Martin Hutchinson chats to Mike from Mike + The Mechanics’.
What do you do if you’re in one of the world’s greatest rock bands and have time on your hands because the band in question is not recording and touring?
Well, if you’re Mike Rutherford of Genesis you form another band.
But what was originally meant to be a ‘part-time’ band, the band – Mike + The Mechanics went on to have massive hits of their own with songs like Over My Shoulder, Silent Running and the number-two smash The Living Years.
From 1985 to 2000, Mike and his merry men produced a string of great hits and top-selling albums, but then disaster. One of the two singers, Paul Young, died suddenly.
The band carried on with the other singer, Paul Carrack shouldering all the vocals, until the band split in 2004.
But, like a phoenix from the ashes, the band rose again in 2010. Mike recruited two new singers, Canadian Tim Howar and Andrew Roachford.
Andrew had some UK chart pedigree with a number of hits including Cuddly Toy.
And now, with one studio album under their belt (The Road) and another on the way, Mike and his new Mechanics are hitting the road on their Word Of Mouth tour, which will be calling at venues around the country throughout March.
Andrew was contacted back then, but he thought it was for another reason.
“That’s right,” he tells me from his London home.
“I received a call from Chris Neil, who was Mike’s producer and co-writer, and asked it I could meet up with Mike to discuss some song-writing.”
“When I got there, Mike had set all the instruments up and he asked me to sing a few lines, which I did. And he made his mind up on the spot – and I was in.”
It took a bit of getting used to though.
“Yes, at the start, I wasn’t sure how it would go, but when people got their heads around it, it was fine.”
Andrew’s voice is quite soulful, so he would be perfect for all the songs that were originally sung by Paul Carrack.
“That’s right, Tim does most of the songs done by Youngy, but Paul Carrack’s are more like me.”
“As the years have gone by, the audiences are steadily growing so we must be doing something right.”
When Andrew joined the band, he was already aware of their music.
“Of course I was, who couldn’t be? I didn’t know every song though, but I knew all the hits.”
He laughs, “It’s funny, but Living Years beat me up the charts in 1989 when I had Cuddly Toy, and quite right too, but it’s a surreal twist to be singing the song on stage.”
Backing Mike, Andrew and Tim on stage are old hands at Mechanics music, Gary Wallis and Anthony Drennan on drums and guitar respectively – who were both in the original stage line-up of the band, and Luke Juby on keyboards.
“We have great fun, and I’m really looking forward to getting back with them for the tour – it’s like being back at school,” he jokes.
He continues. “I am also looking forward to working with Mike again. He has a different approach to me and it’s a great opportunity to learn.”
Of all the songs in the catalogue, there are a few tracks that stand out for Andrew.
“Loads really but the lyric of The Living Years really does it for me. It’s a pleasure and honour to sing it. It’s so soulful and emotive.”
“Silent Running really grew on me, and Over My Shoulder is great. Funnily enough, it wasn’t a big hit in America like it was everywhere else, and when we play America, a lot of the audience don’t tend to know it. But it always goes down well.”
As for what we can expect in the set-list, Andrew is quite forthcoming.
“All the Mike + The Mechanics hits, and Mike lets me do a bit of my solo work,” he says.
“We’ll also be playing tracks from our new album which is out just after the UK dates. It’s called Let Me Fly and I’m really looking forward to seeing the reaction to the new songs.”
“And there’ll be some Genesis hits like I Can’t Dance, it’d be rude not to,” he quips.
Andrew also has a solo career and he seems to relish juggling the two.
“Yes, it’s not difficult to keep them both going really. Obviously the more it [Mike + The Mechanics] grows, the more demanding it gets, but it’s two different things – and I am stealing a few Mike + The Mechanics fans,” he laughs again.
And the future?
“After the UK tour, we’ll be out this year promoting the new album, plus I’m starting a new album which I hope to have out later in the year when I’ll also be doing another solo tour.”