"Duet for GTR" - Steve Hackett and Steve Howe in conversation about the GTR project. Transcription by Alan Hewitt; US radio interview tape from May 1986 kindly sent to us by Pam Bay of the "Steve Howe Appreciation Society".
INT: The two of you are the integral parts of GTR, are you both surprised at how well you fused together creatively or did you think this might happen?
SHackett: We had an idea about that when we met; there was something compatible about our styles; people had drawn comparisons between the two of us before. I think there are some differences about our styles but you find out about that after a period of time. Steve has a very rhythmic style and on acoustic guitar he tends to prefer steel whereas I prefer nylon so there are differences, but it has been great working together.
INT: Did you both have any other band offers before forming GTR?
SHackett: Any other band offers? Well the last time anybody asked me to join a band was strangely enough John Wetton who asked me to join UK but that was along time ago!
SHowe: We've been more involved in forming a band really and we would be open to offers but you would have to talk to our manager I think! (laughter).
INT: You have both previously come from bands with one guitarist; how have you worked out who will take the lead on which track?
SHowe: Well; there is space. There are songs and there is one guitar need here and another one there and we didn't really have to designate it really. It is what parts we both grabbed... if we grabbed a part it was seen to be a good idea for that person... then who knows what might happen. Steve might double it or we would put another part in with it to compliment it and so it was done reasonably sensibly, in the cause of the group, and it didn't become a case of "let's devastate each other in the cause of competition" and we got round it by using common sense.
INT: What do you hope to do with GTR that is better or different than Asia?
SHowe: What would I hope to do with GTR that is better than Asia? Keeping it a happy ship really. That is the main thing that comes to mind and keeping it a creative environment and supporting each other and really looking after each other.
INT: Who are the other members of GTR what have they been involved with in the past and how did you find them?
SHackett: I guess I can best answer that by saying that the vocalist is a guy called Max Bacon who used to be with a band called Bronz. Our bass player is a guy called Phil Spalding who used to be with Mike Oldfield and has also worked with Toyah. I think he was also in a band called The Original Mirrors. Our drummer is a guy called Jonathan Mover who comes from Peabody, Massachusetts which is otherwise known as Boston (laughter) and he is our only American in the band and so it is a kind of Anglo-American or Euro-Colonial if you like! (laughter).
INT: You said you were trying to broaden your horizons by expanding into fretboards rather than keyboards, why are you doing this?
SHowe: We are trying to combine the thinking of the guitar with the sound; or rather; the many sounds of sampling keyboards. It is a wonderful direction to take.
INT: Geoff Downes produced the album and he was also in Asia and Yes; how did you re-associate yourself with him?
SHowe: It was nice to make contact with Geoff under different circumstances rather than keyboard and guitar in arm. This was great and I was really up for it when I heard about it because I knew that Geoff had a streak in him that wanted to do a little bit more production and prove himself a little bit there...
SHackett: Well; we wanted someone who was a musician for a start. Because we wanted certain areas of technology made available for us; this fretboard technology via midi to synthesisers, and it was important to us that we had someone who was a bit of a boffin-type character.
INT: How do you feel about the "Super Group" hype that has attached itself to this album in much the same way as it did to Asia?
SHowe: Well, I don't feel very much about it because if you are behind your own music or promoting yourself and investing in yourself then you have to be a bit blind to that and it is enthusiasm and that is a lot better than negativity, so...
INT: Did you construct the music for GTR in the studio or outside the studio?
SHowe: We did it in a variety of rehearsal rooms because we felt that if we didn't it would really hold us back in the studio. We put in three months initially and then we had a short break and then another few weeks and then we were ready for the studio. We went in with almost everything; if not more. We had extra tracks even than the ones we recorded.
INT: Which do you write first; music or lyrics and how do you match them up?
SHowe: You hope that they come along at the same time but sometimes you have to re-write a lyric a few times.
INT: Do you recall the first time you played and what did you play? Did you play a brand new song and say "Let's try this" or did you play an old Yes or Genesis song?
SHowe: I think we were most interested in... it must have been a riff or a tune or a song that one of us started and said; "I started this the other day; shall I carry on or shall I drop it...?" We started like that; just trying to size up each other's writing and new licks.
INT: I know that GTR is just getting off the ground but do you think this is going to be a long term thing?
SHackett: Yeah, we hope that this is going to turn into a long term thing. This is the debut album; it's a debut tour; it's a new concept of guitarists working together. It is a brave step for both of us.
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