A Trick of the Tail 1976 - Genesis Remember...
MIKE: We had two months off and then we met saying, 'Let's try and we'll see what happens'. Steve wasn't there the first three days of rehearsal, he was still working on Voyage of the Acolyte, his first solo album, so we sat down and in the first three days we started playing 'Squonk'. That sounded good straight off and we had lots of other bits that sounded good and we all got excited again very quickly. It all came very easily very early on.
The first half of 'Dance on a Volcano' came out of jamming really and that was a good magical moment - when the band is playing and you suddenly get this riff and break into it. I started playing and then Tony found the chords to go with it - the first few times you play something new it is so special. When you find something like that, it's sort of glorious. That's a corny word, but it really is.
With Peter leaving the band, suddenly there was such a challenge. You went in and you knew that it had to be, not just good, it had to be very good. You also knew that Pete was very strong in certain areas, humorous lyrics, certain areas of writing that I felt we shouldn't try to do ourselves, but we should be aware of not leaving these areas empty. I felt conscious of trying to stretch myself more, to counter this. It was a challenge and I always work best when there is a challenge and things aren't going too good and people are saying things...
What happened was funny. We were writing the album and we knew what we had was good and the news broke in the press after we had been writing A Trick of the Tail for about one month and to us, in our mind, Pete had left, it had all happened. Then suddenly it happened officially and all the photographers and press came down and said, 'Oh, what's going to happen now'. You know, trying to be nice and we knew that they were all thinking, 'Oh God what are they going to do now'. That gave me a shake, because in my mind I knew what we had was good and was going to come out well. Then suddenly the outside world came along and it really hit me. Suddenly the media knew about it and there were a lot of funny comments flying around. Melody Maker did an article on the band, basically saying 'the death of Genesis'.
TONY: After The Lamb, it was really nice to go into something that was really easy to do and I think that came across on the album. We didn't break even, until 'Trick Of The Tail' - up until that point we were subsidized by Charisma. The fact that Trick is a simple album in every sense is because that was just the way that we felt at the time.
Everyone kind of adopted a particular role in the band and it helped. Everything seemed very fluid and we were all aiming at the same thing with every song. Also we had no arguments with David Hentschel as a producer either. We had known David for a long time. He was a very good friend of Phil and I knew that Phil liked him for getting the drum sound. I was also aware that Dave was quite an accomplished keyboard player and knew a lot about synthesizers and I was trying to get more into synthesizers at that point. So I thought, well he seems the perfect choice, why not try him. As we got in the studio, it was just perfect. A really easy album to make, which was very good at that stage - we needed something easy.
DAVID HENTSCHEL: I have great fun making their records. A Trick of the Tail was done in a very relaxed atmosphere, even if we didn't have a singer by the time we went into the recordings. Hundreds and hundreds of tapes were sent in, and we listened to loads and loads of people and personally I was starting to get a bit worried because we were getting all the tracks down and we hadn't got a singer at all. We got one guy in the studio, a singer called Mick Strickland and he had a really good voice but unfortunately it wasn't his key and it didn't work out. So Phil said, 'Let me have a go to see if I can do it' and the first song he tried was 'Squonk' and that was the hardest one to sing and it worked out great, so he did the rest. Probably nobody really thought of using him before because he had such a significant musical part in the band.
TONY: We always knew that Phil could sing well. It was just a question of whether he could fulfil the role of singer on heavy numbers. The two songs that we thought were a problem were 'Squonk' and 'Mad Man Moon', because 'Squonk' required a screaming sort of voice and 'Mad Man Moon' required a sort of distinctive, full voice. It had to be sung strongly and in the end, when we couldn't really find a singer, Phil went in and managed both in an incredible way.
PHIL: I was ready to go, excited. I always felt that I could sing some parts of The Lamb. There were moments on that show where Peter was doing so much and he couldn't quite get to everything in time. He would forget some of the lyrics, or get to the mike out of breath after all his tearing around the stage. So I was really looking forward to singing on stage.
TONY STRATTON-SMITH: I've never known a band to be really successful when the singer was the drummer. Of course, when I heard the tapes with Phil they were amazing. I realized Phil could do it - he sounded more like Peter Gabriel than Peter Gabriel did! A Trick of the Tail outsold all preceding Genesis albums. The band had bravely survived Peter's departure and by the end of 1976 they were finally recognized by the British mass media as one of the most popular bands of the '70s.
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