The Steve Hackett Interview
Supporting the release of the Squackett album, A Life Within A Day, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett spoke with me about the strong and surprisingly commercial collaboration with Chris Squire, the one and only Yes bassist, among other items of interest.
When you put two giants like Squire and Hackett together, you are bound to get something special. The Squackett album most certainly is something special, and I was chomping at the bit to get the skinny on how this project got off the ground.
How did Squackett come to be?
There were several projects Chris and I worked on together. There was a Christmas album of Chris’ which I worked on (Swiss Choir); then he came and worked on a couple of my solo things on Into The Tunnel’s Mouth and my last solo recorded, Shrouded Horizon. We were also stock piling things for a combined project and all these things just happened in tandem.
Is it more a matter of just bumping into other musicians from Yes or other bands, or do you all run in the same circles after a time?
We come into contact quite a lot. Guys who’ve been in the business perennially do tend to bump into each other from time to time, though we all do kind of know one another. It’s really nice to get to work with so many people over the course of a lifetime and I’m very happy to work with Chris, of course, and yes I did get to work with Steve Howe with GTR. I originally met Chris in LA ’round in the mid-’80s and we were just playing there with GTR.
I really like the songs on this record, especially the vocal harmonies. If I might be so bold there are times that you guys even traipse into Beach Boy-like territory, especially on a song like “Summer Backwards.”
Yes indeed. We started doing stuff and stacking up harmonies on it and Chris said that very thing: ‘I think I can come up with another part which will make it sound a little bit like the Beach Boys, and that’s exactly what he did. So we have aspects of them, aspects of ELO, aspects of all the harmony bands. This was a total excuse to use as many harmony vocals as we could; that’s what we indulged in on the album and it is something that categorizes the way album sounds.
And there is to a good sense that this is not just a prog album, whatever the label prog means these days anyway.
Prog can mean a great album but it can sometimes mean the work is encumbered by impenetrable time signatures and things that make people scratch their heads a bit and that can be a calling card in one sense. It’s a little like jazz in that, how many solos do you need? How far do you take that thing and if you are trying to make an accessible record, how far do you indulge pop sensibilities too and how much do you allow it to rock out? All these questions you ask yourself subliminally as you go at something. And I thought that this thing with Chris could be something that speaks to a wider audience then perhaps then the ones we’ve had in the past.
Well I do believe there are some clear commercial moments, in the very best sense of the term.
It’s an album that trusts in melody. We didn’t go at this with the intention of wanting to confuse people. We wanted a very direct approach, a certain amount of love songs; there’s that and it’s accessible in that sense. There’s other things too, a sense of romance and adventure hopefully sonically, part and parcel of what people expect from Genesis and Yes and Chris and myself and our solo stuff.
Any chance we might get to see you two perform this stuff live? I know with your schedules, it’s hard to get together. You have Isle of Wight next month, and Chris is touring with Yes.
I’m hoping we get to do it. We do seem to have killer schedules we’re embracing at the moment. I think he’s on a South American tour, last I heard.
In the case of a lot of you guys, the guys out with Yes, the guys in Asia, Greg Lake on tour presently, you all seem to be quite busy these days.
I think the older you get the more you want to do, maximize your ability right now.
What else besides the Squackett project is going on for you?
I’ve done quite a lot of recording this year and touring, mainly on this side of the pond. I’m hoping to get to the states next year, and I’m working once again on some Genesis revisited stuff (Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited). I have a double album of that in the works that I would love to take live to the states. And of course I love this album with Chris. There are all strong things in the pipeline for me.
Being as this is Vintage Rock I feel compelled to ask the obvious: Do you see any possibility of a Genesis reunion?
I am always up for it. I hope it happens at some point. I’m still very much engaged with the Genesis canon of songs in one way or another. Who knows, the door is always open to a reunion.