John Wilkinson - Mama Genesis Tribute BandMama, the UK’s all era Genesis tribute band interviews John W

Well so much has gone on in the past eleven months that we thought it was high time to drag another interview from John W. Here he discusses the change in venues that the band are currently appearing at and the complexities of putting on a Mama show and making a film!

Don’t forget, Saturday night (26th April) the band will be performing at the O2 Academy, Sheffield. You can buy tickets from the O2 Academy website. On with the interview….

Mama Website: Hi John!

John W: Hello there.

MW: So what’s been happening in the time since we last interviewed you?

JW: An awful lot (laughs)! I suppose the first thing to tell you about is the upcoming live DVD / Blu-ray Disc. As most folk know we put on a special free show for the fans who have supported us over the past two years as a sort of thank you to them all. We took the decision to make a DVD of the show and release it, as we keep getting asked at our gigs why we don’t have DVD’s or CD’s for sale.

MW: And why don’t you have DVD’s or CD’s for sale then?

JW: Good question. The main reason is that we wanted to ensure that the standard of playing was up to it and I know that we are now playing these songs better than ever. It is an obvious thing to say but the more you play together as a band the tighter and better you get. Also another thing was that we wanted the lights sorting out before we tried to film a show and thanks to Dave and Jules input, we now have a great light show.

MW: Yeah I remember you saying about that the last time we spoke. Was that a challenge then?

JW: You would have to ask Dave and Jules for that because they put all the work in. No seriously, Dave rigged all the lights, designed the way it would look and then programmed the scenes for each song into the computer. Jules then had to learn all about setting up lights at shows and how to work the computer at shows. Both of them have done superbly well in my opinion.

MW: So has Kev Lloyd left the band then?

JW: Yeah, Kev was always going to retire at the end of last year anyway, so we decided to get Jules on board sooner rather than later. Kev is a good mate of mine as well as the rest of the band and we all miss his banter at shows as he’s a very funny guy. He will still come to some shows but as a guest and not actually working.

Mama members individuals

MW: So getting back to the DVD then, how long is it and when does it come out?

JW: Well the DVD was shot using five separate HD cameras so Andrew has to edit four hours worth of footage from those five cameras into a seamless video. We have started to mix the audio that we recorded that night so I am hoping that it will be released around July/August time, by the time we get artwork and such sorted. The plan at this moment in time is to release the whole show, but that may change due to the running time being too long. I am also floating the idea around of releasing the show we did at Newcastle last year on CD. I have a superb audio recording of that gig on 24 track, which again we need to mix down for release.

MW: All takes time I suppose.

JW: Yeah. Before we started this I thought, “record video, mix audio and we will have the thing out in a month.” WRONG! It is a lot of very hard work to do all this and that is besides the work we all do learning songs and on the promotion side of things.

MW: I look forward to seeing and hearing it then.

JW: Not as much as I am!

Mama Sheffield O2 Academy Ad

MW: Okay, so what happened to the idea of Mama playing the whole of one album thing you mentioned last time?

JW: Ah yes. Best laid plans etc. The idea was to learn all of the Duke album as it is a favourite of the whole band, but after we spoke to fans at gigs and mentioned that, a lot of them asked why we weren’t playing Fading Lights or Home By The Sea. So thinking about it further we decided to learn the Duke Suite much as Genesis did themselves as there are so many Genesis songs we could learn and so little time to play them all at a show.

MW: Classic case of, what do you play in the allotted time perhaps? Set lists have to be limited otherwise you would be on stage all night right?

JW: Absolutely, there is so much Genesis music that we can tackle now that the choice is very hard. The latest plan is to learn Home By The Sea after we get Duke’s Travels out of the way. I also would love to play some songs that were never played live by Genesis.

MW: Like Many Too Many?

JW: Yeah and perhaps some others too. We still play Many Too Many at some gigs but since we started playing the full version of Behind The Lines it seems to have dropped off the radar sadly. There really is far too much stuff to play in this band. We do need to change the set and keep it fresh not only for the audiences but ourselves as well.

MW: The band played the Legends of Rock festival in March. How was that?

JW: That was a great gig. We left very early in the morning and got to the venue in good time. When we got there a thrash metal band were giving it their all and for a moment I was really worried about how we would be received at this show. Lots of “metal heads” there, but as soon as we started we got a great reception from the 2000+ people who were there. The crowd at that show really seemed to take us to their hearts and when we came off stage a lot of folk came over to tell us all how much they enjoyed the set we did. Lots of great feedback from the organisers as well and we hope to return again in 2015.

MW: I believe you consumed three whole glasses of red wine after the show and managed to half empty an Indian restaurant with your drunken antics?

JW: (laughs) Rock & Roll!

MW: And of course the band are at Tribfest again this year.

JW: Yeah we love that gig. They have given us a prime spot this year on the Saturday as well, seeing as how we went down so well last year. Really looking forward to that.

MW: Will the van make it up the hill again?

JW: (laughing) Well there is a thought that we won’t be taking it to be honest and just take our instruments etc.

MW: Genesis music seems to enjoying a resurgence with the likes of Peter Gabriel’s Back To Front tour and Steve Hackett and his Genesis Revisited tour doing really well across the planet. What did you think of them when you saw them?

JW: I saw Peter’s show at the MEN Arena on the Saturday and then Steve on the Tuesday so both very close to each other. Two great shows and I enjoyed them both.

MW: Which songs did you enjoy the most from those shows?

JW: Well from Steve’s show I loved Blood On The Rooftops, Los Endos, which was my favourite song of the night and all of the Unquiet Slumber For The Sleepers / In That Quiet Earth sections. The Lamia was also superb as was Dance On A Volcano. Peter’s show I didn’t like the start of, but the whole of the “So” album was amazing. It is my favourite Gabriel album to be fair.

MW: Yeah that was a little odd just walking on stage and sitting at the piano with all the house lights on.

JW: I like shows to start with a huge opening song to really grab me.

JW with Steve Hackett (Genesis)MW: And I believe you met Steve and the band after the show?

JW: I was really lucky to have been put on the guest list for after show, thanks to Alan H. I met him afterwards as well. Really nice chap as were the rest of the band, who all got given Mama T shirts by the way. (laughs)

MW: And they took them?

JW: Well I did tell Roger King he could wash his car with it if he wanted to. (smiles)

MW: So getting back to Mama, the band is doing a lot more new and larger venues this year. Was that a conscious decision?

JW: Yeah we wanted to play bigger venues which show off the lights and also we need to grow the band to reach a larger audience so sadly no more gigs in The Moses Gate for example.

MW: You seem sad at that?

JW: Yeah of course. That was always one of my favourite venues over the years but as more and more people come to see us and as our show gets bigger, we couldn’t fit in there any more. I do find that sad but it’s a price worth paying if the band continues to grow like it has.

MW: How has the band grown?

JW: In two years we have come from nothing to playing two of the largest and best tribute band festivals in Europe, lots of followers on Facebook and playing theatres and live music venues. Our DVD is to be released and a CD not long after, so yeah Mama has grown alright and much quicker that I imagined to be honest.

MW: Did you think it would come so far so fast?

JW: Not in a million years.

MW: So future is looking bright for Mama, but what about some dates abroad?

JW: I’ve been trying to get one all this year and always happy to work with a promoter to organise one as we get a lot of requests through our Facebook page to play places such as Germany and Holland.

MW: Would be a feather in your cap.

JW: Not bothered about that. It has just long been an ambition of mine that’s all.

MW: Going to leave it there so thanks for your time John!

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