I’m a big Ed Sheeran fan says Genesis and Mike and The Mechanics’ Mike Rutherford
- Credit: Archant
Mike Rutherford plays the Ipswich Regent tomorrow with Mike and The Mechanics. He talks about being forced to playing guitar in secret growing up, his relationship with his father and why he loves Framlingham superstar Ed Sheeran.
Banned from playing the guitar by his hellish housemaster who feared he’d start a revolution, Mike laughs off suggestions he was one of the cool kids at the boarding school from which he was eventually expelled.
“There weren’t many of us (musicians). The only ones I knew really became Genesis,” he laughs. “I’m not sure it was that cool, it was just different.”
He wishes his expulsion was the result of one big thing, rather than things like sneaking off to gigs in London.
“I was banned from playing the guitar the entire time at school. So of course, if you’re banned from something you’re drawn towards it. It was a weird time. Suddenly this music, this youth culture was starting and the older masters and parents were a bit nervous about the whole thing. I had to sneak off (to play) otherwise you’d get in trouble. It’s hard to imagine now.”
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“When you’re sort of 12 and they’re 17, it was a very exciting time to hear this sound on the radio. Such great songs suddenly appeared; timeless bands. Suddenly you’re part of it.
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“It wasn’t a business then, there was no money to be had; record labels didn’t have shareholders. They had a guy who liked music and so much was being done for the first time. It was all a bit hit and miss, that’s what I liked about it. It was an exciting time, it felt almost like a new art form and there were no rules. When something becomes big, commercially big, it all changes,” he sighs.
Mike doesn’t have fond memories of his school days.
“You were beaten all the time, it was strict discipline. I survived. That’s all changed now. The most important thing is that in my era, my contemporaries and their parents couldn’t really talk. It wasn’t their fault; they’d been through two world wars, there was a big social change coming in the 1960s. Until then, young men of 19-20 wanted to become their fathers. In my generation, young men of that age wanted to become anything but.”
Mike’s relieved his navy captain dad lived long enough to see him do well.
“It’s a nice feeling... If you see one of your children obsessing about something, driven by something; you don’t want to say no, you can’t. It doesn’t matter what it is... You have to say give it a go. There was no idea in his era that you could make a living doing what I did. I’m sure he hoped I’d grow out of it.
“He definitely was proud of me, of course he would be; it’s the natural thing. It’s one of the best things in the world if one of your children do well. The climate (now) is so different. My generation, our children, we talk, we share so much together. In a way it’s easier parenting I think.”
Do his kids think he’s cool?
“I think you’re always dad. I’m sure they have a pride and a pleasure in seeing what we’ve done but I’m not sure dads can be that cool,” he laughs.
Mike, who’s sold more than 10million records worldwide with the Mechanics, jokes he’s surprised his side project is still going after more than 30 years. The band had a great run initially with Paul Carrack and Paul Young. When the latter died suddenly it felt like the end of an era and they stopped.
Until about six years ago, when Mike realised tracks he was writing sounded like Mechanics songs. He recruited two new vocalists. RnB singer Andrew Roachford, famous for hits like Cuddly Toy and Family Man; and Tim Howar who had formed and toured with Vantramp alongside the likes of Rod Stewart and Paulo Nutini.
“We did a first album and the other thing I hadn’t realised is a lot of the Mechanics songs, we didn’t do very much touring. Songs like Word of Mouth, All We Need is a Miracle hadn’t really been heard at all live so in a sense that was quite a novel thing.
“Our new album (Let Me Fly) is out in April. The first time we’d just about met while doing the album, this one we’ve been on the road for the last four or five years and I know their voices, how the songs should be; it’s a lot easier in a sense. This album returns to the early albums of the Mechanics, whereby most of the effort was put into the writing. We worked for a long time, threw a lot of songs away. That’s the main key of this album.”
Mike’s a realist when it comes to chasing success. These days it’s hard for anybody to sell records, unless you’re Ed Sheeran, he laughs, or Rihanna.
“The reason I do it is to prove I can still write a good song. It’s kind of me against me, so when you get some success or just people liking it – that’s my satisfaction. How well it (the new album) does remains to be seen. It’s just nice to get some radio play, some reaction that people are enjoying the music you’ve just written.”
Mike’s a big fan of Framlingham superstar Ed.
He was part of the Castle on the Hill singer’s all-star band who played during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
“I haven’t seen him since. We had a couple of emails afterwards. I thought he was great. I’m a big fan. I think he’s a real talent; I did from way back and it’s proved very much true.
“I like the way he sung live. Also he’s a great songwriter, that’s what you need as well. About the time I started in Genesis, prior to that there were the singers, the performers and (then) the songwriters. They weren’t the same people.
“Suddenly bands came along and the standalone songwriters died a bit of a death because bands wrote their own stuff, which sometimes is good but other times over the years has proved a bit of a problem.”
Mike enjoys the magic that happens when working with others, so don’t expect any more solo albums.
“I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much. Collaborating... That’s half the fun. Sometimes you’re writing a song and someone in the room, that last missing piece you haven’t got, they have and I appreciate that.”
Sadly that collaboration doesn’t extend to a Genesis reunion.
“There are no plans but it’s nice to see Phil (Collins) back in action this summer. It’s great news. I th nk he needs to be doing something and it’ll be good for him in every way – musically and for him as a person. We’re going to support him at Hyde Park. There’s no plan (for a reunion) but I always say never say never.”
• Mike and The Mechanics’ Word of Mouth Tour visits the Ipswich Regent March 9. Support comes from singer-songwriter Ben McKelvey, who has toured with Wet Wet Wet and The Overtones. Read our interview with singer Andrew Roachford here.