Genesis guitarist talks new M+TM album, gear
Mike Rutherford is backstage in an arena in a “very cold, wet Scotland,” calling before show time to talk about the new Mike + The Mechanics album, Let Me Fly. It’s the band’s first new project in six years, and he is quite satisfied with the results. “I’m pleased with the album,” he says. “I think it’s got a strength to it. How it does, we’ll see.”
Rutherford began thinking about a new album while The Mechanics were touring their 2011 release, The Road. “On that album we didn’t really know each other,” he says. “We were sort of feeling our way. This time it was a lot easier because I knew Andrew and Tim’s voices and I knew the kind of songs I wanted them to sing — or I had an idea, anyway.”
Let Me Fly, introduced earlier this year via the first single, “Don’t Know What Came Over Me,” features Rutherford on guitar and bass, along with Mechanics members Luke Juby – keyboards, Gary Wallis – drums, Anthony Drennan – guitar, and vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. It also marks a new songwriting partnership for Rutherford: the album’s producer, Brian Rawling [David Bowie, Tina Turner, Cher], introduced him to former Johnny Hates Jazz singer Clark Datchler in December 2015, and the two immediately clicked. Rutherford also collaborated with longtime friends Fraser T. Smith and Ed Drewett.
“We wrote, and we found the first three or four songs good enough to record,” he says. “We worked on them, rewrote bits, worked on chord sequences and melodies, and I think the whole process made the quality control high. It shows on the album, hopefully. There’s a certain Mike + The Mechanics sound. I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s probably the way I write and co-write, but I don’t intentionally think it has to fit in a format. Basically, if a song inspires me and moves me, then I’ll do it. I’m not trying to write within a certain framework.”
GEARPHORIA: This is your first album in six years, although you’ve remained on the road. What made this the right time?
MIKE: Having spent some time on the road with these guys, I couldn’t keep doing the same songs. I needed new songs to carry on tour. And I felt we’d become a much closer unit. Once again, Brian Rawling was the outside ears on this project, and he’d question us: “Are you sure that chorus is good enough? You haven’t quite got it yet.” It really helped with our songwriting.