Just as the NME did, the music paper Sounds also had a regular column for the musicians out there. The column that Sounds did were named “Blowin`” and it is from there this article comes. One for the drummers out there, and especially those of you trying to emulate Genesis. Here you have the name and the size of Phil`s drums! Not too much tech-talk in this one, so it should be readable for other people too.
The journalist, Dave Fudger, also played bass for the punk band Snivelling Shits – a band that also had a couple of his pals from Sounds playing in it, among them a certain Mr. Pete Makowski. Great name for a band by the way!
Which xciting, xtravagant, xtremely x-rated, xquisitely xtroverted band sends you into flights of xtasy?
By Dave Fudger
Phil Collins, not content with being the rhytmic mainstay and now vocalist/frontman with Genesis, likes to spread his talents around. While the world was chewing its nails in troubled anticipation of the future of the band after Peter Gabriel`s departure last year, Mr. Collins was busy.
From the summer up until November Phil`s wide percussive talents were being applied to eight albums including the new Argent album, Eno`s `Another Green World`, John Cale`s `Helen Of Troy`, `Peter & The Wolf`, the Tommy Bolin album as well as `Trick Of The Trail`. He also contributed to two film soundtracks – one, `Operation Daybreak`, is currently doing the ABC circuit.
On top of all this stuff, apart from rehearsing the new four-piece Genesis he has been taking out on the road an adventurous instrumental jazz-rock combo, Brand X, which demands from the man a totally different role from his part in Genesis.
Collins names influences that include Billy Cobham, Harvey Mason, Steve Gadd and Tony Williams. These influences are amply evidenced in the exciting direction that Phil`s playing and the music of Brand X are taking.
Phil explains the cause and effect of his `other` full-time musical departure:
“Well it started around Christmas `74. A friend of mine who was working at Island Records at that time said to me `Do you want to come down and have a blow with a group? They need a drummer,` and I wasn`t thinking of leaving Genesis, really. But I wasn`t pushing myself with Genesis like I wanted to and this seemed like a good idea.
“So I went down and had a blow with the guys.
“At that time it was a five-piece group and the drummer would have been the sixth guy. There was a singer who played percussion, two guitarists, and a keyboard player and myself; oh, and Percy on bass. They were basically doing songs, funky songs, and they had a deal with Island Records and I started having a blow with them and it really worked well.
“We got together quite regularly to rehearse, to do an album. They knew that I was in Genesis and they knew that nothing could really come of it.
“Anyway, we made this album and the backing tracks were great but I don`t think that Island really liked the vocalist. He`s a friend of mine and I don`t want to say too much on the hard side about him but he was probably the weak link in the group.
“Island decided not to release that album, so we decided to go back and write some more material. But at this time there was a split in the group. There was the four of us who are now in Brand X veering towards the more instrumental, adventurous things and Pete (the old second guitarist) and Phil, the singer they wanted to write songs.
“I think basically we`d like to be thought of as session musicians that come together as often as possible, but it has to be fitted in with the Genesis commitments.”
I put it to Phil that when this interview was originally mooted his publicist, to give weight to the idea, proposed that Phil was in fact playing in two full-time bands prompting visions of Mr Collins tearing from Genesis gig to Brand X gig.
“Well I am in as much as when Brand X is on the road it`s full-time. Genesis, since November when we finished the album, have been pretty inactive. We did a few weeks rehearsing, for the tour, in January but apart from that and a few press things there`s been a bit of inactivity. So at that point we decided to get a few Brand X dates in.
“We`ve done about twelve dates, I suppose. But we won`t be playing again until May. The band, God willing, will stay together. Percy, Rob and John have got things to do while I`m away with Genesis. They`ll write some new material and providing the album comes out we`ll record it, in fact we`ve got most of it already.”
Anyone fortune enough to have caught any of Brand X`s gigs will have heard this new material which for the uninitiated will come as quite a surprise as it`s just about as far from Genesis as you can get – tight, punchy jazz-rock instrumentals, leaning heavily on Percy Jones` fretless bass mastery and Phil`s high-speed precision to cue the changes in the arrangements.
Being essentially a non-vocal concept Brand X is a far more rythmically based operation than Genesis and consequently Phil utilises different technique and equipment with the band to the requirements of Genesis.
“Well, I think with Genesis in the future I`m going to keep it as loose as I do with Brand X, in terms of what I use. I`ve got two kits – one is a Premier kit and the other is a Gretsch kit. The Premier I use for stage work with Genesis. It sounds good but the Gretsch one I feel more personal with and so feel more at home with it on music that is more experimental.
“The Premier kit is the Kenny Clare outfit which has got double shells and there`s a 20X15 bass drum, 14X5 snare drum, wooden, and 12X8, 13X9, 14X14, 16X16 tom-toms. On the Gretsch kit there`s a Gretsch 20×15 bass drum, a Premier 12X8 tom-tom and 13X9, 14X14, 16X16 Gretsch tom-toms.
“I`ve also got a custom-built perspex snare drum which is 14X6 1/2 which was built for a friend of mine. The cymbals, I`ve got a deal with Paiste and I`ve just recently got a couple of sets, but I`ve also got some old Zildjians so I kind of use what I feel like at the time. But I`ve got a range from the four-inch Chinese gong up to the 26-inch sizzle. So I`ve got a cross-section of the kinds of cymbals that I`m likely to need.
The pedals I use are Speed Kings. I`ve never used anything else. I`ve tried changing recently to something that I thought might be faster. I tried using these Japanese pedals which Percussion Services are changing to have chains on instead of the leather straps but they didn`t really suit me.
“I`ve been playing with Speed Kings since I was 15 and I changed to try and get better but I wasn`t getting any better. I`ve got Slingerland hi-hat pedals, which are the best that I`ve tried.
“The timbales that I`ve been using are Slingerland – a 13-inch and a 14-inch, and a 14-inch and a 16-inch Shaftesbury cos they`re the only ones that I could get that were that big. I`ve been trying to get someone to make 16-inch metal timbales because I reckon they`ll be incredible.
“I`ve got a lot of stuff from Premier. I`ve got a set of vibes and tubular bells – they`re very good, they`ve got a very good service. Premier had a sort of face-lift two or three years ago, and Eddie Haynes, who`s the promotions manager is very good.
“I use the Gretsch kit in the studio, and on the Eno album and all the Genesis albums. I`ve never had any damping on the kit for recording. The tom-toms are live, tuned really tight, and I`ve got the see-through heads, I used to use the black dot ones and I got hold of some that are completely clear and they sound like deep timbale which is the kind of sound I like. When you go round the kit when you do a roll they sound like a tuned instrument.
“So I just have the drums without any damping at all in the studio and that`s including the snare drum; the bass drum usually has something in it. The see-through heads are very bright and that`s the sound I like.
“I tend to throw myself around a bit more with Brand X but, with Genesis I`m more disciplined because there are things like `Reliant` where I have to do certain cues at a certain pace and it`s a different kind of game.”
With his changed role in Genesis, following the departure of Peter Gabriel, Phil will now have the responsibility of fitting another drummer into the established Genesis constitution.
“It`s hard really because some of the songs we`ve been doing for three or four years and it`s hard to imagine them in a different vein. We`re not really up-dating the old material apart from the odd rearrangement here and there. And whoever the drummer will be they`ll be left to work their own devices as long as it stays within a certain framework.
“I`m not trying to restrict anybody`s style but I want to have the feeling that I don`t want to have to get up there and do it myself and there are only a few drummers that I could let do it.
“I`m probably less bothered about playing drums all the time with Genesis now cos I do have sessions and I do have Brand X. I still want to be thought of as a drummer. I`m still going to be playing the more demanding pieces like `Cinema Show` and `Los Endos` from the new album.
“For things like that which are basically instrumental tunes I`ll be nipping back and playing my kit and whoever it is will be percussing or playing with me. I will be a front man but I want to do it in a drummer`s way not in a sort of sexy singer`s way.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Evelyn Thomas & Ian Levine, Shaun Cassidy, Jimmy Page, Cate Brothers, Julie Tippetts, Adam Faith, Pat Travers, Yes, Jesse Winchester, Deep Purple.
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