Mike spoke with Peter Gordon ahead of tomorrow’s Wintershall Charity Rock Concert. You can read a transcription of the interview below.
Peter Gordon: Mike Rutherford, thank you for joining us at Eagle Radio.
Mike Rutherford: Pleasure.
PG: Lovely to see you, and specifically we’re going to be talking about the Wintershall Charity Rock Concert, happening on the second of July. It’s one of those wondrous gatherings of well-known names, many of whom live locally I know, but you come together and there’s a whole load of you again this year. It’s fantastic.
MR: It’s been a very special event, I mean there’s been about six of them in the last thirty years. Always local, first time it was myself, and Phil Collins and Eric [inaudible], and it’s always been a great success, and I think not being every year is important, too. But the key thing, I always think, is the magical setting, you know, out of all the charities I’ve done, it’s the one that’s got the most special atmosphere. Under the trees, down by the lake in Wintershall, raises a lot of money, and this year again, you know, local charities, local musicians, myself, Roger Taylor, Jeff Beck, Gary Brooker, who’s always run the show in the past. So it’s been a nice combination of people.
PG: And obviously a lot of people also know Wintershall, for that’s where they do the Passion each year, which is obviously also a big event as well, as you say, fantastic setting. So you’re, there are various ways in which Mike Rutherford could be at an event, of course, but it’s the Mechanics who are doing…
MR: Yeah, I’m kind of on tour with the Mechanics this summer a bit. And in fact we cover, it’s always a funny time, we play Liechtenstein the night before…
PG: As you do.
MR: So it’s early doors to get here, but from the very first one I remember I was standing on stage actually with the rest of the guys and I remember thinking the very first time “black tie…”, wasn’t sure what it would be like, fantastic crowd.
PG: And when you get together with, you mentioned, Roger, Sir Roger Taylor from Queen obviously, and Kenney is going to be there, Kenney Jones and Gary Brooker, Procol Harum, when you guys get together and do an event like this, whilst it is a gig, because also it’s raising money for charity which we’ll talk about in a moment, there’s a sort of different sort of atmosphere to it, would you say?
MR: It is, I think because it’s… you know everybody, which is nice, most people say it’s a sort of nice gathering, you know many years we used to be on the road all of us, all the time, and never see each other. We’d always be one town away, you know. And so now, having these sort of local events, and events where we know each other, is great fun actually.
PG: And, you know, because a lot of you, and you particularly, as well are Surrey based and you’re around this sort of area, and it must always be quite nice, you mentioned, flying back in from Liechtenstein, which I’m sure is lovely in itself of course, the night before, but it’s always good to be in the Surrey area doing it…
MR: I mean, I always think one of the reasons that we’ve survived, a lot of bands survive, is that you come home from, you know, a wonderful world tour, you’ve been applauded around the world, you come back to Surrey and you just relax, you know, on the farm at home, and you switch off, and it’s normal life. Very important, I think.
PG: Let’s talk about the charities that you are raising money for on the night. First of all, HASTE of course, which is based at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, particular reason why HASTE has been benefitting this time?
MR: I think we’ve done some for HASTE before, actually, over the years, and once again I think it helps I feel, not better, but I feel more engaged in something that’s local.
PG: And obviously it’s the Heart and Stroke Trust Endeavour, which is actually the full name, but of course anyone that’s been to the Royal Surrey will know HASTE is just along from the front entrance, just to the left there. And actually also, of course, I think at weekends hosts the temporary doctors for over the weekend if you have to go and see someone and things like that, so very important part of the Royal Surrey, and then there’s also the James Wentworth-Stanley Memorial Foundation, as well.
MR: Which I know a lot about. I’ve known the family for years, it’s really trying to raise awareness as much as anything for the, there’s a huge number of young, mainly male, suicides between 18 and 23, something I never knew about until James, who was a friend of my youngest son Harry, lovely, the most normal, outgoing, happy, sporty person, hit this black mood and took his life, and it’s a big figure of young males who have that problem so this is very important to raise this kind of awareness.
PG: Of course people can also go along because you’ll be raising money that night, but also there’ll be some information around about the causes as well, it is black tie, as you’ve mentioned.
MR: I must just let you know that no one behaves at all black tie-ish, trust me from day one it was like that, and the other thing, I think, I read somewhere or someone told me, I think that NHS staff and healthcare workers can get a reduced ticket, which I think is a great idea.
PG: Fantastic. And actually there are ways of getting tickets via the website, which is wintershallconcerts.co.uk. So the songs and all the memories and also the enjoyment that you are going to have on the night, and you were mentioning just earlier as well about bands that are still going, and keep going, and musicians that are still going and keep going. There is now, would you agree, a sort of almost different level of entertainment and performance in the music industry now where you’ve got a lot of you guys who just know your way around a lot now, and just are able to keep doing it, plus people that are now coming through. Do the sort of two meet enough for you, do you think, or is it all sort of a bit of a separate thing these days?
MR: I think any one musician, you feel akin to your fellow musicians, but you’re right in a sense, there are sort of slightly two camps, with the older artists who have got a catalogue of 20, 30, 40 years of music, so in a sense it’s slightly easier for them because they play songs that people, have been a part of their lives, you know, and of course what’s happened now is because the record sales have sort of dropped so drastically, live shows are becoming more and more popular. And so you drift towards what is working, you know, so older artists who might not have been touring so much are now touring a lot, which is great.
PG: And the other thing as well, I’ve noticed, is that a lot of people talk about new music discovery, discovering new music, which is fantastic, but there’s also a lot of discovery of back catalogues, of course helped by radio stations, but also a lot by TV documentaries that now pop up on Sky Arts or one of the BBC channels, do you ever catch any of them because quite often you’ll be flicking along the channels and suddenly there’s a Genesis special or there’s a Mike + the Mechanics special.
MR: Yeah, not really, I mean I come back and maybe someone’s put it on Sky recording the plus, it’s on there and so I see it, which I wouldn’t normally watch it, but I always enjoy it, you know, it’s rather nice actually, some of those things. In the early days, you know, in fact the Peter Gabriel days, nothing was filmed really. No one filmed anything in those days, which is a shame actually.
PG: Because there’s a whole section of, sort of, the music genre which actually hasn’t really been recorded. I mean even some of the stuff, the recent Bowie stuff, obviously, which has been re-shown a lot, you realise that whilst obviously such a big amount of activity was going on, even then there wasn’t that much of him really.
MR: No, there wasn’t. We played the Roundhouse with him about, in the 70s, and someone filmed it, and that’s become very sort of special because it’s a moment in time, but there was so little of that going on.
PG: But it is interesting, isn’t it, wouldn’t you say, for the younger lot now rediscovering or discovering for the first time this vast amount of music, much of which influences of course what is around today.
MR: Yeah, I think also that the one good thing about the Internet and the access to music is that kids, young people, find this music on their own, which is great. And it’s not like you have your fathers or your mothers playing stuff, you must love this, chaps, it’s actually, they’re finding it for themselves so, the accessibility has brought a much wider horizon of things …
PG: And also, for you, talking about obviously playing with the Mechanics and touring at the moment, obviously at Wintershall as well, but there’s new tunes around for you at the moment, putting some tracks down.
MR: Yeah, I’ve been writing quite a bit recently, and I think, just now I’ve been working with Brian Rawlings who runs Metrophonic over in Ripley, you see, local again, I don’t travel far, who is a great sort of producer and a great ears man, he’s been really helping me choose the songs, and we’ve thrown lots out, which I always say is good but I hate doing it, but he’s right, you know, I think we’ve raised the bar in terms of songwriting, which is my main thing really.
PG: And with Phil sort of coming back and doing things and coming out of retirement and updating his photos, which I thought was an interesting idea for his album covers, and so he’s back and around again now as well.
MR: Yeah, I think he wants to do something by the sounds of it, I saw him a couple of months ago for his birthday, had dinner with myself and Tony and it was lovely to see him, I think he’s sort of, I think he’s a great musical talent, such a shame not to be doing something. If his choice is not to do it, and retire and be happy, that’s fine, but it didn’t quite work out well for him I don’t think. He needs things to do, he’s too full of ideas to not, so it’s encouraging, he might do some stuff hopefully.
PG: Well Mike, listen, it’s lovely to see you, so Wintershall Charity Rock Concert, 2nd of July, tickets you can get from the website which is wintershallconcerts.co.uk, you’re going to be there with the Mechanics, we’ve got Roger Taylor there, we’ve got Kenney Jones, we’ve got Procol Harum, I think Steve Harley’s going to be popping out as well
MR: Jeff Beck, I’m really looking forward to seeing Jeff.
PG: I was going to say, and there’s always that wonderful thing at the end of a line-up where it says “and special guests”, which sort of leaves the door open for anyone else to come along as well.
MR: Absolutely. You’ll see on the night, but it, I must say, it’s a most magical setting I’ve ever played a concert in, very special, I’m looking forward to it.
PG: Thank you, Mike.