Private Parts & Pieces
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, Trespass.  

On
Monday, 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 more.
 

Anthony Phillips: You’re from New Jersey, is that right?

World of Genesis: Correct.

AP: Where abouts?  

WOG: Right near Philadelphia…

AP: Oh, right? Oh, Philly?!

WOG: Right!

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 nice, actually.

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 of development. 

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 progression.

I 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.

WOG: The 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, really.

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, really. 
 
 
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.
Some 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 Auction:

...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 were.

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 like that.
 
  Years later 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 …

AP: No, 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 re-prints…

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 his work?!

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 original…

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?

Ant On Phil Collins' Appearance On The Geese & The Ghost 

...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... 

 

  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.


WOG: 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 at all.          

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 Genesis pieces…

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!
 


So, 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.

I was 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 Phillips album?

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 Jem Records.

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?
 
 

Ant 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 Records?

AP: Well, no, I’ll tell you what happened. Can I just correct a couple of things?

WOG: Sure….

  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.
 

AP: 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 find, really.
 


Ant 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 places. 
 

 
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 to another…
 

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 publishing deal.

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.

We 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.       

WOG: 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.

WOG: 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. 
    
I didn’t 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 jamming, really.
 
  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 doing this!”
 
WOG: It 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 own corner.
 
  I remember 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 drummer.

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.
 
  AP: No, 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. Slightly bizarre!

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 ‘70s?

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 own corner.

  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.
 

 SELECTED ALBUMS 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 Ballerina".
 

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!   


Special thanks to Anthony Phillips and Voiceprint Records for this interview. For more on Anthony Phillips, check out his
official website. This interview
© 2001-2007 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole or in part without permission.

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