As one of the founding members of Genesis, Mike Rutherford was one of the world's top rock musicians, playing to packed arenas across several continents. These days, as he told Pennyblackmusic, he is happy performing in smaller venues with his current band, Mike + The Mechanics.

“Having over 100,000 people screaming and cheering is good,” Mike says with typical English understatement in his cut-glass upper middle England accent. “But these days I actually get to see the faces of the audience which I never could before. I can spot the older ones nodding off!”

Mike's father was a Royal Navy captain and Mike was supposed to follow in his footsteps. He was sent to top league Charterhouse public school in Surrey. But Mike was something of a rebel. He soon became involved in the school's underground music scene, had his guitar confiscated and went on to team up with school mates Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Chris Stewart and keyboardist Tony Banks to form Genesis. The rest is history. Genesis went on to become one of the most commercial rock acts of all time selling over 130 million records worldwide and pioneering new techniques in production, video-making and live performance. Genesis went through numerous line-up changes but Mike remained and he wrote some of the bands biggest hits like 'Follow You Follow Me', 'Turn It On Again' and 'Land of Confusion'.

“Those were exciting times,” Mike reflects. “There was no formula then and record labels were owned by individual people, not multi-national corporations and invisible shareholders. It is big business now but back then it was still fun and an adventure and all of us had a good time. It was a golden age, too as there were all the changes of format - from vinyl to cassette to CD.”

Mike did some solo work but preferred being in a band so when Genesis took a break in 1985 he recruited The Mechanics with Paul Carrack (of Ace, Roxy Music and Squeeze), Paul Young (of Sad Cafe), Peter Van Hooke (Van Morrison's drummer) plus Adrian Lee who'd been Toyah Wilcox's keyboardist.

Mike + The Mechanics had rapid success with a series of hits including 'All I Need Is A Miracle', 'Word of Mouth', 'Silent Running' and 'The Living Years'.

Like Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics have changed personnel over time. Peter Van Hooke and Adrian Lee left, and then Paul Young died of a heart attack in 2000. Initially Mike reacted to Paul Young's death by “putting the band to bed”, but in 2009 he revived the band's name when he teamed up with R'n'B singer Andrew Roachford and Canadian rock musician Tim Howar.

“At first I felt when Paul Young died it was the end of an era - which it was, really,” Mike recalls. “But I started writing again and the revival of the band has gone well. It has taken a few years to build it back up but it is like the old days now again. There was an album – 'The Road' – in 2011 but I am not rushing to do the next one. I love writing and performing live music. We are touring now and everyone who comes along seems to have a great time.”

Will Genesis be regrouping and touring again?

“Genesis have never broken up - they are just on hold,” Mike says. “While there are no current plans, you just never know what's round the corner. And all of us are still above ground, you know!”

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