Progressive rock legend Steve Hackett has been interviewed by James Wood for the Guitar Aficionado website. Below is an extract:
What can you tell me about Wolflight?
Although the influence of world music is very strong, it’s essentially a rock album. Having said that, there are many guest appearances of things that go well beyond just the guitar, bass and drums. There’s a fair amount of orchestra; instruments such as the tar [from Azerbaijan], in this case played by Malik Mansurov, who kicks off the title track.
We’ve also got some duduk played by Rob Townsend, who normally plays sax with me as well as whistles and flutes. Along with Malik, we’ve twinned the tar with a digeridoo, which is played by Sara Kovacs. All of this is in addition to electric and acoustic guitars. I really wanted to mix things up and felt the genres that normally don’t get mentioned would be rich seas to plunder. There are even moments where there are hints of flamenco and French chanson as well as rock, pop, blues and jazz.
Why the title, “Wolflight”?
It’s really an idea from Homer. In The Odyssey, he talks about Odysseus waking up in the Wolflight, the hour before the dawn when it’s still dark but the light is just starting to change. It’s a time when wolves like to hunt. I had spent some time with wolves and their friendship and kinship with earlier man became a totem for this album.
I’d like to ask you a little about your writing process. What inspires you?
A lot of this album was done on paper, much of it written in the early morning hours. It’s a time when I’ve still got one foot in the land of dreams. I find that to be a very creative time. That’s part of the process. I’m also a fan of other genres of music. So that means I’ll be listening to things like Tchaikovsky and Grieg. You can hear those influences on this album as well.
What are you current tour plans?
We’ve got some European shows coming in September as well as some American dates in November. In addition to Wolflilght, we’re going to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of my first solo record, Voyage of the Acolyte. We’ve also had a lot of people asking about adding some Genesis songs into the sets as well. It will be a mixture of everything and billed as the total experience!
Speaking of “Voyage of the Acolyte, what made you decide to separate from Genesis and make a solo album?
When I first did Acolyte, the band’s future was looking extremely iffy. You have to remember Peter Gabriel was leaving and no one really knew if the band was going to survive the loss of its lead singer. A number of us had already been working on our own projects at the time. For me, it was the beginning of starting to fend for myself. Of course, I did have the help of Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford on that album. But I enjoyed the process very much and liked working without relying on the “composition by committee” aspect. I found it much easier to get my ideas through without having to do any political tap dance.
Do you think that experience played a role in your desire to eventually leave the band a few years later?
Oh yes. At the time, I felt like my role in the band was becoming marginalized and if I really wanted to maintain my self-respect, the only way forward was to stretch out on my own.
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