I've a feeling that when the rock analysts of the next decade go circumspectly about their business, they will find great difficulty in omitting Genesis from their chronicles. For, in the past two years, the band have slowly and meticulously carved out their own little musical niche and have grown slowly towards the apothesis with which their efforts must surely be rewarded.

 To say that Genesis are a unique rock band of multicoloured textures really only touches the surface of what they are about, for, at its best, a Genesis gig is like watching a pantomime against the background of an orchestra. The organic development of the band can be traced thorough their albums - "Trespass", which first made the public sit and take note a couple of years ago, then, "Nursery Crymes" which consolidated their position, and now a sensational new album, "Foxtrot".

 And so, finally, Genesis have come of age and joined the top ranks of Britain's rock bands. In the past, it was always a little risky to bestow them with superlatives, but in recent months they have made some sensational inroads on the music scene. Critics have been comparing some of the finer aspects of their music with bands of the calibre of Yes and ELP, and the new album justifies all the accolades. Peter Gabriel's stage act has been described as more fearsome than Alice Cooper, more delightfully camp than David Bowie, but once again it is a natural rather than a contrived grace of movement that personifies the characters about whom he sings, and captures the hearts of audiences.

 And so, to a dispassionate observer, Genesis arrived at the Reading Jazz & Blues Festival this summer as bright young hopefuls, and played midway through the Friday evening session. No punches or garish expletives to win over the crowd-it was just the same Genesis, with guitarists Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford sitting sedately towards the side of the stage as though waiting for the conductor's cue in. Tony Banks created waves of sound from mellotron and organ that night. Phil Collins, the artful dodger, showed why he commands so much respect from fellow musicians, and the rest was left to the striking figure of Peter Gabriel, his head partly shaven, his eyes made up, his face painted. Out came the Genesis songbook-"The Knife", "Twilight Alehouse", "Return Of The Giant Hogged" . . . and no wonder the crowds went mad. No band could have followed them on this showing and the crowd knew it-but already Genesis have moved into new territory, with the kind of enquiring minds that conjure up great music.

 There are many facets to PETER GABRIEL'S role in Genesis. He is a remarkable singer, with a variety of tonal effects at his command from an unexpected soul shriek to clipped, precise phrasing; agonising howls to grotesque rolling accents delivered with theatrical venom. Sometimes he sounds like Anthony Newiey or Ron Moody. He teeters from angelic pose to supernatural devilry, as he beats time on a solitary bass drum, the remnants of some long-forgotten kit. He plays Lyrical, in-tune flute and can also be seen practising the oboe. On stage he will remain motionless for minutes on end, or disappear, only to burst forth in some stunning costume, perhaps the famous head of a fox. But, as Peter realises, such tactics can only work when they are unexpected, when they are timed to emphasise or illustrate some twist in the lyrics. There is a great deal of humour in Peter's approach, but there is also a power that cannot be dismissed. There is an opaqueness to his character. An indefinable mist comes down on certain subjects. He seems open enough in discussion, but more lurks beneath the surface. Asked if he believes in the characters he takes on during a stage performance, his simple reply is "Yes"

 Some years ago, there was a brief infatuation among groups for magic, by Black Widow, Sabbath and others. Graham Bond has frequently talked about the subject, but in Peter's performance there seems to be more than just an attempt at theatre. The various efforts he makes to take an audience with him seem to have an accumulative effect that works. The wildness of the audience reaction at the Rainbow, for example, seems to confirm that, for the music by itself is not conducive to dancing in the aisle in the manner of a soul or rock band. Gabriel does seem possessed in some way when he performs and his shy stutter off stage in no way invaiidates this impression. Our conversation began in fairly normal fashion, but as his piercing eyes and crooked smile beneath a partially shaven head bore into me, I felt in someway I had made contact with the unknown. "If our present success continues, we'll be in the situation where we can realise most of our ambitions in music and creative presentation. I hope what we do will be completely new. We need two months in one building to write and experiment. At the moment, we are still in the first stage of audio-visual, in the way that the first stereo engineers experimented with trains, passing from one speaker to another. After a while, people became bored with that and, after the train noises, gained a great understanding of the medium they were using I wouldn't say we have discovered anything yet-we are still talking about it in wishy-washy terms, but after the last couple of years of development, we can now see the possibilities. I hope we can clear ourselves of debt, from record royalties and plough back any profit into realising more expansional ideas. I don't like the word 'show'. it's not Hollywood dancing girls. It's very difficult to put into words the visual concept. It's a visual and musical concept expressed at the same time. My things are my own and the more we present ourselves as a co-operative band, the happier I'll be. I don't want to project myself above the band. I just poodle about and put on silly costumes.

"I do have things I'm interested in outside of the band. There is a song writer called Martin Hall and there is a possibility of my doing an LP with him. As it is-the band comes first". Will success change Genesis?" Well, it will have to improve on past performance if we are going to keep together. We were losing money fast. We believed in what we were doing and that's all. Yes, it does place certain pressures. A trap I hope we won't fall into is that, after an artist has received a certain amount of success, he is given the conviction that even his most insignificant fart is a work of art. Mumble, mumble, second verse follows the first. We go on stage and do a bad gig and everybody says it is the most brilliant thing they have ever seen in their life. The time comes when you believe they are right. We should be cautious about that. We are learning all the time. On the whole, in this business, it is the easiest field in which to be highly successful and mediocre at the same time. One should be constantly maintaining higher aims." Is there a danger of Genesis being trapped into a formula?" I'd like to change the act after every gig. One gig should be totally theatrical and the next one dressed in denim. I would feel happier if you could come to a Genesis gig and not know what you're going to see. But some people have already complained because we dropped the fox's head. I'd like to get a regular change in the music as well. Eh? Oh, I've got the fox's head at the moment. We're thinking of giving it as a prize in the Giant Hogweed Youth Movement competition. I must give a plug to the mask maker-Guy Chapman, who made the pinballs for the Tommy opera. Erica Issitt does the costumes. I want to create a fantasy situation. The flower head should be hamming it up. It's consciously supposed to be unreal. I don't specifically want to frighten. Let's say I would prefer to be Fellini. In fact, the flower walk was probably more influenced by Shirley Temple, which is better than ripping off Eric Clapton."

Next LP? "We've got our little bits ready. April we'll start, but, in the meantime, we're going to America. I'd like a more acoustic feel than we did on "Foxtrot". We want to extend the degree of contrast in the music. I want to spend the next 50 years of my life learning".

Screaming effects and whispering melody lines, unison work with the organ, brass and gentle acoustic guitar behind the vocals are all STEVE HACKETT'S forte. One of the most recent members of the band, which worked as a four-piece after their original guitarist left, Steve has a dry humour and en joys telling the saga of his running advertisements in the MM's famed Musicians Wanted columns. Educated at Sloane Grammar School in Kensington, Steve enjoys composers Eric Satie, Albinoni, Scarlatti and Bach, as well as King Crimson. He is one of the quietest members of the band and, on stage, prefers to remain static, rather than attempt uneasy, rock-style leaping."

On stage, I do tend to use the guitar rather as a voice in the oneness of sound. A lot of the time, people say: 'Where's the guitar? I can't hear it', It's more of a special effects department". Does Steve covet the freedom to blow more? "On the next LP I'd like to use the guitar as a guitar. The music does tend to be overarranged. On gigs, 90 per cent of it is arranged. The reason I sit down, by the way, is because of the battery of foot pedals and fuzz boxes I use. There are a lot of crescendoes and miminuendoes, and I have to keep level right with the pedals, but I admit I'm the most non-visual member of the band and I don't find it easy to be on stage." Did Steve ever cherish the possibility of becoming a front man?" Not really. I'm pretty obscure, you know. I tried to form a band for two years and had 30 musicians passing through. We played two gigs. I used to play harmonica, so it was a kind of John Mayall situation without any gigs. The band had several names as well, like Sarabande and Steel Pier. It was all down to lack of finance. I was one of the most regular advertisers in Melody Maker, apart from A Able Accordionist. The style of the adverts changed as time went on, from 'Blues guitarist/harmonica prayer' to 'Guitarist/writer seeks receptive minds, determined to strive beyond existing stagnant musical forms.' The last one-Genesis answered. It was a bit highbrow, but I still got a lot of putters replying, obviously completely hopeless. I could never bring myself to tell them. In the end I had to say 'I don't think we can work together'. After Pete 'phoned up, we did two weeks rehearsals and did our first gig, which was a disaster, of course. I forgot everything".

"When I first started to play guitar, my main influences were C, F and G. They were good for the blues. I was a big fan of Jeff Beck and I still am. Eric Clapton, of course, and Peter Green. Then something happened. I'd go to Eel Pie Island a lot and hear all the blues guitarists. Then, suddenly, the magic didn't work. I'd come to the end of the blues. As I acquired more technique, I could understand more what they were playing, and the more I knew, the less the magic worked. When I joined this band, I thought I could improve the guitar department, which was more folky than it is now. I thought the acoustic side lacked drive. Now, with the addition of Phil, it is much stronger. And, I can't emphasise enough, the importance of the addition of the Mellotron. That gave us a whole new spectrum of sounds and a wider perspective.

"We all relate to fantasy, although I'm a bit more down to earth. I like Lennon's Lyrics. Simple, but effective. Bare bones and a bit more honesty, that's what I'd like."

TONY BANKS is one of the main men when it comes to unravelling who contributes most to the Genesis sound. His mournful Mellotron cries and sustained chords are vital in maintaining the mood and aura of a performance and by the nature of his instrument, he takes the lead in structuring the arrangements.

Ex-Charterhouse and Sussex University, his musical training included nearly ten years classical piano studies. He first played in The Garden Wall, a school group, with Peter and Anthony Phillips, original Genesis guitarist. "My particular role in the band? Well, I'm not an improviser in a group situation. I can improvise, and will, play away for hours on my own at the piano, but, when I'm restricted to a riff or chord sequence, I find it difficult to improvise. I prefer to work out my playing in advance and I don't have any desire to improvise. My sole concern is the composition and playing of the arrangement. We spend weeks getting a song together. We'd like to speed up the process, because you can soon get bored playing the same thing every night, but I've found that I enjoy playing more than I did a year ago. There are two main ways we get material together. One of us might write a complete offering and the group arranges it. This doesn't often happen! Otherwise, we all work together on a ten-second idea and then develop it. Each member takes a part in the writing. You see, we originally got together as writers and this is the strength of the band. In fact, each member writes enough to fill an LP. When I write a Lyric, I try to think of Peter, who has to sing them. Peter's own Lyrics tend to be more abstract, although I do have reservations about obscurity. think he wrote 'Supper's Ready' too hurriedly.

'I started playing classical music at school. When I was about 13 I went off classical piano and didn't want to play it any more. I would pick out Beatles' tunes instead. But, at 16 it was back to the classics again. The first group ~ ever saw was the Nice and I didn't think anybody played music like that. It was early days for them, at the Marquee, and pretty simple stuff I suppose, but I was impressed by the possibilities of a visual act. I like Yes quite a lot and I liked the Yes Album, but I wasn't impressed by 'Fragile' and I haven't heard 'Close To The Edge'. I don't feel influenced by them at all. I suppose when we did 'Nursery Crymes' there was a superficial likeness, but if you listen to the LP's for any length of time, the similarities will disappear. We've all been evolving since we were at school, and Peter, Mike and myself never played with anybody else. It's quite satisfactory, really, because I never played organ before and I learned through Genesis. Everything you do, changes you. I enjoy a lot of aspects of being in a group. I don't enjoy travelling. I stayed a year at University and then when Genesis started I took one year's leave of absence to see how it would go. I've never been back.

"A Charterhouse school veteran, bass guitarist MIKE RUTHERFORD treats a mean pair of Mr. Bassman pedals, which supplies the mysterious bass pulse, when he is strumming at an acoustic guitar with Steve. He also plays regular bass guitar and two 1 2string guitars, all of which help in the vital shading and pastel tones the band employ. He tends to ramble in a pleasantly coherent fashion, often a trait among public-school chaps, and blithely admits that if it wasn't for this rock and roll business, he would probably have gone into the Foreign Office.

"We seem to be on the up at the moment", he observed lightly. "We do feel there is a frightful lack of new material. We write so slowly". Mike shook his head in sorrow. A man who could conceivably have devoted himself to hunting tigers in India, explained how he became a vital force in Genesis. "I started off writing with Anthony Phillips, our old guitarist. Just songs. I've always had a thing about songs. When we left school, Peter was getting a band together and I joined on bass and rhythm guitar. I love strumming. I never really wanted to be a dynamic lead guitarist. We used to write pop songs and I thought they were rather nice. The first thing we wrote as a band was a 45-minute piece that we didn't record, but we still use bits to this very day. When we started, the band knew nothing about the business. We were incredibly green, but luckily we didn't sign anything. We didn't know how to set up the equipment for a gig and we used to travel around with a picnic basket containing hard-boiled eggs, pots of tea and scones, which we set up in the dressing rooms. The other bands were frankly amazed, but we were very fond of tea. We had no conception of what would happen, and I'm really glad we did it. I had led such a soft life up until then and being in a group doesn't do you any harm at all. I was studying English at Edinburgh University, but I couldn't go back again.

"How did Mike intend to use his studies at University? "Actually, I wanted to be a pro golfer, I take clubs with me wherever we go. But we're all unfit. I just play when I can" To what extent had Mike studied musical theory and the art of bass guitar? "I just sort of picked it up. I'm starting to learn to read music now. I suppose our present musical form started to develop about three years ago. We used to change much quicker than we do now, but of course there were fewer people coming to see us. I wish we could have had Phil then. His arrival gave us an awful lot more confidence. There has always been a lot of friction in the band, but it's not too bad really. When Phil joined and saw us all quarrelling, I think he thought we were splitting up! We argue a lot less now and there is more give and take".

PHIL COLLINS, the drummer, is one of that breed of drummers with a fine technique, who devotes it solely to the band's music. He rarely, if ever, solos, but the intelligent and dramatic shading that he employs, is exciting in itself.

He has played drums since the age of five and at one time pursued an acting career, which he now prefers not to talk about, but like Steve Marriott, he included a stint in Oliver as the Artful Dodger and a whole string of radio and TV appearances. "The only band I was in, of any consequence, before Genesis, was Flaming Youth", he says. "I thought they were a good band and quite influenced by Yes. We would do a 15-minute version of 'Norwegian Wood'. We did the al bum "Ark II", but at all the gigs we'd play half our own material and half somebody else's, and didn't please anybody. My own playing was quite influenced by Bill Bruford and John Bonham, but when I started out, I liked Joe Brown and the Bruvvers. I'm not really a jazz freak y'know, although big bands always appealed to me. I liked the way the drummer accented or filled in. It appealed to me the way you didn't have to play a set rhythm between the accents. I used to watch all the big band drummers and thought Harold Jones with Count Basie was excellent. I'd like Genesis to get a bit looser, while keeping the arranged things. When you're playing on tour, you begin to want to change things. I was taught by Frank King (the late drum tutor). I got my first drums when I was five and my father used to hide them in the cellar. Later on, I sold my train set to buy some drums. When I quit acting, my parents were a bit upset, but I'd always seen myself as a drummer. I was a drum fan: I liked everyone, Ringo, Keith Moon, there were such a lot of good drummers, Buddy Rich, of course, and guys you don't hear so much about, lan Wallace and John Halsey with Patto. But I don't like rock drumming as such. I like to tune, my drums properly and there should definitely be a musical approach to playing. I think my playing has improved a lot, and two recent influences have been Billy Cobham and Bernard Purdie. I've done some sessions to get the frustration out of me and I even did a season at a holiday camp, wearing a bow tie and playing waltzes. That can be fun too! When I'm not playing, I'm listening and learning. All will be revealed on the next LP."

"I think of myself as a drummer, rather than Genesis' drummer. I'd like to get back into two bass drums sometime. I heard a tape recently, made when I was 15 and there are some things on there I couldn't do now. I think Mike and I work together really well, and with Tony. I think the band will loosen up. We actually had a jam session at the Rainbow rehearsal and we never normally do that kind of thing. I think some sparks are going to fly!"

EVOLUTION: Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel joined Michael Rutherford and Anthony Phillips in s songwriting venture and the group was formed to make demos of their songs.
PERSONNEL CHANGES: They were joined in 1966 by Chris Stewart (drums). Chris left in 1967 - 8 and was replaced by John Silver, who was succeeded by John Mayhew in 1969. Anthony Phillips (guitar) and John Mayhew left in 1970 and Phil Collins came in. For three months they worked as a four-piece, until Steve Hackett joined in1971.
ORIGIN OF NAME: An inspiration in 1967 by record producer Jonathan King.
FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE: Brunel University, Uxbridge, November 1969.
FIRST BROADCAST: Sounds of the Seventies, July 1970.
FIRST TV: Disco 2, November 1970
MANAGER: Tony Stratton-Smith, Charisma Records, 70 Old Compton Street, London W1V 5PA. 01-439 1741.
AGENT: Charisma Artistes {Paul Conroy and Colin Richardson} Address as above.
RECORDING COMPANY: Charisma Records.
RECORD PRODUCER: David Hitchcock.
PUBLICIST: Glen Colson, Charisma Artistes.
MUSIC PUBLISHING COMPANY: Quartet/Genesis, c/o Charisma Artistes.
FAN CLUB: Hogweed Youth Movement, c/o Amanda Gardner, 10 Chequers End, Winslow, Bucks.
SINGLES: "The Silent Sun" (1967), "Winter's Tale" (1968), "Where The Sour Turns To Sweet" (1968), all on Decca. "The Knife, Parts 1 and 2" (1971) and "Happy The Man" c/w "Seven Stones" (October 1972) on Charisma.
ALBUMS: "From Genesis to Revelation" (1968 Decca), "Trespass" (September 1970), "Nursery Crymes"(September 1971) and "foxtrot" (October 1972) all on Charisma.