Despite its challenges
personally and professionally, 2009 has proven to be a banner year for Steve
Hackett. In addition to the release of Steve's official biography,
Sketches of Steve Hackett,
the year also expects to see the release of a new studio album,
Out of The Tunnel's Mouth;
a new European tour; the establishment of a new record label, Wolfworks; and
a newly launched official website:
They say that when faced with adversity, the human spirit rises to any
challenge. If that is true, perhaps its not surprising that Hackett's latest
album is among the best he's ever recorded as a solo artist and his
authorized biography, written by acclaimed Genesis biographer Alan Hewitt, is earning
rave reviews among fans.
As a sort of companion to the World of Genesis.com interview Steve granted
us back in February, on September 1, 2009, the legendary guitarist and songwriter updated us on his
current projects, tour plans, his forthcoming solo album, and the highly anticipated duo
project he is completing with Yes bassist Chris Squire. Not surprisingly,
despite the short gap of time since we last spoke, with all of these new
projects and commitments, there was much to discuss! (Webmaster's Note:
Since this interview was completed, a legal dispute has temporarily
delayed the release date of Steve's new album, Out of The Tunnel's Mouth.
It will not be available on October 5th as initially planned. A rescheduled
date has been announced for Friday, October 30, 2009.)
For the Sketches of Steve Hackett biography, were there any
topics that you intentionally wanted to keep Ďoff limitsí in the book?
Looking back on it now, are there any portions of the book that you regret
sharing - or regret not sharing?
I gather the publishers and Alan Hewitt decided to leave some things out of
the biography, because they had to deal with some issues they were confronted
with. I think that Alan has done a great job of making sense of a tremendous
amount of spoken interviews, woven into an interesting read.
When were you first approached by Alan Hewitt with the idea of doing
the official biography? How much creative control did Alan have with
inclusion of material culled from the interview process? Are you pleased
with the Alanís completed work?
Alan first approached me a few years ago now with the idea of a
biography. I let him know my thoughts, but the creative control lay with
him. Yes, I am pleased with the overall result, which I know Alan worked very
hard on. I think his comments are insightful. He obviously loves the music
from early Genesis days onwards...
World of Genesis:
What is the significance or meaning of the new album
title, Out of the Tunnelís Mouth?
Out of the Tunnelís Mouth refers to emotions and creativity
emerging from a dark period in my life into the light, finding voice and
expression. It also alludes to a post divorce feeling of euphoria at being
able to drive my own career forward into a period of activity that rivals
the busiest days of recording and touring Iíve had for more than twenty
You worked with both Nick Beggs and Chris Squire on bass for the new
album. Why did you choose to work with two different bass players for this
release? What does each playerís personal style bring to the record?
Both bass players are equally brilliant, but in totally different ways. To
work with one powerhouse is strong but to work with two on the same project
is mighty! Theyíre both kings of the bass and killer players who others
model themselves on.
Steve (left) Live at the Ino-Rock Festival in
Inowroclaw, Poland 2009
Steve Hackett on His Forthcoming
Project With Chris Squire:
I like to think it will
go down well with fans of
all the bands weíve been associated with, in my
case Genesis and GTR, and in Chrisí case Yes and SYN.
I was really pleased with the fact that the quotes and the way itís
edited together really do a nice job of giving the reader a little of the
personality of the speaker and not just providing the story generically.
Perhaps that is an advantage that Alan had from doing The Waiting Room
fanzine for so many years. The text is very smooth and almost conversational
in its presentation.
Richard Nagy, who designed the cover art for Sketches of Steve
Hackett, did a beautiful job with the artwork for the book. Do you see
yourself working with Richard or perhaps another computer graphic artist on
future album art?
Can you give any update
on the duo project with Chris (Squire) or when you expect to complete it? Will the
ďSquackettĒ nickname become the final name of this project?
Chris and I are indeed working this very day on a long term project that
has been a labour of love for both of us. Who knows how it will be presented
finally? Itíll just have to take its course, but I can say this Ė I think
itíll sound very good, and Iím pleasantly surprised that we gel so naturally.
We both love detail and appreciate each otherís styles. I like to think it
will go down well with fans of all the bands weíve been associated with, in
my case Genesis and GTR, and in Chrisí case Yes and SYN.
Its been rumored that Taylor
Hawkins of the Foo Fighters was to be part of the Chris Squire/Steve
Hackett project. Is there any truth to that? What other musicians are part
of the project? Is it a "band" or a host of different players supporting you
SH: There are various possible surprises. All well known musicians have
commitments that have to be honoured. I don't have a crystal ball - we'll
see. We could all consult our oracles, goat entrails and tea leaves, but not
even Chris and I know yet who the team will finally be! Meanwhile we
continue to write and record together and the demos are already sounding
Richard did a beautiful job on Sketches, and we could well work on
something together down the line. I also think that Harry Pearce has done
fabulously with the new album cover design from Jo Lehmannís great photos.
This new album is the first on your new label, Wolfworks. At some point in
the future when matters are resolved in court, do you anticipate
re-issuing your Camino catalog on the new label?
Que sera sera. Weíll just have to wait and see because dreaming and acting
are not always in perfect sync.
Aside from being a former song title, why did you choose Wolfworks for your
new labelís name?
Wolfwork is the title of one of my
favourite tracks, and I feel the name holds a certain resonance.
Now that the Genesis box sets featuring your Ďeraí with the band have
been released, finishing with
Genesis Live 1973-2007 this September,
are you satisfied with the
material, sonically speaking?
understand from Roger King that the
drums were programmed on Out of The Tunnel's Mouth, mainly with the
Toontrack Superior. Why did you opt for programming as opposed to a ďliveĒ
drummer on the album? What were the advantages of using drumming programming
on these sessions?
Roger is a genius at playing and programming Ė an extraordinary Ďall
rounderí whose arrangement skills rival Bach to whom he bears an uncanny
resemblance - if the portraits are to be believed. We went for the Ďdrum
cabinetí to make it kinder to neighbours as I am not currently using my own
studio. The advantage is that we monitor at home stereo levels rather than
have to shout over drum and guitar levels to get a point or two across...
On your Blog, it says that the album was recorded in your living room
in Twickenham. What, if any, acoustic issues did recording the album that
way cause you to have (or to troubleshoot to get the sound you wanted)?
Weíve used Apple Mac Logic with small Australian Event Speakers which make
you work a tad harder for mixes than usual but do give realistic bass
levels. These mixes do sound great on other systems Iíve heard them back on.
Again no-one is fooling him/herself with client listening level volume.
Almost a trademark of a Steve Hackett rock project is a hybrid mix of
musical styles. When you are writing new material, is that blending of
styles something that comes out on the pages as its written or do you go
back and try to incorporate those other influences (like classical guitar,
etc.) later on in the recording process?
I try everything. Nothing is sacred when teaming an album. You have to
kick it around like a football from brain to brain. Eventually, it starts to
sound interesting by exhausting all the 1,001 other things that sound
slightly wrong or are just not exciting enough. Classical music is less ad
hoc and for me decided in the hands or rather finger stage. The computer is
the updatable score sheet of course. I love all styles. Itís all in the
details. Having a great team helps... even if itís just two of you!
To my novice ears, the production quality of the new album is among the
best youíve ever offered (perhaps only comparable to Wild Orchids or
To Watch the Storms). The rhythm section on Out of the Tunnelís Mouth
sounds great! The drums are nice and loud and the bass has this thick,
chunky sound that balances out perfectly with your guitar. When recording
the last few rock projects, did you and Roger approach the production of the
newer material differently?
I think the longer weíve worked together on projects that vary wildly from
each other weíve achieved a kind of telepathy that makes it a great
production partnership. Obviously, recently weíve worked in Ďminiatureí with
tiny amps but the proof of ultimate power is how the new album sounds, which
takes some beating Iíd say...
I guess like every perennial act, Iíd love all my past efforts to be in
perfect time and tune but archive work is a reflection of its time with some
sublime moments and others that I occasionally wince at, but the fact is
that those live albums have a rough smooth honesty about them.
Everythingís different now... the trousers... the boots... the fuzz boxes...
but we love the past mainly because it was a gentler time. Iím eternally
grateful for the love I received from audienceís way back then.
To your knowledge, are there any confirmed plans to release additional
Genesis board tapes on CD? If so, is that something you support having
Iím sure one day itíll all be out there - warts Ďn all, but Iím very busy
looking forward with several great new teams.
How did you get Anthony Phillips involved with the new album? While you
both seem to have some similar interests and influences as musicians, your
approaches to guitar playing are a little different. Seeing as this was the
first time you two have worked together in the studio environment, how was
that initial collaborative process?
Also, did you have any hesitations about
reaching out to him for the sessions? Do you see Ant as someone you would
look to work with again in the future?
great to work with. I love the way he played 12 string on the new album plus
he is an extremely modest, self effacing man who spearheaded the Genesis
approach. He was regarded with great affection by the band. His shoes were
difficult to fill. Heís much more than just a guitarist, and yes Iíd love to
do more stuff together... I just left him to it. When I came back heíd done
all in seconds and cast a magic spell over it on two tracks, "Emerald and
Ash" plus "Sleepers".
Have you ever considered reaching out to someone like Tony Banks who
seems to have great respect for your music? At least in recent years,
when promoting the Chapter and Verse book and remixed box sets has
really praised what you brought to Genesis in days past as a guitarist and
songwriter. Or, do you think some of your other former bandmates would be
receptive to a collaborative studio session? Is something like that far more
likely than a full blown Genesis reunion?
Itís a very good idea. Letís see if they like what Iíve done with Ant.
Itís really full circle for all of us exís, but a great pleasure to work
together without the pressure of carrying the flagship Genesis into the
currently unanswerable area of a possible reunion.
Do you plan to release a Live Archive CD release or DVD from
your current 2009 tour?
All the emphasis is on future stuff as thereís so much band stuff being
assessed right now.
Do you ever think the 1978 live DVD released in Europe a few years ago
will ever get an NTSC DVD release for North America and Asia?
Rights are currently hanging in the balance, but Iím sure itíll happen at
Your new biography is called Sketches of Steve Hackett. If many
years from now, a new biography of your history was released, say, thirty or
so years from now that spanned your entire career, what would you want to
Iíd be happy to hear your suggestions and those from fans generally,
because great titles donít grow on trees. They need constant nurturing and
watering with a dash of fertiliser for your exquisitely refined tastes of
In your opinion, what are your favorite tracks on Out of the
Tunnelís Mouth? Can you share any insight into the making of those
songs, their meaning, and why they are among your favorites on the album?
I love all my brainchildren equally. I particularly enjoy the flamenco
style we paid homage to on the second track "Nomads", not just for the
instrumental authenticity but also the lyrical allusions and vocal Ďcryí.
would be hard to do justice live because it has a very in the moment magic
with all the dancers, castanets and handclapping... the whole nod to
strictly flamenco that brings out the arrogance of a certain Andalusian
guitar style. "Fire on the Moon" is a very personal expression of pain
and release, which I feel is delivered in a powerful way. "Emerald and Ash"
is another song of contrasts, reflecting the difference between romantic
illusion and the dawning of harsh reality. I feel proud of "All the
Sleepers send you their Dreams", which runs the gauntlet of the dream
experience... To tell the truth, Iím proud of every piece!
WOG: I must
say, "Nomads" is probably one of my absolute favorites - not just of this
album, but if your solo catalog. It's a fantastic track, but I see what you
mean about it being hard to reproduce in a live setting.
Have you secured a distribution deal for the new album or will it be
available exclusively through
Hackettsongs.com? I understand from Alan
Hewittís official biography that there will be a special edition version of
the new album with bonus live tracks. Can you tell us anything about this
release? Will it offer 5.1 audio?
Iíll be able to explain more about how the album is being released
within the month, but itís certainly on track for 5 October (Webmaster's
Update: For now at least, the album will be available exclusively through
Do you plan to tour places you havenít played live in a while, such as
North America, South America, or Asia in support of the new album? If so,
when can we look forward to that?
Touring is a symbiotic relationship between promoters, agents and tons of
other invisible participants, which means that itís not just down to me
because Iíd love to be playing your home town next Saturday night ideally,
but I am now starting to live out of a combination of a suitcase and a
guitar case just like the new front cover depicts for much of the time...
Iím certainly hoping to play in the States and Canada in 2010, and thereís
the possibility of other places too!
When I read your book, I was concerned that the project you cannot release
for legal reasons was the Chris Squire duo project. I'm glad that isn't
affected. What was the project you cannot release until the Camino issues
are resolved in court that you discuss in the Sketches book?
The project I was referring to was a solo electric album that was
unfinished. Due to the circumstances, I put that project to one side and
then began recording a new album, which is Out of the Tunnel's Mouth.
WOG: Several years ago when I spoke to you, you mentioned an acoustic cover
album you were working on with Jim Diamond including music by Edith Piaf
among others. What ever happened to that album?
The Steve Hackett/Jim Diamond project showed promise but has not yet been
finished. Jim's got a great voice, and I hope we'll be able to complete
something together in the future.
Whatís next for Steve Hackett?
Well, as mentioned,
I'm touring in the autumn in Europe and the UK. I'm hoping to do U.S. shows
next year... I'm excited about working with my electric band! My new album
Out of the Tunnel's Mouth will be released in October, and I'm currently
working on a project with Chris Squire, which shows great promise.... Stay
Featuring Steve Hackett
Sketches of Steve Hackett biography
Live 1973-2007 Box Set
Steve Hackett - Out of The Tunnel's Mouth
1970-1975 Box Set
Special thanks to Steve Hackett for
this interview. For more on Steve Hackett, check out
website. This interview
© 2009 Dave Negrin and may not be reprinted in whole
or in part without permission.
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