Genesis’ Tony Banks Talks Elusive Solo Success, New Box Set
I know you’ve always had some regrets about certain songs, even during your time with Genesis. For example, I remember reading once that you were disappointed by the fact that “Anything She Does” from Invisible Touch wasn’t released as a single.
God, we had quite a lot of singles off Invisible Touch and We Can’t Dance. I thought it was a really good pop song, and by that point, we’d already had enough singles from that. I have no regrets about that. I like the way the song turned out — it was fairly lightweight material, but I thought it sounded pretty good. We had about five or six singles, and they all did really well in the States. It was a really exciting time for us.
I’ve always been fascinated by your relationship with and definition of the word “success.” In the progressive-rock world, you’re regarded as one of the greatest keyboardists and songwriters ever, a true composer, but you seem to focus on the commercial side as the true barometer for what success means.
You have to accept that you’re working in the world of popular music, and the yardstick really is the [commercial] success. There were various stages in our career where if we hadn’t had that commercial success, the band wouldn’t have kept going. We wouldn’t have been able to keep going. After Peter [Gabriel] left and Steve [Hackett] left, we were fortunate because we had, far and away, our most commercially successful period. If . . .And Then There Were Three. . . had not worked — particularly when Phil started having success on his own — there would have been little incentive to keep the band going.
You can’t deny the importance of commercial success; it’s part of what you do. For my own satisfaction, the songs I’m proudest of are probably not the biggest hits. I’m thinking of things like “Supper’s Ready” and, later on, “Duchess.” And when I got my own material, I didn’t have many hits either. But I’m as proud of that as anything else I’ve written. But hits are what keep you afloat — it is your job, after all. It’s as simple as that, really. I have friends who are good writers of music, but they’ve never been able to make a career out of it.
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