The Musical Box's Sébastién Lamothe on the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tribute

There are tribute bands, and then there's something like The Musical Box.

The Canadian band doesn't just pay tribute to Genesis, it painstakingly recreates specific periods of the prog rock band's history, using vintage equipment, stage sets, and in the case of their Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tribute, actual slides from the original concert tour, given to the band by Peter Gabriel and Genesis.

Bassist Sébastién Lamothe, who plays the part of Mike Rutherford, says that what the band does is like a research project, involving interviews with Genesis members and crew members. We spoke about the band's attention to detail, and why the members would devote so much of their time to the music of Genesis.

Up on the Sun: I'm sure this is the question that you guys get asked more than any other, but, why this record, what about Lamb Lies Down on Broadway really appeals to you?

Sébastién Lamothe: In terms of chronology and obviously -- if we put aside the music -- it's a very important piece of history in terms of Genesis history. So we are very attracted and drawn to it because there's so much material, and not to get to technical, but the music language, for Genesis, kind of changed at that point. It was also the last collaboration with Peter Gabriel. All of this makes it a very strange album if you compare it to the previous ones. For all these reasons, we are very, in terms of musicianship, and the Musical Box, in terms of our mission to reenact or give the audience the chance to relive or either live for the first time these concerts, it was something very important for us to do.

You guys go all out in terms of even using period specific equipment.


How difficult is it to round up all the gear needed to pull that off?

Well, there's basically two phases of that. The first one is that we have to know what was used, which is the first major challenge. That's applies to not only the music, but everything else on stage in terms of a live production. We have to know how things were done, who was using what, in what manner, so obviously we need to find that out...and we need to look for these vintage piece of equipment. It's quite challenging, and honestly it's still some kind of work in progress. We do find new information, either from different aspects of the show, or details of the presentation. As soon as we [learn new information] we try to integrate that into our performance.

It seems almost like a research project.

It completely is. I would have to say, the historical research part of it as important as anything else. As musicians...trying to play the same notes --we went much further than that, to see how the music was written, the structures, the sound research. Genesis had such a unique sound and a unique way of writing music. All five of the talented musicians were brought to together in a room to create these beautiful songs. It's not just interpreting the music, it's going beyond, really trying to understand the details... You feature the original slides used during the original Lamb Lies Down concerts. Did you guys get those from Gabriel or the Genesis camp?

Sure, absolutely. We are really happy to say, that all in all, we have a really good relationship with Peter Gabriel and Genesis. They've been very supportive. One show they could really help us with was Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. There's so little information out there about the show. It was never really officially filmed. We know a lot from pictures, and articles, and Super 8 footage movies done by fans or people from the audience. But there were not a lot of official documents. So we go back and interview -- not only Genesis band members and Peter Gabriel, but also crew members that were working on the time at the show. To do anything to feel a bit real, or accurate, or precise and truthful to the original performance.

You came upon the record later in your life, after Gabriel had already left Genesis.

Sure, like a lot of people. Part of the whole fascination or myth about it is that there's this, let's call it Baby Boomer crowd, that were there at the original show, but there's this whole next generation when progressive music was still pretty strong, in certain places at least, definitely were I come from, the Northeast of Canada, a lot of people discovered all these albums way after everything was done and over.

The Musical Box is scheduled to perform Saturday, October 22, at the Orpheum Theatre.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.