Ray Wilson on Genesis, going solo and covering Pink Floyd
From being a one-hit wonder to fronting Genesis, Ray Wilson has certainly had a varied career. He talks Poland, filling big shoes and his latest album Makes Me Think Of Home
Dumfries-born Ray Wilson has had one of the most extraordinary up-and-down careers in music. In 1994, with the help of a high-profile Levi’s ad, he had a No.1 single, Inside, with post-grunge band Stiltskin. While they turned out to be one-hit wonders, after a series of auditions, Wilson landed the job of Genesis vocalist, filling a Phil Collins-shaped hole. He sang on ’97’s …Calling All Stations… and toured extensively with Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. Things went well in Europe but America wasn’t keen on the new line-up, and a hiatus was called. Wilson then gradually forged a solo career. He guested on Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited tour and moved to Poland eight years ago. He has two albums out this year: Makes Me Think Of Home is out in October, while the acoustic Song For A Friend is out now.
So you’re living in Poland now?
“Yes, in Poznan. It’s a nice place to be. It has the most beautiful women in the world. I fell in love and packed my bags. Gave my house, car and half my money to my ex-wife and just left. I’m right in the centre – don’t need a car. I have two buses, for the touring and business, but I go around on my bicycle. That’s my life and I enjoy it. I tour every single weekend, pretty much. I play 80 shows a year in Germany alone. Then there’s Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Russia… People say, ‘Why don’t you come and play in the UK?’ Well, I’m just so busy!”
There’s no hankering to play some shows back in the old homeland?
“I get countless emails about this, but what’s the point? I’d lose a bunch of money bringing my band and all the production here to play to a small audience. Maybe lose a couple of thousand bucks. Why would I do that? It’s not as if I haven’t played all over the UK. I don’t need to do that again to be happy. I’m glad to guest with Steve Hackett at the Albert Hall, things like that, but when I started building my solo career after Stiltskin and Genesis, my main goal was to keep control of my destiny. I’d had the roller-coaster rides, the success… I didn’t need to be No.1, because I had been. I’d sung with one of the biggest bands in the world. I felt I had nothing to prove, to achieve, in that regard. I’d had the dream – it had been reality for me. I took risks. I run everything through my own money now, and now I can enjoy what I do. I don’t want a Ferrari. I have everything I need to do my job, and that’s it.”