Steve Hackett interviewed on German radio in 1978. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
INT: Steve, what kind of character are you? Are you the kind of person who says to most people, ‘please don’t touch’?
SH: I don’t think I am a particularly untouchable character. I think I am friendlier than some, less friendly than others, I am in between.
INT: Why did you leave Genesis? This is the unavoidable question.
SH: It was mainly the chance to make sure that my ideas were done in a fully completed manner and to work with other people. So it was the guarantees of both which led me to leave the band. I had no guarantee that my work was going to be performed by Genesis.
INT: Many people who feel similarly to you do solo albums besides why didn’t you do that?
SH: There was too much pressure from inside the band really to enable me to continue doing solo albums. I had done one solo album already but basically it was a very unpopular thing for me to keep on doing solo albums. So I had to make the choice and the choice was mine because Genesis was not the kind of free thinking and free running spirit that everyone might think.
INT: Referring to the people you wanted to work with, they seem so different Kansas on the one hand which is a very European band to my mind, not very typical for American music and on the other hand a basic sort of roots musician, Richie Havens and you get them all on one album.
SH: Yeah, I was interested bringing together some widely differing elements and seeing if I could work with very different musicians. I think someone like Richie Havens is vastly different to anything that Genesis has done but if you think in terms of Peter’s voice, one of his early influences was someone like Richie Havens you know. And Richie Havens shared the same vocal influence which is Nina Simone that peter also shared. So there IS a parallel between the soulful voice and to me Richie is the real thing, he is the genuine article. Normally you have white singers trying to sound like black singers and the well know accepted thing with European music doesn’t really matter and to me it has always sounded slightly uncomfortable the fact that you have a white man doing a black man’s song. So I thought maybe it would be nice if we had a black man doing a white man’s song for a change, a switch around. And someone like Richie has had that kind of reverence if you like for the English writer.
INT: My last question to you Steve is, will you be performing live or will you become another Alan Parsons or one of these soloists who never appear on stage?
SH: It is possible that I might abandon the stage for the recording studio. I mean I have done that for quite some time now. I left Genesis in June and one of the reasons, harping back to that original subject was that Genesis used to spend less time in the studio than they did on the stage. We used to spend about six weeks in the studio with Genesis so it was about a month and a half recording and the rest of the time would be spent touring. So for me the idea of spending four months in the studio which is what I did making this album was a complete joy because in the studio you are both the performer and the audience at the same time. And that is a very important thing for me and I feel that with records you can get through to far larger numbers of people than you can performing live so I think you should take a lot of care over that live show and with regard to me performing on stage I think it would be at least in one albums’ time I will be thinking of doing that.