weren’t talking concerts;
therefore, they weren’t sitting down and listening to our every little
subtle last note.
Genesis circa 1968 with
Phillips (front left)
|It’s good work! I’m basically paid just to twirl about
with synthesizers and create nice sounds and stuff.
It’s made a hell of a lot easier by the fantastic
quality of the CD-ROMs and all of the sounds around.
So, that’s really what I spend the majority of my time
doing. I tend to kind of block out a month or two
where, or perhaps a bit longer, this has been three
months virtually, were I just really sort of do that.
I kind of have to put a close to all other operations,
WOG: Do you anticipate releasing any of these new
tracks on maybe a Missing Links IV?
AP: Well, good heavens… I’m amazed that you even know
about those! Yeah, possibly. I don’t know, really. The response to the last
one was a little bit lukewarm, and I’m never too sure if it’s a good idea,
because I try to make a judgment as which tracks, that I do for television,
are going to be interesting to other people, but I’m not sure if they are,
So, the only way to get them involved was to stamp on them with volume. I’m
not saying that we were playing like a heavy metal band, but we had to crank
it up a bit.
There was a sort of intermediate period, if you like, between
the two albums, but a number of those songs went unrecorded.
Because when we came to record the second album, there really
wasn’t time to go back and try to remember other material.
Anyway, we were signed by Charisma by the stuff they heard us do
live. So, by the time they heard us, we had moved into a louder,
more aggressive phase, really. So, it was evolution, but there
were kind of markers along the way, but sadly they went
unrecorded… a lot of them.
WOG: There has been a great deal of controversy recently over
the “lost” Genesis Plays Jackson tapes from that period…
AP: I know about it, yeah. You probably know more about it than
me… Do you know what’s happened? (laughs)
WOG: I know that the person who possesses the tape got the reel
from a friend who’s father apparently, at one time, had some connection to
the BBC. A number of tapes were being thrown out and he grabbed a bunch of
them, not knowing what he had.
people try to find out information about the original
library CDs and they try and get hold of them, and I
think it’s a very bad idea. I always feel like it’s a
different person. It’s not that it’s anything that I’m
ashamed of, or that I’m writing in a style that is
completely alien to what I do on my albums, but it,
nevertheless, is me conforming to existing
disciplines, if you like. Obviously, on my own albums,
I am able to do exactly what I want, and I think,
therefore, that people are going to get the wrong
impression (by getting the library CDs). So, I don’t
know. I’m not sure if I will do another Missing
Links. There have been a few television programs
on here (in Europe) that people have said, “Oh, I
would love to hear that!” But it’s only a small
amount. I’m never sure if it’s a good idea, really.
Ant on the Genesis Plays Jackson
...It’s a bit like coming across somebody’s jewelry in
the road. It’s a finder’s keepers attitude, but I
don’t think he’s got a right to auction it.
WOG: The last one (Missing Links III) came out
pretty close to the release of your Soirée
album, and I think a lot of people weren’t sure which
was the “new” Anthony Phillips album. So, I think more
people probably decided to buy Soirée, since it
was all new studio recordings…
AP: I much happier about that, of course. The only
reason I do things like Soirée is for people, you
know, the real fans, to buy. Whereas, the other stuff
(the Missing Links series) is just for another
purpose; it’s sort of a secondary thing releasing it.
So, as I’ve said, I often have a bit of doubt about
it. I’m glad that Soirée got to America as it
WOG: Have you been actively involved with the
Blueprint reissues of your back catalog?
AP: Fairly much so, yeah. It’s been going on for quite
a while. We started in the mid-90s. It took a while to
rest some of the rights back from Virgin (Records),
but I’ve sort of overseen quite a lot of it. I don’t
really have much control over the artwork and stuff
when it was discovered, this person created a website and attempted to
auction the reel tape off to the highest bidder…
AP: Yes, I know that much…
WOG: Last I heard, the auction site had been taken down, and I
believe there was an interview somewhere with Tony Banks talking
about how they were in discussion with this person. I was under
the impression that the band was in negotiation to get the tape
back either legally or through compensation to that person. I
was wondering if you had any news you could share …
I’m not aware of what’s happened. I have my views about it, but
I don’t have any news about it (laughs).
WOG: What are your thoughts on it?
AP: Well, it gets a bit technical. The fact
is, it’s like a painter painting something, isn’t it? He hasn’t paid any
money for it…
WOG: I noticed that a lot of the artwork has changed with the various
AP: Yeah, they have changed a few things. I think, not
put too fine a point on it, I think their budgets
aren’t enormous. So, the whole operation is about
keeping CDs available, rather than being able to do
things to a clearly fantastic level of quality and
promotion stuff. I think a lot of us are just grateful
for any company that decides to put a bit of energy
and time into keeping the stuff out there. So, if
people want to get a hold of them they can. We’ve
heard so many horror stories over here (in Europe) of
major artists that we’ve loved in the past, not being
able to get (recording) deals with majors (major
record labels). One knows how difficult it is, in the
current market, to get any kind of promotion and
backing… certainly (radio) airplay as well. So, yeah,
I’ve been fairly involved.
If the painting gets lost… Well, it’s the
person’s property that painted it, surly! Just as this is our music!
Probably, what it is in this case is a copy, but I really don’t see what
gives him right if he’s paid nothing for those (songs) in the first place…
What gives him the right to demand money for something that actually isn’t
WOG: I do believe that it is actually the original reel tape,
because the picture on the website showed original handwritten
notes explaining the pieces. So, I do think it’s probably an
AP: I don’t believe that if he’s come into the possession
of unreleased Genesis tapes that they are his. Its unreleased material. I
don’t see on what level he can maintain that they belong to him. In what way
do they belong to him?
On Phil Collins' Appearance On
The Geese & The Ghost
only trouble was that by the time it came out, the
chronology was such that everybody was saying, “Oh,
this guy is cashing in on the Genesis lead singer!”
But of course I wasn’t, because we had done that way,
way before he had become the lead singer...
He didn’t pay for the sessions, he didn’t own
rights to the music, he simply has something that has come into his
possession by coincidence, really, which happens to belong to somebody else.
It’s a bit like coming across somebody’s jewelry in the road. It’s a
finder’s keepers attitude, but I don’t think he’s got a right to auction it.
When you decided to compile your own Archive
Collection, did you uncover any material from your
early solo years that didn’t make it to that set?
AP: I think most of it is on there from the very early
era. We did uncover some very early tapes with Mike
Rutherford, but I think as was probably mentioned in
the sleeve notes so much of it was unusable, because
it was really awful. I mean, really terrible! The
singing was… it sounded like a couple of guys… a
couple of drunks in a pub, actually! It wasn’t that it
was shy and retiring, it was kind of lusty and over
confident and just youthful enthusiasm gone mad. It
was really not usable. So, most of it was ruined by
the singing, really. That’s the truth of it. I think
anything that was instrumentally possible we put on,
and it was difficult. I mean, the quality was so
primitive! I had to work really hard to make it usable
WOG: After you left Genesis in 1970, you didn’t
release your first solo album until 1977, as you said.
Can you tell me what you were doing in the seven years
that preceded The Geese & The Ghost?
AP: I think for about a year, I sort of wondered
around with my head in my hands wondering what was
going to happen (laughs)! No, I studied pretty soon
after leaving, after sort of a bit of a lost period. I
did get down to studying music. There was no kind of
grand plan. I just kind of wandered into it… Piano,
first of all. I learned to read music, which I
couldn’t until I studied classical guitar and
qualified as a teacher.
WOG: From your recollection of the material, do you think it’s
something that if the band got back in their possession that
they would want to release to the public?
AP: Pass! I can’t really
remember to be honest. I think it would be interesting more from a
historical point of view, because I think… I know …that some of that music
ended up in other pieces, didn’t it?
WOG: Right. It’s also claimed that the Jackson tape is the first
conceptual piece of music done by the band….
AP: Well, I think it was sort of the pre-cursor to some of the longer
instrumental pieces. I think there were things with bits of “Stagnation”
in there. I think there was something that ended up in one of the major
WOG: I think maybe “The Musical Box?”
AP: Yes, That’s right! It definitely has part of “The Musical Box,” and
something from “The Lamb (Lies Down On Broadway)” I think, as well. I can
only recap. It is the analogy of somebody coming across something that
doesn’t belong to them and then demanding money for it. Now, it should be
up to the original owners to give a reward for it, but it’s not for him to
go around and auction it. It seems to me to be very, very strange. But
perhaps I’m old fashioned!
then I could earn some money teaching. I was very
unqualified not doing any of that technical stuff, the
formal stuff, until I was 19. So, I found it difficult
to get into any kind of music full-time. I was way
behind everyone else. I kind of picked up bits along
the way. I studied part-time, things like
orchestration… So, I learned how to orchestrate.
still teaching during the mid-70s, which is when we
started doing The Geese and The Ghost. The
Geese and The Ghost was sort of in gestation for
about two years. It was started in late ’74, and not
released until early ’77. Too long to go into now to
tell you all the reasons, but I was waiting for Mike
Rutherford quite a lot of the time. He was on the
road… It started out as much more of a duo album. So,
you’ve got the lost period, the studying period, and
the studying plus The Geese and The Ghost
period. It actually seems… If you say 1970 to 1977, it
seems like an incredibly long time, but actually, it
wasn’t really. I left (Genesis) at the end of 1970,
and within two and a half or three years we were
planning The Geese and The Ghost. It just took an
incredibly long time.
The whole of ’74 was the turn
around of material. Mike (Rutherford) and I went to
southern Ireland in late ’73 or early ’74 and we wrote
some of the extended instrumental pieces then, and
spent 1974 kind of planning out trying to get all of
the equipment. It was done by ’75 and it sat on the
shelf in ’76 and didn’t get released. That sort of
shows you a bit of what was going on…
||WOG: Were there any other “lost” recordings or other recordings that
didn’t make the Archive box that you, personally, would like to
have seen released?
AP: One or two early Genesis demos that were missing, yeah. There were
some other songs from the pre-proper recording period that did go missing.
So, one or two things.
WOG: Do you recall the names of the songs?
AP: There were probably lots of them. I mean, Tony Banks would be more
familiar with this, because he had to think a lot more about this. I’m
biased, of course, because I’m bound to remember one of my own songs,
aren’t I?! But I do remember a song called “Everywhere Is Here” which we
demoed at the same time as “Visions of Angels.” At the time, it was
thought that “Everywhere Is Here” was the superior song….
Now, it probably
wasn’t, but at least it was regarded as decent. That would have been
competitive if you like, certainly, for the first (Archive) box
set. So, that was kind of sad, really. I think there were probably others
as well, but I think Tony Banks would be the one to answer that, because
he has an encyclopedic knowledge of that period.
WOG: At what point did it change from being a
Phillips/Rutherford album to being just an Anthony
AP: It sort of became inevitable, because Mike was
away so much. Because he was away so much, we didn’t
sort of argue about direction. I just became… I had to
put more time into it, and I had to control it more.
One of the reasons why we lost a lot of time was
Genesis doing a double album of The Lamb (Lies
Down On Broadway), and that meant that we got
squeezed out. Then, of course, our final period of
recording coincided with Phil Collins taking over (as
lead vocalist), but first of all the trauma of Peter
Gabriel leaving. So, Mike was far, far more engaged
with that. I mean, his whole career was threatened at
that point. It seems easy now, with the benefit of
hindsight, that Phil Collins was the heir apparent,
but it was by no means obvious at the time… at all!
So, he (Mike) was pretty much taken up with that and
reestablishing Genesis, until it gradually came about
in the obvious plan.
||WOG: One of the things that I was surprised that didn’t make the first
Genesis Archive box set was a live version of “Looking For Someone”
recorded at the BBC in 1970. It was released as part of a BBC promotional
only CD (in the late 1980s), and the sound quality is perfect. Were you
still the guitarist when that BBC session was recorded?
AP: We did a well-known live BBC radio session, which they pulled a lot of
things off for that first Archive collection, like “Let Us Now Make
Love” and “Pacidy.” If it’s from that session, then I’m the guitarist. To
be honest, I’m not completely and encyclopedically familiar with what they
put on that box set. If they didn’t put that on, there must be a good
reason why. Maybe it was a bit long or too rough or something?
I think he felt less involved
with The Geese and The Ghost, or what became
called The Geese and The Ghost, because it
wasn’t originally called that. So, it just sort of
gradually, metamorphosized into my own solo album,
which made it a bit more difficult to sell obviously.
Eventually we got there, courtesy of Marty Scott of
WOG: You had gotten Phil Collins involved with that
project as well. At what point of the recording did he
get involved with that album? Was that more toward the end?
on Quitting Genesis
Anyway, my leaving
had one great result, of course. If I hadn’t of left,
Phil Collins would have probably never joined, so it was
all worth it (laughs)!
AP: We had worked as a threesome before. Not in any
kind of live way, but on a couple of things. We had
done a single in the end of 1973, which never got
released, which is well known, because it has been
bootlegged ad nauseum called “The Silver Song.”
So, we had done stuff then, so when it came to the
album… No, maybe I’m a year out, maybe it was ’74? I
can’t remember, but basically, it was a little bit
before we did The Geese and The Ghost. I think
there was always the thought of getting Phil Collins,
because Mike got on very well with him, and I did as
well. It just seemed to be a natural thing to do. The
only trouble was that by the time it came out, the
chronology was such that everybody was saying, “Oh,
this guy is cashing in on the Genesis lead singer!”
But of course I wasn’t, because we had done that way,
way before he had become the lead singer (laughs).
That’s just one of those kind of ironies, but he was
fantastic, even then.
WOG: Virgin Records hasn’t been the most aggressive
label, in terms of remastering back catalog or even
taking care in the re-release of some of those albums.
Is that what served as a motivation for you to seek
out another label to get involved with the reissuing?
Do you have any plans to go back and buy back the rest
of your back catalog either from Virgin or Astral
AP: Well, no, I’ll tell you what happened. Can I just
correct a couple of things?
||Are you aware of the story that they actually found a number of the old
recordings in an old top box in my attic in my house? Did you know that?
WOG: Yes, I had heard something about that…
AP: It is actually, true. I mean, one of the chaps that runs my fan club,
kept saying to me about my own stuff, “Why don’t we go have a look in the
attic?” And I had this top box that was not mine, it belonged to this guy
called Richard Scott, who I collaborated with. It had a lot of electrical
stuff in it, and I’d thrown old tapes in (this box). We just kind of
started looking though tapes and we found the From Genesis To
Revelation minus strings stuff. And, the unreleased tracks, so that’s
where that track “Build Me A Mountain” came from. I pleaded with the
others not to put it out, because I though the guitar playing was so
awful! I’m not in tune either. There are three guitars and none of them
are in tune (laughs)! …But they decided to put it out.
Also, I think “In The Wilderness” without strings, as I’m sure you know,
there was a phase of From Genesis To Revelation where we didn’t
have any of the orchestral instruments on them.
Basically, what happened was I signed with Virgin
Publishing as a songwriter… or sorry… as a film and TV
writer when my album career was pretty much dead.
Nothing was really happening over here (in Europe). I
was a composer first and foremost, and Passport
(Records) was still releasing things, but what
happened was Passport Records went bust in The States.
So, I had no contract at all… nothing! I was then
completely in limbo.
||The way the
recording was in those days, once they recorded them on, we couldn’t go back
to the previous stage. We were at odds with the powers that be about the addition
of those strings, because we thought it made it all sound a bit weak and
floozy, but we didn’t have our way and we thought there were no surviving
mixes of that incarnation as it were. It was an enormous treasure trove to
on The Future:
I’d love to do a major acoustic
guitar album with lots of different string instruments, I’d love to do an album of songs, and I’d love to do
one like Slow Dance, maybe with
vocals… semi-orchestral, but maybe a bit heavier in
WOG: It was surprising. Listening to that album and then listening to
Trespass all these years, I thought there was some kind of huge
transformation. I couldn’t see how Genesis evolved from the first album
into Trespass. Then, after hearing the authentic versions on the
Archive box set, it all kind of makes sense how you got from one point
So, having signed to Virgin
Publishing as a writer, as a film and TV writer, and
then through the backdoor got the record deal. It was
nothing to do with Genesis, although, obviously, the
fact that I had been in Genesis helped. I wasn’t
managed by Genesis’ management at that stage. So, what
happened was that I got the record deal through the
Virgin, to their credit, did the initial CD
remastering of all the stuff, and they did it well.
The only problem was that within a year or two of
becoming part of it, EMI comes in and takes over the
whole shooting match and gets rid of half of the
artists. They got rid of our whole label, which was
kind of more alternative, non-mainstream. The problem
is that now that it’s all run by accountants, there’s
no kind of long-term deal on people that sell
steadily. You’ve got to be making big bucks in any
given year or you’re out. So, I lost the contract.
then had to negotiate for Voice Print (owner of
Blueprint Records) to get the rights back from Virgin
(Records) and that was quite difficult, because hung
on to three of them. They hung on to The Geese and
The Ghost, Wise After The Event and 1984,
and Wise After The Event is particularly
difficult to get a hold of (on compact disc). They
won’t relinquish those rights, but they gave us what’s
called a partial reversion of rights on the others, so
that the others could be released and luckily have
been. That’s the story there. Virgin did do a great
job, but then, through no fault of their own, the EMI
takeover blew the whole thing out of the water.
What is it about collaborating with Guillermo Cazenave
that makes you want to work with him repeatedly? Do
you have any plans to work together again?
||AP: Yeah, the only sad thing is that there was an era or probably two
eras, really… One before going on the road and one actually on the road,
which I alluded to earlier. All songs during that transition period that
never got recorded, which would make a lot more sense of the whole thing,
really, because it wasn’t a sudden sort of change. But that’s very good to
hear that, because people must have often wondered, “Well, how did they
get from here to there?” and if the box set has illuminated that, then I
think it validates that, and it’s good.
What lead to your decision to quit Genesis? Do you
recall the final days before you left the band?
AP: Well, I think it’s fairly well chronicled. I
suffered from stage fright… Not initially. Initially, I
was one of the keenest (to play live). In fact, Mike and
I were the two keenest to get out on the road.
have any problems to start with, but my health kind of
took a dive. I was a bit younger than the others. The
other critical thing was that I had something called
Glandular Fever, which is kind of an adolescent thing.
You can be hospitalized with it… I wasn’t, but it
recurs, and you have to be quite careful for a year or
so after you’ve had it. I went on the road with Genesis
only a few months after having it, so I was not starting
off in a great position of physical health, and the life
we led on the road was pretty, pretty basic. I mean,
when we did gigs overnight somewhere, there was no
question of staying over. We didn’t have enough money,
so we just kind of crash on people’s floors. People say
that there’s a link between certain physical things and
mental things, but I guess I’ll never know, really. But
I started off at a sort of a low, kind of physical state
and I kind of got warn down by it, really. I started
getting very tense about it. I found the pressure got to me.
AP: We haven’t worked together that much to be honest. Basically, he was an
old student of mine. He came over in the early 80s, when I knew a lot of
Argentinean people. He is actually Argentinean, although he lives in Spain.
He came over a couple of times and we chatted. He came over in 1995, and we
just kind of did a bit of jamming, really. And low and behold, he takes
these tapes back to Spain, and spices them up a bit and decides to release
them. I had slight doubts about some of it, because, like a lot of
improvisation and jams, you have inspired moments but you also have some
rather weak moments. You’re never quite sure if the inspired moments make up
for the weaker moments, but he seemed sure, so I kind of went along with the
enthusiasm. Then I went out there to do a promo tour, which was in Barcelona
(Spain), which was fantastic actually. We did a few more live things, and he
released a live radio sessions album. That’s been it really. We get along
well, but we didn’t really write together as such. We just did a bit of
||It’s kind of
like once we got to the state of the gigs were all these really important
people were coming to watch us… It was that feeling of having to go out
there and be brilliant. The music, as I’m sure you know, was incredibly
intricate and tight. There wasn’t much chance to relax. There was very
little letting off of steam. I think that kind of constriction didn’t help
either. I remember I used to get terribly, terribly wound up, worried and
tense thinking, “God, this gig is so important!” I was only about 18! …17 or
18. It was something that I kind of couldn’t handle. The others could, they
just handled it in different ways, but for whatever reason, it just got on
top of me a lot and I began to really find it difficult. I battled it for a
while, and then my body said, “No more!” And I got… Well, it sounds worse
than it was, but I got something called Bronchial Pneumonia, so I kind of
went down. I think during that period, I just decided, “You shouldn’t be
seems like, on your solo albums, that you’ll pull out an
old song that dates back quite a few years. Do you tend
to write a song, and if it doesn’t fit the mood of the
album, sort of just put it away and maybe dust it off
and modify it in a few years?
AP: I guess so. Also, I don’t write that many songs
nowadays. I tend to write more instrumentals. So, when
asked to do a couple of quick things for the live radio
sessions for a couple of those live radio things in
Barcelona, it seemed easier somehow to pick up an old
song that was quite simple, which I knew well. I tend to
write more instrumental stuff nowadays. I suppose with
all of the re-releases, those songs will become quite
fresh again. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to write
more songs, but it really hasn’t been my direction for
the past couple of years. I’m sure it will come back to
that at some stage.
WOG: When The Anon and The Garden Wall first merged to
form Genesis, were there some conflicts within the group
in terms of who the primary songwriters were and who
gets to sing lead vocals? Do you have any recollections
of those early recording sessions or working those kinds
of issues out?
AP: Well, I’ve got thousands and thousands of
recollections; it’s a question of how long I can bore
you for, really (laughs)! Anon, as such, was more of a
group. I mean, Garden Wall was just kind of a
one-concert team of friends that just got together and
did a one-off thing. Anon was a proper group that used
to do (Rolling) Stones and Beatles numbers and stuff and
play at parties on the holidays. Mike Rutherford was in
it and then out of it and joined another lot, and we
were very friendly, so we started writing. Then, we
teamed up with Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks, who were in
that Garden Wall one-off thing. So, it was as two pairs
of songwriters that we came together. Of course, there
was a bit of jostling for position, if you like. When
you have four people writing, there’s not a lot to go
around. So, there’s bound to be a difference… Not a
conflict necessarily, but just people fighting for their
thinking, “This isn’t great. I’m suffering here, and I’m messing it up for
everybody else.” Basically, the group had to come off the road for two weeks
when I came down with Bronchial Pneumonia, and it just kind of seemed like I
was doing the wrong thing, really. Anyway, my leaving had one great result,
of course. If I hadn’t of left, Phil Collins would have probably never
joined, so it was all worth it (laughs)! It was all worth it for that.
WOG: I don’t see the correlation, since you are a guitarist and Phil is a
AP: No, no, no. I think what happened, you see, is that…
I was being a bit flippant, really. The thing is that everything was
going along ok, but I guess looking back at it… I mean, John Mayhew, the
drummer, was fine. We didn’t have secrets going around saying, “Oh, that
drummer’s awful!” Not at all. But I think when I left; there was a big shake
up. Because of the big shake up… John Mayhew was a bit older and came from a
different background… and I think he just didn’t quite fit in some respects.
So, I think they decided that they wanted to make a change and, because of
that shock of me leaving, they decided, “Right, we need to do something
else…” and so John went. Of course, Phil happened to be around. It may well
have been that if I hadn’t left that we would have gone along steadily for
quite a while… Phil would have joined another group, as I’m sure he would
have done, and been successful, quickly. So, life is strange, isn’t it?!
(laughs) That’s how it works out…
WOG: When you first got that telephone call about doing
the reunion (in 1998) to help promote the first Genesis
Archive box set and doing the press junket, what
were your feelings about getting back together with your old bandmates? I
don’t know what your relationship with them have been like over the years…
WOG: As a singer/songwriter, I would think a major issue
would have been if you wrote a song you were proud of
and handing it off for someone else to sing…
AP: Well, singing wasn’t too much of a problem. I think
we all nearly 99 percent of the time were happy for
Peter to do it. There was the odd thing, where it might
be very personal song…I do remember a couple of songs…
Young, kind of youthful, romantic songs, which he wasn’t
involved with… Where he might find it difficult to get
it, or perhaps to do it, with the same kind of heart and
lung emotion… There were a couple of songs, one that
Tony Banks did himself on the road to start with, I
think he sang it. And there was another one, or parts of
it, of mine, which I did part of, but very quickly. Very
quickly that passed. I think it was more that we were
happy to do the singing. It was more the songwriting.
People wanted to push their songs to be the ones that
were done. If you’ve got a set with not that many songs,
maybe 10, 12 or 15 songs, because we had lots of long
instrumentals, that’s not that many between four people.
So, there was a lot of competition to see who could have
most of “the cake,” if you like…
WOG: After Jonathan King’s departure as producer, what
was the reaction of the band?
AP: It didn’t really happen like that. His departure as
such didn’t really happen. There was no formal
relinquishing of interest or position. He let us do all
these singles and then he let us do an album, which was
very good of him, really.
absolutely fine. I was delighted! I was terrified about getting back on
stage again, but as far as doing something like that, it’s fine. I mean, I
used to get a little bit nervous before doing interviews, because I just
wasn’t used to doing them. Live TV or camera interviews … I wasn’t really
used to that too much… but it was great! It was lovely to see everybody! We
were only together for a very short kind of period of time, en mass, as it
were. It was kind of strange, really, being in the same room as these
international superstars… and we were all kind of on an equal level.
WOG: Now that Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks have put
Genesis on hold indefinitely, do you anticipate working
with Mike again? Perhaps working on that
Rutherford/Phillips duo project you attempted in the
AP: I don’t know. I can’t see it happening, because I
think Mike has moved on. He’s gone one way, and I think I’ve gone another
way. I’m not sure it ever works… going back in life. You always fantasize
about going back, and you have fond memories of the past and you see things
through rose-colored spectacles, but I think often when you go back, you’re
different people and it just doesn’t work. I mean, if Mike were to suggest
something, I certainly give it serious thought, but I can’t ever really
think it would happen, to be honest.
ANT ON THE EARLY DAYS OF GENESIS:
So, it was
as two pairs of songwriters that we came together. Of course, there was a
bit of jostling for position, if you like. When you have four people
writing, there’s not a lot to go around. So, there’s bound to be a
difference… Not a conflict necessarily, but just people fighting for their
He mainly writes songs
nowadays… Very good songs. I don’t really do that very much. So, I think
it’s very unlikely.
WOG: Did you have any new plans on the horizon to record
a new studio album?
AP: No definite plans. Lots of ideas, but no definite
plans, I’m afraid. I’d love to do a major acoustic
guitar album with lots of different string instruments, I’d love to do an album of songs, and I’d love to do
one like Slow Dance, maybe with
vocals…semi-orchestral, but maybe a bit heavier in
places. But it’s all on the backburner at the moment.
I’m just sort of giving the TV music a really good shot,
as they say in sport of the moment, and we’ll see where
we get to in a year or two’s time. It’s going well, and
it’s hopefully going to present a bit of a platform,
with a bit of luck, for me to then be able to branch
back and do some things…No promises, but it is my vowed
intent at some point to get back.
BY ANTHONY PHILLIPS
Click on the album art to buy the CDs or hear audio clips
Anthony Phillips - Soiree
Ant's 2001 album featuring "Hope of Ages", "Oregon Trail", "Fivers" and "Sad
Anthony Phillips - Archive Collection V.2
Part two of Ant's collection of rare and previously unreleased recordings.
Includes early recordings with Mike Rutherford (2-CD set!).
Anthony Phillips - Soundscapes
Anthony Phillips - Radio Clyde
2-CD Budget priced compilation of
Previously unreleased 1978 live
Ant's later solo material. A great
recording! Fresh from the
place to start! Recommended!
archives! Check it out!
thanks to Anthony Phillips and Voiceprint Records for
this interview. For more on Anthony Phillips, check out
website. This interview
© 2001-2007 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole
or in part without permission.
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