Recently, Phil Collins advised us that he’s “no longer officially retired” by setting up a nine-show European tour for next year, which will launch Sunday June 04 with a five night run at London’s Royal Albert Hall — all of which are sold out already — followed by gigs in Cologne and Paris — most of which are also sold out. Collins was in New York not too long ago to promote his new memoir Not Dead Yet, and while he was there, he said he’d like to do more shows. “I would like to play some shows in South America,” he said. “If we do that, I’m sure we [would] do some shows in the States too. The horse is out of the stable, and I’m raring to go.”
Collins’ backing band for this trek will include some of his longtime associates, including guitarist Daryl Stuermer, keyboardist Brad Cole, bassist Leland Sklar and percussionist Luis Conte, with the addition of backup singers and a horn section. But what about the drums? No problem: Phil’s 15 year old son Nicholas will be subbing for his dad on the kit, and in case you’re wondering whether the lad is up to it, there’s no doubt after Nicholas absolutely nailed the famous drum fill on In The Air Tonight during his appearance this past summer at the US Open.
Luckly, the European tour meshes nicely with Nicholas’ summer vacation. However, if the tour continues into the rest of the year, it shouldn’t cause any trouble. Says Phil, “I’ve already met with the headmaster and he’s very enthusiastic for Nic. That’s not the problem. It’s just a question of him being able to continue with homework and things.”
Rehearsals are scheduled for May, and plans are afoot to bring something new to the table. “It would be dangerous to give too much away,” he says. “We’re working out a way to make a show special. At the moment, there won’t be any new material, but we can bring out some songs that we haven’t done so they’ll appear new.” His solo catalog will feature heavily, although he’ll also be doing some Genesis material. “On the last tour we did Invisible Touch and Misunderstanding,” he says. “We’ll put a couple of [Genesis songs] in, two or three.”
The 2002 Testify album was Collins’ last album of original material, and he’s making noises about getting back into a studio — he has one in his Miami Beach house. “For a while, my excuse has been that I was busy with the book,” he says. “Now the book is out and I can’t be busy with it anymore. There’s a triple CD of singles out in Europe, which kind of completes the reissue thing. I think now, apart from getting a little fitter, I’ll have time to turn the studio on and see what happens.”
For the past nine years or so, playing drums has been pretty much out of the question for Collins, thanks to nerve damage he suffered during the Genesis reunion tour in 2007. As well, he’s had surgery on his hands and feet which have led to additional weakness; he now walks with a cane. However, he put a drumkit together in his garage, and he’s hoping to get some of his capabilities back. “I’ve gotta get into a routine of practicing,” he says. “When I hold a pair of sticks now, it doesn’t seem natural. Most of my playing now is done from fingers, not grip. That’s what I’ve lost.”
Of course, now that he’s touring again, his former cohorts come up in conversation. Is another tour with Genesis in the cards? “Writing the book reminded me how close we were,” he says. “We’re still great pals. Tony [Banks], Mike [Rutherford] and I went out on my birthday in London. Anything can happen, really. I just don’t want to suddenly take the break off and start flying off and doing things. I just want to do things carefully and think about the consequences.”
If a Genesis tour did happen, it would probably not include Peter Gabriel, who hasn’t appeared with the group since their one-off 1982 reunion show. “If I was an able drummer I’d gladly get behind the kit and drum for Pete,” Collins says. “But the fans need to know what they’d get. I told that to a German journalist once and he said, ‘It would be fun to see Peter sing I Can’t Dance and to see me sing Supper’s Ready. I was thinking, ‘I can’t argue with this…'”
Meanwhile, despite his ongoing challenges, Collins turned in quite the performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night, getting help from The Roots on one of his biggest hits, In The Air Tonight. Fallon let it slip that Questlove had been freaking out for months about getting that iconic drum fill right, but as it turned out, QL needn’t have worried about it.
Phil also put paid to the urban legend which says the song is about an actual drowning.