Steve Hackett

ARTICLE ABOUT Steve Hackett (Genesis) FROM SOUNDS, October 25, 1975

Exciting times for Mr. Hackett as he was recording his first solo album while completing the first Genesis album without Peter Gabriel. It must be said that it all went very well. His solo album “Voyage of the Acolyte” reached No. 26 in the UK and No. 191 in the US. The album recorded with Genesis, “A Trick of the Tail”, was a even greater success, reaching No. 3 in the UK and No. 31 in the US.
Good times for Genesis and Steve Hackett, indeed.
Read on!

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Hackett relieves himself

… with a solo album. The Genesis gent reveals all to Barbara Charone, who doesn`t mind a bit.

Having failed his driving test for the second time that very morning, Steve Hackett was in surprisingly good spirits. Perhaps his orthodox examiner disliked long haired musicians.
Soft spoken, you`d hardly believe that Hackett was lead guitarist with Genesis. Still, the examiner complained about faulty steering. If only he knew the true identity of this aspiring driver, the examiner might have been lucky enough to obtain the collected works of Genesis for a niece or nephew.
Despite the fact that Hackett had arisen at the ungodly hour of 7 am, he had much to smile about. With the rest of Genesis, he has been working on their next album for several weeks now at Trident, already pleased with the results. Fresh from his first solo project, `Voyage Of The Acolyte` Hackett has come up with an album of high quality. None of the usual self-indulgence here.
“I deliberately kept away from trying to prove how fast I could play,” Steve said taking a break from group recording. “I didn`t want the album to sound like a guitar record. There`s snatches of flash playing but that`s not really my scene.
“What I wanted to do was try out as many ideas as possible. I wanted to fulfill a number of roles basically writing for instruments like cello, mellotron, flute and voice which I had never done before. I used as few people as possible, keeping the nucleus small. It sounds a bit like a group because I like using combinations of instruments.”
Various blends of sounds and tempos make the album quite a departure from the average `solo` flight. Taking full advantage of the Genesis rhythm section of drummer Phil Collins and bassist Mike Rutherford, Hackett wisely sacrificed one man virtuosity for a more sophisticated sound. It was a gamble that paid off handsomely.

“It was definitely a risk,” Steve laughed recalling earlier inhibitions. “I honestly didn`t know if it would work. I didn`t know if the rhythm section would spring out of each track. The whole venture was a gamble. It`s just very different from what people expect of a solo album. It really isn`t even an actual `solo` album,” he frowned at the mention of that confining term. “My main role was directing.”
Musically, the atmospheres created could easily serve as a background film soundtrack, filled with images and visuals of faraway places and large chunks of dream like fantasy. Each song is related to a specific tarot card. This idea was used more as a springboard for composition and inspiration than a clever gimmick. There`s no journey to the centre of the earth thematic pretentions here.
“I tried to interpret different cards musically and took the strongest ones. `Ace Of Wands` symbolises the beginning of a new venture. Wands represents fire, initiative, and skill,” he grins sheepishly. “What better way to begin the album.
“I`m not trying to lay tarot cards on people or get heavy about it. They were just sources of reference really. `Star of Sirius` is an optimistic looking to the future. After some of the heaviness and introspection of some of the other tracks, I wanted something lightheaded with a bouncy pop song feel.”
The album has done much to strengthen Hackett`s personal self confidence, destroying previous frustrations that inevitably come from playing in a democratic band. Now he feels strong enough to step forward within the group hierarchy.
“I`m definitely more confident about submitting ideas to the band now. The album showed me that once I was happy with an idea there was really no reason why it shouldn`t work. I wasn`t particularly confident about my abilities as a writer and arranger before I did the album. In a band one relies heavily on the group for ideas. With us, the strongest things are always group written. Especially now.

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“I`m less frustrated now,” Hackett admitted, seemingly more secure even in conversation. “But I`ve got to live up to now. I couldn`t come up with a solo album of quality every year. This was just something I`ve wanted to do for a long, long time. But my main committment right now, is to the band.”
Genesis have always painfully laboured over each and every album project. Having spent the last few months writing and rehearsing for the group effort, studio recording has not only been productive but fairly quick. Obviously, this is a crucial album for Genesis, one that needs to be good to maintain followers and attract new ones. The band need to creatively and artistically survive Peter Gabriel`s departure.
“I was disturbed over a spate of letters in the music papers that assumed because we were involved with solo projects that Peter left. The decision was totally his own and quite separate from any course of band action. Don`t I sound like a politician?”
He also sounds like a musician. The next album from Genesis should be finished by the end of November. The band will not immediately promote the record on the road as plans for the stage show will require much careful thought and consideration.
“We want people to digest the album before we return to the road so they will be aware that Peter is no longer with the band. If we went out as a four piece now and people hadn`t already digested the situation, they would find it difficult to accept. It`s much easier for us to concentrate on the album now.
“What can I say?” Hackett said remaining purposely mysterious. “Maybe we will have that fifth member. Maybe we`ll try him out on one or two numbers in the studio, possibly even use a name singer on several tracks to get a mixed bag of vocal abilities. No one should worry that we`re going to turn into a totally instrumental band. We`re still very much songwriters,” Steve stressed.
“If people are patient with us I`m certain things will be all right in the long term. The short term problem is finding the fifth member. There won`t be any quality decline from us.”

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ARTICLE ABOUT Steve Hackett from New Musical Express, October 25, 1975

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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