Genesis Guitarist Steve Hackett Goes Into "Total Immersion" With New Music
Yes, Steve Hackett likes the Genesis of GTR.
Photo by Tina Korhonen
Steve Hackett is an overachiever. Forget the fact that he's dabbled in practically every musical form, be it prog, blues, folk, classical, world, jazz, or, yes, plain old rock 'n' roll. There's also that band Genesis, for which he made key contributions through much of the '70s.
Never mind that he's chatting on the phone from a hotel room in Seattle at 9 a.m. — by most accounts, unreasonably early for your average touring musician.
"Oh, we've been up since 5:30 this morning," the genial guitarist says. "I used to be up at the crack of midday, but now I get up early. There's a lot to do, and it usually starts at 6 a.m. That's just how it goes."
On Hackett's to-do list for today: rehearsals for the launch of his latest tour, dubbed "Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis Revisited." Simply translated, it spans the entirety of his musical backstory, beginning with a broad overview of his prolific solo career, from his first album, Voyage of the Acolyte, to his most recent opus, Wolflight, released last year. The second set retraces his work with Genesis, with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 and whose work he's kept alive for the better part of the past 20 years.
"It's an attempt to show the full breadth of the material, from the very early days to the very latest things," he says. "But I'm still developing and working with other people and trying different genres. I do that like some guys change stage outfits. I love working in unfamiliar areas and going into total immersion."
That's an understatement. Hackett's collaborations have been among the major hallmarks of those ongoing efforts. He once did an album with the late Chris Squire of Yes in a band they called Squackett and tapped another Yes member, fellow guitarist Steve Howe, for the equally short-lived GTR.
Then there was the would-be super group with the recently departed Keith Emerson, the late bassist Jack Bruce, and the all-star drummer Simon Phillips. Rehearsals only lasted three days before a “disagreement” between Emerson and Bruce brought that venture to a premature conclusion.
“You’re lucky to get an album out of these things, and if you get an album and a tour, you’re doing exceptionally well,” Hackett laments, though that hasn’t deterred his ambitions.
"I love that music can exist without rules and can go anywhere," he says. "There are so many schools of thought on that, and I've learned from all of them and contributed to many of them. As long as you feel it, that's the main thing for me. Something that holds me and just won't go away. Something that taps me on the shoulder, and says, 'What about me?'"
That intangible, inherent energy driving Hackett's music-making has remained consistent throughout his prolific career, despite wild shifts in trends and his eventual transition back to solo work. "In the '70s, it was the album's time, and in the '80s, you had people making a collection of singles," he says. "I was more interested in making albums."
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