Rock 'n Roll Roulette 

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Fast paced, rapid fire, and unedited   

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Phil Collins

An Invisible Touch & the Spirit of Music Beyond Changes

"It [singing and drumming] wasn't anything new to me because I had always done backup vocals to Pete and in prior bands, I'd done the same....This is what I do, this is what I love.

~Phil Collins

In the 80’s I am sure I subjected my High School girlfriend to many hours of Genesis and Phil Collins but I couldn’t help it. Understand that for me, before I listened to Genesis, it was Boston, some Hair Bands, and Springsteen. I didn't lean into much Pop music, preferring Rock music the most. I always knew that anyone I dated would swoon if I put on Phil. I won’t get too detailed, but the results were spectacular! I was a jock on the High School wrestling team, and all I needed was my girlfriend, Music, some BBQ, keeping my car looking clean, and my buddies. Things were insane at home, yet simpler outside of that house, so I relished it.

Admit it, how many of us by now should thank Phil for saying what we idiots couldn’t say in words to our girlfriends? “You’ll Be In My Heart,” or if you happened to know a girl named Sussudiou, then bam. That song was danceable, though I never would have admitted it to my High School wrestling team. 

The appeal is widespread when you mention Phil Collins, it's an understanding. Worldwide acknowledgement of his career and songs. It is in the choruses, the rhythms he chose, his lyrics, arrangements, his drum feel; including technically challenging time signatures and that unique style. That is what classic Pop or Rock music is about, memorable songwriting. 

These days Phil isn’t drumming after back issues he has had. However, his son, Nicholas, carries the torch and he is proud to look on, while they tour Europe on the Genesis Reunion Tour. Phil has earned multiple awards, which include six ‘Brit Awards,’ seven ‘Grammy Awards,’ two ‘Golden Globe Awards,’ and one ‘Academy Award,’ recognizing his service to the field of music and acting. He was awarded Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order of the British Empire in the 1994 Queen's Honours List, for his service to music and charity. Phil was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, with over 200 million album sales. His solo career of hits is immense.

 

Phil continues to perform and write music. He also enjoys being a father to his two daughters Joely and Lily, and his three sons, Simon, Matthew and Nicholas.

By: Kreig Marks, September, 2021

KM:  Hi Phil.  Welcome to our "Rock n' Roll Roulette" segment in Tru Rock Revival Magazine. I'm going to ask you some questions, so whatever you say here is unedited when we publish this.  Ready?

PC:  Sounds like a fun time. I'm ready whenever you are, Kreig. 

KM:  When you joined Genesis all those years ago, you were the drummer and Peter Gabriel was the singer. Then, Peter left to do his solo career and you took center stage, but from a drum riser.  At the time, that was pretty unique, the drummer also being the lead singer of a Rock band.  Is or was that a challenge, singing and playing the drums simultaneously? I know it takes a lot of coordination.

PC:  It wasn't anything new to me because I had always done backup vocals to Pete and in prior bands, I'd done the same. So, I knew I could do it and it was loads of fun. Still is. 

 

KM:  How difficult was it to sing and play drums back then, when you had to basically play blindly, because you also had to sing into the mic, which was fixed in front of you, while knowing exactly where all the drums and cymbals were. Did you have to rely a lot on peripheral vision and muscle memory?

 

PC:  Good question. Yeah, I suppose. It definitely got easier with the invention of the wireless mic's. LOL. Before that, yeah it was challenging, drumming and keeping your contact with the mic. But like with anything you do a lot of and are passionate about, the more you do it, the easier it gets. But these days, I'm leaving the drumming to someone else.

KM:  Yeah, I wanted to really get into that, your not being able to play the drums anymore, or at least currently. In my prior professional life, I was an orthopedic and neurological Physical Therapist. 

 

PC:  Yes, I've heard, and from what I've heard, I understand you were pretty talented at that.

 

KM:  It was definitely my passion for a long time. 

 

PC:  That's a good passion to have.

 

KM:  I've seen your posture behind the drums when you were playing. Playing the drums is a violent activity in itself.  And, if you're posture is forward, especially at the upper back and neck, which seemed to be your positioning, you're risking injury. Do you think that contributed to your neck injury and eventual surgery and neuropathy?

PC:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  Years of wear and tear and yeah, my posture was a bit ornery and back then, you're constantly racking your head all over the place, twisting your neck.  It took it's toll.  About 12 or so years ago, I started to develop neck pain and weakness and numbness in my arms and hands.  I had neck surgery about 12 years ago.  

KM:  Cervical AC Fusion?  C3,4,5?

PC:  Yeah, I think that's about right.  

KM:  Did the surgery help you at all?

 

PC:  Not so much. Maybe, a bit but not how I had hoped. 

 

KM:  You've had some pretty serious back issues since then, and a foot injury. 

PC:  Uhh, yeah, I have.  I now have drop foot so it's difficult walking, so I use a cane or wheelchair if I have to walk a distance. Man, it sucks getting old. LOL.

KM:  Ha. S1, deep peroneal nerve injury.

 

PC:  Yep.  How'd you know? LOL.

 

KM:  Your injury really has nothing to do with getting older.  I've seen this in plenty of young people. It's the bad luck and the injuries that led to your mobility problems.  I'm assuming you wear an AFO when you walk?

PC: Yeah, I do. It's just difficult standing for a long period of time because the legs are weak and then, the pain.  How much experience did you have working with people with these kind of spinal injuries?

KM:  A little over 20 years as a clinician.  

 

PC:  Wow. That's a lot of time. Any real successes with anyone you worked with?

 

KM:  Oh yeah, a lot of them.  Away from Tru Rock, as a kinesiologist and trainer, I still work with a lot of people who have orthopedic and neurological issues, but in a different capacity, specialized fitness training. I'm able to use all of my medical knowledge and really do a lot more for them than I could when I was practicing Physical Therapy, where I was bound to that physician's prescription and could only address a small area, maybe a hip or knee, and not address the "patient" as a whole.  Now, if I see someone who has a knee issue, I'm going to address their foot, ankle, calf muscles, knee, quads, hip, and core, not just the knee. Now, I get to make up my rules and it's like night and day. 

 

PC:  Do you see a lot of people as a trainer who have similar injuries as mine?

 

KM:  I'd say about 50% of the people I work with have neck and back issues, some minor, some pretty advanced.  A lot of them come to me after they've had their cycle of physical therapy and we take it to another level. I'm not knocking the physical therapists, because that's what I did and loved. I'm knocking the system, which is really antiquated.  

 

PC:  Specialized fitness for people with neck and back problems?  Never heard of it.  I've just done the Physical Therapy but never did any specific personal training for the injuries, just basic strengthening exercise.  Let's talk a bit after we finish here.

KM:  You got it.  So, after the neck surgery, you try playing the drums again but it's just not in the cards.  You semi-retire for a while and now, you're back with Mike and Tony and your son, Nic, on the drums, for a Genesis Reunion Tour.  Alright, I gotta ask this question.  Who's the better drummer, you in your prime, or Nic?

PC: Nic is a great drummer. I think his style is similar to mine, and what he brings to the band is a sound, very similar to what we had for many years. When you hear him with all of us, it's very close to how we sounded for all those years. He's really great and he's only 19 now.  He's just starting out. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch him really develop over the next several years. 

KM:  Thanks for the round-about answer.  

PC:  LOL.  Well, Nic is definitely a better drummer than me now.  LOL.

KM:  Who's the better dancer, you or Philip Bailey?

PC:  LOL! You must be kidding. I guess you're referring to the "Easy Lover" video.  Ha!  I'm like that drunk dad at the wedding trying to dance.  LOL.

KM:  LOL! Probably the song most people know you from is "In the Air Tonight."  Let's clear the air. What's it about?

PC:  You really want the truth?

 

KM:  Yes Phil, people want the truth!

 

PC:  OK.  Here goes. I was sitting in the bathtub in a hotel and this cockroach fell in. This ugly cockroach.... 

 

KM:  A cockroach?!

 

PC:   Yes!  A bloody cockroach. The bastard either fell in, or he was trying to get ahold of my crackers. 

 

KM:  Crackers?  Crackers or your balls?

 

PC:  Oh man, you are a funny one, Kreig.  Crackers. You know, like saltines. 

 

KM:  So, you eat in the bathtub?

 

PC:  You gonna let me finish my story?  Geez.  Yeah, I eat in the bathtub. Doesn't everyone?

 

KM:  Not sure. I guess it's possible.  

 

PC:  Well, I do and I'm sure there's a lot of people who enjoy a good cracker while sudsing up. 

 

KM:  LMAO!

 

PC:  Why are you laughing?  Kreig, you always laugh at someone's trauma?  You know how much money I've spent on counseling over the years because of this?  Major PTSD.  

 

KM:  LOL.  No Phil.  I'm sorry, please continue.  Ha!

 

PC:  Thank you.  I will.  So anyway, this nasty bastard leaps into the tub. I hate cockroaches. So I jumped out, squeamishly reached back in and pulled the plug. The cockroach, poor bastard, couldn't swim. I stood naked by the tub, and took joy in watching him drown. 

Hence, the song basically wrote itself.

KM:  I fucking knew it!  

 

PC:  See, everyone's always analyzed it too much.  Now you know the truth.

 

KM:  LMAO.  Hold on.  I need a minute here. LMAO!

PC:  There he goes, laughing again at my trauma.  

KM:  I'm not laughing at you Phil.  I'm laughing imagining you, sitting in this motel bathtub.

 

PC:  It wasn't a motel!  It was a Hilton!  Or, something like that. 

 

KM:  LMAO.  OK, it was a hotel!  I'm imagining you sitting there in this little bathtub eating crackers, as a cockroach jumps in there to share a bath with you.

PC:  I believe it was a Roman tub, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, the roach leaped in. And, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Hence, "In the Air Tonight" was written. 

KM:  So, all those rumors over the years about you sitting in some rowboat, watching some guy drown, never happened.  

PC:  I told you, it was a fucking roach in my bathtub!

KM:  No need to get all angry.

PC:  I'm not angry.  It just brings all that trauma back to the surface again.  LOL!

KM:  Phil, are you laughing?

 

PC:  LMAO.  I have no idea how I just did this without pissing on myself.  LOL! 

 

KM:  LOL! You know, you almost had me there for a minute.  

PC:  Yeah!  See that?  Actually, in all truthfulness, I was going through a bad divorce and I was depressed, and I sat at the piano playing a Dm chord, which is a very sad sounding chord, and the song came to me. So, no rowboat drowning, no cockroach in the tub, although, I may stick with that one.  LOL.

KM:  Seriously, you almost got me there.  OK,  your favorite Genesis song?

PC:  Invisible Touch

KM:  I would never have guessed that one.

PC:  Yeah. It's different. It has that Sheila E type drum machine sound, which I liked.  It was definitely a different sound for us at the time. 

KM:  Your favorite Non-Genesis song?

PC:  I loved the Beatles.  I'll say "Hard Days Night."

KM:  Live Aid, playing drums with Led Zeppelin.

PC:  A great time, very surreal, amazing.  Live Aid was really incredible.  I wish it could be duplicated. The energy that came from Live Aid, and how it seemed to bring the world together, at least for a brief moment, was a once in a lifetime experience.  

KM:  How does it feel when you're sitting up front, singing, and you look back and see your son playing drums in your band?

PC:  Beyond proud. Beyond proud.

KM:  The Genesis Reunion Tour.  Why now?

PC:  Why not now? You know, with this stuff going on with my body, with my walking and my strength not doing so well, this may well be the last time out there, you know?  This is what I do, this is what I love.  And if this is the last time I'm able to get out there and do this, and it very well may be the last time, I don't want to look back with regrets and think, "Damn, I could have or I should have."

KM:  Are you going to try to play drums at all during the reunion tour?

PC:  Let's say I'd like to say yes. If I was feeling up to it and felt I could, at least a little bit, yeah, I'd give it a go.  But, realistically, I don't think so. I'll leave that to Nic.

KM:  Phil, this has been very cool.  

PC:  Kreig, thank you for having me here. Can we talk a bit more off the interview about the exercises you do for people with spinal issues?  I'd love to pick your knowledge a bit.

KM:  Absolutely.  

Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
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Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.

Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.