"Saga Radio interview with Steve Hackett 4th April 2005". Transcribed by Alan Hewitt.
SH: I had a repertoire of God Save The Queen; Scotland The Brave and Oh Suzannah…
INT: That's my daughter's name, she'll be thrilled!
SH: Oh Suzannah in her honour in 1953 yeah.
INT: How did you meet Peter Gabriel?
SH: Well, I had been placing ads in the back of Melody Maker for about five years and Peter Gabriel 'phoned me up and said "We've got this little band called Genesis, have you heard of us?" and I said " I don't know, I have heard of Quintessence and that sounds very similar". And he said "We are looking for a guitarist" and I met a couple of the guys in the band and they seemed to like what I was playing; there was quite a lot of gentle stuff in those days as well as the screaming atonal stuff and I guess they thought I was versatile enough to join them.
INT: Genesis is still one of my favourite bands of all time and I have to confess that I still prefer the earlier albums..
SH: You do? Ah well you have come to the right man then (laughs). I was involved with the "early" part of the band, yes. There was more… the influences were perhaps more widespread; folk music a little bit of classical music even some religious hymn-like stuff in the early days and you got comedy and what have you from Pete and Phil and the influence of folk music from Mike Rutherford at the time but not everyone was fully electric in those days.
INT: Did you ever want to dress up as a giant sunflower?
SH: That sounds like… no I used to just sit down and play with my head down. I was all hair and moustache in those days if not glasses and I just kept my head down with my job and hoped I wouldn't be sacked.
INT: What made you decide to leave when you left Genesis?
SH: Well, I had been with the band six or seven years and I had already done an album in 1975 when Peter Gabriel decided to leave the band and I was lucky that the album found favour and I got interviewed by Alan Freeman at the time and I thought I had made the big time! So, it probably went to my head but after I had done one album I wanted to make another and it was always inconvenient for me to do this with the band; the band was always touring and doing various things we were a busy band, you understand but even though I was writing more and more material I was not necessarily getting a larger share of the writing credits and the band was kind of becoming a bit of a crutch for me and I felt I could do it on my own and so I left in '77.
INT: Now, Steve when you went solo you did have a bit of help from your former band mates, didn't you?
SH: On the first album I had help from Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins and then when I left I had some help from some well known singers; Randy Crawford which was the first thing she had had released in this country; and Richie Havens and I had some spectacular singers before I went solo as a singer myself.
INT: I just think your guitar playing has a beautiful classical quality to it. Do you prefer the acoustic or the rock guitar?
SH: Well, I like them both because they can both be beautiful just because you have the electric guitar doesn't mean it has to be screaming all the time, there are some very beautiful tones that can be achieved with it but nylon guitar has taken more and more of my interest over the years.
INT: And to get approval from Yehudi Menuhin, that's something…
SH: Yeah, I was very lucky to get approval from Yehudi Menuhin he seemed to like my stuff which is very nice for a humble plank spanker (laughs).
INT: You seem to be able to move between all musical genres, you were mentioning in the early days of Genesis there was a religious quality to some of the stuff. Is that because you really don’t want to be boxed into one particular place?
SH: I'd prefer not to be boxed but it is inevitable when you are involved with things it is bound to happen isn't it .
INT: A Box Of Frogs now that was quite an album and you had quite a few famous people with you on that one, didn't you?
SH: yeah, well that was really the reformed Yardbirds except they didn't have rights to the name at the time and I was one of the many guitarists that was called on to do that; Jimmy Page; Ian Dury; Rory Gallagher both of whom are sadly no longer with us. I had great fun doing that; it was a famous band and many of them had been in the guitar chair and so I figured I was in good company.
INT: Who as a guitarist inspires you?
SH: Well, I think really Andres Segovia we figure he was the guy most responsible for giving the guitar a stage up until then you could hear the odd guitar tinkling away in the odd café but he was the one who put it on the map in terms of; he was the man who sat down and played you Bach on the guitar and he had to know his stuff.
INT: I had a big argument with someone who didn't rate Jimi Hendrix, and I do and so as a professional I am going to ask you which side of the fence do you come down on in the Hendrix debate?
SH: Hendrix was fab, all the guitarists that I speak to have a fondness for Hendrix and I guess that we all feel that there was nobody more at home with an electric guitar around his neck that him he looked absolutely right; it looked like it was part of him grafted on to him and he was very rarely without it.
INT: What about the new album, what direction is that taking?
SH: There is a lot of classical influence on it then I suppose there is a certain amount of Spanish guitar but as it is all nylon guitar and orchestra there is also the influence of the Eastern European Romantic composers; the Tchaikovskys; the Rachmaninovs; the Borodins so it is not all inspired by Spanish stuff.
INT: I really like it. What are you going to be doing next?
SH: Well, I am on tour; I am up and down the country and I have a British
tour and then I am off to Spain, Italy and Germany so it keeps me busy through
and up to June really.