“I’ve been very good; I’m incredibly busy and it doesn’t get any less busy. I’m just putting the finishing touches to my autobiography which is already officially on sale before I’ve even finished it but it’s really in the finishing touches so I’m trying to get this all sorted before I head into rehearsals for the forthcoming tour.”
Regarded by many as one of the most influential guitarists of his time and beyond, Steve Hackett has never been one to rest on his laurels or anything else for that matter. This former member of Genesis is a tireless worker and this is once again evident as he gears up for what looks to be a jam-packed 2020.
The Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited 2020 Tour kicked off in February and March 7 finds it making the first of three stops here in the Garden State at The Bergen PAC followed by a pair of shows at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood on March 13 and 14.
Hackett has done these Genesis Revisited tour in the past but this time he’s doing so with an emphasis on being a bit different and also by performing his personal favorite album from the Genesis catalog, “Selling England By The Pound.”
When asked why this particular album stands out and does so enough to want to build an entire tour around it, he wasted no time in responding.
“It’s from a time when we were struggling to get shows in The States,” he said with reflection inhis voice. “We’d just played New York and we were leaving to go straight to Los Angeles because that was the only place that would give us a date and that was in two weeks’ time. So as we were leaving Peter Gabriel said to me, “I just heard John Lennon giving an interview to WNEW and he said that Genesis was one of the bands that he was listening to;” so in my book, for me, the whole albums based 70’s Genesis is somehow John Lennon approved. I realize the band became something else later on, we had a hit single off “Selling England” and then it was years before the band had another hit so that was a bit of a one off. What I love is the breadth of the album and the stories, obviously its Englishness but the opening track “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight” if there ever was a favorite Genesis track of mine that would have to be it because it goes through so many changes. It really lives up to the term progressive music because it doesn’t sit still from the word go, it’s like a time lapse film going from the past right through to the present day and it’s ever more relevant with all of the issues that are raised in it; the word play, the musical references are so wide. It’s a great tune, it shouldn’t really work because its got so many influences but for me it does.”
“Well, I also wanted to do a grand slam show and I thought that if I did two favorite albums and did them in their entirety; I chose “Selling England By The Pound” because it was my favorite Genesis album, “Spectral Mornings” because it was its fortieth anniversary last year and we ended up doing most of that but of course, “At The Edge of Light” my most recent studio album took off in the charts in 12 different countries so it was an embarrassment of riches in a way and I felt that I had to honor that and address that. So this year it’s the fortieth anniversary of “Defector” so I’m doing a few things from that as well; last year we were doing “Dance on a Volcano” and “Los Endos” so we thought this year that we’d change it because we’re going back to some of the same places. So we switched it to doing “Musical Box” and “Watcher of the Skies” from the Genesis era but there’s plenty of time for my solo stuff as well believe me. We do a long comprehensive three hour show; you can’t do everything because there isn’t enough time to do everything all at once. There has been a lot of albums from Genesis, a lot of albums on my own, lots of different styles but this is a cross section of stuff.”
Upon looking back, Hackett couldn’t help but chuckle a bit about Genesis’s early struggles for commercial acceptance but as always, hard work and perseverance helped win over what would become a loyal fan base; oh yeah and they received a little help from a popular television show along the way.
“That’s funny how that works isn’t it? I think a lot of that Genesis stuff wasn’t always a case of instant conversion for people; it took a long time before we were really taken into America’s Heartland. We were able to tour in certain areas, we weren’t able to tour the south for a very long time until we did The Mike Douglas Show and the effect of that nationwide family show suddenly brought changes. We were suddenly able to play Showco’s home town; they were the outfit that provided our lights and our sound and they were based in Dallas, we just weren’t able to do it prior. It was a very different kind of homegrown music that was coming out of that area and here we were this typically British band that had unfathomable lyrics and a far cry from down home rock ‘n’ roll. Thankfully the walls came down but it was a result of a lot of touring. I’m always grateful for those breaks and without that; would it have taken off for us? I think no, we might have stayed at college radio level or clubs perhaps.”
So does life on the road ever get old or tedious for him and the band? Does he ever find it a challenge to breathe fresh life into old material? How does this quintessential prog-rock deal with the daily grind of being a touring musician? Hackett replied with conviction and also with some advice for aspiring artists.
“Well, we are taking back the “Selling England” show, it’s our second crack at it in some of the same territories but on this tour we are covering some places that we haven’t done before; parts of Canada that are, let’s just say, less well known. I’m looking forward to doing those, everywhere is interesting to me, everywhere we tour. I like being on the road, I like the challenge of it; it’s not relaxing getting on stage but it’s enlivening. You know that you’ve got to be on your mental game, you know that you’re gonna wrestle with the same things every night but it’s worth it when it comes off. It’s its own currency whether you make money at it or not; it might feed you and put food on the table but if it doesn’t do that it is still food for the soul and if you don’t make a living at it, chances are you haven’t bartered the muse. You know, that very thing that engaged you in the first place and nobody knows when they’re going to get their big break that’s going to make it the mainstreaming of what was once a hobby; it’s almost imperceptible when it happens and I always say never give up because it might just be around the corner; that big break that you’ve been looking for.”
Once the North American portion of the tour is done he has no plans of slowing down; as was mentioned earlier he has a full schedule lying in wait.
“I’ve got a busy year, we do Cruise to The Edge again out of Florida. I’m taking my mother on that one, she hits the big 9-0, she’s going to be the most experienced person on that boat,” hesaid with a laugh.“We go to Australia, New Zealand, Japan this year and I’ve got a European and UK tour later in the year with a change of set; it’s a busy old time. I’m still putting the finishing touches on the autobiography as I said earlier for which I’m eternally grateful because I’ve got holes in my fingers where the pen was (laughs).”
After a one night engagement in Englewood at the Bergen PAC, the band heads to one of their favorite “Haunts;” the Scottish Rite Auditorium in South Jersey. Just what is so special about this old building?
“We always love playing there, there’s something about the atmosphere of the place; some say it’s haunted and some of the guys in the band have had rather extraordinary experiences there but I always think that the place acts like an amplifier. There’s some places that have acoustics that act like an amplifier so whatever you’re doing that’s amplified the hall gives it back in droves. So when you hit those bass pedals and the building starts shaking, yeah you’re never going to be quiet at The Scottish Rite; it’s a very powerful gig. We always see a lot of friends there and we’re looking forward to it tremendously.”
To discover more about Steve Hackett, the current tour or purchase tickets; please visitwww.hackettsongs.com.