Steve Hackett of Genesis, Interview - 'Under A Mediterranean Sky'
by Anne Erickson
Steve Hackett, courtesy photo
Steve Hackett of Genesis joins Anne Erickson to discuss his new album, "Under A Mediterranean Sky," and the Genesis legacy
Guitarist Steve Hackett brims with creativity and new ideas, and that imagination is apparent on the legendary guitarist's new, acoustic album, "Under A Mediterranean Sky." The album, which marks Hackett's first acoustic solo album since 2008's "Tribute," is inspired by Hackett's vast travels around the Mediterranean with his wife, Jo.
"I had an idea that at this point in time, when people can't travel, I had this idea of doing something that was both acoustic and orchestral and slightly exotic, in terms of the places that we visit in music in each of these pieces," Hackett told Audio Ink Radio. "These pieces give a chance to travel and have an inner journey- to do an accompanying piece of music, almost like a film for the ears as opposed to the eyes. I was very moved by that."
"Under A Mediterranean Sky," which is available now via InsideOut Music," is what Hackett calls an "escapist album" and "very romantic." It provides a window of adventure and travel during a time when much of the world is stationed in place, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"It's more virtuosic than the rock stuff that I do," Hackett said, "but then, there's also this exotic world music aspect to it with instruments you won't necessarily find in rock. So, for all those reasons, I thought I'd do that after m live album and then autobiography, and then after that, I should get on with the rock album that I'm working on."
"So, it's one of a number of things in quick succession that couldn't have possibly come out while we were touring," he added. "It was a labor of love doing 'Under A Mediterranean Sky.' I loved doing it."
Hackett famously served as the lead guitarist in Genesis from 1971 to 1977. When asked for his favorite memory from his time in Genesis, Hackett points to a compliment the band received from the great John Lennon of The Beatles.
"I was thrilled that when we were a very young band back in 1973, we were touring the United States for the first time, and just as we were about to leave New York, desperate to get a gig elsewhere, anywhere in the States, we heard John Lennon giving an interview, and he said that Genesis was one of the bands that he was listening to," Hackett explained. "So, that was a very proud moment for me at that time. The album that we had which was current that time was 'Selling England by the Pound,' so I was thrilled that he'd given us a name check. That was quite something."
He added, "We had not by any means made it at that stage, but to get the seal of approval from Lennon, who we all still marvel at in terms of, as an imaginative brain and as a world leader in so many ways, was a huge, big deal. I know it was a big deal for me. It was a big deal for Peter Gabriel. He was the one who said, 'I just heard that story about John Lennon,' so I know he was hugely proud of that."
When asked to name his favorite Genesis album, Hackett, without hesitation, replies, "Selling England by the Pound."
"At that time, I think, that was the perfect Genesis album," Hackett said. "If anyone wants to know what Jurassic Genesis sounds like- really old Genesis, as opposed to the later Genesis, (being) the one that found favor with MTV. I think the sort of pre-video era, I think that 'Selling England' has got all those aspects of so may things on it: social comment, different instrumental techniques, pantomime, humor, serious stuff, funny stuff. Very, very English, of course. And it had our first hit single on it, which was 'I Know What I Like,' but I don't think there were any compromises made on the album. I think it was a very imaginative album. I was very proud of it."