The death of Genesis co-founder Mike Rutherford’s father inspired “The Living Years,” the biggest hit by his other band, Mike + the Mechanics. But Crawford Rutherford’s life is what prompted his son to write The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir, which was just released in the U.S. after becoming a best-seller in his native Britain last year.
“It was quite a nice story,” Rutherford tells Billboard. “I found my father’s memoirs, unpublished, about his life in the Royal Navy, the world wars and stuff, in my attic about four years ago. They were very well-written and very funny — but unpublished. So I thought, ‘Hang on, there’s something here. There’s a story to be told.’ So inside my story I used part of his books, passages of his books, in italics.”
The Living Years, not surprisingly, is dominated by Rutherford’s life with Genesis, and he credits the book with helping to bring the five key members of the group together for group interview segments seen in the documentary Sum of the Parts that aired on Showtime (and the BBC) during October and was released on DVD last month. “I think in a funny way it actually started with the book,” Rutherford explains, “which I sent to the rest of the band at the end of (2013), kind of saying, ‘Have a look when you feel like it,’ and I got a nice reaction back from everybody. I tease Tony (Banks) a lot in it, and for about half an hour he was upset, but it didn’t last very long. he said, ‘You made me a whipping boy,’ but it was all said with love, which he kind of gets. And I think what the book did was remind everybody what a great time we had, ’cause you kind of forget sometimes.
“So when the documentary came along, I think everybody was sort of in the mood to address it, you know, and it was a nice process hanging out a bit more together.”
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That glut of Genesis projects, which also included the R-Kive compilation and a DVD release of the Three Sides Live concert film from 1982, has fans again wondering if a Genesis reunion could be in the offing, this time perhaps with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett on board. But Rutherford discourages anybody from holding their breath.
“There’s nothing planned,” he says. “Obviously never say never, but there’s no plans at the moment. We’ve done an awful lot recently. But its been nice, and I do treasure the fact that we’re still sort of friends. That’s good.”
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Rutherford’s main focus now is, in fact, on the Mechanics, which he reactivated in 2010 with vocalists Tom Howar and Andrew Roachford and recorded a new album, The Road, that came out in 2011. A newly expanded edition of The Living Years is just out, and the group is also working on new material. Meanwhile, Rutherford is bringing the group across the pond for its first North American tour since 1989, starting February 26-27 in Alexandria, Va., followed by a European trek during April and May.
“The Mechanics songs haven’t been played very much on stage, ever,” Rutherford acknowledges. “My problem was with Genesis, a (Mechanics) tour schedule never really fitted in very much, so it never really got going as a band live, which I think is a shame. You can’t cut corners; it takes time before you become a real band sort of thing, and it feels that way now. So I thought, ‘Let’s try and go to America.’ We’ll take a month’s tour and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t know what will happen, but it’s fun to try.”