Mike Rutherford, (seen here in the centre), English songwriter and guitarist with Mike + The Mechanics chats with Kevin Cooper about supporting Phil Collins on some summer shows, his relationship with Paul Carrack, the possibility of a Genesis reunion and their latest studio album, Out Of The Blue.

Mike Rutherford is an English songwriter and musician.  He was a founding member of Genesis and was one of the main songwriters throughout their career.

In addition to his work with Genesis, he also released two solo albums in the early 80s.  In 1985 he formed the highly successful Mike + The Mechanics which became a chart topping band in their own right, and earned Rutherford an Ivor Novello Award for the 1988 single The Living Years.

Initially, the band included Rutherford, vocalists Paul Carrack and Paul Young, keyboardist Adrian Lee and drummer Peter Van Hooke.  Carrack was generally assigned to ballads and more pop-oriented numbers, while Young handled the band’s heavier work.  After a successful decade, Lee and Van Hooke left the band in 1995, and were not replaced.  Following Young’s death in 2000, Carrack became the band’s sole lead vocalist until 2004 when the band (essentially a duo at this point) went on hiatus, with Rutherford and Carrack both later saying the band had “run its course”.  The band identity was revived in 2010, consisting of Rutherford and a completely new set of musicians, including new vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar.

This current incarnation of the band have released two studio albums, The Road in 2011, Let Me Fly in 2017 and in April this year, their third studio album, Out Of The Blue will be available.

Whilst currently touring the UK, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.


Hi Mike how are you today?

I’m very well thanks Kevin, how are you?

Well I could complain but I have a distinct feeling that no one would listen (laughter).

(Laughter) I know exactly what you are saying.

Before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s a pleasure.

And just how is life treating you?

Life is good; we are in Stoke tonight and everything is good.  The band is playing well and I have to say that I really am enjoying it.

You are currently ten dates into the UK leg of the tour, is it going well?

Yes, everything is pretty good actually.  I must let people know that there is no support on this tour; it is just us playing for the two sets and I have to say that it is working rather nicely.  From my own personal point of view, I have to say that if I was a punter I would much rather have the main band on stage, and just enjoy the people who you want to see.

You are bringing the show to the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Sunday 10th March, do you enjoy your time spent here in Nottingham?

Yes I do.  However, we never get to spend a lot of time in the city as we tend to go through quite quickly.  However, this year we are arriving the night before the show so I will have a bit more time to take a look around the city.

I have to say that I have seen the band on a number of occasions and I personally feel that Tim (Howar) and Andrew (Roachford) work so well together.

Yes they do and I think that alongside the fact that in a funny way when I realised that I was going to restart The Mechanics, a lot of the songs had never been performed live.  When The Mechanics were just the two Pauls, Carrack and Young, we never really did much live work so in a sense a lot of the songs hadn’t been heard much before which is quite good.

Did either Tim or Andrew hesitate when you approached them to join the band?

(Laughter) not really no.  Andrew came along and began to write which for him was a very natural thing to do.  Andrew you have to remember has a very successful solo career, and Tim has just finished the lead in Phantom Of The Opera, so they were both doing other things anyway.  The Mechanics get together at the right sort of time; it is not exclusive and I like that.

Do you still enjoy life out on the road?

Yes I do, I really do.  At some points I feel my age as one does, but yes of course I do.  Having said that the job for me is all about being out there onstage performing with those great players.  I enjoy being out there on stage nowadays more so than ever simply because Tim and Andrew relax the atmosphere.  I am not the most natural person on stage but Andrew is just so comfortable up there as of course is Tim.  The two of them really are great.

You have briefly mentioned the original incarnation of Mike + The Mechanics with the two Pauls and I have to say that I was fortunate enough to see the band perform here in Nottingham and thought that you were absolutely fantastic.

Did you, well thank you for saying that.  We always did and still do try to put on a good show.

I don’t think that it is fair to compare the two line-ups; they were both excellent and in my opinion, they both stand-up on their own two feet.

I am so pleased that you have said that and I totally agree with you.  I have never perceived the two line-ups as being competitive.  The sad part from my own point of view is that we never really toured that much with the two Pauls.  That is of course my fault as I was doing a lot of other things with Genesis in-between.  By the time that we had recorded a Mechanics album then it was time for me to join Genesis again.

Whilst we are talking about the original Mechanics line-up, we lost Paul Young on 15th July 2000.  Just how good was he?

Paul was fantastic.  He had such a fantastic stage presence.  I could stand and watch him playing the tambourine onstage for ages.

And he had such a tremendous voice too.

Yes he did, Paul really was brilliant.  He had such a fantastic voice, and in my opinion he was one of the best rock voices of his generation.  The amazing thing was that it all came so very natural.

We should really speak about Mike + The Mechanics latest album Out Of The Blue.

Okay go for it (laughter).

I have been playing it for a couple of weeks now and I have to say that I love it.  With the exception of the three new tracks, this album is all about Tim and Andrew singing classic Mike + The Mechanics tracks.  What was the rationale behind that?

Thank you.  In a sense this project really was partly brought about by the fact that Tim and Andrew have been singing the old songs now for a while and over that period of time the songs really have changed; they have made them their own.  I thought that it would be good to record them so we started with that, then we added the three new songs and I think that the whole thing sounds really good.

I totally agree.  I also love the six acoustic tracks that you have put on there. 

Yes so do I and the other thing about these guys is that they can do it all live.

On the subject of albums are there any thoughts on a new studio album after the release of Out Of The Blue?

Not at the moment.  This current tour runs until May, then we are playing a few shows with Phil (Collins) over the summer so at this moment in time I really haven’t given much thought as to what will happen beyond that.  Having said that I am always writing songs.

Are you old school and still physically write your thoughts and ideas down somewhere or are they little snippets on your mobile phone?

(Laughter) all of the music that I write are on my PC at home.

I recently interviewed Phil (Collins) and when I asked him about the possibility of a Genesis reunion he said “you had better ask Mike about that”.

(Hysterical laughter) I don’t know, let’s just say that there are currently no plans.  Listen; if Phil had stayed in retirement where he had been for quite a long time, then it wouldn’t even have been a consideration.  However, you never know, because Phil is back touring now, and his sons drumming is fantastic, so who knows.

I could never get tickets to see Genesis anywhere here in the UK so my wife and I finally bit the bullet and actually saw you perform at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

(Laughter) well that’s nearby isn’t it.

It was on Tuesday 25th November 1986 on The Invisible Touch Tour.

Wow that really was a good tour to finally see us.

The gig was fantastic but the one thing that I do remember clearly is that the lighting and the stage show were absolutely superb. 

I was always heavily involved with the stage lighting and how everything looked whenever Genesis went out on tour so I am pleased that you liked the stage show.

I have seen the stage set for the current tour and I have to say that the hot air balloons depicting Mike + The Mechanics album sleeves and artwork really do look amazing. 

Thank you for saying that.  This was a real challenge for me because as you can imagine the budget for a Genesis tour was absolutely massive whilst the budget for The Mechanics isn’t.  Therefore you have got to work harder and more to the point use your brains.  I personally feel that the balloon idea looks fantastic and was such a simple idea.  I am very pleased with it.

They say that less is more and that just goes to prove the point.

It’s such a challenge to do something great with such a small budget.

You have been in the music business for over fifty years now so I would like to ask you at what point in your career did you feel the most musically satisfied?

I have to say that I don’t really know.  I suppose that there were a lot of Genesis albums; Invisible Touch and We Can’t Dance for example, when the writing of those two albums was not necessarily satisfying, but it really was exciting.  The three of us got into the studio, and the songs just flew out; you simply couldn’t stop them.  That really was a great time.

Do you have a favourite Mike + The Mechanics song?

That would have to be The Living Years.  Having said that I am a big fan of All I Need Is A Miracle because it really is a happy song without being too sweet but The Living Years really is one of our biggest achievements.

On the subject of The Living Years I recently interviewed Paul Carrack.  How are things between the two of you?

Well I haven’t spoken to Paul in a while now but I do try to stay in touch.  From my point of view there really was never a problem.  Paul really is a great musician; we had some great times together, and it was a natural moment I think when I called an end to Mike + The Mechanics.  We really couldn’t have continued without Youngy.  There really was something special between the three of us.  At the same time I think that if we hadn’t have done that then Paul wouldn’t have got his solo career going as he did.  So in fact everything has worked out rather well.  Paul and I occasionally speak, we exchange the odd email, and I am really pleased that he is doing well and working hard.

What was the first record that you bought?

I can’t remember the title but it was a Cliff Richard album and the first track was Move It.  It was a long time ago (laughter).

Who did you first see performing live?

Cliff Richard in Manchester.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

To be honest with you music really doesn’t make me cry.  Songs don’t make me cry, but they do touch me.

On that note Mike let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today it’s been great and I will see you here in Nottingham.

Thanks Kevin it’s been a joy speaking to you today.  I hope that you enjoy the show.  I have to say that the show is getting pretty good now.  It was always good but I think that it has now got the right running order and you will enjoy it I hope.