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The Band Who Want to be Booed

 

A PARTICULAR quality of certain successful groups has been their ability to create moods, to take an audience a little further than the surface excitement of an insistent rock beat. Their entire performance is calculated to one end to grab and disturb listeners, to play upon their emotions. Genesis are such a band, and as a result of abundant ideas and novel approach they have gained an almost fanatical following, who enjoy the jokes, delight inperversity and will boo the band the length of the motorways.

 

      During the two years existence of their present lineup, they have gradually developed a personality that appeals strongly to connoisseurs \of eccentric English 'rock. And when Peter Gabriel, partially shaven lead singer coolly suggests that loyal fans might care to barrack performances, instead of giving vent to the usual standing ovation, they oblige with good cheer and boo. The history of Genesis is now fairly familiar. Suffice to say for those who know naught of their works, that the core of the band came from Charterhouse school, where Peter and friends had day dreams of writing hit songs for Dusty Springfield. They were encouraged by an old boy who used to visit the school Jonathan King.

 

      " There were four of us songwriters," says Peter " Tony and Mike of the present group and Anthony Philips. But our songwriting was marked by a tremendous lack of success. We were writing straight songs I think we had one cover version that was recorded by Rita Pavone's brother. " We tried to get a band together as a vehicle for our songwriting. and that also failed. We went flogging our wares around the business, and most people turned us down. The Moody Blues showed an interest, and then we met Strat (manager Tony Stratton-Smith). There was _a time when we heard of an American group called Genesis, and we changed our name to Revelation. We then heard they had disintegrated and switched back to Genesis."

 

      The group recorded it's first album with Jonathan King iR 1966, but it bore little resemblance to the present day Genesis and so they like to call their latest album " Foxtrot " (Charisma), their third although it's their fourth ``We tried to write some structured songs in those days," recalls Peter, "but the publishers didn't- like them at all. This was before we went on the road, and we were playing for our own pleasure. I suppose our ideas were fairly idealised and a bit over romantic. Initially the band was a vehicle for writing and it has developed as we have gained experience. We started out with a small, hard core, of followers, who gave us a good welcome wherever we went."

 

      How did Peter explain their appeal?

 

" It was the flights of imagination and the lyrics probably at first. Now it's a bit different as we have a more extreme stage act. It's all been there for two years, but we have tried to improve on it." Peter emphasised that the ideas in the band came from each member " they're not all mine you know it's a very democratic system." Part of their development has been an increasingly clever use of lighting in the desire to make their show visually exciting. " We have a fairly integrated light show that relates more to the music than most. Lights are often trimmings and they get in the way of the band. They don't convey the different moods with different colours." But Genesis plan to change all that. " We're going to get two light towers, two on stage and two in the audience. And we want a white circular backcloth. It's a pet idea of mine to have a semi-circular backcloth which will hopefully give us a large reflective surface."

 

      How close were Genesis to their audiences?

 

      " We had a great night at Aylesbury recently when we asked the audience to boo instead of cheer. Then last night we played at Greenford and it was easy to recognise the Aylesbury contingent they were really abusive. They really are a great audience! They like the concept of our music and we like people to like us it's very simple." " We like to create moody, dream-like quality in the music, and we use our stage act to enhance the moods.---We don't appear to have much humour but there are things we laugh at and we are putting more humour and more subversion into the music. There is an element of escapism in it, but there is nothing to do with the drug culture, which I don't like. We should be able to create and sustain moods on a natural level. I don't think drug-induced states are valuable. " Sometimes we like to say that the audience enjoys the music, but really the music enjoys the audience. Personally I like to see any response that people want to give. If people want to dance they can. I think that's great. On the whole, people are inhibited, myself included, Any expression to music is pleasure. Genesis brings express relief. Well it works for me, I can get completely engrossed in the music. Rhythm for the body, and stuff for the mind. The power of music is unlimited.

 

      " In the future. music will be used to heal, whereas now it often makes people sick."

 

CHRIS WELCH