Seven years into its relaunch, spirits are high in Mike + the Mechanics. And that's reflected in "Let Me Fly," the title track to the latest album by Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford's other band -- and one of the first things the Mechanics worked on for the album.
"It's a nice simple message, which is a message of positivity," Rutherford tells Billboard of the reunited '80s band's new song. "It's like, 'Don't have any regrets. If you want to try something, do it.' Isn't that a lovely line: 'I'll see how far I can go if I don't fly/Dream to see what I can be.' It's about living out things you want to do in your life; Don't put it off and have that regret that, 'I should've done that.' Be a little brave with how you deal with your life."
That sentiment certainly reflects the current incarnation of Mike + the Mechanics, which releases the Let Me Fly album on April 7 (pre-order here). The follow-up to 2011's The Road finds the group comfortably ensconced with its current lineup, including dual singers Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. "It's been a fun project for me," Rutherford acknowledged. "The last album was kind of the start of the next stage. I didn't really know the two singers really well. But now it's been five years of touring and getting to know everybody and getting to know their voices, so it's a lot easier to make."
Armed with that better perspective, the group -- with Rutherford's son Harry among its collaborators -- also took a more studious approach to writing the 12 songs for Let Me Fly, including the first single "Don't Know What Came Over Me." "This time around we've gone in and actually written a few songs and thrown some out and rewritten them," he explains. "The quality control on the songwriting has been a bit high this time."
The Mechanics toured the U.K. earlier this year and will be back in June to support Rutherford's Genesis mate Phil Collins in Dublin and London, while a European tour kicks off in early September and North America is set for the spring of 2018. "The original Mechanics were a recording band and hardly ever toured, because when Genesis was active there wasn't time," Rutherford says of the lineup that included singers Paul Carrack and Paul Young and had hits such as "Silent Running" and "All I Need Is A Miracle." "It makes it nice this one is different. We do a lot more touring, so some of these songs that were hardly ever heard live we're getting a chance to play. It feels like we're really building something."
The Mechanics have opened for Collins before, in Germany during Collins' last solo tour a decade ago. "It's great for us because there's an audience who probably know and like us anyway," Rutherford says. "It's a nice, friendly environment to do a couple of shows." Meanwhile, he's hoping, for many reasons, that Collins' return to the stage is successful.
"I'd like to see him just get off the ground this time," Rutherford says. "It's great that he's going to get back and do some playing live. He's had a funny few years in many ways. They haven't been the best time for him, actually. I think he needs something in his life like music again."
And if it works, might the R word be invoked for Genesis once again? "I've always had a very sensible approach to these things. I've always said 'never say never,' because who knows," Rutherford notes. "If Phil gets up there and has fun doing this, there's no reason we couldn't do something. We're all alive. We're all great friends. I think what puts Phil off is the thought of a big tour, the big grinding around the world. But I think those days are gone. A collection of shows like he's doing now, maybe 15 or so, is doable. There are no plans, but I can't see why not. Let's wait and see."