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Banks: How Genesis went theatric

Prog God Tony reflects on his band’s development - and jokes about hating Yes and ELP

Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks has reflected on how his band began developing their complex stage shows.

The veteran musician will be named this year’s Prog God at the Progressive Music Awards this week.

He spoke to BBC Radio 2’s Steve Wright alongside Matthew Wright, who’ll present the annual ceremony at London’s Underglobe tomorrow (September 3).

Asked about prog music’s celebration of elaborate performance, Banks said: “When we first came on the scene we tried to do as little as possible – I continue to do that!

“Fortunately, some other people in the group managed to get it together. Peter Gabriel became fantastic as a performer.

“I think he realised that when he was up there he had to do something. We had quite long instrumental sections and breaks between songs, he had to have something to do. Simple things like the flower became such a visual statement for Genesis.”

He joked about his fellow 1970s prog giants: “We hated all the other ones – they were the competition. We hated the really successful ones most, Yes, ELP and that lot.”

But he added: “They put us in a bracket – but one thing that makes Genesis different is that we were song-based.”

Wright, who once went on tour with Hawkwind and previously presented Dave Brock with a Prog Award, said: “It’s the music I grew up with – my dad was a Floyd, Genesis, Moody Blues, Curved Air fan.

”When I was eight, The Dark Side Of The Moon came out he and said to me, ‘This is going to be the classical music of the future.’ It all followed on really nicely.”

Orange Amplification presents the Progressive Music Awards in association with currencies.co.uk on September 3, in the Underglobe at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London. Late Yes bassist Chris Squire will also be honoured at the gala night as the Virtuoso Award has been renamed in his memory. 

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