Genesis’ Tony Banks Talks Elusive Solo Success, New Box Set
You reunited with Genesis for the 2007 tour, but you’ve obviously shifted to classical music in recent years. Do you feel like you’ve left rock music behind? Do you keep up with current rock music at all?
I’ve never really been connected as a listener since about 1968. There’s so much music, and I’m totally disconnected now. People talk about these people, and I’m sure I’ve heard them. I keep the radio on. Certain acts I do like — I’ve heard Coldplay, and I like them. I hear of people like Kanye West, and I have no idea who they are or what the music is. It’s probably not for me. It’s normally for a younger audience than me. I’m 65 now. I don’t feel I’ve moved away at all, though. I love the sound of heavy drums and stuff; I’d certainly rather hear heavy metal than any rap or anything. I still listen, but probably more to old stuff, I suppose. I think rock music has left me behind more than I’ve left it behind. I’m working in the orchestral world now, and that seems to be working for me. People seem to want me there.
It feels appropriate to at least mention Chris Squire, who passed away last month. You’re both giants in the prog-rock community — did you ever get to know Chris?
I only met him when he was with Steve Hackett and they did the Squackett album [2012’s A Life Within a Day]. I only remember him as the musician — the bass and the boots combination back in the beginning. Yes were rivals of ours in some ways. People used to say “Genesis or Yes or King Crimson,” so you set up a defensive thinking about these people. I used to really love The Yes Album — when Tony Kaye was with them, I think that was the best [lineup], really. And Chris’ distinct bass sound was an important part of that. For that early Seventies period, they were a great group.
Genesis diehards were thrilled when the classic lineup reunited for the Sum of the Parts documentary. That, coupled with the R-Kive box set, put a lot of hope in fans’ minds that some kind of reunion tour could be in the works. Have you stayed in touch with any of the other guys since the documentary?
Of course, I’ve kept up with Mike all the time over the years. I’ve kept in contact with Peter — we were very close friends when we were young. We’re not as close now, but we see each other once or twice a year and always get on alright. I see Steve at various occasions. I see Ant Phillips, the original guitarist, a fair amount. We have a mutual friend we meet at quite a lot. I have good relationships with all these people.
The main thing about playing together with Genesis is that Phil really isn’t able to play the way he used to play, so that’s the reason it probably will never happen. We all get on alright, but we’d probably drive each other mad now [laughs]. Peter and Phil have gotten so used to working on their own, and the compromises necessary to being in a group are more difficult. Mike, Phil and I knew how to do it, so that’s why it worked OK for the last tour. But I think adding anyone else in might be too much anyhow. And it’s probably better in memory than we are in reality, to be honest.