Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Tony Banks

Ep. 85 - Tony Banks

From Genesis to Orchestration: How a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Became a Classical Composer


Scott & Paul explore the small handful of albums that have yielded five or more Top 5 singles in the US (spoiler alert: Genesis is on the list!).

PART TWO - 8:45 mark
Scott & Paul 's in depth interview with Tony Banks

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Scott & Paul catch up with Tony Banks, who reveals the reason he and Peter Gabriel tried to imitate the Bee Gees in the earliest years of Genesis; why he's relieved the band's first single was not a hit; the ways evolving technology informed his approach to songwriting; why the group went on hiatus just as they were starting to have their big pop success; which album taught him more about songwriting than any project he's done; the Genesis hit he thinks is a "perfect pop song;" and why he approached the production process on his new classical album as if it was a rock project.

Grammy winner Tony Banks is the co-founder and keyboardist of Genesis, which helped define prog rock in the ‘70s with lead singer Peter Gabriel and emerged as a pop powerhouse in the ‘80s after drummer Phil Collins took over the lead vocalist role. Banks and Mike Rutherford were the only two musicians who were members of the band throughout Genesis’ entire history from the late 1960s through the early 2000s. He is a co-writer of Genesis classics, including “The Knife,” “The Musical Box,” “Supper’s Ready,” “Firth of Fifth,” “Follow You Follow Me,” “No Reply at All,” “That’s All,” “Invisible Touch,” “Throwing it All Away,” “Land of Confusion,” “Tonight Tonight Tonight,” “In Too Deep,” “No Son of Mine,” “I Can’t Dance,” and “Hold On My Heart.”    

In addition to releasing five solo albums, Banks began scoring films in the late 1970s, including a British horror movie called The Shout, a science fiction film entitled Starship, and Quicksilver, starring Kevin Bacon. It was his work on the Faye Dunaway film The Wicked Lady that first exposed Banks to working with an orchestra, reigniting his long time love for classical music. In 2004 he released Seven: A Suite for Orchestra, which featured the London Philharmonic and marked the start of a series of classical albums. The most recent is simply titled Five.  

As a member of Genesis, Banks has sold over 21 million albums in the US alone. He received a Prog God Award at the Progressive Music Awards in 2015, and was named among MusicRadar’s “greatest keyboard players of all time” in 2011. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Genesis bandmates Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and Mike Rutherford in 2010.

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