Yesterday I had the immense pleasure and privilege of talking by phone with Steve Hackett as he prepares for his 2018 Tour de Force. Over the course of 30 minutes, Steve was genial, gracious and forthcoming. He talked about life on a prog rock cruise, his busy agenda for this year, the musicians he works with, his take on where progressive music might be heading, and much more. Steve’s words (slightly edited for clarity and organized by topic) follow!
About this year’s Cruise to the Edge:
“Absolutely marvelous. I think this was our fourth Cruise, as was the case for many of the acts, and I think everyone said this time they felt that it was the best of the lot, because so many people knew each other, familiar faces. They have a boatload of about 3,000 people. In the end, when you’ve done this thing before, people just keep coming back, and saying, ‘Oh, hi, Steve.’ ‘Hi, Fred.’ All that is just wonderful, it’s mind-boggling, it’s like a sort of brotherhood on the briny, on the high seas. It’s wonderful that these cruises have become such a success. I get to hook up with all sorts of extraordinary pals, such as the guys from Marillion and all the Yes guys, of course, and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull, and so many. So there’s a great camaraderie amongst everybody, so we all got time to hang out together, see each other’s shows, and it’s become a great tradition.”
About sitting in and collaborations:
“I sat in with Dave Kerzner on the Cruise, I’ve played on a couple of albums of his. In a way, I think there’s this thing about helping each other out, as I say, this brotherhood feeling. And he’s tremendously hard working, he’s done so many things recently, and it’s great. He often says, ‘Ooh, I’ve got such and such, do you feel like using that?’ in his studio. Between all of us, we’ve got a ton of contacts and we help each other. It’s a great time in rock & roll, it’s very much everyone’s feeding everyone else, it’s really very good.”
“We played a version of this thing called ‘Stranded,’ which was on his first album. It was a poolside thing where we did that at night, but it really took off. I’m hoping we see a film of it at some point.” [Here’s Steve’s solo from the end of ‘Stranded,” as played on Cruise to the Edge 2018. Thanks to Dave Kerzner, guitarist extraordinaire Fernando Perdomo, and Fernando’s friend Cyndi for supplying the video!]
“I think perhaps it’s a case of having been in the industry for a certain amount of time, where the people remember me via Genesis or GTR or solo stuff, or whatever it happens to be. Over and above that, I’ve worked with a tremendous amount of artists, showing up, doing the solos. Not always guitar – sometimes it’s harmonica or other strange things that I get asked to do, and if I can fit it into the schedule, I like doing it. I’ve worked with all sorts of artists. It hasn’t always been rock; sometimes it’s been other stuff – Evelyn Glennie, which is avant-garde stuff, a Hungarian band called Djabe. I do stuff with them and meet musicians all over the world.”