It is always a pleasure to spend time talking with Steve Hackett, he is such a gracious interviewee and always has interesting things to say and learn from. This interview is about his recently announced uk tour that will see Steve and his band playing the Genesis album ‘Foxtrot’ in its entirety, along with various other classic Genesis material and some of his own solo material from the ‘Surrender of Silence’ album from last year.
John Wenlock-Smith – Good Morning Steve, so how are you sir?
Steve Hackett: Oh I am all right, I’m fine. How are you doing? We have just come back from a few days away on Dartmoor.
JWS – Dartmoor – bit cold for that surely?
SH: Well it was a bit nippy, yes but, what a fabulous place, very mysterious really. I have been in London mostly but we are off to see Jo’s sister (Amanda Lehmann) and her family in Norfolk at the weekend. I like Norfolk and enjoy going there really as I enjoyed Dartmoor too, all the standing stones and stuff, it’s all unusual really.
JWS: Very bleak?
SH: Yes, but you do not get the feeling of being alone or uninhabited, you can sense the spirit’s presence.
JWS: So Jo’s sister, that’s Amanda isn’t it?
SH: Yes, along with her Father. Where she is in Norfolk, there is a fabulous tearoom there does great cake too, so we will be heading there I think, it is in a place called Haven and I recommend it highly, its fabulous.
The last time I was in Norfolk I bought a Mandolin, so I have been dabbling with that in advance of the European leg of the ‘Seconds Out’ tour. I have also been finishing off a live album that captures the ‘Seconds Out’ tour that we recorded in Manchester at the O2 the old Apollo theatre. Then, later in the year we start the next tour, ‘Foxtrot at 50’.
JWS: How can it be that that album was 50 years ago? Barely seems possible really!
SH: Yes indeed, hardly bears thinking about that 51 years ago I joined Genesis on that journey and look where it taken me. It is incredible when I stop and think about it all.
JWS: I had always hoped I would be retired by forty after having had a hugely successful music career but, sadly, that was not to be.
SH: It’s never too late!
JWS: It is for me, after my stroke I can barely play the guitar these days. I have tried learning the piano, but I am nowhere near on that either.
SH: Did your stroke affect your ability to play?
JWS: Yes, I have weakness on my left-hand side. I have a friend who also had a stroke and he has the same difficulties and is very frustrated by it really. I am less so, but I would say check your salt intake and your sugars and check your blood pressure regularly. Strokes strike without warnings. Get the message out about the dangers of strokes.
SH: I think us men tend to be poor at taking care of ourselves, thinking that we are invincible when we are not at all, thanks for the warning.
JWS: The ‘Foxtrot’ tour is playing at Buxton Opera House?I think I might try and see you there. I have never been to a concert in Buxton, I was Going to see Asia there but that did not happen, although I did see a puppet show there many years ago with my children.
SH: I am trying to think of something witty to say about music and puppets but failing, it’s cultural gap between the two!
JWS: So ‘Foxtrot’, that means we will get Suppers Ready, Watcher Of the Skies, and Can-Utility etc.?
SH: Yes, ‘Foxtrot’ is an incredibly special album, all killer no filler as it were. Certainly one I am immensely proud of still. I do not think there is a duff song on the album.
JWS: So, after that, what will you do next as you will have done most of those Genesis albums (apart from ‘Trick of the Tail’)?
SH: Well I have always tried to do the best and not any of the dross, so I reserve the right to do that still. I want to concentrate on the good stuff and not just do anything lesser really, keeping the flame alive as it were. We all know what the classics are, don’t we?
JWS: So, have you had chance to see your old colleagues this time around?
SH: No, I have not as I was on tour at the same time as they were doing the rounds sadly, I hear that they’ve have done well though.
JWS: Yes, we saw them in Liverpool in October and they were fantastic, so much so that we are going to see them again in London in March as a Christmas present to each other. A few days at a hotel in Tring then Genesis on the Friday evening, should be good.
SH: Yes, I hope you enjoy that then, last time I spoke to them Mike Rutherford thanked me for keeping the flame burning for them. I would like to think that that helped them decide to do this last lap, as it were.
I spoke to Peter (Gabriel) recently and asked him if he had heard that Ian Macdonald had gone and he said that he had not but that he was a fan of his work. Peter and I were born a day apart from each other and it is always good to catch up with each other.
JWS: It is getting easier now?
SH: Yes, touring was interesting but, as we were in a bubble, we could not meet anyone.
JWS: We have got to look after everybody as much as we can, those Lateral flow test s are a pain though.
SH: Yes, but we have got to do it really, the best for everyone.
JWS: So, have you been working on new material at all?
SH: Yes, I have been fiddling with a few things, refining, and polishing things a little. It is a balance between immediacy and a polished performance. Bill Wyman says that blues is the more emotional side of improvisation.
JWS: I saw your brother John in Bilston recently, he had Nick Fletcher with him, who was on fire, incendiary. They were incredibly good indeed, I really enjoyed them a lot.
SH: I will tell him that when I next speak to him.
JWS: Anyway Steve, my time has gone so I will let you go and hopefully see you in Buxton on the ‘Foxtrot At Fifty’ tour!
SH: Thanks John, take care of yourself and keep well.