Interview With Steve Hackett - A Genesis In My Bed
Steve Hackett will be remembered by the majority of music fans for being a member of Genesis but since he left the band he has carved out a successful solo career.
July sees the publication of his autobiography A Genesis In My Bed.
It is a riveting read and although there is a lot in the book about his time in Genesis there is also an insight into his solo work.
I asked Steve about the autobiography and amongst other things how the bass player in his band went dancing naked over the Yorkshire moors!
Did you think it was time to write your autobiography now?
Originally it was my wife who encouraged me to do it, though I've been meaning to write it for the last 15 years! There was always somewhere to go or a recording to do so I did not have the luxury of time to write it, plus I am a slow writer so I would write a paragraph at a time, I'm a furious self critic too. Just before an American tour I had read autobiographies from other artists and it got me thinking- have I got enough antidotes, enough experiences to tell, it's not like writing a song which you could finish in a day, a book takes a bit longer.
In the book you talk about the Beatles Sgt Pepper album was that a big influence on you?
It was but not just for me but for other musicians too. It was a challenging album but one that even an orchestra could play, it was an album that held all of us. The album previous to that was Revolver which again had us all and I always thought how could they follow that? Sgt Pepper was so lavish and experimental and I think it is a time when rock became its most creative. I remember when John Lennon said that Genesis was one of the bands that he liked to listen too which at the time was a really big boost for us.
Was it easy fitting into Genesis when you joined the band?
Unlike Tony, (Banks) Mike (Rutherford) and Peter ( Gabriel) I had not been to public school and came from a middle class family. Phil (Collins) had been a child actor and had appeared in the West End in musicals. At public school Mike was even forbidden going to record shops and wasn't allowed to play guitar either. When I joined the band I found it a very competitive atmosphere which I thrived on but yes it was very different from what I had experienced before.
The Mellotron has been a big influence on you too
I grew up not just listening to those old R&B tracks but classical music, the mellotron was for me the nearest thing to an orchestra, at the time it was very hard to require one but the sound gave way to the real thing. The sound has a very British seaside, end of the pier sound, vaudeville even. In a way it is like George Formby meets Fats Waller. Many rock fans might not like me saying this but I used to listen more to Tchaikovsky than the Beatles as harmonically I looked more to the Russians.
What is your greatest memory from your time in Genesis?
All of it was a great time. At the time I had been through one failed marriage and was heading towards another one but I grew up during my time in Genesis, when I joined I was very shy. I like to think it was a time when prejudices broke down, life is about broadening yourself, allowing yourself to change, not to be so rigid and not be so inflexible.
It was a big risk and leap into the unknown leaving Genesis, did you think it was time to leave?
You are right in how you describe it, I knew it was time to go but it was into a world of the unknown not without risk, it felt like stepping through a side door but without pushing yourself you never find out what you can do. I tried for a while with the blues but I thought that I didn't really have enough control, as I said earlier classical music for me has always been a guilty pleasure. If you listen to Genesis in the 70's you can hear a lot of classical influences.
In the book you write about the power of spiritual healing, do you believe in it?
I do especially the more I talk to other people about it. I met Michael Bentine as I liked his book The Door Marked Summer in which he talks about certain experiences which we cannot explain, I was fascinated with what he wrote and that whole area of prediction. I also read Awakenings by Oliver Sacks which is about a group of patients who contracted sleeping sickness during the first World War and I do think there is a link between music and healing.
With spiritual healing I used to be sceptical about it, I thought it was all mambo jumbo but when I went to this spiritual healer the pain I had was instantly cured. I was actually told that I had the healing, it's a second strong link to music I suppose.
Italy seems to hold a special place in your heart why is that?
I find the country fascinating - the climate, the food and the openness of the people. The audiences in Italy were always very kind to Genesis. In the beginning we were lucky to be playing clubs in America but at that time we were big enough to play in arenas in Italy. I like Italian classical music too, if you think of all the great Italian classical artists such as Vivaldi, Puccini and Scarlatti.
What is this in the book where Nick Beggs from your band running naked over the moors in Yorkshire?
We were travelling inbetween shows and we were up on the Yorkshire moors and Nick said it's a lovely day so he stripped off and was naked apart from his boots and off he went running around naked! He was lucky he did not get a custodial order, but really Nick is so disciplined in everything else he does. He started out in Kajagoogoo but went on to work with Led Zeppelin's former bass player John Paul Jones and also Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree.
You finish the book by saying that you have finally found home, why is that?
Yes it's true I have finally found home. Home is with Jo, my wife. We are a happy couple, wherever we are together that is home.
A Genesis In My Bed - order from:
Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited 2021 Tour:
September 11th - Liverpool Philharmonic (sold out)
September 24th - Manchester Apollo
October 1st - Bradford St George's Hall
October 22nd - Harrogate Royal Hall