Mike Rutherford, co-founder, bassist, and guitarist of British rock vets Genesis, found out the hard way what it’s like to tour during a worldwide pandemic.
Rutherford, 71, along with co-founder and keyboardist Tony Banks, 71, and touring drummer Nicholas Collins — the 20-year-old son of singer Phil Collins — all came down with COVID-19, forcing the band to reschedule four U.K. shows to next year.
“We lost the last four in England, which is a bit of a downer,” said Rutherford in an exclusive Canadian interview with the Toronto Sun — prior to Genesis’ performances Thursday and Friday at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.
“None of us were too bad. We could have gone on, playing fine. But the law is the law, so you can’t.”
The band, rounded out by longtime touring lead guitarist-bassist Daryl Stuermer, has two other Canadian dates: Monday and Tuesday at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
As for the younger Collins taking over behind the drum kit for his frail 70-year-old dad, who can no longer play due to a long-standing nerve injury and remains seated for the entire 2 1/2-hour Genesis show, that’s been a bonus.
“It’s a bit like almost having Phil behind the kit again,” said Rutherford.
“You don’t kind of put it that way because actually (Nic’s) his own person, but to have someone back who’s playing songs like his dad wrote them is really great fun for me and Tony.”
Rutherford said he, Collins, and Banks “all discussed (Phil having to stay seated) early on because he used to run around the stage so much. And we said, ‘Is this going to work? Is it going to be good enough?’ And I think absolutely it is.”
Despite Collins’ diminished physical appearance, Rutherford said he’s doing alright.
“He’s coming on very strong, actually,” added Rutherford. “We have sort of big productions, screens, cameras. He commands the room, really, when he talks in between songs. He’s still very much there. Even though he’s static. It’s his character and the way he sings — it still works.”
Rutherford said founding Genesis singer Peter Gabriel, who was going to come to one of the London shows that got postponed to next year due to the COVID outbreak, was never part of this particular reunion.
“No, because everyone sort of forgets that Peter left in ’75,” he said.
“They always say, ‘Get Peter back,’ but what are you going to do? You get Peter back, and then you play all the hits and the songs (done later with Phil) they know? It doesn’t really work. If Phil was drumming, which he can’t at the moment, that might be a possibility. But that’s sort of gone away. Most of my career, since ‘75, has been myself, Phil, and Tony, really.”
But will Genesis turn it on again following their latest trek — tellingly called The Last Domino ? — after Collins commented in an earlier interview it would likely be the last for him?
“I think the end of every tour, we think, ‘That’s it,’” said Rutherford.
“I don’t sort of finish a tour and look ahead and go, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen now.’ So it’s a nice moment. We’re doing a European tour next year. I wouldn’t be surprised (if that’s it.) Phil’s been on stage for the last 50 years. Tony’s sat there. I’ve sat there. It’s an awfully long time. We always said as a joke when people said, ‘When do you stop?’ When the (Rolling) Stones stop, we’ll stop because they’re never going to stop — the Stones, never. So I think I’ll just wait and see.”
Rutherford said he wasn’t surprised the Stones went ahead with their latest North American trek despite the passing of drummer Charlie Watts right before it started.
“Well, you got Mick and you got Keith — as long as they’re still standing — and then you add Ronnie,” he added. “They’re almost like a blues band, they’ll keep going, I think. I feel it’s the same with us. You are what you are. The history and the heritage, it sort of speaks for itself. If people like you, it doesn’t really matter — you almost get past that point.
Rutherford is also looking forward to the Peter Jackson reworking of The Beatles’ 1970 film, Let it Be , with extra footage into a six-hour documentary, The Beatles: Get Back , airing over three nights, starting Thursday on Disney Plus.
“Absolutely, I can’t wait,” he said. “I think they’ve got the right man for the job. What I’m hearing, which is nice, is that the Beatles demise, it all felt a bit sad, it focused on all the bad stuff, different managers, and Allen Klein. And this sounds like it reminds (the band) of what was so special about them.”