Steve Hackett says he wouldn’t have taken Genesis in a “pop direction” had he stayed
“While that certainly pleased MTV’s gods… I would never have gone along with that.”
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In a recent interview with Guitar World, Hackett reflected on his stint with the prog outfit and his eventual decision to walk away from the group despite its success.
“I sweated blood to make sure that Genesis became an international success,” the guitarist said. “At the same time, I started making solo albums, which fell foul in terms of band politics. So, I was explicitly told by the others that I couldn’t pursue a parallel solo career. And I thought, ‘I haven’t any guarantees that my songs will be done by Genesis. What am I waiting around for?’”
Explaining that band politics were becoming “increasingly restrictive”, Hackett said that ultimately “it came down to band loyalty or my own self”, and that he’d chosen the latter in the end.
“I said to myself, ‘I must be allowed to express myself fully musically’… I chose myself. I know I made the right decision. I couldn’t have stayed in that suffocating atmosphere any longer.”
As for how the band would’ve differed musically had he stayed, Hackett said that he “would not have gone in the pop direction [Genesis] did in the ’80s.”
“Although the music’s different, I think that Pink Floyd combined lots of soloing, extended arrangements, and many accessible songs. I believe Genesis aimed itself in the direction of vocal-based accessible songs and stripped away the detail. And that meant musicians were no longer looking to Genesis for innovation.”
He continued, “While that certainly pleased MTV’s gods, and it was media-friendly – and I’m not knocking the fact that it’s sold millions – I would never have gone along with that.”
“So, my counter to that was forming [British rock supergroup] GTR With Steve Howe. We managed to do something that pleased the gods of MTV, and at the same time, we managed to do something where, although perhaps there was less soloing and more direct songs, bridged that gap. I suppose I might have taken Genesis in that same direction had I stayed.”
Elsewhere, the guitar virtuoso also touched on the unlikelihood of a reunion with Genesis, saying that as “incredible” as writing and playing with his former bandmates was, all of that is now in the past.
“I think we came up with some wonderful things in Genesis, and I’m proud of that,” Hackett said. “There were some great writers involved with Genesis when we had the five guys, all capable of writing stuff. Never mind the playing, which truly left us with the best of both worlds. It was incredible. That might have lasted for a while, but that’s over now.”