Steve Hackett, an English musician, singer, songwriter and producer, chats with Kevin Cooper about the 50th anniversary of Genesis’ fourth studio album Foxtrot, being a member of Genesis and working with Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Peter Gabriel, the release of his forthcoming album Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out And More and his Foxtrot At 50 + Hackett Highlights 2022 UK tour.

Steve Hackett is an English musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who gained prominence as the lead guitarist of the progressive rock band Genesis from 1971 to 1977.

He has contributed to six Genesis studio albums, three live albums, seven singles and one EP before he left to pursue a solo career with his first solo album, Voyage Of The Acolyte, released whilst still a member of Genesis in 1975.

He co-founded the supergroup GTR with Steve Howe in 1986 and they released their self titled album GTR which spawned the top twenty single, When The Heart Rules The Mind. When Hackett left GTR in 1987, the group disbanded.

Hackett then resumed his solo career, releasing a total of twenty-seven studio albums. He also tours worldwide on a regular basis.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

Whilst busy preparing for his forthcoming tour of the UK, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Steve good afternoon, how are you?

I’m very well thank you Kevin, how are you?

All is good this end, thanks for asking. And before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s always a pleasure whenever you and I find the time to speak to one another so thank you for giving up your time in order to find out just what it is that we are currently up to.

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life at this moment in time has been very, very busy. I just seem to be forever on the run, whilst trying to be creative in the midst of it all. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of previous commitments now being fulfilled this year. Everyone knows the state of play with regards to Covid-19; we all had to stop what we were doing for a while. For me, that meant that current commitments and previous commitments were all sandwiched into one, so I haven’t been able to record anything new since last August. Having said that, it has pretty much been all non-stop and I seem to be working my team to death (laughter).

I was going to say that now that the great James Brown is no longer with us, you seriously must be the hardest working man in music (laughter).

Do you reckon?

Yes, I do. You once said to me a few years ago now that you were thinking of slowing down, but I really do feel that now you are working even harder.

Yes, I do seem to be, don’t I (laughter). It’s a strange one. I think that B.B. King was most probably the hardest working artists that I had heard of. I know that he was playing three hundred dates every year. I personally don’t quite know just how that is possible, when you are still performing, and you find yourself in a wheelchair in the end. I’m not sure about that, but when he passed on, I tried to deliver a write up to try and encapsulate what I felt about his commitment to music. All that I kept on thinking about was the word unshakeable; he never did falter, and that is pretty amazing. So, what can I say, it has been a challenging time, but also very exciting times. It is compressing into one period what you would normally stretch out into a number of years.

Looking out on the horizon, I am going to be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, which will also include a little trip over to Borneo, for a quick holiday. I have recently returned home from Greece, and I know that all of this makes me sound like a very adventurous globetrotter (laughter). You have to remember that there are my commitments to music, and there is also Jo’s (my wife) need to visit everywhere on the planet. When she was a child, someone bought her a globe and she said, “yes, I want to visit everywhere on there” (laughter). And I have to say that we have covered a fair bit of it in recent times and we have come back with stories and blogs and numerous tracks and samples so, the research goes on (laughter). It all ends up in the music in the end, one way or another.

You must have accumulated more air miles than the late Alan Whicker ever did (laughter).

I never thought about that (laughter). Just think about it, I could be the Alan Whicker of Prog Rock; now that really would be something wouldn’t it (laughter).

Now, we must speak about the fiftieth anniversary of the Genesis album, Foxtrot, together with your forthcoming UK tour which celebrates the album.

Yes, we should (laughter).

How did you feel when you were recording the album, did it sit comfortably with you?

Wow, don’t hold back, let’s get straight into it shall we (laughter). You are quite right; it didn’t sit comfortably with me at all, and at the time, I was personally worried that Foxtrot was a little bit too far out there for the listening public. However, fortunately, I was proved to be extremely wrong (laughter). Its relevance seems to reveal itself over a very long period of time, because I am not sure that there is any other album out there that sounds like Foxtrot, in fact, I would go so far as to say there is no other Foxtrot. In fact, I’m not sure that is entirely possible. Whenever I have tried to write a song that was in the style of one of those tracks, it usually fails miserably and I think, ‘no, that’s Foxtrot, leave well alone.’

Just give to Foxtrot what is Foxtrot. In other words, ‘Give unto Caesar what is Caesars’ (laughter). All that you can do is try and come up with work that is as detailed and as thoroughly composed, and make sure that you leave some room for some improvisation too. I think that is an important part of rock that often gets forgotten. In the drive to write another good song, or an opus, you can often forget just what it is all about; the discovery of something which, if you are lucky, finds its way onto an album. In one of those rare moments where a band is all playing at the same time, and everyone goes, ‘why don’t we just leave it exactly as it is’ (laughter). I have to say that there were a few moments like that with Genesis.

Do you think that the album has stood the test of time?

I have always found Foxtrot to be an interesting album, and yes, I personally do feel that it has stood the test of time extremely well. Let me put it another way, I feel that the material stands the test of time. However, I could argue that the production, not in every instance, but in general, the production always has, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired. I have to be totally honest with you and say that there are some great sounding tunes on the album, for example, I wouldn’t change a note of Willow Farm, I think that everyone did exactly the right thing on that plus the production sounds bang on. Anyway, I’ve got my opinion about it and no doubt, you will have yours.

I was, if I may, going to take you one step further back, and say after Genesis had come off a massive world tour, do you think that the time was right for you to go back into the studio to work on a new album?

Was it the right time? We were a touring band; we were all young guys, we were fit, we punished ourselves with that kind of behaviour, and we were recording somewhat piecemeal. We had the luxury with the previous album, Nursery Cryme, of taking time off, and concentrating on getting an album right. However, we didn’t have that luxury with Foxtrot. I seem to remember that there was an awful lot of activity in Italy at that time. When we were both rehearsing material that was going to go on this thing, particularly Watcher Of The Skies, and even when we were messing around with it in sound checks, you could see that there was a palpable reaction from the promotion team who were with us at that time.

They were all young guys too and they were getting really excited about what we were getting excited about. There really was something about it. What you can’t do fifty years later is surprise people with it. At the time it really was a surprise, but now it is a case of, ‘yes, these are the notes, the tablet has been handed down from the mountain’. Therefore, you dare not change a single note.

How were you personally feeling at that point because it had been rumoured that you really did want to leave the band?

Yes, I really did feel that it was my turn to leave the band. I was involved in a stormy private relationship, and that for me was a huge distraction from the band. My wife to be and I at that time were having some difficulties, and I have to say that it did rather colour things with the band. I was used to being in situations that didn’t last that long with bands. I thought, ‘this will last for a bit then there will be something else that will last for a bit’ (laughter). I wasn’t really aware that, particularly with Tony (Banks) and Mike (Rutherford) within the band, I got the feeling that they disapproved of what I did to a large extent.

Until I got that seal of approval, in other words, on the first day of recording the new album, for example, Foxtrot, they both said to me, “we want you to stay, we like you’re playing” and I thought, ‘well this is news to me’. I thought, ‘well this is good news, so I had better stick around for a while’ (laughter). Looking back, I guess that Genesis was a rather stiff upper lip organisation, and they never really gushed and never said, “hey man, that’s a really wonderful tune” or “I really like your playing” or “what a dazzling bit of mellotron” or “just how do you get that tone”. We really weren’t like that (laughter). It really was much more reserved, and I think that reserve could quite easily be misinterpreted as disapproval. So, we did stick it out altogether, and I have to say that I am very glad that we did.

I really do think that there is some great stuff on Foxtrot. Famously, I remember when The Rolling Stones, who were all very young at the time, were interviewed for a music paper and they were asked, “what do you like most of all about the new album”’ and Bill Wyman would say, “my bass playing”, Charlie Watts would say, “my drumming” and it would go “my guitar playing”, “my singing”, “my harmonic playing” (hysterical laughter). So, what do you like the most about Foxtrot, “well” (laughter). There is a really short answer there. But actually, I was a fan very much of the way the guys and the team, as we all were, were able to function together, and write together, and add things to each other. So, I would say that the triumph outweighed the disappointments as the world thought that this was very good.

What they hadn’t heard were the things that failed and didn’t make it out of the rehearsal rooms, some of which I thought were extraordinarily beautiful things, and I was very disappointed about that and usually made amends later on, with my own efforts. I found myself using things that had been co-written which ended up on things of mine, or things that were influenced by together with things that I was able to take further. A solo career was a very different proposition. I have only got to deal with one dictator at a time and that is me (laughter). It is very different when you are in a band where you need permission to do this, that and the other.

I find myself explaining band politics to people who perhaps don’t need to know that. You are in a band, and there is push and pull, that is how it goes. I think that it is a terrific album, plus there is a lot of really great stuff on it.

Was there ever a danger that the album would never get finished as the recording process was fraught with problems. For example, four producers who simply came and went?

Yes, I have to say that there was some water under the bridge; there were producers and engineers who didn’t always see eye to eye with the way that the band operated. I personally don’t know why that was; Genesis wasn’t full of easy characters, people came from different backgrounds, different cultures, and I have to say that there was a lot of talent that simply came and went together with friendships. Yes, I guess that there was some blood on the tracks; there had been some blood spilt there, together with a few heavy knocks. So I can imagine that to some people it may have been regarded as a breach birth rather than an immaculate conception.

Albums are like that; some albums are more difficult to make than others, and you have to remember that this was the second album that we had made with the team comprising the Charterhouse guys, together with Phil (Collins) and myself. So, as you can see, we were a newly formed five-man team. Some four hundred tour dates later, we were still very much a new song writing team together. But I have to be totally honest with you and say that I don’t remember that many problems or have my memory tapes been erased (laughter). I just look back on it all rather fondly. I just wish that some of the album sounded as good as it did live, in particular Watcher Of The Skies.

I think that wherever you listen to the Genesis Live album, by comparison, you get the mellotron sound that was closer to my heart; the drum sound that was closer to my heart, together with a fair bit of playing that is pretty good. Having said all of that, there is also a little bit of this, that and the other that I would change, usually things to do with timing and what have you, but all albums of that period, the early 70s, that five year time span from 1967 to 1972, there is always timing issues involved which unfortunately you are going to hear, not just with our band but also with the great and the good, The Beatles. You have to put up with certain things because that is just how it was.

How did the recording process differ back then to how it is today?

The process back then was much more mechanical, much more organic. There was no auto correction with this sort of stuff. You either played it right or you got it wrong. Recording back then was a very different proposition to the way it is today. Nobody started off with a click tack in those days; it was simply, ‘here we go’. So, tempos can be a little bit racy and personally, I had always hoped that Watcher Of The Skies would have sounded a bit bigger and a bit slower in order to let it breath. By the time that we were doing Genesis Live it had settled into a comfortable live speed, and we were almost in time with each other (laughter). In fact, we were almost in time and in tune with one another at the same moment (laughter).

Would you say that Foxtrot represented a coming of age for Genesis?

A coming of age, well, what can I say, I am still growing up myself, and I most probably still have quite a way to go in my whatever decade it is now, it’s frightening (laugher). I think that there was a progression, certainly from the previous albums and I think that the quality of the writing had improved. That’s not to say that there weren’t some gems that predated this. There was some damn good stuff, The Fountain Of Salmacis for example from the Nursery Cryme album, which really was damn good. But being totally honest with you, it was the epics that I found myself being attracted to, so I loved Watcher Of The Skies and what it did. The fact that it started off with this quasi-alienated classical orchestra in the shape of the mellotron, being joined by a rhythm section, that made it sound all the more powerful, and the fact that it is the opposite of heavy metal.

It’s not balls to the wall from the word go. There are dynamics; there is the crescendo for a start, which is probably the most exciting bit of the tune itself; the rhythm, the staccato rhythm which orchestras can’t play. Believe me when I say that because I have tried (laughter). It is so syncopated that it continues to this day to fox orchestras. So, you should never try to put an orchestra on the rhythm section of Watcher Of The Skies or you will come a cropper as I have found out from my embarrassment (laughter). But there we are, orchestras don’t usually syncopate to that degree, and that rhythm is all about being on the money. I have to say that it is a very clever rhythm.

Bearing in mind what happened to Peter (Gabriel) in 1975 and you in 1977, were the cracks already starting to show at this point?

I think that the cracks were always starting to show with Genesis. The moment I joined the band, Peter (Gabriel) was saying to me that he “didn’t really believe in composition by committee”. I had some idea of what he was talking about, although I had not really functioned as a fully fledged writer within a committee. I don’t think that there is really much point on dwelling on band politics. I think that it was a very gifted team, but it was equally so competitive that it started to lose members, or even haemorrhage members, and the music is what remains. We have the music, and I chose to honour that and leave it politics free.

How do you put a tour together, when considering the combined back catalogue that you and Genesis have?

That’s a very good question and I will try to answer it as best that I can. Firstly, I choose what I think is the best music that the band ever made and have a team that authentically not just reproduces it, but takes it hopefully to the next level, plays with it, and changes it. There is sufficient of the original there to say, “yes, I recognise this tune” but I like to think that it has evolved to take on board some moments that deserve to be changed or extended. I like to take liberties with the limited sound canvas that we had at that time with the addition of woodwind, brass, extra keyboards, and sometimes extra percussion.

We are able to do things with the team now that would have been hard pushed to do back in the day. So, I do love doing this stuff live, that’s the point, and we really do tear into it with a will. We have recently been doing Seconds Out and I have to say that it has just been getting better and better as the band go at it with more and more panache and attitude. They really do make it their own. So, Genesis, the band, the place, is my straight onto paradise moment really.

It has to be said that on the recording of Foxtrot Peter really was on top of his game, his vocals are immense. Would you agree?

Yes, I totally agree with you. You have to remember that Peter was a hugely creative individual. Peter, I think, always had wonderful ideas, and he was largely responsible for the band’s acceptance internationally. He was prepared to risk life and limb trying out things, not just on stage, but also as a galvaniser of opportunities, in other words, as a hustler (laughter). Either on the phone or working the room, he was very good with communications; he was always very much ahead of the game. He was always at the forefront of technology, and I think that Peter and I hit it off because of that. For instance, the idea of doing the whole of Supper’s Ready live.

I remember that the band was divided into two camps. I knew, and I think that Peter knew that it wasn’t going to work doing Supper’s Ready live unless we had all the bells, the whistles and then some. We needed our own light show; we needed the sound effects, and Peter himself realised that he needed to personify it, to feel it, and not run it by the committee. He had to get up on the night, and just do it, ‘don’t ask what I’m doing, this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m wearing, you guys wear what the hell you want but I am going to be wearing a red box on my head, let’s make the devil’ (laughter). That’s fine, as you don’t get things done in Genesis by not running them by the committee; you get things done in Genesis by being bloody minded.

It was all to the good because whatever Peter did got us photographed and written about. When people look back on this era, perhaps all of those things that were described as gimmicks, which made the difference at that time, seem to get consumed into the idea of, ‘oh this is really good music’ (laughter). We were playing much of this music beforehand and it really wasn’t setting the world alight, that is until the visuals served the best interests of that music, so that it could be performed and loved in that way. So, you have got to give people a show, you have got to give them a framework and you have got to be spellbinding in some way or another, particularly with complicated music.

There has got to be something about it, that stops people going off to the bar, and saying, “sod all of this I’m going to go for a drink, it is all far too difficult” (laughter). And there you are; that’s the dichotomy of music that is a collision of different schools of thought which is what I think Genesis was. We were lots of different schools of approach, not just the school that they hailed from, but the schools of ideas that we all had. For me, it was spending as much time listening to Segovia as I was Jimi Hendrix. Tony’s classical leanings and pop sensibility was equally as important. Peter was listening to a hell of a lot of Nina Simone’s music, and then there was Mike who liked Led Zeppelin and Judy Collins (laughter).

These are all very different types of music, and each person loved lots of different ideas. Phil was very much into big bands and Tamla Motown. That is what motivated him. None of these things really were Genesis but they all informed it in some way. All of these different ideas and things that perhaps shouldn’t co-exist in the same song, the same band, or the same album. I personally think that is what made it work, the differences with everybody, so you would get this richly textured, strange, quirky, often quaint, often comedic, very English sound. It’s strange as it’s like the concert hall meets the musical hall meets the club and it all seems to compress into one thing which is hopefully not too fossilised in people’s memories but held in great affection, certainly by mine anyway (laughter).

You played on six Genesis studio albums. Where would Foxtrot sit within those six?

Oh goodness me, well now, I have often said that my favourite Genesis album which I played on was Selling England By The Pound, but I think Foxtrot comes a very close second for me. And I can quite understand it if someone said, “well actually I much prefer Foxtrot”. I could quite understand that. There will be things on all of the albums that I am incredibly proud of, not every track, but I think that there are moments in every track that make them outstanding. For example, a track like Time Table, my favourite moment is when it goes instrumental at the end. You have got a melody being played that sounds closer in spirit to Henry Mancini than a rock band.

That little delicate melody that is being plucked inside the piano is made by a plectrum that Tony used. You would never know what that instrument was, no one knows. Thinking about it, I will have to figure out just how I am going to play that live when we tour, because at the moment I don’t know (laughter). I recently bought myself a Mandolin, maybe I could play it on the Mandolin. At this moment in time I really don’t know. We will see.

I have always loved Horizons which I always refer to as being the calm before the madness (laughter).

Yes, I can see just where you are coming from with that reference (laughter). I am surprised that the band allowed me to use it, but I think that the way that it was butted onto the beginning of Supper’s Ready, is what makes it work. It works as a hors d’oeuvres before the main course. Oh dear, here I go again with the food analogy (laughter). It acts as a precursor rather than a separate track with not too much stop and start if you know what I mean. A lot of what Genesis did in those days was acoustic, and we used to say that if there was a song which was guitar based, it usually meant that it was based on acoustic guitar, and that guitar being a six string Yamaha acoustic that I had borrowed from a friend.

On my fourth attempt at being able to play Horizon all in one go, I got it right without any drop ins. In fact, it was the monitor mix that we used. Someone, I can’t remember who, had the idea of sticking it through a Leslie cabinet or two, so you had the straight sound and the Leslie cabinet sound, which was slightly swirly with a bit of reverb on it, and it hissed like crazy (laughter). Back in those days, nobody was thinking about that because vinyl already had its own surface noise, and even today, whenever I go into Café Nero in the morning, they very often play Horizons, and more to the point, it is that very same recording. I stop and think to myself, ‘my goodness me, this is still around after all of these years’ (laughter).

I would expect that probably no one in the café has got any idea as to what the track is and I am the man responsible for it. No one would have any idea remotely that it is a Genesis track, and why would they, some fifty years later. Over the years a lot of people have tried to play it, usually on nylon guitar because it really is a nylon guitar piece. It is usually based upon a Bach melody that I had heard at a distance, and I have to say that it has got brevity on its side. It’s very short; I was thinking of the works of composer William Byrd back in the 1500s and in particular a piece called The Earl of Salisbury. That piece was originally written for keyboards, and John Renbourn recorded a version on an album of his with Terry Cox playing the glockenspiel on the top.

What intrigued me about that was the brevity of it. It was only ninety seconds long, but it was a real gem. I thought that it didn’t need to be long, and it didn’t need to go through excessive changes. It didn’t need to die from a surfeit of logic, it just needed to be paired down to the essentials, and that is what I went for with Horizons. I have to say that I do think that it is well written; it took me about a year to write that small piece. I just kept picking away at it, and when I thought that it was right, I played it to the guys and I fully expected them to say, “well that’s you on your own” but it was Phil bless him who said, “it sounds like there should be some applause after that, and I think that we should use it” and so we did.

The album failed to chart over in America, was that disappointing?

To be totally honest with you, I wasn’t really aware of it. We were touring so much back in those days and America took quite a while to get their heads around just what Genesis were all about. And it wasn’t until we broke out of college radio first of all, where guys at their respective colleges would play what the hell they wanted; I think that mainstream radio would just have past us by. We broke out of college radio, we did one or two television shows, we did a Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, we also did the stop-gap album which followed Foxtrot which was Genesis Live with a King Biscuit Flower Hour, and I think that a combination of all of that got us onto a wider audience.

What you have to remember is that we were playing clubs and colleges for quite some time. The Americans didn’t always get what we were doing simply because they were into boogie, and we weren’t a boogie band. So those delicate twelve-string moments would get shouted down by a rowdy crowd most of the time, and I used to think, ‘I hope that we get to the loud bit soon, and then we can drown them out’ (laughter). So, when we got to those moments, they suddenly decided that they liked it. We could, if not boogie, we could certainly reach those powerhouse moments. I do remember playing at The Roxy in Los Angeles, we were playing there for three nights doing two shows a night, and it was completely sold out.

I honestly believe that they were some of the best gigs that the band ever did. It was then that I just knew that the band were going places. To me, it was the best band around at that time. We were playing the best of Foxtrot, we were playing some stuff from Nursery Cryme, and the best of Selling England By The Pound. By that time, we were really good live, and I knew that I had something to reckon with, at that point, and I could see it on the faces of the audiences who got it. It was the West Coast that really got it first of all. Although we first showed up on the East Coast, I always felt that we were auditioning our ideas to the American audiences.

Tell me about a certain John Lennon’s interest in Genesis?

Just who the hell have you been talking to (laughter). That really was something rather wonderful and I have only just found out recently that John was saying to anyone who would listen that “Genesis were true sons of The Beatles”. He would have all of our albums sent over to him in the States from Nursery Cryme onwards. I often wonder why he would do that, except that I think that perhaps, because we were so very British sounding, it might have been a way of staying in touch with home in a way. You are an expat Brit, living in New York with a Japanese wife, maybe a little bit of cream cakes, jam and scones went with Genesis perhaps, maybe it had a palliative effect (laughter).

You have been well documented as saying that you thought the album cover was “a bit of a strange design.” Has your opinion changed over the fifty years?

Well, the funny thing is that I had originally thought that the album sleeve was actually a bit of a hotch-potch. It wasn’t until Peter started to personify the character on the front of the cover, as an afterthought, that it suddenly began to make sense. When people now look at the cover they will usually say, “oh look there’s Peter Gabriel there” and they think that it is an illustration of him, but in fact, it was the other way round. He was personifying something that had been painted. It’s a funny thing with album covers; you will have your favourites and then there will be others that you don’t quite get. I know that Hypnosis always wanted us to use a photograph and the band resolutely refused to do that.

I really liked, at the time, the cover to the Trespass album. I instantly thought, ‘oh, that’s a really nice album cover, why can’t we have something like that’ (laughter). But I realise, when I look back on it, the cover is very much of then; it’s the hippy look of the late 60s was roughly in line with the medieval look of Kings, Queens, Knights, swords, sorcery and all that kind of stuff. So, when I look back on it now, I think, ‘that’s of its time as well’. But I thought that the execution was interesting, and I longed for something similar. So, it wasn’t until we got to Selling England By The Pound that I actually thought that was an incredible album cover for an illustration.

Of course, it wasn’t designed as an album cover; it was a discovery of a black and white drawing, which Betty Swanwick, agreed to do again but to paint it this time. These album covers have got their prodigy haven’t they, they have got their complications and lies too (laughter).

On the original album, Supper’s Ready runs at 23 minutes and 5 seconds long. If you had been in a position to record the track onto compact disc, do you think that it would have been any longer?

What a question, I can see why you have left it until now (laughter). I think that it may have been on the following album. We managed to put 29 minutes on one side, but a lot of it was acoustic so we were able to get away with the grove. The idea behind Supper’s Ready I am quite open about these days. I had seen King Crimson live in 1969 prior to them recording In The Court Of The Crimson King, before I became pals with them, and I found myself on the outside looking in. They used to finish their set by mashing a bunch of numbers together, things as different as The Young Ones and Holst’s Mars. They would mash Cliff Richard and Gustav Holst, and nobody missed a beat with that.

I thought that if a band could do that and pull it off, and you can’t tell where one thing starts and another thing stops and starts then basically, it was the late Ian McDonald who said to me that they did it all via a system of cues. Somebody would play something, and the rest of the band would follow it, and it was from that moment that the idea of Supper’s Ready was born. I thought that we could do something long form, so we put it together and that’s how Supper’s Ready was born. Sometimes it was possible to steer Genesis or encourage them to go in a certain direction. I had the idea that my role with the band was often to have an overview and to try and function with them perhaps in a similar way to how Peter Sinfield functioned with King Crimson.

King Crimson were four guys on stage with another guy who was in the band offstage, but who was still considered to be a part of the band. I think that it is important for a band that is starting out, to have somebody who notices all of the things that the other guys don’t. They should also be prepared to be unpopular in order to be popular (laughter). There lies the contradiction; you have to be prepared to be the in-house critic or the in-house publicist. Whilst I was with Genesis, I had pretensions of being the in-house producer (laughter). Having said that, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to take a step back and try and do perhaps what (Brian) Eno was doing with people.

You are talking about two acts who were signed to EG Management, both King Crimson and Roxy Music, and I think perhaps the link was that there was intelligence at work. It wasn’t just haphazard. Somewhere along the lines, someone has got to say, “yes well everyone else does that, why don’t we do something else instead. Everyone else is doing ABC so why don’t we do XYZ” (laughter). The trouble is that it can all go down like a lead balloon, people can get very pissed off, but they will eventually admit that you were right all along. So, you really do need your helmet on for that (laughter). But it came out really strong in the end, that’s the thing.

How proud were you that the band used Horizons on the album together with a few of your ideas for Supper’s Ready?

To be perfectly honest with you, I can’t quite remember now, just how proud I was, but I was surprised that I got Horizons on the album, and I was surprised that they all liked Can-Utility And The Coastliners as a song, so I had written the song together with the lyrics, and I was surprised that they used a few bits of Supper’s Ready that I had come up with. Having said all of that, I was surprised that they liked anything that I ever did. At times, it could be like working with the Civil Service (laughter). There was about as much excitement as working with the Duke of Edinburgh (laughter). So, the short answer is that I was always very pleased whenever they used an idea of mine, but it wasn’t a surprise when they didn’t.

At times, one had to accept that one was rank and file, who would work on top of the ideas of others. That seemed to be a better way of working, and they often worked with me coming up with riffs, rather than whole tunes because I might have been perceived as being a threat to a great composer.

You have been in the business for some fifty-four years now, have you enjoyed it?

Surprisingly I have, yes, I really have, and the surprising thing is that I still enjoy it. If I can I try to play every day. I was recently speaking to Nigel Kennedy about this, and he said, “so you play every day right” and I said, ”yes, if I can, if I’m not on a plane” (laughter).

The forthcoming Hackett’s Highlights, what can we expect?

The good thing is that there will be some things that I have been wanting to play live for some time, songs that I personally think are very good. I feel that it is now time for me to showboat a few of those songs a bit, again.

Will you be performing Foxtrot in its entirety, and sequentially, as it was recorded originally?

Well, at this moment in time, that’s the plan. I’m not quite sure just how I am going to be able to do Horizons which then jumps straight into Supper’s Ready, but maybe I will let the other guys start off then I can pick up the guitar and keep the flow going and the momentum going like that. Unfortunately, I don’t think that it will work; picking up a nylon guitar and then going into Foxtrot, I might be able to do it but it won’t sound quite right. It’s got to jangle far more than that, so I don’t think that will work. It might, we will just have to wait and see (laughter).

What length of show are we looking at because Foxtrot has a total running time that is just short of an hour?

Yes, that’s right; Foxtrot is, as you say, there or there about an hour long. Because of that fact, I am going to include a lot more solo stuff, but there is also going to be some other Genesis stuff as well but can’t remember what off the top of my head. I have to keep asking what has been agreed at this point because my head is still thinking about us doing the whole of Selling England By The Pound in some places and the whole of Seconds Out in others, so I am afraid that memory is in fact fallible at this point (laughter). I would like to do The Devil’s Cathedral again; we recently played that live and it just seems to be getting better and better all the time.

I certainly would like to do that, plus there will be some other tracks that I haven’t played for a while. Plus, there will be some Genesis tracks that I know people are going to want to hear. I think that all in all, it is going to be a very good show.

Who will be playing the bass on this tour, will it be Jonas (Reingold) or will it be Nick (Beggs)?

This time, I am pleased to say that it will be Jonas Reingold who will once again be playing the bass on this tour. Jonas really is a brilliant player; his playing really is extraordinary. He can play rock, he can play jazz, he can even play brass on a bass, I have heard it all, and he is phenomenally fast. Having said that, both Jonas and Nick are brilliant bass players.

Is Nad (Sylvan) in good voice?

Yes, he is. Nad has been extraordinarily consistent, he has done show after show and I have to say that his voice doesn’t falter. He has, by far, been the fittest of all the lead singers that I have ever worked with. If he has a cold, or if he has got a cough, he just sings through it, and he doesn’t seem to suffer. When he is match fit, Nad is mighty.

Will Amanda (Lehmann) be playing with you on any dates on the forthcoming tour?

Yes, she will be, she is going to be with us on quite a few shows, but I can’t tell you which shows they will be as yet simply because she hasn’t told me laughter). She tells me that she would like to be on a few so that is up to her, and I am very pleased that things have taken off for her with her album and I am informed that she is currently working on another one. I anxiously await with bated breath to see what she comes up with.

Now, before I let you go, I have to ask you about the forthcoming album, Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out And More which if my information is correct, will be released on Friday 2nd September.

(Laughter) just where do you get your information from, and yes, you are perfectly correct, it will be released on 2nd September.

What can you tell me about the album?

What can I tell you about the album; well as you will no doubt recall I finally went back out onto the road with my band during September and October 2021, which was our first tour for two years thanks to the pandemic. We decided to perform Seconds Out, the Genesis live album in its entirety together with a host of solo favourites plus tracks from my most recent studio album Surrender Of Silence. We also performed tracks like Squonk, Supper’s Ready and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, all of which I personally feel have been vastly neglected over the past few years. It was also a joy for me to play Every Day and The Devil’s Cathedral.

We really did have a great time. I am really so happy to finally be in a position to release my Seconds Out And More show. It was a spectacular night and I have to be honest with you and say that the band really were on fire. They tore into that magical music combining the true spirit of Genesis with a fresh virtuosic approach. They produced some extraordinary sounds under amazing lights. In my opinion, this show is a feast for both ears and eyes; the very best of so many worlds.

I’m told that the show was recorded in Manchester.

That’s correct; the show was recorded and filmed in Manchester on the 24th September 2021.

I understand that the album is available in most formats, is that correct?

Yes, that’s absolutely correct, the CD is available as a limited 2 x CD and Blu-Ray. There is a limited 2 x CD and 2 x DVD in a digipak, both of which include bonus content and are presented in 5.1 surround sound. I know you will like this next one as it is available as a limited gatefold black 180g vinyl 4 x LP and 2 x CD and LP-Booklet. I know that you like your vinyl (laughter).

I certainly do like my vinyl (laughter). On that note Steve, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. It has, as usual, been absolutely delightful.

Thanks Kevin, you stay safe, and I will see you up there in Birmingham. All the best.