Radio Two Interview with Steve Hackett 27th April 1988 (Part Two). Transcribed by Alan Hewitt. Photos by Ted Sayers.
INT: So, would you have found during your Genesis tours, pretty hectic though they were, that in your quieter moments you would have been sitting strumming away doing classical pieces?
SH: Oh yeah, very often. It’s as I say, very therapeutic and its own reward and it is funny, I get involved with lots and lots of electronic music and people say ‘what’s your favourite instrument?’ and I say; ‘well, in a way my favourite synthesiser is the acoustic guitar because it is a real synthesis of the forest; the wood from many different trees, and when you play it, it’s a bit like you’ve put the leaves back on the trees. So I have that romantic perspective of it. It has its own soul and in a way its just a case of being sensitive to it.
INT: Did you have your guitar specially made for you?
SH: I have had guitars made for me but my favourite guitar is this Japanese one. Its called a Yairi and they make beautiful guitars these days and its fantastic.
INT: It gives you the sound you want to hear?
SH: Oh absolutely, yeah.
INT: Well let’s talk about what you did with a single we mentioned earlier called Sentimental Institution so what did you do with that piece?
SH: Well, this is completely at the opposite end of the musical spectrum and it was one day I was sitting down with Pete Hicks who was the singer in that particular band at the time. And we did an album called Defector. As I was writing it Peter came in with the lyrics and we were doing a send up of all the Big Bands in the 1940’s and trying to get the worst aspects across. So it was like a pastiche; a send up of Sentimental Journey.
INT: How many solo albums have you made to date?
SH: Oh, about eight.
INT: Was it a big decision did you find; leaving Genesis?
SH: It was a decision that I agonised over for about two years after I did the first solo album, that the other guys helped me on, from the band. It was a very difficult decision but once I had been used to it in a way writing the whole thing, recording it; the whole thing. Having had that added responsibility. It’s hard to go back to a band and in a way a bit like when you grow up and leave home I think.
INT: Mike, our engineer was saying that he went to the reunion concert, the one at Milton Keynes…
SH: The one where it rained all night (laughs).
INT: He said he waited ten hours to see that concert!
SH: He must have suffered from the flu afterwards! That is the WETTEST gig I have ever played in my life. Marvellous though it was and I felt proud to be up there with all those guys on stage you know; this little band that I once joined suddenly was, well almost, I mean seven years later…
INT: Just world news wasn’t it really?
SH: Yeah, It was great to be playing with everyone again and I must admit I flew back specially from Brazil when I heard that the gig was on because I hadn’t been billed to appear and my dad ‘phoned me up and said; ‘look you’re not on the show, you know what is this all about, you’re not going to appear?’ And I said; ‘right, ok’ and so I got on a plane and got straight off the plane and on to the stage and joined them,
INT: Peter Gabriel was there too so it was everybody back wasn’t it?
SH: That’s right, yeah. And it was a marvellous night but it just rained buckets the whole night but the fans loved it and so it was great.
INT: When you think of the world news that you were on those very successful world tours, but I mean going right back to the beginning of the band and you were being paid a very paltry sum?
SH: That’s right. I joined for £15 a week in fact. It doesn’t seem a lot now, does it? It sounds like… I was absolutely delighted to get £15 a week at that point in time. I thought; here’s me, suddenly I’m a professional musician. I’ve got take home pay, this is good news and in fact the week I joined it had just gone up. It was ten quid a week before then so…
INT: Were you called Genesis from the very beginning?
SH: Yeah. The band was called Genesis from the beginning and… in fact the band was formed while they were all still at school and I joined the band about four months after Phil Collins had joined but he was the drummer in those days.
INT: And of course, the boys; well three of them at any rate are still together, aren’t they?
SH: That’s right. The three are still together but they have successful solo careers in their own right. They are an incredible amount of talented and productive people in Genesis who didn’t get involved in the kind of destructive lifestyle that most bands have so, in the main, the marriages have lasted and people have stayed pretty straight.
INT: Are you happier now though, doing what you are doing?
SH: I am much happier being on my own because I feel that it came to a point where the challenge had really gone out of it. Once the whole thing had lived up to the goals that I had set for it. There’s that feeling of safety in numbers when you are selling out arenas throughout the world and you think this can’t really go wrong but how much new ground are you breaking?
INT: Your new tour does begin very shortly in Cheltenham on Monday next and moving on to places like Leicester and Folkestone and Norwich and continuing into May. So, we’ll keep the dates in the office and I wish you, Steve Hackett every success on the tour…