Genesis Website Interview

 

The questions for this interview were submitted by a number of fans around the world via the Genesis Website forum and Ant's responses to them were originally posted there in December 2009. 

In order to preserve the interview following the closure of the forum, we are now publishing it here.   

Part One: Modern Questions

Are you working on any new material for an album release in the future?  Would you think about doing a more song based album at any point?  Perhaps even a band based album? 

There's nothing definite in the pipeline for a brand new album although there is lots of material - of different types - as always ! Library music, is at present the senior partner in my two-fold career and that has been full-on for the last five years (really since Field Day) and I can't contemplate a long sabbatical from it whilst I'm still in demand there.......

I would love to do a Slow Dance meets Geese album - I doubt there'll be a full-on electric band album again - perhaps with some vocals at times as well but this would need lots of loving care, attention, time - and would entail all the usual angst, soul-searching, resolve to join Foreign Legion etc ! Elaborate solo albums, though they may make sense in the end, are lots of the time lonely and confusing places, like being lost in a forbidding forest (apologies HP !) trying to find the way back out to the light ! 

With regard to songs : I write lots but finish few! Really need to collaborate on this - not least because my voice is limited !

Will there be any more releases in the Missing Links Series?  Is it feasible to release your Library music in any other format?

Obviously Missing Links 4 has come out since these questions were sent and has hopefully addressed the issue of all the odd tracks released on charity / ambient compilation CDs etc.......

There is a mountain of other library music that needs investigation with regard to commercial release and we - that is Jonathan Dann, my right hand man! and myself - shall be looking at this over the next few years. Sadly the Atmosphere Orchestral 'English Pastoral' project of 1999 cannot be released because of Musicians Union issues but, more happily, the recent double Orchestral CD that I've done for the same company is luckily not similarly fettered and we hope will yield a good solid album's worth of material !

The question mentions 'any other format'.....nonplussed on that one.....surround....in a sandwich.....?!

Which releases of yours are you most proud of, or regard as your personal favourites?

I find it very hard to listen to any of my old albums without feeling 'must do better'. Generally, have a 'two year rule' between completion and listening again : that way you've forgotten what you were aiming for (probably something quite illusory anyway!) and then initially it sounds ok and a nice surprise. With each subsequent listen - as is necessary when re-mastering - the pain & dissatisfaction threshold rises ! Best to keep moving on !

No favourites really though Geese still has idealism of youth writ large across it and Slow Dance has moments of which I'm quite proud.

It has been reported on Steve Hackett’s site that you recently contributed some guitar to one of his tracks on his upcoming release.  How did this come about?  Do you think there might be more collaborations with Steve in the future? 

Steve had been asking me for a while to play on his album but couldn't understand why : he a very fine dedicated & versatile guitarist and myself, as much a keyboard player mainly operating mouse ! But he was dogged and so went over armed with Guild 12-string in normal tuning - though down a tone - to listen to track, panic, go away and make watertight excuse! However, this pretty chorus came on in B flat Major - thus I was in C (hurrah, lots of ringey open strings !) - and a part flowed instantly. It helps if the music's good and you like it!

I was still thinking, 'ok for starters, play me the rest and I'll go away and work on it properly', but Steve and the delightful Roger King seemed to like it fresh from the pool, as it were, and so down she went. Steve left the room and I recorded it with Roger - very relaxed. Added a harmony part - all seemed easy, as if a team of guardian angels were with me ! Back in comes Steve and all very happy, albeit with a bit of savvy jiggery-pokery from Roger. Much surprise - and huge waves of (un-shown!) relief - from my quarter !

The sun not yet being over the yardarm there was time to pootle around with something else -unplanned, I think. So I just vamped along very loosely - but by this time in a very relaxed manner to Sleepers. Fun, in B Minor for me but didn't think I was really scoring given both size of track and guitar ensemble therein. However, again the effect was pleasing to Steve - kept wondering if he was now bored with the track and it was just the novelty of the 12 string that was seducing him.....but it appeared not!  A thoroughly enjoyable, convivial and seamlessly easy post-tea session where Bob really was my father's brother.....

As the great seer George Bushtradamus once said, 'The future is ahead of us'........so for any subsequent collaboration, watch this space !

Would you possibly be interested in being a part of a Gabriel-era genesis reunion tour in some capacity? Perhaps a 30 minute acoustic set of tunes like Pacidy, Dusk, Stagnation, Visions of Angels, and the like.. Possibly even, The Knife?

In an ideal world yes but in an AP live-phobia world, no! I'd have to have proved I could do it by myself first..........besides no experience of serious, heavy live work for.........40 years ! - so would feel hopelessly and irredeemably out of my depth.

This one is a regular nightmare for me: one where I'm on stage with them and don't know the set and they're all glowering at me, the other where I turn up late during the start of the set, no roadie helps me plug in etc and then, in a recent classic variation, the guitar is made out of chocolate and suddenly breaks in half ! Go Freud on that one !

Would you want to (re) release your music on SACD, or some other surround format?  What are the pluses and minuses associated with the process of preparing surround mixes?

Would love to - never considered it - at least not seriously. Very expensive exercise and one generally only undertaken by very major artists......

In the present, with musicians presenting themselves to their fan-base in a variety of ways, would you consider doing any live work - in concert or on the net - if the right musicians came along?  Or, even live solo performances recorded for viewing on YouTube, or your own website? 

Possibly but again, time involved in remembering (!) / practising a  body of complex music makes the idea not that practical at present.......perhaps with Quique Berro Garcia at some stage in the future....wouldn't have the budget to pay many musicians for  all the rehearsal time !

Are there any more archive releases coming down the pike?   Any possibility of an Archive #3 release in the near future?

Jon Dann always has an Archive Collection on the boil....the vaults are still being scoured !

On Ivory Moon, you reworked “Let Us Now Make Love” in a solo arrangement.  Is there any interest on your part of doing this with any other Genesis tracks you have a personal connection to? 

None that spring to mind though there was 'Old Wives' Tale' on Antiques, a re-working of 'Little Leaf' - one of our early-road gentle ditty casualties!

Is there any chance of working with Mike Rutherford again, playing and writing acoustic songs on two twelve strings?  With both Genesis and the Mechanics seemingly on hold for the moment, would you want to write new songs with Mike for any future release?

Exciting potentially but you never know years on if these things will work.............

Are there any musicians you would like to work with?

Lots......esp. those with great voices and lyrical prowess - a Sting, Kate Bush-of that ilk. For myself as a guitarist, Lyle Mays, though his pre-eminence in the jazz field would be very daunting! What a musician !

Quique and Joji Hirota still great favourites of mine though Mike is still the musician with whom I'm most fundamentally sympatico.....Many film composers that i greatly revere i.e. Morricone, Thomas Newman, George Fenton but really wouldn't be fit to sharpen their pencils !

With the release of your early album remasters, are there any plans to remaster or expand any of your other catalogue albums? 

Sides has had the same loving and expert treatment from Jon Dann : PP1 & 2 have both been re-mastered (PP1 with extra track ) and are being packaged together -artwork quality much improved ! Both will be released in the early part of 2010........

 


Part Two: Historical Questions

What are your recollections of your time with Mike Rutherford in Anon? 

Heavens! He was the rhythm guitarist at the start, doing bits of backing vocals with Rivers Job and myself behind Richard Macphail, the lead singer.  He was solid, competent, dependable. Then Rich left and I coerced - nay bullied ! - him into taking the lead vocal duties. And what a hard taskmaster I was!  It was all a bit stern and he left to have a bit of a good time with his Lockite drinking buddies who then formed their own band. The incredibly gifted Mick Colman replaced him and Riv, myself, Rob Tyrrell - our brilliant and very funny drummer - and Mick would go along and snigger at Mike's earnest journeymen trying to crack it.  Boys!  His rebellious phase didn't last long and since he was well superior to his Lockite pals, it wasn't long before he came back to the fold.......a brief flirtation with the blues boom..... and 12 string guitars, writing and Genesis lay just around the corner...........

If you can reflect back, what did you think of Nursery Cryme when you first heard it?  It being the first album the band did without you, did it have any bittersweet feelings associated with it?  What do you think of the band’s output in general since you left?

All their music sounded excellent to me - remember I didn't leave for 'musical differences' (there was much joining of hips in that band).........Naturally mixed feelings of admiration tinged with some sadness - 'tis only human !

Was it an option, when you left Genesis, to perhaps remain as a non-performing member/writer? Or, was that not even discussed in the moment?  

No, you were either in or out........

You have talked about the origin of Silver Song, as being about John Silver leaving Genesis back in the day.  How was it decided that would be the song that you, Mike and Phil would record in 1973?  Will we get any more material released from that session? 

An accident : Mike and I began to play again together in 1972 / 3 and Phil came down to Send with some friends to help with the demo of our modern hymn, 'Take This Heart' around that time. We all got on very well and somewhere along the line we must have played him the Silver Song. Phil had bags of energy, enthusiasm - aside from copious talent ! - and was very positive about it. So we did a demo. Charisma loved it and the rest could have been history ! The master, though Phil is brilliant on it, felt a little cold and anodyne after the loose, throwaway country feel of the demo, Charisma lost interest - or perhaps there were other more complex reasons for it's failure to be released......only the 'B' side exists from that session -both tracks done in one long 15 hour day at Island so most emphatically, no other material ! Phil kindly agreed for Silver Song to see the official light of day on the Geese re-master. If I had a pound for every time I've been asked why the 'B' side, 'Only Your Love', wasn't on it, I'd be a rich man.....! Not my call, that one !

If, after Steve Hackett left the band in 1977, Genesis had asked you to rejoin, how would you have responded? 

They wouldn't have done and I couldn't have done !


Part Three: Just for Fun

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions, musical or otherwise?

Er....too many to mention....where do I start ?!

If you had not become a guitar player/musician, what would you like to have become instead?

Writer

Do you ever think about retiring or would you want to keep recording as long as your fingers (and mind) are fully functional?

Retirement would be death...music really is the life-blood

When you meet someone, and they ask, "What do you do?", how do you describe yourself to others? 

Window-cleaner, quite often at parties.......! TV composer & Album artist - with variations of emphasis depending on person and their field.....

How did it come to pass that Rosanna Arquette contributed her thoughts on the album to the liner notes. Are you and she friends? 

Through Peter G..........She'd told him that something on Geese was one of her all-time favourites - I discovered this at Mike R's 40th in 1990.  When we came to re-master the Geese in 2006, I remembered it and contacted her thru her agent - not expecting to get a reply....!  Quite to the contrary she was expedite and fulsome in reply, amply generous with praise and we have kept up email correspondence since !

What do you enjoy listening to for pleasure?  Do you hear any of the modern prog rock bands out there?  What keeps you interested in listening to modern music of any stripe?

Really a wide range across many 'classical' composers / film composers / guitarists such as Pat Metheny, John Mayer and lots of friends' music such as Quique, Manolo Macia & my favourite track of the year – ‘Demetrio and Magdalen’ on Moongarden's misguidedly titled album 'A Vulgar Display of Prog’.  Majestic, stunning, bitter sweet, epic - a real ripper for me.

What is your daily routine?  Do you spend a certain set amount of time working on music each day, or do you prefer to let inspiration hit you when it hits you?

Nothing set in stone but generally when there's a library music project on, I'll try and clear the decks of essential emails / calls by 10.00 /10.30 and then start -with breaks little or often depending on muse / finger ache etc ! Rarely go on beyond 6/7 but if mucho pressure then the old 10 -10 days kick in ! 

 


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