It must be frustrating to release a solo album and all what the journalists wants to know is: “How about your other band?”
Such is life when you play in one of the biggest bands around – you will never be bigger than the band. Even though it may be up for debate whether Phil Collins became bigger than Genesis was for a little while there.
As a Norwegian, I often wonder what would have happened if our “own” Mr. Jahn Teigen had accepted the bands invitation for him to try out as a vocalist. We often speculate about this in Norway, as Teigen was a very theatrical minded person with a voice that could handle almost everything from ballads to rock to opera and so on… What if?
Enjoy this one.
Are you ready for a concept LP about the Tarot?
You mean, you never heard of the Major Arcana?
Well, Steve Hackett has. Which means that
Steve Clarke has as well. Now it`s your turn.
Four hundred applications later and Genesis still haven`t found a replacement for Peter Gabriel.
Or have they? Seems the band`s guitarist – Steve Hackett, up at 128 Long Acre essentially to rap about his just-released solo album “Voyage Of The Acolyte” – is being a little, er, shall we say evasive about the whole affair…
“There could be someone,” he hedges, sipping at a papercupful of Long Acre coffee, perhaps thinking of Just How Many Beans He Should Spill. “We haven`t definitely decided on somebody but someone is under consideration. It wouldn`t be fair to him to build it up.”
Naturally therefore, Hackett refuses to give away the name of the prime contender, merely stating that the man is at present working with another band and it`s unlikely that any of us would have heard of him anyway.
It`s not Jon Anderson, if you know what I mean.
The main problem, it seems, in finding a replacement for Gabriel is in coming across a singer who displays a diversity of vocal styles the way Gabriel did. “We`re not looking for a replacement As Such. We`re not looking for a singer with the same vocal style. Peter had a number of different voices and it`s not easy to find a singer like that.”
How about 15 different singers?
Undeterred, Hackett says there won`t be an official announcement as to who is actually replacing Gabriel until the end of the year. Meantime, the four-piece band are heavily into recording the Next Genesis Album, each group member contributing to the material and to the singing. Is this L.P. a major departure?
No, says Hackett, it`s still recognisable as Genesis. “The number of people who`ve come in and heard it say it sounds very Genesis. It`s a popular misconception that Peter was entirely responsible for our material; whereas it was only on the last album that Peter wrote all the lyrics.
“Also, Peter used to pull humour out of the band. The rest of us are trying to do that now. It would be an awful drag if the band became bogged down entirely with serious music. In the past that was offset by Peter`s silliness.”
Hackett says that Gabriel`s going will have its biggest effect not in terms of Genesis`s music, but with regard to their stage show. Yes, they will continue to be a presentation-conscious band. And it`s possible that a number of people will augment the band on stage to make up for Gabriel.
On their last tour the slides which acted as a back-drop to the band were based entirely on Gabriel`s lyrics and Gabriel`s costumes were his own ideas. The slides were, however, designed by an Amsterdam-based artist, Geoffrey Shore, who`ll more than likely collaborate with Genesis for their next series of tours – which won`t be until Spring, O punters.
Hackett says the band are interested in using moving pictures on stage. “We wouldn`t want it to become dependent on one thing visually,” says Hackett. “It will go through as many changes as the music.
“We could never only get up onstage with three Marshall stacks and get on with it. We wouldn`t like to do that. There have been exceptions in the past when our equipment has broken down and we`ve had to go on and just play. It`s not that we`re entirely dependent on the props, it`s just that some of the music is difficult to digest and this is offset by the way we present it.”
So far there is no title for the next album, but as things look at the moment, one side will feature an entire piece while the other side will be made up of shorter songs. Hackett emphasises there`s no shortgage of material. We didn`t really think there was.
Now to the official interview. Hackett`s own album was recorded over a month, includes material which dates back to pre-Genesis days and is by no means a guitar album.
“I feel no more close to the guitar than I do to any other instrument. On the album I dabbled around with keyboards. I hadn`t played keyboards before and it was almost like how you would compose a sentence in foreign language. I`d learn a chord shape that sounded nice. I wouldn`t be fluent but it would sound convincing.
“The only instrument I`m proficient in to any extent is the guitar.”
So why did he make the album? “That`s the hardest question of all. I didn`t feel obliged to make it. I really wanted to make an album. I`d written songs for various instruments. I`d written a song for a lady to sing” (Mike Oldfield`s sister Sally sings one song on the elpee), “I`d wanted to produce, I wanted to see if I could rely on myself. Every musician feels that. I got a lot of pleasure out of doing it.
“The thing started out as a gamble, but just about everything came off, except for a couple of things which didn`t.”
So is it a rock album? “I`d say the first track is a rock song with a few things thrown in which don`t fit in with rock. I wouldn`t say that the album owed any more to rock than any other form of music.
“I don`t know what rock music is. I`ve always associated it with Elvis Presley.
“It (the album) doesn`t have much to do with that – it`s too pastoral and yet…in places there`s that drive and urgency.
“I grew up on The Stones and Bach. I used to copy Keith Richard`s early solos note for note; at the time I didn`t know that the two bore any resemblance to each other. It makes perfect sense to me now, putting the two together in some numbers.
“I should think a rock audience would be able to get into it.
“I wouldn`t say `Tubular Bells` was rock music.”
Neither would a lot of us, old sport. Mind you, I wonder if Hackett subscribes to the point of view that symphonic-rock actually widens the boundaries of rock. “It`s a more eclectic music. It`s widening the boundaries of classical music more than rock. It`s got a really long way to go.”
Not unsurprisingly `Tubular Bells` dips into the conversation again. Hackett can understand why people liked it so much, “It`s a very pleasant album which doesn`t jar too much dynamically. If you`re holding a conversation, `Tubular Bells` wouldn`t interrupt it. If you take the most successful albums over the last two years, `Tubular Bells` and `Dark Side Of The Moon`, they don`t have those vast dynamic ranges. I don`t want to say it`s high class muzak but it`s approaching that.
“Me, I don`t feel happy making background music. I hope people will listen to my album at least once, really listen,” he emphasises. “You couldn`t hold an unbroken conversation while its playing. Neither could you to a Genesis album. We require more from an audience point of view than Mike Oldfield or the Pink Floyd both in terms of selectivity and why they listen.”
Finally the conversation reverts back to Hackett`s own album – which, as it turns out, was inspired to a certain extent by The Tarot, “I`m into it, but I`m not preaching the gospel, quote. There`s a track called `Star Of Sirius` on the album which is a very good card to get since it`s optimistic. Therefore the song is very poppy. Likewise `The Hermit` is introspective-sounding music. I wrote about the cards which came over strongest to me.
“I`m very possessive about the album, just like a parent is about a child. But not everyone`s going to dig it: there`s a universal spirit but there isn`t a universal music.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Black Sabbath, Elton John, David Bowie, Roxy Music, I Roy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Milt Jackson, Mason, Larry Coryell.
This edition is sold!