K.O.M.E. Radio San Jose interview with Anthony Phillips conducted by Joe Kelly March 1977
Anthony Phillips, a very rare occasion. I'm glad to have you with us!
Who? Oh, me...
That's you...at least the last time I checked. Let's see your driver's license! (laughter) So, anyway Anthony, you are here on a promotion tour with your new album The Geese & The Ghost...
And we will go back into your past just a little bit and...
Not my past.
A little bit, a little bit. Everyone knows that Anthony Phillips used to be the lead guitar player for Genesis - for the first two Genesis albums: From Genesis To Revelation and Trespass...
From Stagnation to Degradation. Very simple - I mean it wasn't even a band to start with. It was just a bunch of raw composers making strange noises - we were just a bunch of composers.
When was the band first formed?
So the first album was recorded in '69?
No, recorded in '68 and released in '69.
What was your cause to split after only two albums?
I finally couldn't really work within that close format. Four composers are a very tight, very tight knit unit. It's a hell of a strain if it's all of you writing because everything has to be split four ways. You want it to sound one way and somebody else wants it to sound another way. You compromise for a while but after a certain amount of time it really becomes too much - and you just say 'I've got to have it this way - I can't go on'. I was getting very displeased with a lot of the product, and it just got to me to such an extent that I just had to quit.
You felt you were overshadowed by the other writers?
Not so much overshadowed. I didn't feel... I mean everything having to be split into a quarter. Each time there was a final product, I didn't really feel it reflected me. Of course it did reflect me to a certain extent, but only in a limited way and the amount of compromise for me in the end just got too much. It's very difficult. I mean you have to be exceedingly tolerant in that sort of set-up and by definition the average composer is not that type of person. He is going to be aggressive, getting his own way, and if you have too many people it is a bit like too many cooks spoil the broth, and I guess that was what was happening, certainly...
And all of a sudden, late last year, we got this album called The Geese & The Ghost by Anthony Phillips, and it is a great album. It seems like it is something you've been working on for along time by listening to it. It sounds like it was well worth the time it took to put together.
I hope so, it is difficult to gauge yet. I find listening to most of it terribly tedious but that is inevitable I think when you have worked on something so hard like that.
How do you go about putting a song together? Is that along drawn out process or is it something that comes naturally to you? Does it take a lot of time normally or is it just a hobby or is it whenever you feel like it?
There are no rules to a composition at all. Some songs come quickly. Others grow, mature every year adding bits to other bits. I seem to write less songs nowadays, sadly. More instrumental pieces...I don't seem to write so many songs, which is a shame but you can't do everything. I mean, I'm now writing all sorts of things which I couldn't do before, but you always want what you haven't got - that's just the way it goes. I tend to be writing more orchestral stuff nowadays. Long instrumentals, tedious, boring intellectual rubbish! (laughter).
Well, it is obvious you are still in touch with Genesis, and obviously still good friends with most of Genesis since Michael Rutherford and Phil Collins are both on your album.
Yes, they are good friends.
Are you planning on getting any concert tours together?
I would love to take this album on the road. I don't think it will happen for a while because it is going to need a lot of resources, a lot of back up; a lot of musicians. Heavens! I could conceive by early next year, with the second album under my belt, taking both albums on the road. I think at the moment it is highly impractical - there would be no audience as well. I mean, there would be a small audience, but the largest part of the audience would be made up of people that weren't really coming to listen to me 1977, but the guy who left Genesis, and I think it would die.
You have talked about another album, and what kind of plans do you have for a follow-up to The Geese & The Ghost?
First of all, an album of Swedish cycling songs.
Really, are you Swedish?
No, that I am afraid is untrue, I am deliberately wasting your time. Sorry Sir, I shall have to shoot you. (In perfect John Cleese accent). Shoot the bloody bouzouki!
Actually, if you can just be serious for one moment, Anthony and tell us what your next album is gonna be like.
It's gonna be a mixture of Afro-jug-folky-mystical...
...with Byzantine-bluegrass overtones.
Sounds like it's gonna be a million seller!
Possibly near classical fusion, of course.
It sounds platinum.
Uranium I would say! I am doing an album as soon as I get back to England with a friend. This is going to be based on a book called Tarka The Otter unavailable in the States, unfortunately. That's not the follow-up to this album, obviously - I guess it is a piece of programme music, because it is definitely written around the book. It is going to be quite orchestral. This is with a guy called Harry Williamson. It is gonna be further in a lot of the ideas of combining rock instruments with orchestral instruments - I don't mean just in the ways of overdubbing, but actually conceiving the two together.
Will it be less lyrical?
You mean lyrics as in words?
No lyrics-totally instrumental. I think it will be more dynamic than The Geese & The Ghost because it will have to be. It will be depicting anything from gentle mother and otter cub scenes to fights to the death. So it is going to be very dramatic in places, which is going to be great. Then after that it will be time to do my next solo effort. I don't know; there's a million and one things I can do at the moment. I mean, there's so much material at the present moment - I figure there'll be at least one long instrumental and there will probably be quite a lot of songs, if I can do something about my voice.
Your voice is alright, Anthony - I think that one track on side two sounds good.
My voice is absolutely brilliant!
I think it is fine. Do you have any idea for any of the musicians on your next album?
I don't think you'll find I will be using Phil Collins again because I really think it is time to push myself away - and the Genesis comparisons are irritating. It is something I have to live with because Mike and I share a very similar twelve string style, but having Phil singing is asking for it. I mean, the fact that we did that before Genesis did A Trick Of The Tail, and before Phil became lead vocalist, is quite incidental. People don't care about that. The fact that it has come out in this order makes them probably think that I used Phil because Phil was on the crest of a wave. Far from it, it was when Genesis were right in the throes of Gabriel leaving, but anyway there you are!
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