By Jose Oliveira & Rosine Alleva – Rock At Night EU Editors
PHIL COLLINS, MIKE RUTHERFORD and TONY BANKS got GENESIS moving and are currently touring North America after some concerts canceled because of the Pandemic.
After several years on drums and bravely with a beautiful solo career, with millions of albums sold and a beautiful autobiographical book with the suggestive title of “Not Yet Dead”, PHIL thinks this will be perhaps his last tour. His state of health forces him to sing sitting down.
There are lots of bands around the world, paying a tribute to GENESIS. Meanwhile, in neighboring Germany there is a very special one, which highlights the work of PHIL COLLINS.
It’s called PHIL THE GENESIS & PHIL COLLINS TRIBUTE SHOW. They met PHIL COLLINS himself during one of his European tours and PHIL real appreciated the work they were doing a lot.
RAN went to the great Open Air IM Park in Bad Krozingen, Germany, to interview JURGEN « PHIL » MAYER, the vocalist and leader of this band..
The Band members:
Jürgen “PHIL” MAYER – Lead vocals
Kurt MEISTER – Bass – Vocals
Alexander LANG – Guitar – Vocals
Frank STOLZENTHALER – Percussions – Electronic Drums
Bernd SCHUBACH – Drums
Matthias ENGEL – Keyboards-Vocals
Marco VINCENZI – Sax
Ray DENZEL – Trombone
Thomas STURM – Trumpet
Simone WEBER – Vocals
Larissa DOLL – Vocals
RAN– The first question that arises is, why did you choose PHIL COLLINS for a Tribute?
Jürgen “Phil” Mayer– Well, actually it was the audience that gave the initial spark. They encouraged us to carry on with Phil Collins and Genesis songs after we’ve played the first ones. By and by we realized how attractive those songs are regarding sounds and arrangements.
RAN – Can you describe us your musical adventure? Since how long does the Band exist?
JPM– “Phil” was founded on August 9 in 1998. Back then we started with small shows that became more and more bigger and professional.
RAN – Was it easy finding the musicians for this tribute?
JPM– We were already together as a band almost with the same lineup. Therefore it was rather easy to do this tribute thing – after a short period of orientation.
RAN – Where are your preferences heading in PHIL COLLINS ‘long career? Between his solo career and when playing with GENESIS? What is for you the most difficult aspect to play in Phil Collins’s work?
JPM– We love the period when Phil Collins took the microphone for Genesis and of course his work as a solist. Still it is very astonishing for us to see the complexity of the songs. You can get a feeling for that if you listen to them – but if you rehearse those songs you really get deeply into the details.
RAN – We met him at very different times. I met him for the first time in 1979 in Saarbrucken at a great Open Air Festival and I suppose you did much later. What does he think of your Project?
JPM– We met Phil Collins before his last German concert at his “First Final Farewell” tour in 2004 in Stuttgart – and we`ve kept some contact to his personal assistant since then. He was very interested in our project and told us he liked the idea to hear the essential songs from Genesis and his own songs at one night in a show – what we do. Phil Collins rarely had the chance to do this.
RAN – Phil Collins and the two other members of GENESIS are currently on tour in the US before coming to honor a few dates in Europe. Phil is sick and I think this will be the last time we will see him on stage! What’s your feeling about it?
JPM– We’ve also been to his “Not Dead Yet” tour and we’ve had the feeling, that he needs a lot of power to do his thing. Anyway he did those concerts pretty good. Because of his sickness he can do the planned tour with Genesis only seating. So we also think that this really could be a goodbye.
RAN – There is a certain craze for Tribute Bands in Europe. How do you explain this?
JPM– There is a craze only for tribute bands that cover good original bands. Phil Collins and Genesis are or were simply the best ones – like Queen, Led Zeppelin etc. No one would cover a bad original band.
RAN – Despite this phenomenon, in France it is still a bit marginal. Is it the same in Germany? Are there Festivals entirely dedicated to Tribute Bands?
JPM– In Germany there is quite a market for tribute shows. And yes, there are also festivals entirely dedicated to tribute bands – people love that.
RAN – For you, should a Tribute Band sound musically as close as possible to the artist you honor or maintain a particular specificity that characterizes him?
JPM– We, as a tribute band, try to get as close as possible to the original. We leave musical interpretations to “cover bands”.
RAN – Many people think that there is no need for a Tribute Band to exist as long as the Artist is still alive and performing on stage. What do you think about this?
JPM– No, we don’t think so. The high demand for our concerts proves it.
RAN – You have already performed in 4 or 5 countries. Where did you prefer to play and why?
JPM– We like to play in those places where people like to see us. It is important for us that we can stage a professional show with stage equipment of high quality and that the venue is organised well. The country doesn’t really matter.
RAN – You are many on stage and this creates lots of problems for the promoters because there are more expenses compared to a classic group of five people. Do you feel it?
JPM– No, we don`t agree with that. If someone likes to hear the songs of Phil Collins there is only one way, we think: an appropriate band…or listening to a CD.
RAN – How did you experience this pandemic? Have the professional German musicians been helped by the government, like the French ones have been?
JPM– Yes, some bands have been supported here. We are lucky that we don’t have to live from playing shows. Therefore we’ve managed it to get through the pandemic good so far. But of course we’ve missed the stage and meeting the audience very much.
RAN – What would you say to someone who was a regular gig-goer but is now reticent about going back?
JPM– We’Ce already had our first shows and we realized that there is a high demand for concerts. The atmosphere was very, very good. And we think that shows can be done in this corona situation if you have reserved seats etc. I only can recommend to start again – no matter if you are a visitor or a musician.
RAN – How optimistic are you that we will return to something resembling normality very soon?
JPM– Very much optimistic!
RAN– Do you already have a few dates for this summer or are you waiting for 2022 to start a normal course?
JPM– Please have a look on our homepage www.phil-online.de. The number of inquiries is incredible …but unfortunately the delaying of gigs as well.
RAN– Many thanks for this interview, looking forward to see the next show!
Photos credits Markus KLISCH