Steve Hackett (Photo by Howard Rankin)
Progressive rock and guitar legend Steve Hackett revisits his stellar work with Genesis as he launches the North American leg of his Genesis Revisited: Seconds Out + More Tour. He’s in Canada this week, and he soon arrives in the USA!
As advertised, the show will feature the 1977 Genesis live album Seconds Out performed in full, plus additional Genesis classics and standouts from Steve’s latest album, Surrender of Silence. Steve arrives in DC to perform at the Warner Theatre on Wednesday, April 13.
Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter had the honor to speak with Steve Hackett briefly about the tour, his amazingly productive time in pandemic lockdown, and the show at the Warner Theatre.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Mickey McCarter: We’re excited to have you coming back to DC next month to play at the Warner Theater.
Steve Hackett: I’m really looking forward to it, and particularly looking forward to being back in the States, because I’ve been doing quite a lot of European dates, and UK, and Scandinavian, but really looking forward to going back to the States. It had to be done.
MM: Can you tell me how you’ve spent your pandemic lockdown days? How have you spent the last two years?
SH: We were halfway through an American tour a couple of years ago and suddenly everywhere closed down. Every state closed down, every theater. And my wife and I got the last flight, literally, back from Philadelphia. So soon as we got back, we decided to get very, very busy. If we couldn’t appear in front of people with the band, then what we decided was we would do a number of lockdown videos. Play for the people with an acoustic guitar, do track chat videos, take people through some of their favorite tracks that I’d done in the past, and preview some forthcoming material.
There were three albums that got done during that time. We recorded a live album, Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live At Hammersmith, to show what we were doing live at the time. I did an acoustic album called Under a Mediterranean Sky, and I did a rock album called Surrender of Silence.
Plus, I managed to finish off an autobiography! Plus 60 lockdown videos, to respond and communicate with an audience that we knew was out there, that wanted to see the live shows. We were just forbidden from being able to play in front of people. So, lockdown was a very creative, very productive time for us. We celebrated it in another way with the music itself.
MM: That’s terrific. I think more people wish they had been so productive during lockdown days.
SH: Well, I know a lot of people were very depressed and decided that was a very demotivating thing, but I found it had the opposite effect on me. I thought, “I’ll do some stuff and some of it can be pretty esoteric.” You might as well wear your heart on your sleeves, and the acoustic stuff was certainly that. There was a lot of acoustic, vocal stuff, with a nod to world music on it, because Under a Mediterranean Sky meant the tracks that we did, each country around the Mediterranean was being celebrated in its own way. So I did a French-style tracker, Spanish-style one, a Turkish one et cetera. And that idea was my wife Jo’s idea. So in other words, not to just do another acoustic album with romantic, dreamy music on it, but to do something that was, perhaps, more vital, and take people on a virtual journey, if not around the world, then around the Mediterranean.
Watch the official music video for “Sirocco” by Steve Hackett on YouTube:
SH: You might like it, if you like nylon guitar and a mixture of nylon guitar and orchestral stuff. I think the orchestral arrangements on it, largely due to Roger King, are absolutely perfect. So we put it together as a team, as we do most things. And I’m particularly proud of that album, as I am Surrender of Silence, which is the rock album.
We took two weeks off and then we did a rock album straight away. That was because we didn’t have the complication of any live shows. So I was able to give these two albums a lot of intensity. I wasn’t having to live out of a suitcase. We recorded here at home.
MM: When you come to Washington, DC, what can we expect on this American tour? What will you play on this show?
SH: I’m doing the whole of Seconds Out, which is a Genesis album from 1977, and that really covers the whole of our Genesis history until that point. I would say I’ll do a set of solo stuff to kick off with, which is about half-an-hour long. But then I maybe take a 20-minute break, and then do 90 minutes, basically, is the double album Seconds Out. So that’s the main focus for the early part of this year.
It’s a show I’m taking around the world. We have London UK, Europe, Scandinavia. We’ll do Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and then we come back and do the UK, and we will set in some Italian dates as well. There’re some extras and a couple of shows with an orchestra in Germany. So we’re planning a very busy time. The suitcase is ever ready. Home will be shuttered up while we’re away.
Watch Steve Hackett and his band play “Afterglow,” a song that appears on Seconds Out, in London a few years ago via YouTube:
MM: I’m fascinated by the fact that you’re touring, inspired by a live album, and that makes me think of you as a younger man, and now you as an older man, and your relationship to that material. I’m wondering if you can give me some perspective on how it feels to play now, versus how you might have recorded Seconds Out in France in 1977, and whether or not that music has sort of grown with you, in a certain way.
SH: Well, back in the day from 1976 to 77, we were routinely recording shows. And it wasn’t really until we had Chester Thompson in the band and we were playing at the Palace of Sports in Paris, we really felt we got a show where it really took off. So at that time, of course, I was very happy with the band’s music, but I wanted to also do a solo album. So basically I left during the process of that.
My argument wasn’t with the music, the band’s music. I loved the band’s music. I loved the stuff that we wrote together. I just loved to write this stuff together with the guys, but I was being told that I was forbidden to do any solo stuff, and I didn’t want have any stillborn brainchildren. Plus I had plans to work with various people, like discovering Randy Crawford, and working with Richie Havens and the guy from Kansas. There were musical adventures to be had out there!
Once Peter Gabriel left the band and I left the band, Genesis was in danger of hemorrhaging band members. From then on, they all started to do solo stuff. The very thing that I was condemned for is the very thing that was the making of Phil Collins’s career. It’s extraordinary to think that Phil Collins actually outsells Genesis. He’s more famous than the band.
Of course, Genesis reconvened. They say that this is the Last Domino Tour for them, and there won’t be any more Genesis shows after that, whereas I’m renewing my commitment to the Genesis material and doing it live with what I consider to be a correct regimen, to do the band material better than ever. I love doing it. It’s a fantastic band, and audiences have been going nuts for it. We’ve been having a ton of sellouts doing this stuff, which is wonderful because it reminds people about where I came from and where I am now with solo stuff. I have a ton of albums that are all different kinds of music because I love doing so many different types of things. I’m still nuts about music, as you can probably tell.
Watch the official music video for “Scorched Earth” by Steve Hackett on YouTube:
MM: Clearly performing is still so much of your raison d’être. It’s in your lifeblood, right?
SH: I’m afraid music is the drug of choice and there’s nothing quite like it.
MM: Can you tell us a little bit about the band you’re touring with this time?
SH: The rhythm section are very interesting! Craig Blundell on drums, who’s worked with Steven Wilson, amongst several zillion others. He’s one of the busiest guys. I said to him, “Well, I did three or four albums in lockdown.” And he said, “Yeah, I’ve just done 14.”
There’s also Ryan Gold on the bass, and Roger King on keyboards. And we have Rob Townsend on woodwind and brass, and Matt Selvin, who sings most of the Genesis stuff.
MM: We look forward to seeing you here in DC again in just a few weeks!
SH: We are excited to be there!
Steve Hackett performs at the Warner Theatre on Wednesday, April 13.
Wednesday, April 13
Show @ 8pm