WOG: I liked it. I did find it interesting that the guys are kind of more self-deprecating than they are critical of anyone else in the band. Perhaps itís an English thing? I also enjoyed some of the ďread between the linesĒ comments made.

CT: Like what?

WOG: Well, while heís never negatively criticized in the book, there are sort of off color comments by various band members about how Peter [Gabriel] could be easily distracted, as an example. Heís painted a bit like a very dominant figure that didnít stay focused on any one project too long without being lured in another directionÖ but in a polite and respectful way.

CT:  To me, it makes total sense though.  I mean, anyone Iíve ever met who is as creative as Peter is Ė theyíre usually, like, flyiní. The ideas just seem to come so fastÖ those ideas that get captured and grabbed on to become brilliance. People who are like that, theyíre flyiní all the time.
WOG: How did you hook up with Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere for the Nudge It Up A Notch album?

CT: We all live in Nashville. Felix has called me for several things. Steve knows my playing as well. The beauty of Nashville is that itís this really small place, but you have this density of musicians there. They know stuff Iíve done and fortunately they like it.

The bass player is a good friend of mine, so it was a pretty good fit. There has been talk of doing something else, but so far nothing has happened and thereís not been any touring or anything like that with it.

WOG: Any new projects on the horizon that we can look forward to? Itís always difficult to research new projects youíve done on the Internet because of the organ player Chester Thompson, who is also a big session player.

WOG: What are your thoughts on improvisational playing when touring versus playing an instrument exactly as it sounds on the album?

CT: Well, I think it depends on what you are there for. In the case of Genesis, they are there to recreate something the fans have embraced and expect to hear. My impression of it is that out of respect to their fans, they try to give an audience that thing they have come forÖ which means, it needs to sound like the album. The way I deal with it, most of the time that I have been with them, is that I keep a practice kit back stage, and before the show Ė Iíll spend maybe half an hour or forty minutes, playing anything and everything I want to play. Sometimes pretty exotic stuff, sometimes pretty technical things, but it gets me in a place where Ė once we start the show Ė I donít feel like Iím missing anything.

I feel like my job is to focus and play that lick, and itís still never exactly the same two nights in a row. Iím sure youíve seen enough live shows to know that. When I do my own stuff, itís never the same way twice, and when I played with Weather Report, they never wanted it the same way twice.  That would be the last thing they ever wanted, actually. So, it depends. In this case, I look at it like Iím playing an arrangement. If Iíve got a big band gig and I have an arrangement, I play that arrangement. Thatís how I approach the Genesis stuff. They are arrangements.

CT: (Laughs) Thatís true! You know, years ago we threatened that we were going to do an album together at some point. We both worked with Santana together at one point. Between his schedule and mine, itís never happened though.  Heís a fantastic [Hammond] B-3 player, oh man! ÖEspecially with the bass and the whole deal. Heís amazing at that stuffÖ which is what I grew up doing, so weíve even talked about doing some of that. Although, if and when that ever happens, I have no idea.

Iíve been doing so many sessions these days. If you donít have a big budget for an album, most people end up putting things out themselves. There is a bass player called Bernhard Lackner that I got to play on some tracks with [for the album In Between], which was really fun.  Itís a really good project! He just kind of put it out on his own. There is a piano player in Nashville named Tim McDonald who was originally from New York. He did kind of a jazz trio thing and, man, that was really fun, but again, his is on a small label. He sent me some final mixes, but I donít know where they are being distributed. Of course, if youíre not doing big pop singles these days, it hard to get major label attention.

(Click on Each Album For Details)

 Chester Thompson
A Joyful Noise  

GENESIS - Live 1973-2007              GENESIS - Movie Box


                     O'Donel Levy                        Weather Report
           Breeding of Mind                       Black Market

John Fogerty                                              Genesis
Blue Moon Swamp                                  Live Over Europe


Peter Cetera                                        Santana
   Solitude/Solitaire                           Beyond Appearances


Special thanks to Chester Thompson and Jason Taylor for this interview. For more on Chester Thompson, check out his official website. This interview © 2009 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole or in part without permission. Slammin' Symposium pictures courtesy of Cheri Rogowski.

For more CD titles featuring Chester Thompson, please visit the World of Genesis on-line shop.

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