Time Out: Mike is still not for the mic

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WHEN you consider Mike + The Mechanics was meant to be a hobby 10 million album sales isn’t bad going...

WHEN you consider Mike + The Mechanics was meant to be a hobby 10 million album sales isn’t bad going...

Then Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford knew he was on to a good thing with Sheffield’s Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young at the vocal helm.

“To be honest with you, after Paul Young died Paul Carrack and I did an album together and a tour and it was kind of OK but I probably should have stopped then,” admits Mike.

“It was probably a marker and I should have made a change. There was a great chemistry with both the Pauls.

“Obviously Paul Carrack’s solo career has been taking off the last few years, which is great for him, and you can’t really do both.

“It was fine in the early days when we did the Mechanics every now and again but now he tours every year.

“It’s great what he’s doing so it was right that format stopped.”

Mike admits he gave former Crookes man Carrack a call to say the Mechanics were picking up their spanners again. “I did, but it was more a courtesy. It’s important to tour these days and he’s in a great place now. He’s finally got the solo career he should have had.”

So Mike recruited two other contrasting vocalists for the first new Mechanics album in six years, The Road – namely Canadian actor and singer Tim Howar and ’90s rock RnB star Andrew Roachford.

They hit the road for a tour that has them playing Sheffield City Hall on May 28 and The Dome, Doncaster, next Thursday.

“It was a natural break,” says Mike, who went on a huge reunion tour with Genesis before a producer friend suggested he seek out new collaborators to revive the Mechanics.

“We always used to alternate between Genesis. It’s probably why Genesis lasted so long. There’s nothing in the rule book says you have to stick with one thing and that is sometimes the mistake musicians make.

“We’re one of the very few bands that managed to make it work. For about 15 years we used to alternate between other projects. Creatively you had a great variety of things to do and it’s what kept you fresh. Most guys go off on their own and that’s the end of the band.”

In the Mechanics, Mike was boss. Formed in 1984 with former Sad Cafe singer Young and one-time Squeeze man Carrack, they chalked up global hits with Silent Running, All I Need Is A Miracle, Over My Shoulder and The Living Years.

The new line-up features the singer who had hits as Roachford with Cuddly Toy and Only To Be With You, and a West End and Broadway performer who played Rod Stewart in Tonight’s The Night as well as fronting Vantramp, a band who toured with Rod, Paolo Nutini and Newton Faulkner.

”This is driven by the fact I love to write songs and it’s a great vehicle to write for,” says Mike who had been ‘noodling around at home’ between bands.

“You start off and there is just you. Then I always co-write. I’m not quite right on my own, but in the journey you come across the right people and it worked organically and came together slowly.

“It’s taken longer than normal because we were finding our way at first, but the process once we’d everyone in place went pretty smoothly.”

Andrew co-wrote much of the album with both Tim and the guitarist and keyboardist from Take That’s touring band, who are also a writing team, contributing.

Mike readily says he wasn’t tempted to make his vocal début. “No’ I’ve got a crap voice,” he admits. “I’m not even being humble. That’s why if you write a great song you want a great singer and I’m not even on page 10.

“This just felt right. I don’t analyse things too much but it was probably part of what works with the Mechanics, taking an RnB singer like Carrack and now Andrew – that kind of voice sounds great on our kind of stuff.

“Andrew is very energised on stage and Tim even more so. The combination is great. Like both Pauls before, they have respect for each other and there’s a trade off. We’ve done a couple of showcases and it just feels like a fun outfit. I stand behind this dynamic duo who steam off.”

So does Mike feel people are glad to have the Mechanics back?

“There’s always quite a nice feeling towards the Mechanics,” he concludes. “I don’t quite know why. I think people always forget quite how many songs they know well.”