The Steve Hackett Interview

Once again, former Genesis guitarist and Rock And Roll Hall of Famer Steve Hackett is on tour. Hackett’s 2018 live release Wuthering Nights: Live in Birmingham, a DVD/CD that captures a performance from the 2017 tour, is a brilliant document of the progressive musician and his fabulous band injecting their playing personalities into Genesis classics.

It was on this tour that he celebrated the 40th anniversary of Wind and Wuthering, playing several songs from the last Genesis album he appeared on alongside other Genesis classics and solo pieces.

We recently spoke to Hackett about the new record, as well as his plans for his 2018 tour. We also touched on what’s been going on in his life since his sojourn to India with his wife over the holidays.


I see from your blog where you and your wife just returned from India over the holidays.

Yes, we’re trying to get used to the English winter, as opposed to the India summer, presently. But the trip was wonderful. India is such an extraordinary, place, architecturally, historically and it has such phenomenal musicians.

I have to figure that traveling to such exotic locals must soak into your writing. I mean, the last album especially, you worked with a whole host of world musicians.

Yes, it’s all quite an influence. On The Night Siren, as you say, I did get to work with such a great variety of regional folk musicians, getting people to play with me that were familiar with that music. I didn’t set out to make a world music album but that’s what it turned into.

As busy as you are, are you even thinking about your next album?

Yes, actually I’m about halfway way through a new studio album. I work on it between rehearsals for the new tour.

Between everything else?

Yes, we are rehearsing a new bass player, so it will probably take a couple weeks to get everybody all together up and running and tomorrow, in fact, we have the launch for Wuthering Nights. So, yes, there’s lots going on.

About this new tour, I notice that this time out you are playing “When The Heart Rules The Mind” giving us all a little taste of GTR.

It’s a time in my life I look back at with lots of affection. You know how you have those “I told you so” lists? Well we got to get a lot of “I told you so’s” in on that one! With GTR, we managed to prove that guitarists could be viable songwriters as much as band leaders. At the time there was lots of reservations about that, being over 35, we kept hearing that nobody was going to sign us. You hear all the reasons why something can’t work. And I must say proving them all wrong was kind of fun actually.

You are going to celebrate the 40th anniversary of your second solo album Please Don’t Touch on the 2018 tour as well.

I really do love the music on Please Don’ Touch. It was a real good experience making that record for me, working with so many American musicians — the guys from Kansas, Randy Crawford, Richie Havens. I always think of it as half American and half British because of the players on it.

How specifically does Please Don’t Touch fit in with you leaving Genesis? Or does it at all?

It wasn’t so clear cut as all that I don’t think. I did indeed bring some of those songs to Genesis. I remember playing the title track for Phil (Collins) and him saying he liked it a lot. But you have to remember, with Genesis you had a team of writers and you just couldn’t please everybody all of the time. I felt I had a sufficient body of stuff to record and maybe it was time to present it in a different way. But as I have always said, and should be clear from how much of it I still play, I have great love for the music I made in Genesis. I honor that music as well as my solo stuff in what we present now live. In Genesis, it was just a situation where there was too many brains for one body, lots of writers scrambling and I took that moment to do something else.

I think the word ‘honoring’ is the best way to describe what you and your band manage with those Genesis’ songs as well as your solo stuff. But there is also lots of room for the musicians to imprint their own personalities into those complex tunes.

Yes, we do honor the writing structure, and lots of the songs are indeed quite complex. But I like to hand over something to the woodwinds, where maybe it was originally played by the guitar or the keys, changing things around that way. I do get the occasional Genesis diehard who asks why I changed things around but my job is not to be a tribute band. We’re even going out to do six dates with an orchestra so that will change the songs around some as well.

And I have to assume technology makes it easier to replicate some of those sounds from the past?

Yes well, when it came to the Mellotrons especially, it was like you had pallbearers on each corner just waiting for the machine to die. Mellotron dreams, more like Mellotron nightmares. In fact, when I was working for Mellotron a few years back and we negotiated payment, I said all I wanted was those old tapes, which they gave to me and now we have the sounds sampled.

So, with all this, can we assume, because we certainly hope, that you have no plans of retiring?

Never, no. It just never comes into my mind. Traveling the world, playing this music I love, with great players, Finding interesting instruments I never thought about, bringing them back, becoming proficient enough on them to include them on a song or two. No, this is what I do and I love doing it.

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