Die Songs der Jeansmarke "Levis" waren schon seit jeher ein Garant für Erfolg und kurzfristige Aufmerksamkeit. So auch bei den schottischen Alternative-Schützlingen Stiltskin, die dem Baumwoll-Beinkleid 1994 ihren Song Inside liehen, und prompt ein Hit wurde. Genau wie T-Rex"20th Century Boy", The Clashs"Should I Stay Or Should I Go", Steve Millers"The Joker" oder der Genesis-Neuzeit-Hit "I can't dance" - drei Jahre zuvor. Und selten hat eine Überleitung so perfekt funktioniert wie hier, denn 1997 löste Stiltskin's'Sänger Ray Wilson den mittlerweile zum Sänger transformierten Phil Collins, der die Band noch im selben Jahr verließ, ab. Was leider auch das Ende von Stiltskin zur Folge hatte.
Das Ergebnis der Kollaboration mit Genesis"Calling All Stations" wurde von der Anhängerschaft und Kritikern allerdings verschmäht - und auch von Collins nicht gern gesehen -, und so beendeten Rutherford und Banks das Kapitel Genesis vorerst mal. Jetzt hatte auch Wilson wieder Kapazitäten frei und startete eine Solokarriere, nachdem das Ende von Stiltskin auch einige Zwistigkeiten innerhalb der Band hervorrief. 2003 stand dann das Ergebnis in den Läden, und trug den äußerst einleuchtenden Titel "Change", das in Deutschland bis auf Platz 88 in den Charts hoch kletterte. Drei weitere Alben folgten, letzteres, Chasing Rainbows ist vor Kurzem erschienen und stellt einen erneuten, wenn auch kleinen Höhepunkt in der Karriere von Wilson dar. Die zwölf Songs auf dem Longplayer wurden mit Hingabe eingespielt, um die Seele der Nummern nicht zu gefährden. Und so kommt es, dass "Chasing Rainbows" mit unzähligen Hochkarätern aufwartet, die in den kommenden Monaten live präsentiert werden sollen.
Daher ließen wir es uns nicht nehmen, Ray Wilson zum Interview zu bitten. Der gebürtige Schotte beantwortet uns Fragen zu allen Epochen seines Schaffens, geht dabei näher auf die Zeit mit Genesis ein und erzählt warum er die Jungs von Stiltskin wieder reanimierte und mit ihnen drei Alben aufnahm. Weiters verrät er Details zur laufenden Tour mit Genesis Ur-Gitarrist Steve Hackett. Und natürlich gibt's auch einiges vom aktuellen Album "Chaising Rainbows" zu berichten.
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!
Michael Voit: Thank you for taking the time for this interview! How are you doing?
Ray Wilson: I'm busy, but happy and healthy. So I'm very well, thank you!
Michael: After five years you have finally done another solo record. What's the story behind the romantic title?
Ray: „Chasing rainbows“ is what I have been doing all my life. Always trying to improve and go one better, always living the musical dream and trying to enjoy the journey. It's based on the idea that at the end of the rainbow is a pot of gold. The beauty is that you never get to the end and it's the journey itself that is the pot of gold.
Michael: It seems like you are reflecting your life. I think of songs like „Take It Slow“, „Easier That Way“, „Follow The Lie“, „Shouting In My Sleep“, „Wait For Better Days“, „Whatever Happened“ or „The Life Of Someone?“
Ray: I mostly write about life and life experiences. I don't need to take it from books, when I have the opportunity to live it. I am always fascinated by people and they way we behave. Everyone is searching and everyone has there own special life journey. I often refer to the key elements of life, like hope, self belief, patience, motivation and so on. Life is a constant battle for most people. I write songs that hopefully remind them that they are not alone.
Michael: Your current release is called "Easier That Way". Is there a connection between writing songs as a band or alone? What's the easier way?
Ray: I write with Peter Hoff on this album. Peter is a producer, not a band member. Once we have created the songs together, I then have the whole band perform them in the studio and add their own ideas and style to the songs.
„Easier that Way“ was inspired by a movie called „Inside Job“. The movie explained how the whole financial crisis of 2008 actually happened and who ends up paying for it. It seems to me that the poorer sections of society suffer the most and the people who caused the problem get to carry on with their nice life. It seems easier to let the poor suffer, because they can't fight back so easily. I think what the politicians created with deregulation was a culture of greed, especially within the banking system. It has created misery for millions of people and in my opinion, it's a terrible crime.
Michael: The closing track "No Dreams Are Made Of This" seems to be an answer to the Eurythmics hit?
Ray: I presume you refer to Sweet Dreams are made of this? To be honest, my song has the opposite meaning to the Eurythmics song. I talk about aspects of life that do not allow you to move forward spiritually. Like hating people or losing hope and belief in yourself. Negative emotions. The song about self belief and endeavour. Tt would be nice to sing it with Annie Lennox, she is a trully great singer.
Michael: Where did you get your inspirations for the songs on "Chaising Rainbows"?
Ray: As I said earlier, they are songs about life. I see so many things and have so many interesting experiences, touring all the time, and nothing inspires me more than ordinary people and the way they behave. I find people fascinating and I love to write about them and also to write about my own life battles and feelings.
Michael: Do you think any of your songs is more relevant today than in the time you wrote it?
Ray: I think these issues are perhaps more relevant today, due to the fact that so many people are struggling to deal with many day to day issues. There so many unemployed people, or employed people on low income and finding life tough. Now is as good a time as any to focus on hope, self belief, faith, patience. If you like, the basic fundamentals of life.
Michael: The next months you play many gigs to promote "Chasing Rainbows". Is it still fun to be on the road?
Ray: I have grown to love this life. I do miss home, very often, as I spend 60 to 70% of the year, travelling, but this is not only what I do, it is also who I am. Between 1999 and 2001 I performed only one show, with the Scorpions and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Hannover. That one show was great fun, but the days during those two years were probably the worst time of my life. This was a time when I was questioning who I was and what I did. My time with Genesis had just ended and I was trying to find a new direction in life. I also thought about quitting music. Then in August 2001 I was asked to perform some acoustic shows at the Edinburgh Festival. I ended up doing twelve shows and realised that the hole in my life had been created simply by not doing what I love. Performing music. I had basically gone back to the beginning, with only a guitar and voice and it reminded me who and what I am and gave me direction again.
Michael: How do you deal with the fact that you are often far away from your friends and family?
Ray: Fortunately, in these days, technology helps you to stay in touch. I often have my Mother on skype when I'm backstage at a concert and of course Facebook and YouTube is like a visual diary for the world to see. So even when you can't be together, there is still a connection of sorts. In my profession there is no choice. The people won't come to my home to see me, so I have to come to their home town.
Michael: Has there ever been a moment in your musical career where you felt like having lost the energy to go on with the touring? What did you do?
Ray: Yes. I mentioned this earlier, when answering one of your other questions. Fortunately I enjoy my work and the travelling is just a part of my life. I just get on with it. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do what I love, for a living. I have no right to complain. I often remind myself of this fact.
Michael: When looking back, do you feel sad about having done only one album with Banks and Rutherford?
Ray: Sure. It was a mistake not to create more music with Genesis. They also admit that now. There is still time??
Offizieller Video-Link zu "Easier That Way":
Michael: The critics were not really pleased with "Calling All Stations". What do you think about it?
Ray: I am often told this, but I didn't feel this way at the time. „Calling all Stations“ was the 4th best selling album from Genesis and I still perform many of the songs today, as they are very popular. So I see it as a success.
I think the reaction from some, back then, was also a reaction to the loss of Phil Collins from the band. Phil is such a big name in the music business and such an incredible talent, that it was always going to be difficult to accept a new guy and new voice within the band. We needed to give it time and create a few albums together. Had we done this, I have no doubt that Genesis would still be a force in the music business, today. I have been working a bit with Steve Hackett, over the last weeks. Steve is doing his Genesis Revisited Tour, with songs from the 70's. In addition I do my Genesis Classic show, very many times. Having performed with Steve and my own project, I feel sure that the Genesis music is still alive and well, even with me singing it.
Michael: You have done a lot of touring and a few live albums singing Genesis classics. It seems the period with Genesis will never let you go?
Ray: Why would I want to let it go? It's part of my life, the songs are great and people love to hear them. Seems a good reason to carry on, to me. I also release albums and create new songs every couple of years, so there is also the addition of new material for the audience to hear, so it keeps things fresh and interesting.
Michael: Did you learn anything for yourself from the short time with these "rock-giants"?
Ray: Yes, don't quit! Ever. If you keep pushing for what you love and believe in, it pays off in the end.
Michael: And this year you'll join Steve Hackett on his "Genesis Revisted Tour". Where did you met him, he left Genesis a long time ago?
Ray: I met Steve in London in 2005 and we did discuss doing something together one day, but only very briefly. I have performed two shows with him now, as a guest and we are both interested in doing something new together. He is a great guy and very talented. I feel sure there will be more to this story.
Michael: Will you play a whole set or only a few songs with him?
Ray: Only three tracks. He has two singers in the band already and they do a really a good job as it is.
Michael: Is there something more planned with Steve, like maybe an abum?
Ray: Yes, but it's not clear what yet.
Michael: In 2006, you teamed up again with Stiltskin and recorded two studio albums and one live record. What's the reason you guys gave it another try?
Ray: I wanted to record some rock songs again, so I felt it best to use the Stiltskin name for this. I have two sides to my musical life. One is more acoustic/singer songwriter and the other is Rock. I love both
Michael: Do you think the hype on "Inside" was good for the band?
Ray: Yes and no. Yes because it was a great song and hugely successful, no because we were too young and stupid to deal with the success. We did, however, have a lot of fun back then and I would do it all again.
Michael: What's planned for the future?
Ray: God alone knows! Hopefully good health and lots of good music. Maybe something with Steve and I have also created a few new rock songs with my producer, so there will be something soon, I'm sure.
Michael: Is there a movie you wanted to bring in a song?
Ray: I haven't given it much thought. It would be fun to do a movie soundtrack, but there are no plans for this.
Michael: If you could change one thing in music industry, what would it be?
Ray: Only one :-)
I would take advertising and share holders out of radio and give the DJ's power to decide there own playlists, instead of market research and computer statistics doing it.
Michael: What's your opinion on vinyl and its current comeback?
Ray: I have actually pressed my new album on vinyl and bought a record player again. Strange you should ask this. I always loved vinyl. It felt like you had bought a piece of art, rather than a piece of plastic crap. It's good to see vinyl come back and I'm sure many people feel the same. It's a different listening experience and a better one also.
Michael: When will "Chasing Rainbows" be available on vinyl?
Ray: Yes, it will be available on vinyl in June.
Michael: Thank you very much for the interview! Maybe a few final words for the people out there?
Ray: See you on the road and thank you for supporting live music, whatever your musical taste is. Bands and artists need your support. Thank you.