Chris was interviewed by author, Robin Platts, for his book entitled “Genesis Behind The Lines”. Although this was published back in 2008, we have recently unearthed a copy of the interview which can be read below:-
1. Overall, did that first trip to New York with Genesis feel like a success for both bands?
At the time, Genesis regarded it as an unmitigated disaster. They had
all sorts of problems with their gear [voltage changes], and only Peter
turned up to the after show party at the Inn on the Green, [wearing a hooded parka, as I recall].
In reality, however, that didn’t matter, for Strat had set the whole thing up with his eye on the British Music Press. In those days, there was no FM radio in the UK, and only one TV rock show, so the music press was the main outlet for breaking bands. The Melody Maker was THE music paper, and their most influential writer was a chap called Chris Welch. He had already broken Yes almost singlehandedly, but when they sacked his organist chum Tony Kaye, he turned his attention to Genesis. It’s not surprising then that Chris and his new wife were on board the plane to the Big Apple for their honeymoon. And of course, Strat’s wheeze worked, big time. Centre page spreads all round.
As for SDT, we acquitted ourselves well and it was a great experience, but does a band really want to do its US debut in front of a knowing NY audience without even getting a sound check?
2. I understand that Tony Stratton-Smith was very devoted to Genesis in those days – what were your overall impressions of him as a record label boss?
There was a pecking order in Charisma. Each signing would be given its shot at fame, but first came a lengthy apprenticeship, supporting the ‘bigger bands’, often on Charisma national tours. Lindisfarne had jumped the queue, as it were, so after VDGG’s demise, Genesis became IT. There were those in the industry [like Shel Talmy] who regarded them as Strat’s folly, but this merely spurred him on, and so they were given the best of stage gear and virtually unlimited time in the studio to complete Foxtrot.
His strategy of piggybacking each act on their predecessor’s success was excellent, but sadly, he left the day to day management of the artists to an individual who couldn’t have managed a fart after a plate of peas, and no matter how great the general, in the end, he lives or dies on the ability of his quartermaster. Incidentally, I recently wrote a piece about Strat for a website quaintly called ‘The Charisma Label Museum.’ Feel free to quote from it. [http://www.charismalabel.com/chrisadams.htm
3. Reading about it and doing interviews all these years later, Charisma sounds like it was in many ways a pretty ideal situation in terms of creativity and artistic freedom – is that a fair assessment?
Depends on who you were. Strat had given his bands their head in the studio, which meant huge recording bills, but little commercial success. Then along came Lindisfarne, who made a radio friendly album cheaply and became big overnight. So when we joined, the dynamic was changing fast. Strat signed us to a production deal with Shel Talmy, who made our album for less than the price of the sleeve. [£2K]. He then mixed and sequenced the tracks himself and when I dug my heels in and took more control for Machine That Cried, the result was deemed too doomy, so we had to cut a section and replace it with lighter acoustic numbers. After that, we were made to demo everything before we got to record it for real!! [So much for artistic freedom!] But by ’72, Genesis were far too big to be treated like this. They went through a lot of producers, but artistically they stuck to their guns, and of course. it paid off.
4. I think that, aside from New York, you did some other gigs with Genesis in those days – do any other ones particularly stand out in your memory?
We were joined at the hip till the Foxtrot tour. My impression was that Gabriel had a fantastic voice, that Collins overplayed, and the whole stage set up was incredibly static. [The only one standing was Peter, and he was tied to the bass drum.] Of course, the lighting effects were great, but in essence, they were a studio band who reproduced their album tracks note for note on stage. Nothing wrong with that, but I was into people like Neil Young, The Band and Dylan, who never gave the same performance two nights running.
5. Did you at that time have a sense that Genesis were going to make it big, or did they seem pretty much on par with yourselves and Lindisfarne and the other Charisma bands at that time?
Lindisfarne were big when we joined, but they didn’t take off in the US, and began to run out of energy. Genesis were already headlining tours, but in the UK, you need a hit single, and ‘I know What I Like’ took them to a whole new level. That said, no-one in Charisma would have imagined they would become even bigger without Peter. But then, no-one realised that in Collins, they had another world class singer, and if anything, a more ‘commercial’ writer. And there lies the twist in the Genesis tale, for even the most ardent fan must admit that the material that made them superstars bears little resemblance to the early stuff. But crucially, they had ‘paid their dues’, so in the end, Strat’s apprenticeship policy paid o