MW: It’s been a long long time…
JW: Hasn’t it! (laughing)
MW: So how are you all and what is happening with Mama?
JW: Well the band are fine. We obviously took a huge break during the pandemic as did everyone else, but we have had a couple of rehearsals lately and we can all still play and sing the music.
MW: So 2020 was a write off then?
JW: Pretty much yeah, no venues open and we couldn’t get together to even rehearse for most of the year, so it was tough for the band. Now please keep that in perspective with the suffering endured by millions of people during this period. Some losing loved ones and some just struggling to survive with mental health issues and economic issues and we really can’t complain. We had a couple close friends and fans of the band who lost their lives due to Covid-19 so you have to balance our frustrations against the wider issue here.
MW: Of course…
JW: But getting back to your question, we had to cancel some shows in Holland which we were a week away from playing when the pandemic struck. The rest of the shows we were fortunate enough to rearrange to 2022. It’s just unfortunate that Holland won’t let us into the country.
MW: So is Holland going to happen?
JW: Sadly no. The double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit has put paid to us playing outside the UK for the foreseeable future. But we will be keeping our eye on the situation and you never know.
JW: Yes sadly there are new rules for people working in the EU. We had to register every item of equipment and pay a charge for items and you can imagine we have a lot of equipment to register. Then there are other issues such as Red countries etc.
MW: Moving on, what about Genesis touring again. You must have been thrilled at that news?
JW: Of course. As fans ourselves we were thrilled at hearing that Genesis were going to tour again. Speaking for myself, I have seen every tour since 1981 by the band, so one final hurrah by them was more than I expected after 2007.
MW: Did the band go to any of the shows?
JW: Yes John Comish, James and your good self were at the Liverpool show on the 3rd of October.
MW: Did you all enjoy it.
JW: Of course. I was in tears a few times knowing how much this group of people mean to me. There was a lot of BS about Phil not being able to sing anymore. Well I can tell you that he was superb. The whole band were on fire and the show was the best I’ve seen since 1987.
MW: From my own perspective I loved the show and they sound like they were playing for their lives.
MW: It also proved that there are still a lot of people who want to hear Genesis music played live.
JW: Yes, that was nice to see as sometimes it does feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall trying to convince people of that… Venues mainly (laughing).
MW: So a big shot in the arm for Mama then?
JW: Hopefully yes. I think the Genesis tour has revitalised us all. If I’m honest I did think of retiring during the darkest days of 2020. It just seemed like a huge effort to get the band moving again and I wasn’t sure I was up to it?
JW: Yes. The effort required contacting venues, arranging dates, doing rehearsals and travelling to and from venues etc, seemed too much as one point for me. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes with Mama that the audience never sees. All they see are five people on stage playing. A show for them means a happy two and a half hours. A show for us means a happy two and a half hours on stage and a not so happy 14 hour day away from our families. Not to mention rehearsal time, promotion effort and costs.
MW: What changed you mind then?
JW: The first rehearsal after 14 months. Yes. I went into the rehearsal room thinking, “if this doesn’t go well then I have to make the call to carry on or not.” So after we set the equipment up and made noises for a bit we started a new song. Halfway through the first verse I knew I was staying. The band sounded great, as good as it ever did. It’s fair to say that rehearsal saved me.
MW: What was the new song?
JW: Burning Rope. It’s always been a favourite of mine and to have the chance to sing that was brilliant.
Through the eyes of JW... Genesis @ Liverpool
MW: So… The Next Domino? How did that happen?
JW: We had talked about doing an audio recreation of whatever Genesis played on this tour as soon as it was announced. We guessed that we probably played a lot of the songs in the past anyway, so it seemed like a good idea. When the tour was postponed we didn’t know if it would go ahead so we still needed to refresh our live set. So we learned four new songs. They will still be played at some shows where we have two nights at the same venue. Now we have seen the Genesis show we are all very keen to do the set they did.
MW: Will you be lowering the song keys like Genesis did?
JW: No. It’s a lot of mucking around and it then makes it easier for mistakes to creep in so we will be playing them in the normal keys as I can still sing them thankfully (laughing).
MW: What about the visual aspect of the tour?
JW: Well we have gone out and spent ten million quid on a light show (laughs). No we are revamping some aspects of the show though.
MW: Sounds great. So when does this all start?
JW: We have one show in 2021 at The Atkinson Theatre in Southport where we will play our normal set with a couple of those new songs thrown in. Then we will start rehearsals for The Next Domino shows in 2022.
MW: So many more years of Genesis music to come from Mama then?
JW: Well things can change in a moment, but yeah, we plan to be here for a while.
MW: Good! Well good luck with the shows and see you soon.
As always, questions, comments and ditties can be posted below and we’ll try to answer each and every one!