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Steve Hackett Lockdown Interview 2021
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Steve Hackett Lockdown Interview

Steve Hackett - Lockdown Interview 2021

After a year in which the concert industry has been in lockdown, (GNC) found the opportunity to interview Steve Hackett via Zoom. Besides insights into the making of his acoustic album Under A Mediterranean Sky, Steve also talks about the effects of the pandemic, getting older - and that there will soon be a new rock album.

GNC: So we have quite a few things to talk about since the last time we spoke. Obviously you have a new album out, which was released earlier this year, so let’s start with that. It has been quite a journey since your last acoustic album Tribute. When you listen to the album, it seems like you have a focus on either the orchestra or the guitar playing. Did you do that on purpose, for example to avoid having the guitar playing against the orchestra?

Steve: Well, I think what I had in mind was to do an album which was guitar and orchestra. But of course because of the limitations of lockdown we ended up using a lot of samples for the album, but we also used real instruments where we could. It sounded very symphonic in the end and sometimes more symphonic than if we had used real instruments everywhere. But the intention was to do romantic music and to take people on a journey at a time where we can’t travel. So the album is symbolic for a freedom that we all once enjoyed. And now we live in expectations, trying to be optimistic, to be able to function at peak once again in the way we did. I am really happy with the album, I love the way it sounds. I enjoyed working in this kind of cinematic style. Having said that, I have just finished working on a new rock album. So in total I will have produced three albums in one year. The live album, then Under A Mediterranean Sky and the new one. It won’t be released until September. So I just keep them coming, lots and lots of different products.

Coming back to Under A Meditarranean Sky, I was really surprised that it performed that strong in the market. It performed more than some rock albums and has sold more. In a way it was something broader than just an acoustic album. So it also has some aspects of world music. Like landscaping, painting sounds. It wasn’t supposed to be a literal acoustic album, It was supposed to be more wide-ranging. So if it is an acoustic album, it’s an acoustic album with a difference.

GNC: Let’s talk about how you work with Roger.  Do you write the guitar parts and then ask Roger to come up with something orchestral?

Under A Mediterranean SkySteve: Actually, some of this is difficult to remember as I was working on a whole different project recently. So in my mind there are other ideas now and I’m casting myself back to that time – what did I actually do? It’s been a mixture of things. The opening melody was there very early on and I thought it would orchestrate very well and was then amazed how that turned out with the samples that we used. When I am recording, I am putting stuff together and I am still writing until the very last minute. So, often we record a bit and add a bit of orchestra or we let the orchestra go on its own. I can’t tell you in each case, it’s phrase by phrase, so there’s no plan. I let it go organically. I let the music go where it wants to go. I always have this conversation with Roger or with Jo about how pieces of music can be constructed. And sometimes the ideas might come from Roger or from Jo, like it would be nice to do something that sounds Greek or like another region and then the instrumentation follows that. I don’t know if that answers your question. Another example: The melody that finishes the first track - I had that already recorded in an earlier form. I thought it would be good if the album started dramatically but then it ended romantically.

I played it to Nick Magnus when it was done and he said he found it very moving, this last melody on it. So I got that emotional response from him, and he likes that album a lot. That’s nice to know. I also love the album sleeve and it all works as a package.

The response to Under A Mediterranean Sky was really great. It ended up to be one of my hits

GNC: You have been talking about the lockdown. Could you say this album would not have happened without the lockdown?

Steve: That’s quite possible, yes. I was talking to InsideOut about what to do next, and they said they would be happy with either a rock album or an acoustic album and they would support me in either way. And I am pleased that we’ve done both. I find that very rewarding. In a way it’s two extremes simultaneously. I'm really happy not to be limited to one genre. The response was really great. It ended up to be one of my hits, the acoustic album. It was great to use the guitar like a piano in some places. The sound is really satisfying. Roger does a better and better job each time.

GNC: One track stands out, for many reasons, and that is Scarlatti Sonata. Was there a specific reason to include this one?

Steve: Well … I heard a Segovia version of this. And I found out I lost my vinyl copy. Many years later I saw him play at the Alhambra in Spain and it was a live version of that piece. I thought how very beautiful it was and how very well he played it. It was something typically Barock and the addition that I wanted to use was to make the trills sound more like Barock keyboard playing … and that was so popular at the time for either keyboard or violin or even Cello, where the trills really stand out. It sounds like a machine gun, compared to hammering on and off with the left hand.

I had a friend, Theo Cheng, a classical guitarist. He was a brilliant classical guitarist. Sadly, he died not too long ago. When we used to be together we would swap guitar techniques, showing each other what we do. One of the techniques he showed me was cross string trilling. You use four fingers on this hand to do something that just creates two notes but it’s working very fast with the right hand. I used it quite intensely on the album, this technique. It took me months to get this technique work, it’s very demanding, but very beautiful.


GNC: Does the writing of such an album require more attention to detail and compositional finesse compared to a rock album?

Steve: I think it’s the same thing really. All art has salvage. And all music has salvage. You start off with an idea. If it’s something that requires some technical ability you have to keep refining it and to make it work somehow. I am always staring failure in the face. In order to make anything work you have to think why is this not working? What do I have to do to make this piece work? You keep polishing it and work on your own skills and also recording techniques to come to that point where it sounds absolutely magnificent. Then cutting away all the irrelevant parts, all mistakes etc. to create something that sounds second to none. It’s the way painting works, and sculpturing works, film making as well. The devil is in the detail and working on details makes things work. Think about I Am The Walrus from the Beatles. You hear the original demo and you think there’s nothing there. And then the real works starts and they made it sound fantastic with the arrangement and the commitment to performance. So simple stuff can end up as a masterpiece, just for attention to detail.

The challenge is to make the orchestral parts sound like the Berliner Philharmoniker

GNC: Your last three rock albums were some kind of a trilogy – do you consider those as a closed chapter now and what can we expect from the new album?

Steve: Well, I have generally committed myself to orchestral sounds. That can be a sample, a couple of players or parts of Orchestra. At the end of the day, the challenge is to make that sound like the Berliner Philharmoniker. That’s the standard I aspire to all the time and I think sometimes we’ve reached that. It’s not about the tools or the amount of players, it’s also an imagination with attention to detail and precision. Watching me and Roger making an album would be very boring for anyone to watch. It’s like watching paint dry… it’s sometimes not interactive. At times I have to walk away and let Roger get on with it. Modern recording is not really interactive in a way it once was. It used to be a group of people standing near the recording desk, everybody had their hands at the faders and tried to sail the ship at the same time. It’s not like that anymore. The reality is: it’s one guy and a mouse, that’s how we work. And I send Roger my memorandum and a list of my ideas and he tries to implement those and all of his ideas and then we go back to the drawingboard and do updates. The process is nothing like a live performance. We stop and start at will because that’s what new technology alows and demands. Nobody gets any points for finishing early. It has to be real, it has to be honest, it has to be emotionally second to none, that’s what I look for at the end of the day.

GNC: But when you do an album like At The Edge Of Light, then Under A Mediterranean Sky and then you go back to record some sort of rock album. Do you then have the intention to make that sound completely different?

Steve: Well, to be absolutely honest: Every time I’m about to do an album, it’s hugely challenging to do something as good as I have done in the past. I have to deal with my own internal critic, in order to do everything better than I did last time. To climb higher and higher … I have to challenge myself and have to deal with the daunting possibility that I might not be able to do something as wonderful as I have done in the past. I think I do surpass myself in terms of techniques and abilities, controlling my singing and my fingers, all of that. I know that I did things recently that I couldn’t do before. I am always pushing myself. In the end it’s up to the listener. If they prefer the stuff I did back in 1971, I can’t change that. I think a lot has to do with the age of the listener. All people who are thrilled with early Genesis and they think my output stopped there in terms of being able to thrill people. I line that up against new people who get exactly what I’m doing now and think I’m better than ever. That encourages me – to move on. I am my own worst critic. I can also use the criticism and take things to a higher standard each time, as a player, singer, producer, arranger. I’d love to be 15 again and then listen to the stuff I have done since. How would that be? That’s the challenge, you won’t be able to do that, but as long as the brain works, the body works and my fingers work, I want to be able to record as many things as possible with the highest standard possible.

You can’t write a drum solo for a drummer. There’s no point.

GNC: So you don’t have a plan. You start and see what comes out of it?

Steve: One has to have an idea of a few songs to start off with. It’s not like getting myself in Abbey Road Studios for a month and then you have an album. All that’s written on the day ends up on the album and that’s it. It’s not like that. The team is me, Roger and Jo and we write the stuff together. And sometime we hand it over to incredible musicians. There is this musician, Arsen Petrosyan from Armenia, whom I was due to meet in Paris when we were playing there, but he showed up a little bit late at the show and I wasn’t able to see him but stayed in touch. So I’ve never met him, but he is a great player. We worked on The Dervish And The Djin. We send him strings and he plays on top of that. To some degree you leave space for a solo that becomes the thing for as long as he’s playing. And that’s his thing then. It’s like … I mean you can’t write a drum solo for a drummer. There’s no point. Let the man or woman do his or her thing. On the recent stuff I let Christine Townsend come up with an intro for some of the tracks. Jo also came up with some melodies (on the Meditarrenean album) and then Roger orchestrated them. I did improvised phrases myself. Doing something that sounds spontaneous. I have a vision in my mind when I do this. Things I’ve seen and imagine. Very romantic. Nothing to do with Rock’n Roll or progressive music. It’s liberating rather than limiting.

The new album is almost like heavy metal orchestra, if there’s a genre like this.

GNC: Who else is involved on the new rock album?

Steve: There are various people. My touring band, they are all on it, including Nad Sylvan. We also have Nick D’Virgilio and also Phil Ehart we haven’t worked with him for many years - he played drums on Please Don't Touch, then Christina Townsend again, Amanda Lehman, Lorelei and Durga McBroom and Malik Mansurov, another guy from Tajikistan who plays the dutar, a two string instrument.

I’ve also got hold of an viatnamesian instrument, which is an oriental zither but it’s also known as the oriental harp. I bought one and tuned it to different scales. It’s beautiful recorded and sounds lovely as a lead instrument. Again, that steps outside progressive music.

It’s difficult to describe music you haven’t heard. I don’t think it will be a disappointment, the new rock album is heavier, it’s almost like heavy metal orchestra, if there’s a genre like this. It steps outside of progressive rock at times. Quite a lot of virtuosic fast rock on it. I wanted to have this burst of energy. I rethought my idea of what’s tasteful and what’s tasteless. I’ve noticed when people criticized rock guitar for being too fast, it’s usually people who can’t do it and wish they could. So people who can have to fight the prejudice. If you think of classical standards, people have to play fast stuff, it’s part of that. That’s one of the things I like, this wide range from aggressive to gentle. An orchestra plus rock band is something that I found intriguing for years. And I couldn’t get away from this. So we have that and we also have jazz as well. And then we have a moment where keyboard and soprano sax play some very unlikely stuff together, you can’t pen it down. Is this Jazz or classical or Ecclesiastical? It draws from all of those areas. It’s really extreme. More extreme than anything that I heard any rock band do. Not even sure that I heard Jazz people do this.


GNC: You said you included Nad Sylvan on this album. This is the first time, I believe, so what prompted you to include him on the album – as a vocalist, I suppose?

Steve: Well, I sang these tracks myself. I was writing something in a way … When we were in Scotland touring the last time we all had an evening off, and we went to this really lovely restaurant which was in a kind of cellar. I said to Nad that I had this track that – I thought of it as something in the Genesis style. I realized I could sing this myself, I did a rough myself. I thought this would work with his sound, so he recorded his bit in this sounded great. When you’re choreographing something for another singer I thought it would be nice if it functioned in a away that the Genesis singers had. But also I thought that if there was an influence in the way I’d heard Freddie Mercury singing, the declamatory, operatic style, it would be good if it reached a peak like that. Knowing that Nad was a fan of Freddie with Queen – I know that it doesn’t sound like anything by Queen, but the idea of the voice rising up and long notes sustained at the end was something I had in mind. I thought Nad would be good at that. That he could be he actor on this song. On a lot of the early Genesis stuff Peter Gabriel was good at taking an actor’s approach to singing. When you become an actor, you deliver the song and a lyric in a way where you’re living he song. You’re painting with words.

I think there’s a German word, “Sprechstimme”, there’s an aspect of that where it’s talking and singing at the same time, it’s pitched very low and still has power and gravitas. And that’s really why I used Nad on it. Perhaps we’ll get to play that tune live. It’s very demanding technically. It’s a tour de force. It’s bloody difficult music, but somehow a joy when you put it all together. It’s probably very proggy.

GNC: You said that these days it’s not the band in the studio recording an album, it’s more like you and Roger and maybe Jo sitting at the computer and doing stuff there. If it were possible again, would you like to go back to that again, to have a band in the studio and record it live?

Steve: I haven’t worked like that for many years. For the technical standards I want to achieve it is important that everyone can play to a virtuoso standard. But if people are learning the thing at the same time… umh … unless everyone was reading from a score sheet. I have to have an ideal centre of the song. Here’s how it functions if everyone can play the balls of everything, that can work, but it’s no good if I say to people “Well, I think this bit goes like this, but I’m not quite sure”. The way we used to work in a rehearsal room, the way that a band operates – it’s very different to the standard I require of myself as a solo act.

That's the reason why I ought to be a solo performer and the band sounds like a band - can it function to a higher standard than I can achieve if I get everyone in the same place at the same time? I like to take this laboratory technique. In other words, let’s get all the experimentation out of the way first of all, and then we can have moments when people have solos. Once the framework is there, we can have the real and the sample and the analogue and the digital all together in one big cake. I can’t do that when I’m in a studio and I’m still making the tea and I’m still working on where the jam is gonna go on the donuts. I have to lead by purpose of example, by saying “I’ve recorded this. This is my performance”. I send it off to everyone and we record the drums separately and the bass separately, and the orchestra, if it’s real, or the samples, if it’s not, overlay with the real. Everyone gets to work in their own satellite, and then we all get to visit Mars together in one go. It’s no good to do that if you’re still building the spaceship. You’re reaching – to use this space analogy – for the moon, reaching for the stars all the time. I can’t do that in the old way, much as I’d like to. That would be great, yeah, fine, maybe get everyone in a room together at some point and work in the old-fashioned way. You might as well have everyone just jamming, frankly, and then try to turn it into something later on. At some point this process of refining has to take place. I don’t think it can happen simultaneously. Not with the kind of standards I’m looking for.

In a way, playing Battle Of Epping Forest live was some kind of mathematical exercise

GNC: When you put together the rock band for a live setting. How long does it take until they play the song you have put on the record perfectly live, in your opinion?

Steve: I think it takes months of working alone in order to get stuff together. Some people are faster than others. For instance, Nad said to me (when we did a song such as The Battle Of Epping Forest from Selling England By The Pound): “It took me three months to learn that song.” You know, English is not his first language. And I said: “Well, you did a bloody good job at it.” It took me a long time to relearn that song. Hadn’t played it since 1973 or 1974. It took me a long time to get into that same headspace that I was in at that time. The rhythms on that song are very contrapuntal and very controversial and they only really work in that truly proggy sense. In a way it’s a kind of mathematical exercise. It’s not as if anyone is going with the flow, it’s the opposite of that. That’s where we were coming from in 1973. Phil was trying to prove himself as a drummer and as an arranger. We were all on permanent catchup. I think Genesis’ work became much more simple after that, and then occasionally would go back to the idea of doing a rhythm that was as complicated as Watcher Of The Skies, for instance. It all depends on where you decide to get complicated. Do you get complicated from the word “go”? Or do you have a statement and then you try and complicate it? Or is complexity your goal and your god at the beginning of it? I look for complexity in a different way. I look to complexify things (if there’s such a word) in order to enhance the basic idea that I have from the word “go”. I’m not trying to write rhythms anymore that people can’t count because I think that, rhythmically, my job is to engage people so they can either tap their foot or nod their head. Even if it’s something in 7/8 the idea of it swinging – you know, what is it that makes a rhythm swing? – that’s something that engages me greatly these days whereas at one time I would have been content to have something that people couldn’t count. I think a lot of modern prog bands get it wrong with the idea of too much punctuation and not enough statement. To start off with an uncountable punctuation and then [laughs] stick a statement on afterwards is like shooting yourself in the foot before you’ve gone to war. Not a good idea. But that’s just a personal view. Everyone has got the right to engage with their medium in the way they choose it.

I think a lot of modern prog bands get it wrong with the idea of too much punctuation and not enough statement.

GNC: Have you perhaps shot yourself in the foot as well? Because now you have an acoustic album, and a new rock album, and then you go on tour in autumn, hopefully, and then you play the Genesis stuff and of course have to do the shows that were not possible since early 2020. What’s going to happen with the new stuff you have recorded?

Steve: Well, I have so much new stuff, and I had committed to doing old stuff, but we had a pandemic in between. We’re in a brave new world where I want to deliver people Seconds Out and also to give them full-length versions of tunes and not just segue best moments. There’s a possibility to do a very long involved show, to do some new stuff and most of it is that double album. Having done Selling England By The Pound and most of Spectral Mornings – that did very well for me as a live show. People were very engaged by it. It did very good business at the box office. But I was also very proud of that work. The idea of doing it album by album is a possibility for the future. Seconds Out was an album that was a case of cherry-picking across all of the albums that we’d done up to that point. Music that had been put together over the course of the six or seven years of my tenure with the band is what Seconds Out is all about, so maybe it should be called Seconds In. So much of the music on that album is very good. I realize it’s from a time when I’d decided to leave the band after that, but that’s because I wanted to engage with new stuff. It’s important to revisit the past but also to involve new material. I think it’s important to be free to do both. These days it’s important to me to be nostalgic but also to be groundbreaking with new stuff, otherwise my new stuff wouldn’t be selling so well as it does now. It seems like Genesis has been the ticket to that. There’s been a lot more interest in what I do, so the albums have charted. The new stuff has gone to the charts. I try to steer a middle course between pleasing fans of the old, or classic, Genesis, the disenfranchised fans who were not happy with what Genesis became after Peter Gabriel and I left, and steering a path towards new stuff and saying “Hey, I also do this as well”. One concert really isn’t enough to be able get across the idea of everything that I’m doing. When I was in Australia the last time I was doing three different shows, sometimes in the same town. I was doing electric, I was doing acoustic, two different electric shows. This is the way forward, I think, becoming more fragmented, perhaps, in future. I can’t possibly expose people to everything I’ve done over the past 50 years. I’ve been a professional musician now for 50 years, so I’ve got a lot of things to choose from. I love the early work we did with Genesis, but then I also love many other things that were done since. I’m addicted to music. What can I tell you? I love doing the new things as well. One lifetime is too short.


GNC: And now you’re playing your UK tour at the same time your former band is touring there. In one case, you both play in the same city on the same day. How did that happen? I mean, you have, basically, the same promoter, haven’t you?

Steve: Yes. It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? That’s in Manchester, and I was very worried that fans would be torn between the two, but apparently if they want to come and see me one night and come and see Genesis the other night because they’re doing two nights, it means they can get to see old Genesis and new Genesis. Although I use the term … how could I put it? … academically, because all of it is old Genesis now because there has been no new Genesis recording since the last album – and I’m sure you’ve got a much better idea what year Calling All Stations was… was it Calling All Stations or the one after that? It’s been a long time since Genesis did anything in the studio. All of us are keeping the museum doors open at this stage.

I’m too engaged with new music at this stage to do a third Genesis Revisited album

GNC: Do you have any plans for a third Genesis Revisited album?

Steve: There are those who encourage me to do that. If I ever do that, and I won’t say that I won’t – I haven’t got any plans to do so – one would have to take some of the songs that were less memorable and try and do them to a memorable standard, and make the things that sounded weaker (this is entirely subjective) sound stronger. There were certain tunes that I remember sounding better in rehearsal than they did when they were recorded. One would have to make that sound spectacularly good. Whatever it aspired to in the old days, one would have to take that to its zenith. In some ways it’s easier with material that didn’t quite reach the peak of the absolute classic tunes. In some ways it’s easier to make them say “ooh, I didn’t realize that tune was so good.” That would be the challenge if I did it. And I’m not committing to it. I’m too engaged with new music at this stage to do that. For me it would be a capitulation at this stage. If there’s any songs you thought were really good but you think we didn’t record them that well then that would be interesting to know. You know, if somebody thought “That could be a really good song, but, hey, maybe it wasn’t recorded that great back in the day.” You see what I’m driving at. When something is recorded in a less than spectacular fashion it’s possible to make it.

GNC: Many fans have put forward questions about possible collaboration projects with people such as Steven Wilson, Steve Rothery, with whom you have worked in the past. Are there any plans to do more with them, perhaps an album together?

Steve: Yes! Steve Rothery and I have talked about doing something for a very long time. We’ve jammed together and sometimes we’ve recorded it. But at this point we haven’t felt that we had the absolute thing to present in front of people. That is a possibility, but you have to appreciate that it’s been very difficult to do stuff face to face in recent times. I’ve played on some stuff of his, some new stuff, and he’s played on some new stuff of mine. We’ll just have to see what happens with all of that. It’s a bit at a time, dribs and drabs. If we do something together I think it will be very interesting because he’s a great player. It will be interesting to see where that goes.

GNC: You wrote a book about your life, which brings the number of Genesis-related biographies to three, or four, if you include Richard Macphail. Have you got any feedback from your Genesis mates about your book.

Steve: Well, no. [pauses] Umh, that’s the simple answer.

A Genesis In My BedGNC: How about the feedback from the general public to your book?

Steve: The feedback has been great. It’s still selling, and the publishers were very happy. It’s a major commitment, doing a book. If you think doing a great song takes a long time, the processes of writing a book and writing a new album and recording it are somewhat similar in that re-writing is the important thing. You look back at a page and think: “Am I describing that as well as I can possibly do?” I did a lot of rewriting in order to try and make it look entertaining. It’s an extraordinary thing. Becoming an author is not the same as writing a few songs. It’s taking up a whole different profession, isn’t it? It’s like suddenly you decide to build a house and you know nothing about bricklaying. Writing a book is not the same as writing an essay at school or writing the verse, the middle eight and the chorus of a song, or even something the length of Supper’s Ready. It’s a major commitment to sitting down at that desk and doing it. You got to get the best out of yourself. Sometimes the best ideas come along when you’re in the shower and you think “why didn’t I write that down?” I haven’t got a waterproof pen. When you start to relax the best ideas come along, and then you have to try and catch those ideas, those ephemeral ideas. It’s like trying to remember a dream, and it can be as insubstantial as that. And ow do I catch this and make this work? It’s like tricking yourself into being relaxed but working at the same time. You need both halves of your brain working.

We have to be able to allow venues to be filled to a hundred percent.

GNC: One aspect we haven’t touched on yet is the general [Covid] lockdown situation. You have come to a full stop last year in April, I think, and you haven’t played any full shows since. This probably causes a lot of issues because you don’t have the income from doing live shows, then your whole crew doesn’t have an income and then everybody else in the business. What did that do with you and your situation. What’s the situation right now, also with your crew?

Steve: I decided to do several things that would earn money for the crew. I did hand-written lyrics of two songs. One was Shadow Of The Hierophant and the other one was Every Day. I wrote these out fifty times. Hand-written. Not printed. Hand-written versions. We sold those to fans, and all the money went to the crew. It takes a long time to write these things out by hand. We also sold T-shirts with stuff relating to the crew on the front. The lyrics sold so well that I did a second batch of this. I can’t remember if those have done on sale yet or if they’re about to. Those things seem to sell phenomenally well. All of that money goes to the crew, so from time to time they get a cash injection. I am lucky that I can afford to do that. Meantime I can record. I can’t do shows at the time, but I hope that later this year I can fulfil the commitment to the shows. This also depends on government guidelines. If, for instance, our government in the UK restrict capacities of venues to 50 percent, for instance, I won’t be able tour with my band because we carry a production and it has to be economically viable to take away all the stuff we do, all the lights, the sound, all the bells and whistles, all that stuff. Even if you’re carrying a medium-sized production. Fingers crossed. We have to be able to allow venues to be filled to a hundred percent. If it goes below 85 percent it’s no feasible. I can’t bankrupt myself mounting shows that are too big for the capacities. All I can say is that the forthcoming shows have been selling extraordinarily well. I like to think that I’m doing a very different show to the kind of show Genesis will be doing. The music is entirely different. The type of band they’ve become is entirely different. I don’t think there’s any contradiction there. At one point they weren’t going to be touring at the same point as me, and then everything had to be rescheduled, and they were going to be in the United States while I was going to be in the UK and Europe. Then it all got rescheduled again, and they’re back playing the UK at the same time that I am. That’s a challenge for me, but the fact is that hasn’t affected the sales of shows. One has to be optimistic. If I’m allowed to play, if the rest of the world is open for business, I’m open for business. We’re all in this thing together.

GNC: I spoke with the Genesis Management the other day and she said they really want to do the tour in September and October, obviously based on vaccination progress and testing capacities. They also said that less than a hundred percent capacity makes it unfeasible because you cannot throw out fans. What are your thoughts?

Steve: It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? We’ve all got the capability of filling these venues, but at the same time it’s impossible at the moment. We don’t have a crystal ball. I’m supposed to be part of being involved with a thing that has to do with a government think tank. I’ll be giving feedback to a company that advises the government about all things, so I’m kind of representing the entertainment business with this thing. I’ll be making these things known, that this is how it is. We have an industry that was the third largest in this country. For that to crawl to a halt… well, you know what it means. Either we just say good-bye to that – it affects the entire economy of the nation. It’s not just me, it’s everyone else. So we have the horrors of Brexit, the horror of the pandemic, and the horrors of government guidelines where governments may know absolutely nothing about the way this, the music business, works. I shall be putting my case forward and saying “please, let me work. I’m begging you to let me work live. This is what people need. We can all do very good business. We can reinflate the economy if we handle this the right way.“

Personally I have had two jabs. I’ve been very lucky being able to do that. It’s a crime that the world hasn’t been allowed to get vaccinated simultaneously. This is terrible, of course. [sighs] I don’t have a solution. I don’t think any governments have a solution. As long as countries are competitive with each other it produces terrible solutions where there were no problems first of all.

Before I go completely crazy, I feel the need to redouble my efforts.

GNC: You have tuned 70 a while ago - how do you motivate yourself? A lot of people at your age simply retire.

Steve: The prospect of mortality … I have an uncle, a world class athlete, he was good in 1953 – and now one of the fastest runners in the world needs a hip replacement. So every time I have a headache I think … is this it? Is this fatality? You’ve reached this age and have all those conversations – how are you doing? Operation for this here, surgery for that there … the car surely has to go into the garage at some point. But in my body, most things seem still to be working fine. So before I go completely crazy and do lally, before I am irrelevant to the world of music, I feel the need to redouble my efforts. There were too many years when things conspired to stop me doing things I wanted be alble to do but now it’s possible and soon I will go on with another album, in absolutely no time whatsoever.

GNC: Thanks Steve for the nice chat and we hope to see you soon on stage again!

Steve: Yes, great. I hope we will be able to play live again soon. Looking forward to becoming a touring musician again.

Interview: Christian Gerhardts
Transcript: Christian Gerhardts and Martin Klinkhardt

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