With more than 30 solo and collaborative albums to his name, as well as being a co-founder of Genesis – he played on their first six studio albums – Steve Hackett is showing no signs of slowing down soon.
Returning with a blistering new album, The Night Siren, that sees him reflecting on the current political climate, he is also marking 40 years since the last Genesis album he played on, Wind and Wuthering, on his latest tour.
What was the thinking behind the new album?
‘Flying in the face of nationalist politics, we’ve got an album chock full of multicultural diversity – there are no borders for musicians wanting to take a pan-genre approach. Having just been a tourist, then getting to work with various people around the world, it’s been an absolute joy finding about so many things that are on offer around the world.
‘I’m horrified that we’re pulling away from Europe. World peace seems to be low on the agenda of all the world leaders out there, so I think it’s left to artists who are horrified and media who are horrified by the situation to say something.’
Musicians he worked with on the album were from places as far flung as Azerbaijan and Iceland.
‘Most people I worked with, it was face-to-face, but in the case of the Israeli singer Kobi and Palestinian singer Mira I hadn’t met them. I’ve since met Mira in London, and they were hugely supportive. They’ve got the most difficult job in the world trying to to reconcile their two nations.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, and we hope they’re not cursed in the long-term.’
Steve is also a firm believer of music’s power to heal.
‘I think that in muticultural diversity as championed by the late, great George Harrison, music has the power to heal, and to quote from Plato, I think it was, when the music changes the walls of the city shake. With The Beatles it certainly did, didn’t it? Or Jimi Hendrix – an American who the Americans would never have heard but for us!
‘It’s really good that London’s ended up being a catalyst and the world brain for music.
‘We British are sometimes surprisingly intelligent and really stupid in equal measures. Just look at the situation now – we need a style of world-class leadership that is sadly lacking at the moment.’
In recent years, Steve has undertaken tours that have focused on Genesis’ early days, so with Wind and Wuthering turning 40 this year, it seemed natural to Steve to celebrate that.
‘It’s the last Genesis album that really had any social comment.
‘I was emerging at the time as a solo artist, so it was difficult, but there’s so much that’s good and worth preserving on there all these years on.
‘Of all the Genesis albums, it’s probably the one I had the most influence on. People in bands evolve at different rates, and I think I was fully-fledged at that point to go off and do something as crazy as the Please Don’t Touch album. In a sense its diversity was its strength and its weakness because we couldn’t really play it live. But with this album, I’m in a different position all these years on, and I’ve got Santa’s little helpers everywhere to help me recreate it.’
Of all the former Genesis members, Hackett has been the most prolific.
‘People know that I’m up for collaborations,’ he explains. ‘It’s embarrassing sometimes – I can’t remember doing a session when someone says they liked my work on such and such album. I’ve worked on 50 different albums over the past year and I do it all as favours – if I can do it I will. I’m a bit scatty, but I think my heart’s probably in the right place when it comes to music.’
The live show will feature two sets, one focusing on Wind and Wuthering and Genesis, the other on his solo material.
Monday, May 8