From Classical to Rock, Guitarist/Songwriter Steve Hackett Explains
Former Genesis guitarist and Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer, Steve Hackett, takes a few moments to speak to us about life and his 2 new albums for 2021, "Under A Mediterranean Sky" and "Surrender of Silence."
By Kreig Marks, November 2021
KM: Hi Steve. Congratulations on the new album, “Surrender of Silence”. I must have listened to the teaser you have on YouTube for ‘Held in the Shadows’ a dozen times already. From what I’ve heard from that little bit, it’s pretty damn good. It seems like it’s going to be more hard-edged than some of your past recordings. You dedicated the song to your wife, Jo. What does she think of the song?
SH: I’m glad you’re into the new album and that you love that track! Jo is thrilled with it and she says she loves all the changes it goes through too. It reflects our journey together. Yes, the album is in several places more hard edged than previous albums. I see it as a big expression of pain, anger and joy as we head towards the end of Lockdown.
KM: Tomorrow (September 10th) is when you release the full album. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing all of it. Was this your big project throughout the pandemic?
SH: It was one of them! Initially, I put out sixty Lockdown videos to help everyone stuck at home. Then I recorded a Classical album with acoustic guitar, orchestra and ethnic instruments called Under A Mediterranean Sky, which came out earlier this year. So, I’ve now released two albums in one year!
KM: That's great! Let’s take a few steps back for a moment. In 1970/71 you joined Genesis. What is your fondest memory from your years with the band?
SH: Creating the album Selling England By The Pound. We were exploring exciting new musical ideas together, and Genesis was really taking off at that point.
KM: How about the most memorable show you did with Genesis?
SH: It felt wonderful to play at Madison Square Garden in 1977.
KM: In 1977, you left Genesis to pursue a solo career. How difficult was that decision for you?
SH: It wasn’t easy. I very much felt a part of Genesis, but I was told that I couldn’t do any more solo albums whilst remaining in the band. I was torn and the decision was hard, but had so many musical ideas I wanted to explore, and in the end I chose autonomy.
KM: After you left the band, they seemed to move in a more Pop Music direction, which was a pretty drastic change from when you were. What did you think when you first heard the new sound from the band after you left?
SH: I felt that they still had a good sound. Their production was always top notch, but a lot of the music they went on to do was different to the path I wanted to take. I have always wanted to explore music, and I prefer not to follow the more commercial route.
KM: In 1985, you, along with Steve Howe, formed GTR. I know you and Steve had some disagreements at that time about the direction the band should take as far as production. You preferred putting more money into the technological aspect of the recording overall. Do you still have that same philosophy?
SH: GTR’s running expenses were generally too high. I wanted to invest in equipment so we could have our own studio, which I felt would be more economical for the band. It’s best to be able to record in your own studio with fewer time pressures.
KM: Genesis was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. What was it like being there with the other guys again after so many years?
SH: It was good to see them all, and to share that special experience with them. It was a big honor for all of us to be inducted.
KM: Taking all of the knowledge you have about the music profession, what do you think is the biggest obstacle to bands becoming successful these days?
SH: It seems to be difficult for bands with talent to break through the wall of commercial music, which relies heavily on technology at the expense of musicianship.
KM: We hear that a lot. Imagine you’re suddenly transported back to 1977, when you moved on from Genesis to pursue your solo career. You arrive back in 1977 and suddenly, there’s the internet and all of the social media that wasn’t there before. But, only you have access to all of that, and 100% control over who else gets to utilize it. Do you think this would alter the way you would write music and promote it?
SH: Back then, it would have pointed the way towards greater autonomy with a wider range of ideas.
KM: Take me through the writing and recording process of the new album. Did you do all of the production?
SH: I shared the production with Roger King. Initially, Jo and I would have ideas, and then run with the ball, myself often alongside Jo, creating both lyrics and music together. Then I’d take everything to the next stage with Roger, who has many excellent musical ideas of his own.
KM: You now have 2 albums that you’ve released in less than a year. That’s one hell of an accomplishment. Was that the plan going into this?
SH: I developed the ideas for both albums throughout the time when the pandemic precluded touring. At first, the Classical album made sense to me, as it was a way to soothe and entice people around that beautiful sea. But then, I felt the need to see red, and ideas for a new Rock album that started to roll in thick and fast.
KM: How do you feel the most recent one, “Surrender,” is different than “Mediterranean?”
SH: With Under A Mediterranean Sky I aimed to take listeners on a virtual trip to all those exotic and varied countries around the Mediterranean. Surrender of Silence has the opposite vibe, a wake up call addressing everything from the world’s problems to personal journeys, and ranging from the wildest Metal macabre to exotic romance...
KM: Looking back at your solo career, how would you say you’ve “evolved” as a writer and musician over the years?
SH: I feel I’m technically a better player now, and I’ve also developed my vocals, as well as taking on an ever broadening approach to music with some instruments and sounds that are unfamiliar to many. I have a United Nations approach!
KM: Genesis is now back together and doing a tour. Did they contact you to see if you wanted to be part of this?
SH: No, they didn’t. I do my own version of Genesis live these days.
KM: If they did contact you and asked you to join, would you have done so?
SH: All things are possible, but I think it’s unlikely they would approach me.
KM: Away from music, what are your other interests?
SH: I love reading, walking, travelling, and connecting with other cultures (when possible)!
KM: If you had the opportunity to go back and make one change in your musical career, what would that be?
SH: Everything I’ve embraced is change and diversity over the years, and I don’t regret any of it.
KM: When can we expect to see you in South Florida?
SH: Hopefully early Spring next year!
KM: Is there a 3rd album planned for this year that we’re not aware of?
SH: No, I’m on tour for much of the rest of this year, at last! But I have made a start on new recordings of magical new stuff.
KM: Well, we look forward to hearing more, and congrats again on the new albums, they are just great.
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.