"A Tale of thirteen bungalows" - In which we discover a talent for aural architecture: Steve Hackett in conversation about his new album "To Watch The Storms", at Crown Studios on Saturday May 3, 2003. Interview by Alan Hewitt.

First of all folks, don't worry too much about the title of this interview. All will become clear as you read on!

AH: So, Steve, here we are again, talking about your new album, "To Watch The Storms", which is the first album to be completed here [Steve's new studio] is it not?

SH: Yeah, it is the first project to be completed here although work started on it at my home studio.

AH: Is it another album that had a lengthy gestation period...

SH: Actually no... I wrote a lot of this stuff quite quickly over a two or three month period.

AH: So we shall go through it, track by track... "Strutton Ground". When I heard that I was surprised to find that a lot of the places referred to in the lyrics were places I actually knew... and it is a very nostalgic song...

SH: A friend said "It's one of your 'list' songs again, isn't it?" I did the same thing with "The Virgin and The Gypsy" where I used as many flower names as I could, this time it was places and yes, some of them are personal references. Jobson's Cove is this wonderful place in Bermuda where Kim and I first saw butterfly fish. There was this elderly couple who invited us in for tea and always sent us Christmas cards, and when we remembered we sent them one back.

The Butterfly House is near here, in Syon Park and I always remember the first time I went in there and all these butterflies settled on me and I felt... like a giant surrounded by fairies. I imagine that it was probably a similar feeling to someone on an LSD trip feels... although I've never taken it, you feel so huge. And every time I went back it never happened again and so I always remember that.

The Rocket Ride was at Battersea fun fair, which is sadly no longer there, and I always remember as a child being afraid to go on the Rocket Ride. Strutton Ground itself was one of those places which I imagine might have been a place where ladies and gentlemen went promenading, or it might have had something to do with the military ...I'm not sure.

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Steve Hackett with Alan
Picture courtesy of M. Spuck/TWR

AH: The album is certainly one of contrasts, and "Circus Of Becoming" is certainly a contrast... "Set fire to the stars", indeed!

SH: Once again, that was something from Dylan Thomas... I think from "The Girl In The Asylum" because I gather he spent a few spells in those places himself during his time and it was such a wonderful way to describe the act of making love.

AH: Then we have "Frozen Statues", which to me is very much an almost free Jazz style piece, one which conjures up very vivid images for me... when I listen to this one I almost imagine myself as a punter locked out of a club late at night, frozen stiff and listening through the window as a lucky handful of souls are inside hearing his favourite artist perform for them, ...very much a descriptive track...

SH: That is an interesting description because it was inspired by these marvellous books which Dr Sacks has written, and one of them describes this medical condition where the patient is quite literally "frozen" and incapable of movement. They found that with this one particular patient, they literally had to carry her around, she couldn't move and yet whenever she heard music, she could move, and that idea fascinated me.

AH: "Mechanical Bride" is very much a protest song and I particularly loved the lyric "Fox hunt, bullfight, animals' curse / Born again with the roles reversed..." - That conjures up such a wonderful image.

SH: Yeah... we do enter the arena under-rehearsed - I remember being at a charity dinner party and listening to these two people discussing how many grouse or whatever, they had "bagged" and I said... "wouldn't it be fun if the animals could fire back?" and they looked at me as if I had gone crazy and walked away. Yes, it is a protest song, and another one where I have explored things that concern me. I have found that as I get older I am writing from the inside out, and expressing myself in terms of things which I maybe wouldn't have written about in the old days.

AH: And that other line.. "Wedded to remaining dumb..." that is another wonderful line which reminds me of Pastor Niemoller's poem about not resisting the Nazis and how if you don't speak up eventually you will be walked over...

SH: Well, at the end of the day it was all about innocent men dying in the electric chair and being tortured to death, state sanctioned torture, and the idea that any civilised nation could do that rests very uneasily with me. You know, I remember back in the early 1960's when you think of the Rolling Stones as being complete anarchists and yet when they were thinking of doing away with the death penalty... it was either the time just after it had been done away with and there a lot of calls for bringing it back and they quoted Brian Jones. He said something very articulate and I can't remember the exact words but he said... "No, we shouldn't have that back... it is a medieval form of torture, it's almost back to the Dark Ages." and to a young mind - I was probably about fourteen - I hadn't formed my thoughts about whether this was right and a deterrent or not, and I changed my mind about it. And I don't think there should be a death penalty, for what it's worth, because you are not just killing one person, it's the family and friends of that person as well. There are so many miscarriages of justice at the end of the day. It is very important that the reprieve is always possible if new evidence comes to light.

AH: Certainly we go from one extreme to the other with your first instrumental on the album, "Wind, Sand And Stars".

SH: "Wind, Sand And Stars", which was by Anton Saint Exupery, who wrote "The Little Prince", which to my shame I have not yet read...

AH: That was the other story... just to digress slightly back to the "G" band... that was the other story that was in the frame for "The Lamb..." wasn't it? According to Mike, he threw that one into the ring...?

SH: He did suggest that one at one point and the band rejected that, because it was based on someone else's idea. We have come full circle to the same writer and to "Wind, Sand And Stars", which may or not be in print... It's a wonderful book, it's a wonderful, wonderful book the language is very poetic. He was a postman in the 1930's if I remember correctly, a flying postman. So he would get to arrive in Spain as the Civil War was going on or somewhere and all his mates were crashing regularly into the Sahara desert and sometimes surviving, and sometimes not.

At one point he ended up in Cairo and he bought a slave his freedom and all sorts of stuff goes on and you ask "...hold on ...did they have slavery then?" And there is no reason to doubt him, and this guy doesn't know what to do, he's a slave and he has been set free and he says... "Master, you own me now...what do I do? All of my life I have been told what to do." And there's another problem, he doesn't know how to take care of himself.
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Steve Hackett
Picture courtesy of M. Spuck/TWR

Then he talks about the Civil War and people are taking pot shots at each other from either side of a wall and they are calling out to each other because they know each other - "I'll get you next time, Carlos!" - and people were, for no reason at all, deciding to shoot each other. Anyway, it is a magnificent book and he ends it by talking about being on a train - it is shortly before the war, and some Polish workers who were being repatriated, not entirely of their own free will, are on this train and it wasn't the thought that many of these people might be wiped out in the ensuing conflagration that bothered him so much as the thought that the child in the corner might be Mozart and he is never going to get the chance to become that. It's one of the lovely things that's said in the book that in a way he was talking about people not reaching their full potential... You've got this guy doing a very basic job being a postman and he finds time to write several books and eventually crashes and accepts that the price of leading an extraordinary life and being part of things not above things quite literally, that is part of this extraordinary life that he led.

So, I had written the song... or the piece of music and originally it was going to be used in conjunction with Evelyn Glennie. And then I realised that what Evelyn wanted was something much more improvised, and there was going to be no time to rehearse this stuff. I was worried that it was too complicated to do without a rehearsal. It works in different ways, some people rehearse to get it right and some people read the dots, but even if that's the case if someone is one bar out, we've completely lost it. So I thought maybe I could resurrect that piece and work on it a bit more and refine it. And then I was looking for a title for it and I thought "hold on... there are various things in here", there's the justification after the event of naming it after the event... sometimes that happens... often. It was the Spanish Civil War... using the nylon of the guitar strings in a more fiery, percussive way than I had done before, as happens on a couple of occasions on this album. It is not all soft legato, the dreamy stuff... sometimes it is going at it hammer and tongs... So there as that and the idea of a take off at the end, like a flight in a way...

AH: Once again, I knew nothing of this guy's life story at all... Once again it was another contrast. It is a classic piece of Steve Hackett acoustic music but as you say because it is played more percussively. All the usual trademarks are there but, if you like, in reverse, it is almost like looking at a negative of an acoustic piece by you because it is more percussive. It is done with more fire and more attack than normal. The fans will be expecting an acoustic piece, because you always play an acoustic piece, but this one is not quite what you were expecting. It's not "Kim", it's not "Horizons", it's not "Momentum"... it's one you are going to have to think about because it is that little bit different...

SH: Yeah. I thought if I do another gentle acoustic piece it is to be expected.

AH: I think if you had done that this time it would not have worked. I have no qualms about saying that "Brand New" is a classic love song of a type that you don't hear anymore. It is musically, vocally and visually... If I was married or courting or whatever I think I'd wish that I could write something like that to say... "this is what I really think about you.." it is so powerful. It is wonderful that you find the inspiration in the same person but each time you manage to say it differently...

SH: I think every musician is lucky if he has found his muse as it were. And I often think that all good work not just music but anything that is creative, if it is designed with one person in mind is at it's best and you know that that person is going to see you at your best. I think it is no good starting work from the position of "I hope someone will like this". You have no position to base it on whatsoever. Far better that you say "I hope this particular person likes this". I think there is a world of difference there. In a way it is very difficult because if it was just me, I could do it, but if I do that it might upset people who might like that particular kind of thing. This might upset people but I have got to do it this way.

You have got to stop all that and be absolutely true to where it is leading your music. You have got to have an emotional response to it. Music is very much like an unseen physical presence. It is like a God that can be directly contacted, if you are completely honest, that's how it works. It is very difficult because you have got to obey it by being yourself, unlike the idea of the negation of vile instincts which accompanies embracing any conventional religion. This is very different - it requires you to be yourself. If you like it, no matter what it is, it will find its echo in others. But it took me a long time to realise this. The first thing I probably wrote was "Horizons" on guitar... the first thing I wrote and recorded, and I thought... "get this one on the album, this one's just for me, maybe the others won't like it, maybe no one will notice..." and that was how I used to think. Oh, I got away with that, I got away with being myself... and right up to "Guitar Noir". I did a track called "There Are Many Sides To The Night", it was a case of... well this one's just for me and if people don't find it too bad, that's fine.

But what I started to discover over time was that it was precisely those moments when I was most being myself, that those were the moments that were working for other people. So I thought perhaps I was getting this wrong. Perhaps instead of writing this from the outside looking in, let's start from the inside and look out. So I changed my approach and gained or regained confidence and that let me do the kind of work that I do now.

AH: That was definitely the album, the "Guitar Noir" album, - I think that most fans who have followed you career for any length of time would agree with me that that was the album where you found your "voice". I don't mean as a singer but as the way in which you express things.

SH: I think it was a very difficult album to do, because I had been rejected by so many record companies at that point, and I realised that no matter what I did or who I worked with they were just not interested. And I thought, there has to be a solution to this. How can you go from doing "I can do no wrong" to "I can do no right"? And has the work changed that much? And am I that bad at what I do now? And it is a point where a lot of people give up.

I knew the solution was to have our own record company so that I would no longer have to audition to an industry that had already decided that I was wrong for the part. No longer the ingenu , so to speak. You can never be "new" in this business, you can be all sorts of things but you can't be new and there was a point where I was thinking "I wish I was new coming up with this stuff". If I was twenty would that make the difference? If I were fifteen years younger would that make the difference? If I was blond would that make the difference? And you start going through the idea of all the things up to and including a total facelift, all the things you don't really need but you think people want and that you think will make the difference and then, if you are lucky you arrive at the conclusion where you think "Oh, sod it". What I really need to do is be more myself and to self publish and all the rest, call it "Vanity Publishing" [laughs] they do in the book world! I sometimes have dreams that influence me and I had one where I had these things in a wheelbarrow that I was wheeling along. How cool is a wheelbarrow? [laughs]

It wasn't a Jeep, it wasn't a Rolls Royce, it was a wheelbarrow - something you physically move yourself and this wheelbarrow went somewhere and things were being arranged in this shop window. There was another part of the dream where I was asking what should my music have to be the key to acceptance, and sometimes you will get an unseen voice that will say the right thing to you, and it said: "Content, it's got to have content" - a very uncool, very basic word isn't it, "Content" what is "Content"? Substance...not just packaging.

AH: I don't know if this is the right word but music has got to have something tangible about it, even though it is fundamentally intangible ... It has got to have something that ...doesn't touch you physically it touches your heart or mind.

SH: It was Joe Durden-Smith, a writer friend of Kim's who said the older you get the more you learn to trust yourself more and that is the place where I am now... I trust myself more now to be honest because I felt that I was disqualified from all the things other contemporaries who were having huge hits had, and I felt that I couldn't possibly compete on that level. I couldn't make the videos, I didn't have the resources to do that, but the one major asset that I had was myself, applied to the musical problem, whatever it happened to be. OK, videos... it would be great to go out and spend three billion on your latest Sci-Fi epic [laughs] that just gives you those three minutes of sheer bliss. If you subscribe to the school of thought that music was much more visual before the age of the promo clip/video film then that's fine. The Beatles were perhaps at their most creative during a period when we saw next to nothing of them. We knew they were beavering away in Abbey Road, they weren't going to come out and play in front of us again, films were few and far between but the music became supremely visual... "I Am The Walrus..." I remember hearing that on the radio and thinking "Who's that?" I didn't know it was The Beatles until afterwards when they said that was The Beatles "Oh, really?" and they have never sounded like that before or since.

AH: The great thing abut the album is that contrast, you have got love "found" as in "Brand New" and then love "Lost" as in "This World" and basically they are the two sides of the same coin.

SH: Yes, they are really... Paradise Lost and Paradise Found. I played you that one here, didn't I? I did some more work on it since you heard it. "This World" ended up... There were two songs I was working on, one seemed to have a strong verse and the other had a strong chorus. The chorus of "Please don't take this world from me" came from a tune that was almost in a Procul Harum style that was about a sea-going disaster with someone about to lose their life in a whirlpool, a maelstrom. I did it and I thought... "this sounds a bit like Procul Harum and 'A Salty Dog'... I better watch out here, not only have I been influenced by that in the past but so had Genesis". I think they were a big influence on early Genesis.

So, more importantly I took the best aspects of two different songs and put them together - and if I may be so bold as to be a beginner's guide to song writing, if anyone is listening, you have to be prepared to throw away things when they are not working until it really works for you. It is important to be an honest enough audience for your own work to be able to say "that doesn't really work".

AH: Moving on to "Rebecca"... I had completely forgotten until I read the sleeve notes, that she does not appear in the story and it is wonderfully evocative that you have managed to write this piece that describes this character that doesn't actually exist as such except in the mind's eye of somebody else.

SH: People have always taken it on, this thing. The book was written, the film was written, another writer recently did a sequel called "Rebecca's Tale" ...t-a-l-e [laughs] and a song... "Rebecca" goes on and she never appeared and she has been brought to life.

AH: "The Silk Road" - I just wish, hearing a track like that, that I could have seen both you and Peter working together on the "Passion" soundtrack because it is so...

SH: Ah, yeah...I suppose it is in the same ballpark. There are aspects of that.

AH: It's big... It's atmospheric and it manages to capture the sort of exotic atmosphere of the place it is trying to describe because that road goes through so many places and touches so many bases.

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Steve Hackett
Picture courtesy of R. Salem/TWR

SH: Well... I had done an album in Brazil where we had worked with massed drummers and armies of percussion and was that prior to Pete's involvement...? Yes, it was before his involvement with what subsequently became known as "World Music". Pete has done some incredible stuff. That is why it is named after a specific trade route and the journey is everything. lyrically it borrows from oriental poetry where you get the two line stanzas that accompany something like pen and wash and all the calligraphy that accompanies oriental stuff. So that was how that one came about, the shortest lyrics for any song: two lines of lyric. I was trying to write something that was in the spirit of oriental poetry. I didn't borrow from any specific thing. I was after poetry with that thing.

I hope I don't sound like an old hippy here, but who of us hasn't looked upon a bright sunny day and seen an interesting cloud and thought... "I would love to see that from up there" and I don't mean from an aeroplane. If music takes you away, that is all I have ever wanted from it. To me it is all equally important and if you have the chance of poetry. It is a wonderful thing when a song reveals itself to you. I love working with other people when they will come up with an aspect of the arrangement that is absolutely crucial. It might be something they have picked upon in the lyric, or something harmonically or it might be a sound and you realise that that journey, the engine that drives that journey is already powerful and it's off. And the engine that drives that song is rhythm itself.

Roger put that one together. Roger and I had worked on it, and as I said and he had constructed it rhythmically from my basic parts which was something I had heard on one of the Asian radio stations and I said... there's this rhythm which is common to Brazilian music and African music and Indian music.... This bum, bum, bum, bum ...I only know it in the Brazilian spelling, which is bayauo. It is a rhythm that the Africans claim is indigenous to them and the Africans claim it as theirs and no doubt there is a man in India saying the same! [laughs] It is this pulse of a kind of ethnic rhythm that fits very well with rock, funnily enough. It keeps motoring, it keeps wandering but there is a thread to it... I can't describe it... you have better descriptions than me about this at the moment. The thing that brought it into focus was I played nylon guitar on one of the parts, an apparently finished piece, and months ago the vocal went on, on top of it and that saved it... it was going to be a totally instrumental piece and the nylon guitar saved it and the soprano sax saved it and took it from something which was a collection of "production values" ...Roger's term, something that is driven by production values, noises etc and turned it into a piece of music. That made it work and brought it centre stage again and otherwise it was going to be a file on the shelf for posterity, for that documentary they are going to want music for some time down the line. Something happened by adding those little bits of incongruity, because sax doesn't belong in that place, and neither does nylon guitar and yet for me it diverts it off via Spain, and the sax is of some other region geographically but maybe that is that little bit of spice that makes up the Orient at the end of the day... it's that mystical thing that shouldn't work but it does. Some of what they do in the East gets through to us and some of what we do gets through to them but eventually we get to know something of them but we don't colonise any more...

I have never fully understood what ignites a song, I have never fully understood it - all I have done is respond to it when I hear it. I have noticed that I have often bought an album and put it on and listened to it in the studio and thought "I don't really get this" and it is not until some time down the line that I have heard something from that album that someone played, or heard it somewhere else and I thought it sounded good and I realised that I had by-passed something that was good, because I was sitting down and employing this conscious process of listening. The limitation of that is that you are in gear and you are analysing that sequence there and you are ticking them off. The difference is when you are out on the street doing something else and you hear that on the radio and while your conscious mind is doing something else, suddenly this thing ...you hear it and it hits you and you are not putting up ...its this thing about emotional blocks and it is like being hypnotised, normally where you are presenting a face to the world you would be surprised at how different you are for not having put up those blocks. It would be wonderful to access the unconscious mind at the drop of a hat, but its not always like that.

AH: You have said that you don't mind if what you do is not always totally original, and yet you managed to come up with one which really surprised me, with "Come Away", which is the Mazurka which is, as you say, something that you don't hear every day. I don't know why it is a dance tune... or it was at the turn of the last century...?

SH: The Mazurka is a fast waltz...

AH: Yeah, and yet it reminds me of the seaside and I can't think why?!

SH: Well...again I was there with the Optigan with this stuff on it, as I do, and I turned it round backwards and it played a backwards Mazurka. Because the quality level of the Optigan is not very good unless you deliberately want something grainy and analogue, I got Rob and Roger to superimpose modern versions of what I thought was going on in the arrangement, we tried to break down the arrangement of what the Optigan was doing. So...where there was clarinet, we used soprano sax, we used modern samples we used real ...you name it... lots of things in the woodwind area. And then we had a little bit of the original Optigan as well we superimposed that and then we reversed what we had done. But it was a tune that was originally written on the Optigan so that I could literally go at the push of a button, there's this and there's that and I think I can come up with a melody over the top and hold these very, very basic chords and then the one thing that was missing was I tried to give it the setting of a folk club or something being done in the open air in a tent...

AH: It just sounds to me like a fairground...

SH: Well, that's what it is, isn't it. Its that thing of a small crowd or a crowd at a distance a country fete type thing ...yeah ...fairs and fetes and the sort of things that crop with me all the time, there has always got to be an aspect of steam organ and calliopes and carousels...

AH: I suppose it is an echo of your childhood?

SH: Yeah, it is an echo of my childhood and once again it was something that The Beatles brought back with "For The Benefit Of Mr Kite" and it is a hard thing because that is such a supreme kind of piece of music for me, because the stuff that George Martin threw on at the end was the perfect rendition of what it was like to be at the fair...at least what it was like in those days.

AH: Once again, it is the contrast: the Far East meets Eastern Europe and we have "The Silk Road" followed by a Mazurka... It is going to stand people's perceptions on their heads, really. It doesn't seem logical, but it works. The one thing that seems to be the common thread throughout this album is that every track is... different.

SH: Yeah, that was the idea. I have never managed to put this into words but... I would love to be able to explain why I do things that do not run in parallel to each other.

AH: Some people might say that by doing things like this you are being perverse, but I don't see it like that...that is not the right word... It is not as if you are doing it for spite... at the end of the day you are doing it because it is what you want to do...

SH: No, I don't do it out of spite, to put people off, I just get very drawn by sound into different areas and I realise that my tastes are very broad. I hope it is possible to find people to listen to these things who are bored with the sameyness of things. I like to think that it is seriously alternative and I would like to work in the areas that most people don't touch... It is like being nearly normal, somehow.

AH: The sum of the parts is the difference. The great thing about this album is that you can take any track away and the whole edifice won't come tumbling down because it is not a house of cards, it is thirteen bungalows, basically... each one is different, one is a Bauhaus, another a Pergola...

SH: Wonderful... Oh I hope you are going to say that when you write this up... I think you should use this in the interview because that is a great way of putting it... thirteen bungalows... sounds like a great name for a band, I have to say [laughs]. That is the most wacky concept I have ever heard! It's great because in a way... bungalows... are what the hobbits are to Tolkien really, you start small with these people and in a way I prefer that to the great "deeds" and derring-do and I think that was the great difference between CS Lewis and Tolkien... Lewis kept it small in "The Lion, The Witch &, The Wardrobe" it was the sense of the "small" everywhere...all of the big Divinities were going to be cut down to size. That was the thing, everyone was going to be cut down to size whether he was parodying teachers, or ministers or gardeners or whatever...

I don't do fillers... I don't do that... If I don't love it, I don't do it. It's a good concept to question isn't it? And Gabriel Byrne on "Actors' Studio" said when asked what his favourite word was, said "Loser". The idea that someone was classed as a loser is a very final judgement really... and there is so much of that. Perhaps there should be no losers in life really and I like to think there is a form of redemption... and I don't subscribe to the Christian Orthodox view of it but I would subscribe to the idea that "Revelations" and all crooked paths will be made straight...

AH: People have got to realise that... OK... you can't be "original" in music anymore, but that doesn't mean that you can't make an original statement and that is what you have done with these tracks. We have gone through so many genres and now we come to one of my personal favourites, which is your ...dare I say it... one of those shocking "fillers" [said with suitably sarcastic tone of voice] that you used to put on your albums... the acoustic track, "The Moon Under Water". Not only is that a lovely phrase in is own right, it conjures up enough images on its own but the piece itself is...

SH: It is a generic pub name, actually and I thought it was wonderful and I had never heard of it and someone mentioned it on the train as I was going home from a Jazz gig and I thought it was a wonderful idea... and this bunch of drunken guys were talking about The Moon Under Water and I thought it was a wonderful title and it was as an acoustic piece, it was a fairly festive one ...rather than restive. My acoustic stuff in general tended to be slow, and quite peaceful and this one keeps motoring. It gives the idea of the rising of the moon and the water and bubbly things... It was the idea of... Oh someone gave me the original album "Segovia Plays Bach", the original album and there was a world of music in the guitar and the thing about those pieces was once they start motoring, they don't stop, just like Bach, it just keeps going. So, I thought I would try and write something that uses energy in the same sort of way but is not a slave to the pulse or to the rhythm because Baroque music tends to take a figure and describe it from as many angles as possible, it seems. This one I thought... why not have as many twists to it as possible so again it will keep on surprising you, but also keep up that dreaded word "Momentum" again. And so you will be literally able to dance to it. It is an old courtly dance but one which no one is going to dance to except in their mind. It wouldn't have been out of place on one of these albums I try and do with guitar or guitar and orchestra and I have got one planned, as you know, down the line... but I felt that it wouldn't be out of place and why not have something whereby you have had all this Rock stuff and let's just see if the guitar can come along and give you a sense... not of dropped energy but the energy keeps up and it doesn't matter if it is a band playing energetically or one bloke playing energetically, you know there is a thread of energy that runs from "Come Away" through that and again it is the bungalows because it is little noodly stuff going on... an album full of noodles without worrying about being too big and brash.
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Steve Hackett
Picture courtesy of R. Nagy/TWR

AH: We come eventually, to "Serpentine Song", the last track on the album, and once again it is a wonderful resolution or recapitulation of everything and I absolutely adore the last verse... and especially the last two lines: "On pencil grey days / To a door marked summer". I just think that is so wonderful.

SH: Well, Michael Bentine, the first part of his biography was called "A Door Marked Summer" and I took that from that. The fountains in Hyde Park are officially called "The Italian Fountains" and I thought "Italian" doesn't really say it, and what does that say to me? On a sunny day when those things are... and the light is refracting through them and everyone loves the fountains down there... it is just a beautiful spot. So... they became "crystal", and Peter Pan was part of it, and the last verse was quite twee in some respects... I am singing "Peter Pan" and there's my father in there as well, because his name is Peter and so there are two Peters in the Park.

AH: I was completely mesmerised... OK I had heard live versions of this track before I had actually heard the studio version but when you get to look properly at the lyrics... there's another one as well: "As worrying is interest paid on trouble / Long before it's due"

SH: Now, that one was ... it comes back to the family again. My father said that that was something his mother used to say to him when he was worried about something... So I have included my grandmother's words and I wanted people to be able to drift off with the chorus and be reassured that everything was going to be alright. You have got the child-like flutes and penny whistles and it was almost like the Pied Piper, follow the band or follow the piper. Or the magic of wind blown things. It is the wind in the park and I looked at the statue too which is playing... I suppose its closest relation in real life was the soprano sax which is why that s at the end and so we have two wind players on it, my brother who plays wonderfully on it and Rob Townsend who also plays wonderfully on it.

And with all this talk of quiet resolutions we bring this interview to a close. As usual, my thanks to Steve for giving up so much of his time on a Saturday to speak to me about the new album, and to Billy Budis for making it all possible and for his encouragement. See you both on tour later this year, guys!