Steve Hackett has come a long way since his days in Genesis. Hackett, who first rose to fame in the '70s as the band's lead axeman, has explored musical genres ranging from rock to blues to classical. 20 plus years after leaving the group behind, Hackett has established himself as a talent in the industry with a career as distinctive as his guitar sound.

On August 14, 2001 World of Genesis' own Dave Negrin sat down with Steve to talk about his 2001 South American tour, his up-coming studio projects, and reflections on his past accomplishments both as a solo artist and in successful acts like Genesis and GTR.


WOG: So far, you've recorded rock albums, a blues album, and a few classical albums. Are there any other musical genres that you would like to explore in the future that you haven't so far?

SH: Well, the style of music that I have been working on with the current band, particularly some of the live work, I've been calling "Collision"... Like when two worlds collide. You might have many different styles
World of Genesis: I recall you mentioning something on your website about running into some problems in Sao Paulo, Brazil while you were on the latest tour. Can you tell me what happened?

Steve Hackett:  Well, the police decided to hijack the equipment, and we has to pay one thousand dollars ransom to them to let it go! 

WOG: How was that justified by the Sao Paulo police?

SH: Oh, it was some sort of claim about paperwork that wasn't in order, during its transit... would you believe... from Rio to Sao Paulo... Within the country! So, it was just a scam that they came up with. Actually, it was our promoter that came up with the thousand dollars ransom to them. It's just one of those things, so the show went on very, very late indeed. Basically, we mounted a show that was due to go on at 8 p.m. at 11 p.m. So, the audience was a little fractious by then, as I'm sure you can imagine...but we did the show!

WOG: Did you record any of the dates from the 2001 tour or from your 2000 Italian tour?
  of music. Some of the guys in the band come from very different backgrounds.  A number of guys are music teachers in the band, whose immediate backgrounds you would probably say are in jazz, but they're equally interested in working in other genres like folk music and rock music in general. 

I was hoping to talk about them a little bit. Roger (King), who is the guy who has engineered many of my recent projects, was trained as a cathedral organist originally. My drummer, Gary O'Toole, is also a kickboxing instructor.  Then there's Rob Townshend who plays organ with me for the moment. He plays everything from soprano sax to penny whistle, wooden flutes, concert flutes, and so on. His background is jazz. I think the first rock concert he ever saw when he was about 14, I believe, was a show that I did at the Hammersmith Odeon here in London. Lastly, my bass player, Terry Gregory, has a jazz band called The Four Corners, and the name came from the idea that the influences came from the four corners of the Earth. 

They're all very open to different kinds of music, which is why it's been such a joy to work with them. Everything else we've been talking about has been fairly ridged in the past, but I have new material up and running with them, and its been a joy to work with them on the South American tour. 
SH: There are recordings. I haven't had a chance to check them all out yet, but some of the shows were recorded.

WOG: How did you get involved with writing the Outwitting Hitler soundtrack? 

SH: Chris Ward called up, who was the director, and he gave us various bits of information about his film which was a work in progress at that point. He gave us a tremendous amount of background, so that's how that happened.

WOG: Did you plan to release those tracks officially on one of your CDs in the future?

SH: Well, the last I've heard, we were actually going to release the soundtrack of that. Now, I don't know what the latest is, because there have been rather a lot of projects that have been mooted recently, so whether or not there is priority to that I couldn't tell you. That's another conversation I'd have to have with my manager, frankly. But as far as I know, at some point, we will release that intact as a soundtrack. Having said that, there was a heavy amount of reuse in terms of stuff that had been released already. 
  WOG: Record Collector Magazine wrote that you plan to join forces with some ex-King Crimson members to record under the name Crimson. Is that true?

SH: It's not strictly true. Mike Giles, who was the original King Crimson drummer, phoned me up and asked if I would be interested in playing at a concert over a re-formed King Crimson with all of the original members; because, they'd assumed that Robert Fripp wouldn't want to do it. So, he asked would I be interested having worked with Ian (McDonald). So, I said, "tell me more." It seems that there may be a number of guest musicians for this. They may have a number of guitarists too, perhaps, help them get over the fact that they are without their original guitarist.

They wanted to do the classic material, early stuff. Whether or not they'll still do this, I don't know, but I gather that various people apart from Robert (Fripp) have given it the thumbs up... from the original 1969 Crimson. 

WOG: So, this is more of a one-off thing? There are no plans for an album?

SH: Well, I think this is talking about a one-off thing. I don't think that they intend to get together to record an album. It's nice to be asked is all I can say. 
By the time the contract was signed, they needed the soundtrack by the end of that weekend, and I could barely get hold of an engineer in time. It was a soundtrack that was actually done in a day. It included some material that I had actually intended for a classical project involving guitar and orchestra. I had it to the stage where I had guitar, but I was working with samples most of the time. So, in some ways it's an insight into a future classical project. So we plundered some of the future, and we plundered some of the past, and we spent the day editing that Sunday in order to come up with this. So, it was a very quick job, but luckily they were very happy with it. 

There was always the thought in the back of my mind that having sent this thing off that they would be very much up against it, in terms of time... But there was always a chance that they might have hated every note and asked for it to be redone. So, in some ways... I hope this doesn't sound too disrespectful to the film business... It seems to me you're better off just spending a day doing a soundtrack, because they might just decide to change the whole damn thing on you anyway. At the end of the day, you're in charge of this thing. You're a hired gun. Very often directors and producers and God knows who will turn around and say, "Well, we don't like a single damn thing! Can you rewrite it on the spot?" And you might have a symphony orchestra sitting there on hold. I've heard this from guys who work fairly consistently in the world of films. 

I was actually very proud of the stuff that we used for it, but nothing was actually tailor-made for it. It was a case of numerous telephone calls across the Atlantic, and playing this guy stuff as we were doing it on the phone. So, it was more of a quick skirmish rather than a major pitch battle (laughs)!

WOG: At what point did you decide to start-up Camino Records? Was that decision based more upon creative desire or necessity?

SH: It was both things; you're quite right. It was out of both creative desire and necessity. Working with major record companies is extremely restrictive. The way a major record company sees someone like myself is the following... In general, they really aren't interested in solo projects. At the most, they would be interested in having four or five other "names" involved in a project. Then, maybe, they would be interested. So, that doesn't leave one a tremendous amount of creative freedom.

When you get record company after record company saying, "Well, wouldn't it be great if you were working with..." any one of a bunch of chaps who were in similar bands in the '70s...Blah. Blah. Blah... And I'm sure you could put that list together almost immediately. You know, they would be thinking of the major progressive bands. So that, for me, is not really interesting. I'd far prefer to work with new people. So, I've long thought that (starting an independent record label) was the way forward. 

Since we did form Camino Records, I have managed to produce a tremendous amount of stuff, in various territories, which has been better distributed than ever before... With or without the majors. Now, that is not the case the The States, but the rest of the world is a very big place. So, distribution throughout Europe has been good, growing throughout South America, and very good in Japan.

I was worried that when we formed Camino that we would be running a mail order business only, but, in fact, its been the absolute reverse. Yeah, sure we have healthy mail order sales, but its improved the distribution in the shops tremendously.

WOG: Were your recordings with Brian May (of the rock band Queen) brought about by some major label's suggestion?
  WOG: You mentioned that the GTR line-up was falling apart by the time the first tour was ending. What exactly happened that made the band break-up? 

SH: Brian Lane, who was managing the project, was finding it very hard to get a record deal initially. His management style has been well documented as a sort of divide and conquer approach. So, he thought the best way to go about this was to sow the seeds of discontent within the band and tend to set various individuals against other individuals. His idea was to come up with a recording contract which would be an offer that nobody could refuse having invested so much time and money... and then pull it all together at the end of the day and come up smelling like a rose. 

So, Indeed, he managed to pull off a substantial record deal. Nonetheless, I think the real problem was that we spent a tremendous amount of time producing the record. So, although that album was a hit in The States, we were dealing with a bankrupt company in London. In order to create or maintain that level of success, the band was functioning on an extremely insecure footing financially. Someone had to be the bad guy and say, "I'm calling an extraordinary general meeting and closing down the company." Which is what I did, because we had far too many money issues to be able to continue. I think that management also may have had a vested interest in loading the costs, shall we say. He may deny this, and for all I know what I'm saying here may be libelous, but I don't blame any of the individuals, and I just think that people don't always realize when their buttons are being pushed. 

I suspect that GTR may have lasted longer or may have been an easier sell if it had been just a project rather than a band. If we had called it Howe and Hackett or Hackett and Howe, it would have been, perhaps, probably seen as a kind of jazz album or something or "file under geo-projects," but perhaps wouldn't have gotten the degree of attention that it did from Arista Records. I must say, Clive Davis, with all due credit, did a tremendous job promoting the band.     

WOG: The band did return to the studio briefly after the tour to record a second album that never materialized....

SH: Not with yours truly! I believe that Steve (Howe) took the other guys in, and I don't know to what extent he recorded with them. I don't know if that was home studio vibe or demos or finished masters. I don't know, but it strikes me that if you've got a band called GTR, you need at least one other guitarist to make it viable. I think by then, Arista had gone off the boil, understandably. 

I always felt that something like GTR had novelty value. As soon as people start mentioning the word "Super Group," it basically has novelty value for one album. I suspect that no one was really that surprised that Steve and I, although we are very good friends these days, didn't ride off into the sunset together making albums for infinity.     

WOG: When it came time to record your Genesis Revisited album, you involved many talented musicians (including: Tony Levin, Paul Carrack, John Wetton, Chester Thompson, etc.), did you ever think to call up one of your old band mates and ask them to get involved on a track?

SH: I didn't really feel that any of the other Genesis members of the Hackett, Collins, Rutherford, Gabriel, Banks era would really want to participate in something that would essentially a solo project of mine. I did test the water by asking Tony Banks if he was interested, and initially he said he was interested in playing on a version of "Los Endos," but he had time to think about it and he later said he had been talked out of it.
SH: At the close of GTR with Steve Howe, it seemed as if record companies at that time were very much responding to the two guitar combination... Two known guitarists working together. At the time, it looked like either Steve Howe or I might jump ship with GTR, and I think the possibility of it being an on-going entity was mooted. I approached Brian originally in the spirit of asking him very casually if he would be interested in taking on GTR or something like it.  At the time, I saw GTR as becoming more of a project than a band. Perhaps the idea of a number of guitarists all getting together.
I feel that this was the case with all of them. I didn't feel that they would want to participate; however, I felt people like Chester (Thompson) and Bill (Bruford), who hadn't really had a chance to record with the band, would be interested to show how they would have interpreted that material themselves out of Phil's shadow as it were.

There were a number of people who had been involved with Genesis over the years, in a live sense, like Alphonso Johnson, a fantastic bass player. I know at one time, he'd been mooted for possible inclusion in Genesis, but may have fallen foul of the politics... I don't know why he didn't join the band, but I think it's got nothing to do with his capability as a musician, this is what I am trying to say. You're talking about a top-flight guy here. A fantastic musician! Probably the most organized musician I've ever met. Alphonso is the kind of guy who, if you leave a message on his answering machine, wherever he is in the world, he'll get a fax or an e-mail back to you in the same day if he can manage it. 
Brian was initially very enthusiastic about doing something together, but he was still heavily involved with Queen which was up and running at the time and Freddie (Mercury) was very much alive. Plus, he had the occasional projects he was working on at the time himself as well. At the end of the day, we did three tracks. One that we worked on together, which was "Slot Machine." I worked on it for a while, and he said, "Why don't you give me the tape and I'll work on it for a while and throw all my ideas at it." So, we had one track which was up and running which we mixed together. 

Then there was a track called "Cassandra," which I worked on, and he came in and just did a solo on that one day. The last track, which was called "Don't Fall In Love With Me," he liked the idea of the lyric and wanted to do a ballad version of that. So, again, maybe it was the best of an afternoon of throwing some ideas out. That track was never really finished. In the end, that ended up being called "Don't Fall Away From Me" and it was released on an album called The Unofficial Biography, which was a compilation put together by Virgin Records. It wasn't really widely circulated, but it was essentially a compilation album with archive material with one or two new tracks on it. And this one track, "Don't Fall Away From Me," was on it along with "Present Dreams" which was an acoustic guitar piece that was recorded right around the time of Midsummer Night's Dream
Brian and I are sill very much friends. While it didn't turn into a long-term project, I also worked with Brian on a charity single, which I organized, called Rock Against Repatriotation which was to help the Vietnamese boat people. So, he's played on a number of things with me.
  WOG: I was pretty impressed with his website, actually. He has a bulletin board up on the site for people who are into his music to post questions. I was surprised to see that he actually responds fairly regularly on that bulletin board, which is rare. You don't often see that kind of interaction with fans...

SH: He's the only guy I've ever worked with who manages to play something funky in 7/8! There's a mid-point on the "Dance On A Volcano" track that I worked on (on the Genesis Revisited album), where we actually took the drums out and we just left vocal and bass going at one point... which sounded absolutely amazing! He came up with this slap bass figure that worked. It was partly slap and partly played normally. It was just such a fantastic figure... (Steve does his best Alphonso Johnson bass line impression...) that we switched the drums out for a few bars and let him go!   

WOG: After you re-record the new version of "Carpet Crawlers" (a.k.a. "Carpet Crawlers '99") with Genesis, were you pleased with the final product? It sounds like on most of the song you're pretty buried in the mix...

SH: Well, I think that my contribution to the song was only used at the very beginning. Either Trevor Horn (the producer) mixed it or handed it off to someone else, and I'm not sure if he was as hands-on as he could have been with it. I don't think it got the best out of anybody to be honest. That's my take on the track and a number of people may disagree with me, but if you're looking for brilliant guitar playing most of it's on the cutting room floor! ...Well, you'll never know if it was brilliant or run of the mill (laughs)!

WOG: As I'm sure you know, Virgin Records hasn't been the best about remastering your back catalog...

SH: That's true (laughs)!

WOG: ...Can you tell me if you've attempted to buy back or negotiate for the rights for your early solo albums?

SH: Well, some record companies have been more cooperative. For instance, EMI was extremely cooperative and gave us back the rights to A Midsummer Night's Dream. Virgin, on the other hand, have been less than enthusiastic about parting hands with the masters of my early stuff.

Genesis in 1977 with Hackett (far left)

  What I am saying is, I included the guitar figure that was always intended for inclusion on the chorus of "Carpet Crawlers." I have a mix of that which, at one point, I was thinking of including on the website so people could actually hear the removed guitar parts restored, but contractually, I might be on a sticky wicket there. At the end of the day, you're only allowed to do what you're allowed to do. 

If I can answer a common question, when people ask me about Genesis reunions, I feel as though I've got that as an example of something that's likely to happen. Reunions, on this level, end up becoming pretty corporate affairs as you can tell with the credits on "Carpet Crawlers." I haven't worked corporately like this for many, many years, and I'm actually extremely proud of every note that I include on anything these days. Extremely proud. So, I think you can sacrifice quite a lot just to be part of a band again.

WOG: Were you all in the studio recording that together or did each member do their own thing and just have it put together in the studio later?

SH: No! I think it was put together over a period of about three years or so I seem to recall. My contribution was two hours in an afternoon... in my own studio. I don't think anyone really wanted to meet up and work together on that thing. Again, there's the inevitable question of reunions and the wisdom of those things is that it's really only worth doing if everyone is going to see eyeball to eyeball.

The problem is, handing it off to another producer is a bit of a lottery isn't it? ...As to what's going to be included. I don't know if I'm prepared to take those sort of chances. 
Most of the time, we've not been able to negotiate anything satisfactory with them. So, those albums will remain as they are and all attempts to try and improve them have fallen by the wayside so far. One day, perhaps, we'll come to some kind of agreement with them.

WOG: You mentioned some time ago that you had hoped to work with Virgin jointly on a new retrospective of some kind. Is that still in the works or is that frozen at the moment as well?

SH: It's not being prioritized at the moment. We have a couple of other things on the go, shall we say. One of which you mentioned, the Outwitting Hitler soundtrack.

WOG: What was your impression of the Genesis Archive boxes? Did you think it was too much or did you think there was anything excluded that should have been added?

SH: Well, funny enough, I actually thought that the Archive box set that included the live Lamb (Lies Down on Broadway) and some of the other unreleased stuff I thought was very good indeed. I thought it came out very, very well. It was Nick (Davis) who mixed that without anybody interfering, so there was no competition.

There was also a project that started out as something between Jim Diamond and myself. The idea was originally that we would do songs that would be backed by an acoustic guitar accompaniment... one guitarist and once vocal performance.

Well, we've been nudging away at this for years, and a number of tracks were done. Some of them were given larger arrangements than that, but at the end of last week, Billy (his manager) said to me on Friday, "Why don't you release something like that with some other tracks you've done with other people? So, rather than a duet, we make it either a solo thing with a number of different vocalists or we make it a various artists project." So, what we have four or five days later is a potential album sleeve, some potential sleeve notes, a complete track listing, but we're not sure if it's going to be a solo thing. We're not sure which banner to put it under. 

It sounds like we're very uncertain. When, in fact, basically most people go through this sort of stuff when they work with other people. In the end, you've got a creative decision to make as to whose project this is. I'm being totally honest with you when I say that Jim felt it was more my project and a while back, I felt it was more Jim's project as both of us had radically departed from what we normally do for a living.

Still, I'm very proud of the way it turned out. I think it sounds extremely beautiful! There's the occasional Edith Piaf track, Stevie Wonder track, some Carol King stuff, Buffy Stainte-Marie stuff, a bit of early Elvis (Presley), some Vivaldi... So, it really does go quite across the board and the centuries in terms of writers.     
  So, I thought, "Well, the guitar parts came out loud and clear." I could hear what everyone had done. I thought that it was, in many ways, superior to the (studio) recorded version of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. There were some subtleties that were lost, but I felt that Pete's vocals were far better, and I thought the drumming was tremendous!

WOG: There have been many reports that much of that recording was overdubbed for the box set...

SH: No, No. Actually, the vocals were redone. The drums were untouched. Mike's part was untouched as far as I'm aware. Tony's I don't think was touched, but I can't be certain, because I wasn't there. I retouched some guitar parts, but very few. 

WOG: Do you recall which pieces you touched up?

SH: Yes, the solo at the end of "The Lamia" was redone, there was some on "Fly On A Windshield"... and I can't off hand remember anything else.

WOG: How about from the second box set? Did it bother you that the band used a live version of "Ripples" recorded in 1980, after your departure from Genesis?

SH: I'm less familiar with that box set as I was involved in less tracks. We never did actually perform "Ripples" live whilst I was in the band. "Ripples" I thought was one of the best tracks on Trick of The Tail. I thought it had something interesting about it. Mainly, for the guitar combinations to be honest. The 12-string work, from Mike (Rutherford) and myself, and the thing that sounds like a backwards guitar solo which was played forwards but was a sign of things to come.

Hackett On Working In The Studio With Genesis:

...I remember that a lot of people would often complain... (laughs) they would often complain that it was like playing to a panel of Russian judges at an ice skating contest. It was always something that I feel we individually dreaded. We dreaded the moment of playing these things to each other because the band could be notoriously stiff upper lip about many things. In fact, even when everyone was greatly moved and liked something, it often wasn't shown at first. It's this British insecurity of showing feelings... It always rose to the surface on such occasions.

WOG: Do you recall a particular moment when you were in Genesis when you felt that it just wasn't worth staying in the band anymore?

SH: Basically, the deciding factor was the fact that I had material that I felt was very strong, but I felt was outside the capability of the group to perform. Like, for instance, the song that Randy Crawford sings, "I Think Love Will Last," on Please Don't Touch!, which was the opening track of side two of that album. I thought the whole musical extravaganza of that side was strong, and I still do.
WOG: Is that something we can expect before the holidays?

SH: No, I never know the time scale on these things, because any artist sitting in the studio thinks, "Oh, this is great! I've done this, so we can get it out tomorrow, but what actually happens is that most of the time you're talking about at least three months time if not six. So, I never really know exactly when things are going to be released. At this point, we may approach Snapper (Music) with this and ask if they are interested in this project. So, it may be a project where we bypass Camino and take it to the people who did Genesis Revisited and The Tokyo Tapes (in Europe).

WOG: Jumping back to the Camino titles for a moment. Several of your solo projects on Camino have been reissued several times, some of which feature new or slightly revised artwork. Why did you decide to go back and change the artwork for albums like Bay of Kings or even recently with A Midsummer Night's Dream?

SH: Well, with Bay of Kings, Kim (Poor) was never happy with the sleeve design. It was a painting of hers that she'd already done in oils, and I said, "I think that would make a marvelous front cover for something." She wasn't so sure. Then, various people came by the house and fell in love with the woman on the cover. Maybe the fact that it was a well endowed nude might have had something to do with it? But, it seemed to do the trick for guys.

For years, Kim had said, "If you'd let me one day, I'd really like to something else with this... another kind of cover." So, who was I to argue at this point? If the original artist was unhappy. So, that's why that exists with a number of different covers. In fact, the Japanese originally objected to the fact that it was a nude on the cover, and stuck their own design on the front of it... Just a picture of a guitar that had been drawn... And presented it to us as a fait accompli. So, that album has been released with three different covers over the years in different territories.

As for Midsummer Night's Dream, I think the fact that we got the rights back to that album from EMI, we wanted to make it obvious to people that we'd gotten back the rights. It's a slightly changed cover. It's a rearranged layout of things, but basically, it's the same art work. 
  I was really edging away from the group at that point. I was getting tired of bringing ideas into the group which I felt they weren't going to do. If the ideas were more radical, they weren't necessarily going to do them. I felt that the band was heading towards an area that was becoming very safe. 

WOG: There have been all sorts of rumors and speculation that particular members of the band sort of steered Genesis into a different musical direction. Was there a natural progression into another style of music or was there a conscious effort to do something more commercial?

SH: Well, nobody said, "Let's do something more commercial." Not at that point. The last studio album I had done with the band, which was Wind & Wuthering, was still very much in the spirit of the albums which had preceded it. I think when I left it was another matter, but I still think we were employing a kind of 70s philosophy at that point which was largely album based rather than singles based. So, the music was quite atmospheric, quite narrative, and still pretty much long-form. There tended not to be too many short songs. 

WOG: When you would bring a song or demo to the band, how did it work? When something was turned down was it a band decision or did any one member have the right to give it the thumbs down and exclude it from consideration?

SH: Well, in those days, we didn't actually record things and then play them to each other. We just sat down and played each other ideas face to face. Nobody was really involved in home recording at that stage. There was always some conjecture within the group about that because often somebody would play an idea to the group who might sit around stony-faced (laughs). The individual could be playing his heart out, putting his soul into it, but if he was doing a bad version of what turned out to be a very good song it was often counted against the idea. I'm not saying specifically in my case, because I was always Caruso on vocals, but I remember that a lot of people would often complain... (laughs) they would often complain that it was like playing to a panel of Russian judges at an ice skating contest. It was always something that I feel we individually dreaded. We dreaded the moment of playing these things to each other because the band could be notoriously stiff upper lip about many things. In fact, even when everyone was greatly moved and liked something, it often wasn't shown at first. It's this British insecurity of showing feelings... It always rose to the surface on such occasions.
WOG: Was the success of the Genesis Archive box sets your inspiration for releasing Feedback '86?

SH: No. Billy Budis, my manager, had long wanted to release that as an album. At the time, it included all of this material I had done with Brian May. It was a heavily guested album a the time. It was not really a band line-up. It didn't thrill potential record companies at the time, so in 1986 or 1987 I got busy doing what was really the follow up to Bay of Kings which was called Momentum. So, Feedback sat on the shelf for 15 years or so.  There was no doubt that all those years having elapsed, when released, that it's firmly regarded as archive product. 

I got involved with the Genesis Archive stuff, because they were going to release it anyway, so I thought it better to try and effect the quality of this and give it my blessing. So, I got involved with tidying that up slightly. 

WOG: Do you plan to release other rarities collections? I seem to recall you saying something about releasing a Bootleg Series of concert recordings?

SH: Well, there are always concert releases, but the idea of this always comes up. We're looking back all the time, and seeing what we think will fly... and we have some acoustic stuff that may well fly. Some of it is very good, so I'd like to think people will be interested in that. 

WOG: How did you come to get involved with David Palmer on the symphonic tributes to Genesis and Pink Floyd? Was that what sparked your interest in projects like A Midsummer Night's Dream?

SH: Not really. I have to say, I was a hired gun on the David Palmer stuff. He approached me with the idea of the Genesis one. I must say, even when I was able to give him exactly the original guitar part, he would often argue with me that he knew what the part was, and that it should be played thus... Again, from time to time, I wear my mercenary hat, and I become a hired gun in a situation like that. Really, you just join the orchestra and you're just one of many. At the end of the day, the umpire's decision is final as they say. You need mein Fuhrer and the wish to obey. That certainly was the case with the Genesis project and the Pink Floyd one. So, I did what kept David happy. I don't think it's the best of my playing. I don't think it's me at my best, but I think that's largely because David turned a deaf ear to my many suggestions, which is why I prefer not to do that kind of thing for a living. So, I occasionally guest on other people's things, but I'm lucky I don't have to make a living that way... Thank God!
  WOG: Did you have any involvement with the new official Genesis website, Genesis-Music.com?

SH: I don't really have hands-on involvement. I try making encouraging noises at a distance. 

WOG: On the official Genesis site, the group now advocates the non-profit swapping of bootleg concerts. As someone who has spoken out against bootlegs in the past, does this concern you?

SH: Unfortunately, I think it's naive to assume people will swap these things without money passing hands. I would prefer that people don't propose ideas that are supposed to be philanthropic, but blatantly potential money spinners. I'd prefer that people didn't part money for things that are going to be warts and all performances. I prefer to vet them before people hear them, naturally.

WOG: When Phil Collins eventually quit Genesis in 1993, in your opinion, did Mike and Tony do the right thing by trying to carry on?

SH: I think that Ray Wilson has a good voice. Whether or not that was the right forum for him, where it sounds to me like most of the songs have been written by Tony and Mike... But I may be wrong. Maybe he was more involved with the creative process. I think that Ray is capable of a lot more than he was allowed to be. So, I hope he keeps a firm head on his shoulders and just realizes that it's a storm to be ridden out and that there will be light at the end of it. If he sees this as just more thing that he did rather than the big break that didn't work out.

I mean, you could look at it the same way as Trevor Horn having joined Yes as a vocalist. It wasn't a great success, but he was sufficiently determined to carry on and qualify himself in another way. I'm not suggesting that Ray goes and becomes a producer, but I'm sure the book isn't closed on Ray. He's a good singer.

WOG: Can you tell me about any other new projects on the horizon?

SH: I'm working on new rock material at the moment. I've been working with the band on some new stuff... I have that on the go. I have this classical thing on the go, some of which is previewed on the Outwitting Hitler project. I think both are very strong and I've enjoyed myself greatly on these two projects. The other project I mentioned was the album which started out with Jim Diamond, which is an album of classic ballads. Those are really the projects that are all in the pipeline at this time.
WOG: When you went to record the Sketches of Satie album, due to the nature of the compositions (reworking them for acoustic guitar and flute), was that a difficult album to record?

SH: I had to use a lot of self discipline. I was very proud of the way the album turned out. I worked long and hard on it for many months to transfer arrangements from piano to guitar and flute. The majority of the harmonies are played on the guitar, so I spent a long time making it viable for guitar. I worked many long hours in the studio with guitar and computer, pro-tools, and a combination of myself, John (Hackett), Roger King...

So, it was long and arduous, but very rewarding. I think it's the cleanest, most perfect album I've ever recorded. There's not an unwanted squeak or unwanted breath that wasn't negotiated and left in for a sort of flow. 
  WOG: And The Tokyo Tapes DVD?

SH: Yes. Well, that, for me, has been something the company has been more involved with. That's a case of alternative formatting and updating. There is another project I've been working on, which I've forgotten to mention. There is a box set coming of live material from all my own bands from the 70s, the 80s, and the 90s which we are currently getting ready for release. We're working on the sleeve now, and we hope to get that out very shortly.

WOG: Will this be available before Christmas?

SH: That's right. I'm very pleased with the way that has come out. We've looked at a number of concerts for that. What we've tried to do is preserve entire concerts. So, you've got a New Castle City Hall, or you've got a Hammersmith concert, or a Castral Saint Angelo in Rome. So, entire concerts.

So, you've purchased all the Genesis albums featuring Steve, but you don't know where to start with his solo catalog? Here are a few suggestions...


Steve Hackett - The Unauthorizied Biography
A compilation of Steve's early works covering the Virgin Records years of his career. Also features two new recordings including "Don't Fall Away" featuring Brian May of Queen! If you want one retrospective covering the early solo works of Steve Hackett is one is definitely it!

Steve Hackett - Live 70s, 80s, 90s (3-CD Box Set)
Three CD anthology spanning the decades of Hackett's live legacy with three complete concerts from the 70s, 80s, and 90s! An amazing treasure trove of previously unreleased live material featuring the various incarnations of Hackett's band line-up in a stunning set of rarely heard classics from the periods from which they came! Highly recommended!

Steve Hackett - Guitar Noir
To this day, this rock project by Steve is one of my absolute favorites. A hint of commercialism and a plethora of influences and classic Hackett rock stylings make this an unforgettable experience. Highly recommended!
For more reviews of Steve's solo catalog click here. You'll find more than 20 years worth of Hackett album reviews and links to buy them!

  WOG: How many discs will that be?

SH: That will be a three album box set.  

WOG: Your First project, The Quiet World - The Road, has been reissued on compact disc a number of times in Europe and Asia. What are your thoughts on the album, and why don't you offer it on your website?

SH: Funny enough, just about every note on the guitar and on the harmonica that I played was actually audible! I thought that I would play it and think how sloppy the playing was, but I was actually quite impressed with the timing of it. It makes me realize, in fact, whether you like the music or not, the band was actually very well rehearsed by the time that it went into the recording studio. So, I'm pleased with how cohesive it seems. On the other hand, it is very much an early effort, and not having really been involved with the writing of most of it... Or officially with any of it, I'm not sure whether I would say to somebody, "Go out and spend your money on it." 

I know the term completists has been used a lot. For completists, they may find it of interest. On the other hand, I think with most sort of stuff of that era, as soon as you've heard it, you realize why one had to move on. At the time, joining that band had a big plus for me, which was that they had a recording contract and I was going to get some experience in a professional recording studio. From my point of view, that was a big leap forward. The music, in some ways, was incidental. They were further up the ladder, and I needed to get on that ladder. It was the first rung on that ladder which I think, in the early stages, you've got to be prepared to play that game. Otherwise, I think you'll just end up playing guitar in your bedroom for the rest of your life. I did what was necessary to move ahead.

Genesis, of course, was different. Genesis was a band that, as far as I was concerned, showed promise. I felt like I could add something to it. I felt I could make it stronger. I was hired from a full creative capacity from the word go. I was in love with the early Genesis stuff... very much.

Special thanks to Steve Hackett, Billy Budis, and Camino Records for this interview. For more on Steve Hackett, check out his official website.  This interview 2001-2007 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole or in part without permission.  Click Here To Return To The Interview Index.


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