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Mama Website: Hello Dave! It’s been almost six months since you joined Mama. How has it been for you?
Dave Jones: I have had a great time. When I first heard that I had got the bass slot I was ecstatic and then it dawned on me that I had to actually learn 30 songs! I joined up with the band in Newcastle for Dave Perry’s final gig. I played a couple of songs at the sound check and then spent the next month learning the set. I practised along with the band’s DVD almost every day. It wasn’t the same as actually rehearsing with them but it was as close as I could get. My first gig at Blackburn is now immortalised on video and my main thought when I look at the clips from that night is how static I am. I was concentrating so much to make sure I did not make a mistake that I hardly moved. Over the next few concerts I slowly got used to the set so that now I feel relaxed on stage and am thoroughly enjoying playing with the band – they are all brilliant musicians and more importantly, great people to be with. So to summarise, it has been a wonderful time and I am really looking forward to the concerts this year.
MW: What was it like trying to learn 30 songs in such a short period of time?
DJ: The main advantage I had was that I have been a huge fan of Genesis since 1973. At that time I was in a cabaret band whose drummer was Peter Clarke, or Budgie, who went on to find fame with Siouxsie and the Banshees. He had a copy of “Selling England by the Pound” and I remember listening to it and being blown away. I bought a copy and then bought the back catalogue, so I have been listening to this music for over 40 years. In all that time I had never played in a band that attempted any Genesis songs but when it came to work out the music for Mama I knew how it went. All I had to do was actually work out the notes – a minor problem!
MW: What have you enjoyed the most about playing with the band?
DJ: First of all, their dedication to reproducing this music as accurately as possible and at the same time introducing fresh energy into each song. This combined with the work of the Road Crew who are dedicated to helping us produce a great sound and vision show, results in each Mama gig being an event, something that the audience will always remember.
MW: The members of Mama are known for meeting up with their audience after each show. What kind of questions have you been asked?
DJ: I am often asked which is my favourite piece to play live – the honest answer is that it changes with every gig. From the Morse code-like bass line of Land of Confusion to the hypnotic riff of Carpet Crawlers, from the complex intricate patterns of In The Cage to the laid back groove of Misunderstanding – it’s all good stuff!
MW: What other questions have you been asked?
DJ: Why do you play the bass with your thumb? Over the years I have used a plectrum, I have used my fingers and more recently my thumb, like Sting who favoured that technique. I tend to vary the way I play depending on which Genesis song it is and how bad the blister on my thumb is!
MW: OK let’s get technical, which strings do you use?
DJ: Roundwound Rotosound longscale steel bass strings – worth every penny.
MW: Four string or Five string bass, which do you prefer?
DJ: I have a five string bass but tend not to use it – I can get all the sounds I need with the four string combined with the bass pedals. But I am on the lookout for a double neck!
MW: And who is your favourite bass player?
DJ: There are far too many to mention but any list would include Mike Rutherford (obviously!), Chris Squire, Paul McCartney, Geddy Lee, John Entwistle, Jaco Pastorius, Scott LaFaro, Stanley Clarke, Carol Kaye, Geezer Butler and James Jamerson.
MW: Back to Genesis, do you have a favourite Genesis album?
DJ: This is a very tricky question. From the Gabriel period it is “Selling England by the Pound.” For the four piece band it is “A Trick of the Tail” and for the three piece band it is “Duke.” But I like all the albums. They each have something about them that I can relate to.
MW: What is your favourite Genesis gig?
DJ: I have seen the band several times. The gig that stands out for me is the re-union concert at Milton Keynes. This was an all-day event and it rained the whole time! It was a monumental day for Genesis, getting back together and playing live to a huge audience. Despite the terrible weather it was a special day. It was also the day my beloved trench coat died. It was so wet that when I got back it actually stood up without me in it!
MW: Sounds like the day was a wash out!
DJ: Surprisingly the day was unforgettable and the fact that the band has not officially released any recordings of that concert has resulted in it being a special memory.
MW: Talking of memories, which of your Mama gigs has been special for you?
DJ: My very first gig at Blackburn was exciting but since then each gig has been memorable in its own way. More recently the first two shows of 2015 have been really special. Both sell outs and both with brilliant audiences. In Chester we played in a theatre and the crowd gave us some wonderful feedback, then a week later we played the legendary Cavern Club – where they had to turn people away! From the get-go the audience were singing along and were into every song we did. I have never played a concert that had such a great reception and to date that gig is THE special one!
MW: What’s next then for Mama?
DJ: The band was ecstatic after our Cavern Club gig and now we are looking forward to a trip to Bolton at the Roundhouse where we are hoping to introduce even more ‘new’ pieces into our set. If you have been to our Facebook page you will have seen mobile phone footage of our recent rehearsals so you’ll know which songs I am referring to!
MW: Which songs are they then?
DJ: So far we have brought in the Second’s Out medley of The Lamb and The Musical Box. Next we have been playing Home by the Sea and Second Home by the Sea. Finally we have brought back Misunderstanding, which the band have played in the past but is new to me. For Bolton we are hoping to premiere the remaining sections of the Duke’s Suite, namely Duke’s Travels and Duke’s End!
MW: Sounds challenging!
DJ: It is! These pieces are technically challenging and memory challenging!
MW: Future plans for the band?
DJ: It would be nice to sell out as many of the 2015 gigs as possible. Plus we want to finally release the live DVD and a live CD. In addition, we have had many requests to play in Europe, so one long term aim is to take our show across the Channel.
MW: Sounds like you will be busy?
DJ: We will but that is why we do this. We love this music and we want to keep it alive for other fans of Genesis.
MW: Going to leave it there so thanks for your time Dave.
DJ: My pleasure.
Our last item of interest today is a new book written by our good friend Alan Hewitt and published by Wymer UK. It goes on sale on the 1st March 2015 and is priced at £19.99. The book features forewords by Phil Collins & Steve Hackett, so I guess that makes it fairly official?