Steve Hackett talks to The Evil Jam in Zoetermeer

Finding myself seated in the foyer of The Golden Tulip in Zoetermeer, having scoffed breakfast, we’re having a chat and waiting for Steve to arrive for our interview. Steve passes by and assures us he’ll be five minutes grabbing a cup of tea. Five minutes pass and Steve returns. He takes his seat and making sure that our dictaphone is in the optimum position to record him clearly we begin to idly chat whilst the dictaphone powers up. Steve confidently tells us that the latest album The Night Siren has sold more copies than the previous album Wolflight, which is great news. Especially in this world of prevalent streaming and piracy. With the dictaphone running and sounding great we catch Steve in the middle of the conversation.

SH: … It’s all a bonus, being alive is a bonus in this day and age…

TEJ: Well yes; in 2016 the grim reaper made far too many appearances.

SH: Yeah.

TEJ: Last night’s audience appeared to have an average age that would suggest that they were Genesis fans from way back when albums like the Lamb were being toured, although they appreciated the solo material also. But we were stood a little toward the rear.

A ticket from last night’s show.

SH: I think it depends on which part of the audience you’re looking at. The audience I was looking at down the front could not have been Genesis fans of the era we are talking about, although maybe Genesis fans from the 90s. A lot of them were a lot younger; obviously there is the older contingent.

TEJ: I would say I am possibly one of the younger converts having made an inroad with the Genesis album Invisible Touch not long after starting school. I discovered the whole collection of albums whilst moving laterally through the solo careers. I discovered your career in around 2003. I brought Live in South America on a Saturday morning; took it home, and watched it. I then noticed you were playing locally in Wolverhampton. I took a gamble and saw the whole show on the Sunday; the wide range of material performed that night was certainly an educational introduction to a wealth of music and styles of writing.

SH: It’s funny when you look back over all the years at how things have changed. I was doing more solo material earlier on. But in a sense taking the Genesis legacy forward has meant that I have been able to explore both avenues. It’s ironic I’m doing chart business with new solo stuff but at the shows there is the irony that I am the keeper of the flame.

TEJ: But it’s not just the role of keeping of the flame alive, you have often been quoted as saying that you’re “Wearing the curators cap in a museum of your own making…”

SH: Yes that’s right.

TEJ: I think it’s more genteel than that. It’s like archaeology with someone approaching it with a soft brush rather than a mechanical excavator (JCB)

SH: Most certainly.

TEJ: Although your latest album, The Night Siren, has little in common with the previous album Wolflight although it involves some of the same team. You have approached this without stepping into any clichés, there is an entirely different theme.

Steve talking – Zoetermeer © The Evil Jam 2017

SH: There is a different theme. I’m looking for some kind of resolution in troubled times. There is a spotlight being shone on tragedy, danger, the troubled times that we live in, beyond that there is the hope for a resolution the fact that we managed to get someone from Israel and someone from Palestine working together.

TEJ: That sounds like no mean feat, drawing together those different talents.

SH: Whilst it touched upon Azerbaijan, Hungary, Sweden, the UK, the USA and probably more. There were twenty or so people from around the world who are all on the thing and it flies in the face of present day right-wing politics – this idea of nationalism that is on the rise, the ugly face of nationalism. This just demonstrates that people from all over the world can work together peacefully. From Iceland there is Gunnlaugur Briem on the drums, which were recorded in Sardinia when we were there for just a few rehearsals and jams. One thing that was taken from here and there was data that was assimilated into the whole, so whilst they may not be central performances they become central. Later I pull all the strands in and I work them, as I say I know longer worry about not being professional enough about this. You’ve got to step into fraudulent waters to bring new things into the dream.

TEJ: It is as though you’re a weld between different cultures or geo locations, to the extent that someone’s place of birth shouldn’t dictate that they cannot get on with their neighbour, it should not be down to lines on a map. You’re able to circumvent that and bring people together.

SH: We’re all musical migrants. That’s what we do – we’re mongrels of all sort of things and I think that just makes the mix stronger. I think that cities and countries that have embraced multicultural diversity are all the stronger for it. The fact that you might wander out in your hometown and decide to have an Indian meal that night is a precise example.

TEJ: Exactly Asian culture and cuisine is more than welcome in the UK, it is a part of everyday life. People spend all week working and then come a Friday night they decide to either grab a takeaway or go out to a restaurant, instead of having Fish and Chips; they now choose an Indian curry.

SH: That’s right!

TEJ: There is a chain of restaurants called Cosmo. They serve a variety of cuisines from China, Japan, Indonesia, The Pacific Islands, and Hawaii with so much diversity in food.

SH: We’re pulling away from that now though aren’t we? With Brexit…

TEJ: Brexit has brought out many facets of people’s inner beliefs, some of it rather strong and in some cases the ugly side of nationalism.

SH: Well it’s goodbye to Scotland, goodbye to Gibraltar, Hello war.

TEJ: I hope it does not come to that. It feels that we live in an age where as you have those that are progressive and open to learning something and adjusting their ideas and those who are non progressive and have their ideas and world views fixed at an early age.

SH: I think we don’t have the quality of world leadership; national leaders I think are failing us. It does seem as it’s back to the village or the cave mentality… god bless all those in cave thirteen and to hell with all the rest and that’s the first national anthem and lets hope that won’t be the last. It’s deeply troubling at the moment when you have narcissistic world leaders who are not actually representing the people they purport to represent. They seem to be carrying out their own wishes. When you have got trouble on the one hand with the North Korean Kim Jong-un all around them are expendable chess pieces and at the end of the day are we going to just accept that or what?

TEJ: And obviously this all gets filtered through music and art, some of your own.

SH: It just seems to me that perhaps the songs I have been working on recently, a number of them I have written with Jo, there is more social comment, there is a peace theme, and the implications of music being designed to merely entertain and tantalise up to now, perhaps there is a little bit more we can do. Even if we only change one person’s mind at the end of the day. You see my family are refugees from a hundred years ago and Jo’s family were refugees from a hundred years ago… it’s the Polish/Jewish connection and the German/Jewish connection. But there were open borders a hundred years ago and now of course we’re not having that and in one extreme we have the Hungarians saying that they are going to put people in containers and it sounds almost like when you have put them in the containers when are you going to pipe in the gas? At the end of the day it smacks of final solution and it’s really not good enough. The quality of leadership need to be there but instead I think people are sheep and they’re having their buttons pressed all the time and that they don’t realise what they’re reading whether it’s anti Semitic or anti Arabic or whatever the level of prejudice is, there is just so much around and compassion fatigue. Unfortunately, when the West starts adopting a fortress mentality is going to be the result.

TEJ: If you watch the news it just feels as though things are regressing backwards, almost as though there has been so much time elapsed from the horrors of the Holocaust that people seem diluted to the atrocity that occurred back then; that they are immune to signs that we might all be heading down the same route again as we were in the naïve 1930’s.

SH: Well it’s extraordinary because the information revolution is there.  You have history channels and you can watch what’s going on and yet the problems seem to be there again with the Serbians who want to have a go at the Kosovans once again and I was there doing this video for Behind the Smoke. I had people talking about Kosovo is ours you know, they want to march in and do it all over again, and you think please give me a break, what’s the point and yes your home town was being shelled at the time and the Americans stepped in (1990’s civil war in Yugoslavia). I’m not sure that would be the case now.

TEJ: I remember the television coverage of the civil war in Yugoslavia in the early to mid 1990’s. It’s only later that the world learned of some of the atrocities that occurred that have a similar if not more barbaric level of depravity and yet the Holocaust is taught in all schools in Europe, it just seems as though mankind is in some cases reverting back to the behaviour we see animals adopt in nature.

SH: Yeah mankind continually makes the same mistakes of course. For animals the holocaust goes on every single day doesn’t it? The argument for vegetarianism is strong and yet all of us wrestle with that and we try to pull back from the carnage that goes on a daily basis. But as my wife Jo says, “how many restaurants do you know serve Quorn?” or the equivalent of proto-veg which was a pretty good idea back in the day as they’re faux meats there… perfectly good fake bacon.

TEJ: I once had a chilli con carne made from Quorn, it was fine…

SH: Yeah and it all tastes good, with no gristle. But there is an industry and a misery that animals are subjected to on a daily basis.

We take a short break, when we return we discuss the live show.

TEJ: Your first show in Zoetermeer at The Boerderij was in September 2003.

SH: There has been a tradition of coming here and doing shows. I have always liked it from the word go. There’s something about it when we first played here; I actually had the impression that the place was bigger and it was just because there seemed to be a large acceptance from this area and the Dutch in general.

TEJ: Absolutely.

SH: As I said on stage last night, I was trying to get across the idea that Holland had always been very good to me personally and Genesis. We recorded Wind and Wuthering over here at the Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, which is where I also discovered the Optigan machine that was sitting in the corner. I loved the way the Dutch were very open and nothing was too much trouble. They’d give you food or drink any time of day or night and a couple of albums. Later after I had left the band, I came back and I did Spectral Mornings here at Hilversum which was the Phonogram headquarters and it was also a dial on the radio, Hilversum you know? That was a radio station that people picked up for years and years, old radiograms with Hilversum on them. Again it was as if it was its own world, this massive headquarters with lots and lots of different studios, we were in the biggest studio and money was no object or so it seemed as I was being bankrolled by Charisma [Records] at the time and we were spending a fortune doing something very uneconomically.

TEJ: What was the atmosphere at the time?

SH: It was frozen lakes and nothing else to do but party away all day and all night. That album is a result of what came out of it we weren’t straight, we weren’t sober, and yet, this whole thing is this cohesive dream, and there is a lot of this unconscious stuff going on with people being themselves – letting it all hang out. Having a bit of a laugh but then there was this also the other stuff with the Koto and the Oriental stuff. So, it wasn’t just the end of the pier stuff or the end of the drink, it was also as Armando Gallo put it so succinctly he said, “ Listening to that album was like a trip around the world from Brighton pier to Hong Kong harbour.”.  In a sense I thought that was interesting.  He’s talking travelogue there, and indeed, that’s been an enduring theme throughout many of the things I have done subsequently, whether it was off to South America with tones of percussionists…

TEJ: Or The Steppes that is about the Russian Steppes, which you performed last night, returned to the setlist.

Gary O’Toole – The Steppes, Zoetermeer 2017 © Chris Simmons 2017.

SH: Yes we did and it gets better because the drums sound extraordinary.

TEJ: Yes, last nights performance was a great example of that. Your shows are now becoming a travelogue; an example would be Serpentine Song set in London, which is very much about your father Peter and his paintings, some of which he did in Hyde Park.

SH: Lots of paintings, thousands of paintings. I think as a kid he swam in the Serpentine and he’s part of all of that. He was the first artist to arrive in the morning and the last to leave and all the other artists along the railings of Bayswater road would come to him for bits of string or bits of tape with them saying Pete will provide that. Time and time again all the guys would say, oh your dad’s great; he was like a helping hand to everyone and that’s the kind of guy he was. In the block of flats he inhabited in Pimlico because he never wanted to own anything other than a car I think and a few paints. I mean he talked about me as being a bed, a chair and a guitar and I’d be happy and I think he was happy with perhaps less than that. He was the kind of guy where if he met an old lady in a lift whose lights weren’t working, he would say “Oh I’ll pop by later on, fix your lights.”.

TEJ: One of life’s characters?

SH: One of life’s helping hands. He was a friend to many and an extraordinary man. My dad was capable of doing twenty different things that could’ve been potential professions for me, not only could he play a number of instruments, he could juggle, he could play football to professional standard, cricket to a professional standard. He was a fast bowler, yes he could jump out of aeroplanes, he was a runner, he was able to paint, he was a speed typist, an editorial stenographer, he designed things, he’d been a clerk and he’d been twenty different things in his lifetime. He’d been an artist and he was very practical, he’d build you a table and design that extraordinary. So if I had decided to have been anyone of those other things.

TEJ: Or specialist in those careers.

SH: Yeah or played for Chelsea. There would have been no surprise as the apple wouldn’t have had to fall from far from that rich tree laden with plenty of fruit.

TEJ: If the family was bigger than just yourself and John, we’d be talking about potentially six Hackett’s who had achieved brilliance.

SH: Oh I think so.

TEJ: Footballers, perhaps profession draughtsmen, graphic designers amongst many other professions.

SH: He was a huge football fanatic, he played it until his knees went in his fifties and I think one of his proud moments was selling a painting to Kevin Keegan.

TEJ: Wow!

SH: When I went to my grammar school the first bloke I spoke to was Malcolm MacDonald (SuperMac) who won many caps for England, we were just kids he could do a cartwheel and I couldn’t but I caught him up. We were in the same gymnastics team. He had legs like tree trunks and he was obviously designed to be a footballer. He was the captain in the football team and the cricket team, my dad was very well aware of him. But my dad was cut from the same cloth, a fast bowler. My dad is no longer around but I think he’s very much there in spirit and when I play Serpentine it is very much a…

TEJ: …Homage?

SH: Yes a homage, to him.

TEJ: I remember my first tour when you played this song [2003]. It is a really lovely song, a moment in the set where things calm down and it’s almost like….

SH: A Marching band of naivety and sweetness, the gentle asylum…

TEJ: It’s a bit like the Kink’s with Waterloo Sunset, London on a sunny afternoon.

SH: Well in all the seasons, I think of it as a procession around that lake and I have seen it in all the seasons, I’ve seen it in wind and rain and snow! And sunshine. I have seen many free concerts there that took place in London in the late sixties; my god what a line up you couldn’t buy that now.

TEJ: Yeah the Stones played there then…

SH: Yeah the Stones, Cream, freudian slip it was Blind Faith.

TEJ: King Crimson?

SH: King Crimson, Traffic, Keith Emerson. Guys I came to befriend, some I came to work with. It was all sorts of things, [Jethro] Tull, it was [Pink] Floyd. On a free Saturday or Sunday afternoon if the weather was good, no roof on the stage, John Peel, Third Ear Band, I think maybe even (Richie) Havens at one point.

TEJ: You were doing this marvellous song in the set back in 2003 and it was a real shame for it to pass, and now it has come back.

SH: Well the reason is, is that people asked for it again. People write to the website and they say could you or would you do that one again and would you do Steppes again and in answer to that yes. Whilst I cannot recreate the team that put together Wind and Wuthering or even the team that put together The Musical Box, the five man, we can’t recreate that but we can recreate the spirit of that to honour that time and honour the present and the future. So I try and keep an open window on these various locations in time

Genesis – The Rainbow Theatre – London, October 1976 – © Atlantic Records

TEJ: It’s interesting to note that Professor Stephen Hawking has been quoted as saying that time travel is possible but only going forwards into the future, so whilst you might not be able to go back to that writing session with Genesis or that recording session with regard to one of your albums, going forward if the spirit is genuine you will always have that although you will always have the critics some of whom want to keep you tied to a certain group or a certain time, without them being able to embrace the new.

SH: You can always dismantle the idea.

TEJ: You’ll always get those who’s reaction would be to say a reformation of Genesis, they’re too old or it’s not as good as X tour, X album. It leaves you wondering why those people bother going online to make such remarks or why they would bother to obtain a ticket.

SH: I think the model is Jagger in a sense, because, Jagger’s in his seventies and is still bopping around, you know he is an example to us all.

TEJ: Even Pete Townshend wrote “I hope I die before I get old” but looking at him now he’s old enough, but he wants to live and enjoy his age and wisdom.

SH: As he has admitted that was a song written by a young man with attitude.

TEJ: With a bit of teenage angst?

SH: Yeah you know, but extolling the virtues of youth per se. It’s wonderful when you’re young to lead your life like an immortal, to smoke and drink and party all night, go out next day and do it all again. But on the other hand there is a sweetness that comes with experience and having a good day physically and it will always be a good day physically compared to whatever you were capable then, unless you really are very blessed with extraordinary genes as Mr Jagger has.

Steve pauses for a quick sip of tea.

SH: There’s more to it. Is there a spiritual side to life? Beyond the inevitable decay of all of this and so we stray into these philosophical areas. I think there is a spiritual realm I have the feeling of such, when we were in Hamburg the other night a few gigs ago, I have been thinking a lot about John Wetton.

TEJ: Yeah of course.

SH: Throughout the American tour I was dedicating just about every show to John because I regarded him as a brother and I made no bones about that. But in Hamburg I got the feeling that everyone I had ever thought about in spirit that I had loved basically I felt that they were all joining me on stage at that point and I felt empowered by them and reinvigorated. I’m sure John was there, I’m sure Chris [Squire] was there, I’m sure my aunt Margaret was there and these were people who were like human TNT and I just got the feeling that the veil between the worlds was lifted at that point and I went off like a rocket. Now some of that has been filmed and whether or not it will show on film but I just remember that I don’t think I had ever done a more animated gig ever in my life, whether I had been that accurate with the notes I don’t know, probably not, but the spirit of it was extraordinary I just felt, oh wow what’s going on here and the audience were so, so up for it.

Steve telling us about Hamburg – Zoetermeer © The Evil Jam 2017

TEJ: So you channelled a lot of energy?

SH: Yeah I think so. I’ve had this feeling of channelling before. It’s best to be controversial because otherwise you will not be yourself. We visited Auschwitz and I remember thinking there are two ways you can look at this. You can say, that’s a tragedy that all these people died and that they’ll never live again or on the other hand what if they are all still there in spirit. I’ve had this weird thing, not just there but also when we visited the bridge on the river kwai just recently and I had this extraordinary dream about meeting people who had been involved with that and it seemed to bloody real that connection again, that feeling that they’re all still there in spirit you know.

SH: When Spectral Mornings came I was opening myself up to the world of possibilities to stuff that I had been reading, the Lord Dowding memoirs, The Battle of Britain – all of that stuff. I draw on it a lot, that energy. Sometimes it’s like I’m literally going what would you have done here Chris [Squire]? What would you have done on bass? I’m sure we were channelling Chris on this latest album on The Night Siren. A lot of the bass work on it was basically programmed but Nick [Beggs] was due to do it but he had kidney stones so he couldn’t, so we just went at with samples.

We change location due to an every encroaching group of vacuum cleaners, whom were advancing on our initial position in the hotel lobby, Steve rightly enquires how clear his voice may be heard during the transcription process owing to this determined ladies and their vacuum cleaners. We take a seat at the bar, the floor is tiled so we now believe we are safe from the vacuum cleaners and their noise. Safely seated we change tact and discuss being in the Netherlands.

TEJ: This is a first time for me in the Netherlands, from what I have seen so far I am stunned at how friendly the people are, how tidy everywhere is. We were discussing earlier how, for you Steve, Netherlands has a rich history.

SH: Yeah it’s been a home away from home lots of times, and each country that I revisit I’m more and more aware of the spirit of it. We’d hit Holland after Germany and we had enjoyed Germany you know, we were in Leipzig for the last gig and Leipzig is rich in all sorts of things and you’re just scratching the surface every time. We came to Holland and straight away there is a different vibe and I don’t just mean the Windmills but there is something about the people, something about it just that feeling even when I go to Germany that I am coming home. I always felt it with Italy and Spain I mean my god how rich is Spain with its culture and just the guitar alone. What can you say that the Spanish haven’t already said through music, and coming here to Holland a sort of quiet but anything goes atmosphere if you’re in Amsterdam.

TEJ: If you’re in Amsterdam supposedly the brakes are off, and there are no restrictions.

SH: There are no restrictions.

TEJ: And if you’re an adult and you want to let loose, you can let loose.

SH: Yeah indeed exactly. They decriminalised everything that the rest of the world has been stuck with, the taboo, the drug wars et cetera, never happened here because everything was freely available and also their penal system treats people like human beings. If there is loss of liberty, that’s considered enough, they don’t just shove people in a hole and give them a bucket and expect them to re-humanise. I think if you treat people like animals, they will behave like animals. If you treat people with respect there is a chance of rebuilding and rehabilitating.

TEJ: I think it’s very important if you get the start right in a person’s life. You can avoid those negative cycles that could mean they turn into an animal and never progress and rehabilitate. From what I have seen of Holland so far and that’s not a lot, I get the impression things are good here, I just wish I had learned some Dutch before I came over because their English is astounding.

SH: I just felt that they were the most fluent English speakers.  You feel as though you were going to somewhere that had a slight, not a dialect, but an accent. They all speak perfect English and they know exactly what you’re talking about. All I have ever learned in Dutch is “Veel dank” [thank you very much]. Other than that they say why should you bother.

TEJ: It feels like somewhere just south of Cornwall or north of Norfolk.

SH: We have had that connection with Holland, the Antwerp wool trade between Holland and England. Of course Holland is a mere district of the Netherlands, it’s as if Britain were known as the Birmingham’s or Brummies. It’s funny but they have accepted this and they seem to be the most open, non-prejudiced people, almost like the Venetians of the European world. They were a very open and sweet people. I know in recent times they have had their problems, but then every nation has taken a bashing from fundamentalist fervour et cetera.

TEJ: It’s the bane of history and recent times colliding, and of course it extends further out from Europe to the West interfering in the Middle East. It’s unfortunate…

SH: But I understand it in a way. I have sympathies… the Arab world has continually had a kicking from the West ever since the Crusades took place. The trouble is with fundamentalism you have either got say there are two men who both speak to god and you’ve got King Richard The Lionheart on one hand and then you have the other bloke Saladin [An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub] on the other they’re both men talking to god and coming up with different answers. When it was Jimmy Carter and the White House and the Ayatollah [Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini] both men talking to god and both coming up with different answers it’s a great worry. It’s not god I fear but his interpreters.

Whilst we are talking, a television is on the wall showing a Christian service. A vicar in a Cathedral stationed somewhere within the Netherlands, Steve overhears this and remarks.

SH: As if on cue, well there we go a justification of so much misery and abuse.

TEJ: Well there you go What can we do? Things either feel like they are getting further apart or uncomfortably close like concentric circles much like the Olympic flag.

SH: There’s Doris Lessing’s book, Briefing for a Descent into Hell.  I met her once or twice years ago and I was telling her that I thought what a wonderful title it was for a book and at one point in this multi-level book, she’s talking about a hundred warring sects all claiming their version of the story to be true and there we are. Most religions, at least the monotheistic religions. One specific deity and there he is in judgement and we’ve got to get it right. The rest of you are all infidels, Sassenachs and bastards where as my lot are whiter than white of course.

Steve continues to surprise us Zoetermeer © The Evil Jam 2017

TEJ: The issue for me is how much worse do things need to get before action is taken to redress this imbalance, it’s starting to feel like 1936 and Nazi Germany all over again.

SH: Well indeed yes, Jo wrote a book and one of the chapters in it was Martyrs, Heretics and Scapegoats.

TEJ: That sounds like the name of a solicitors.

It’s at this point in the interview Steve erupts into a large burst of LAUGHTER, which we all needed to break the tension of such a serious subject.

SH: Now leave Cohen, Cohen and Cohen out of this!

Laughter

TEJ: Tell us more about that chapter in Jo’s book.

SH: Well, at the end of the day it was the idea that the foreigner is the bad guy. In primitive societies we have this village culture in jungles, people over there say, oh we don’t talk to them, no we boil them alive. Shrunken heads and it’s xenophobia and it can go smaller and smaller. That is why I came up with the thing that was the Mel Brooks comment about the two thousand year old man, what was the first national anthem god bless all those in cave number thirteen and to hell with all the rest. Mel Brooks is the only man who ever made money out of Hitler with Springtime for Hitler, with the Producers… he’s the only Jew who made money out of Hitler.

TEJ: The Producers is a fantastic film.

SH: I loved the very first movie with Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. I thought was just terrific, yeah sure I know the pacing of it was a bit [Steve pulls a sort of uneasy face and gesture], but Kenneth Mars was something else.

TEJ: You have the audience leaving, almost running out horrified and the theatre goers are in the bar moaning and then it pans to Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel who are laughing thinking it’s going to lose all of this money and then slowly there is the realisation and a click moment where they start to find it funny and they are straight back in for the second act.

SH: It’s extraordinary; it says something about success. Where did I go right? I chose the wrong writer, the wrong producer.

TEJ: The wrong part of town.

Laughter

SH: The wrong message and then we come back to politics and you think how do these guys get voted in but there you are.

We are now joined by Jo. She reminds Steve that they are due for an in store record signing in nearby Delft but we have a few minutes left, we turn the conversation around to the new album.

The Night Siren

TEJ: The new album The Night Siren is great but if I am being honest I don’t love it all.

SH: You don’t have to love it all.

TEJ: But I am not two faced to pretend that I do, the album is for everybody. It wasn’t a case of you ringing me up and asking me what I wanted on your album because that’s not what an artist does. One of my favourite bits is the nightmare scene in The Skeleton Gallery, with that lyric, “Wake up, jump up before the songs ends, get up, hear the shout, the puppet is not your friend.”

SH: That’s Jo’s lyric on that bit.

TEJ: It’s wonderful, and a testament to your more frequent collaborations. It’s no longer someone conversing with you about any potential childhood nightmares. With music it takes on a feeling and you get the goose bumps as if…

JO H (Jo Hackett): …As if you’re experiencing it.

TEJ: Oh yes and it has that sinister edge, Steve does menacing well for example in Dark Town. Of course another favourite is Fifty Miles From The North Pole featuring Amanda.

SH: We did a couple of videos.

JO H: Have you seen the video?

TEJ: Oh yes we have.

SH: A couple of videos are done, there might be a third.

JO H: There will be a third…

SH: …In the pipeline.

TEJ: It was Good Friday when you released the video for Fifty Miles From The North Pole and I thought very nice, it has that Bond theme but it also has that…

SH: Travelogue…

TEJ: Yes a Travelogue. Whilst connected with Norse mythology the lyric, “We are one with the light at the edge of the Sun” follows me around everywhere.

The vacuum cleaners make a return

TEJ: You were once quoted that you were nearly vacuumed to death by some enthusiastic cleaners once in Holland. They’re back!

Laughter

SH: Yes what used to happen was we were recording and it was sixteen degrees below zero centigrade there was frozen lakes, you couldn’t do anything but work or sleep. So we partied when we made the album and we kept going until 3 or 4 in the morning every time and then we’d get back to our hotel. The walls were paper thin and they’d be upstairs as we were downstairs they’d start the hoovering at 6 a.m. and we’d get two hours sleep each night and that was it.

Laughter

SH: That was it mate you know, if I had been sensible I could have started earlier and finished earlier, but no.

TEJ: It’s the wisdom that comes with age.

SH: If they had noise cancelling headphones that would have been just great back in the day. So I got very sick making that album and I got very sick making Please Don’t Touch. In those early days I just used to keep going until I dropped. It was always the same thing. What happened when I was living at home doing Acolyte, the flat upstairs they were doing renovations so I’d get back at 4 in the morning and then at 7 in the morning you’d hear this drilling sound; the scourge of the drills. Then I was only 25 I didn’t need much sleep and I didn’t get it.

Laughter

JO H: When you’re young it’s so much easier.

SH: I lived on a diet of chicken soup from the dispenser and far too many cigarettes. But don’t do as I did, do as I say, which is get rid of all of that ballast, get rid of it now and get healthy now!

We realise our time is short so we ask one final question

TEJ: What can you tell us about the forthcoming UK tour?

SH: I’m looking forward to being in hotels where the kettle works, I think tea is my biggest vice, also Marmite. If only I could get at the Marmite, I would have to go to Marmite Anonymous now, but I think I’m alright now.

Laughter

With our allotted time over we thanked both Steve and Jo for their time whilst they made their way to the record store signing in nearby Delft.

To get a measure of the man, during our chat a few fans recognised him and they made their way over. Steve was open and pleasant with everyone and gave his time generously.

Thank you to Lamia for the photos of the interview and for his assistance, Chris Simmons for the Gary O’Toole photo.

Steve Hackett’s Official Website

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