'Steve Hackett - The Defector' by Mario Giammetti - January 09
Introduction to the book
"Steve Hackett- The Defector" Translated from Italian.
By Mario Giammetti
Edizioni Segno, Italy, 2005
The verb "to defect" means, in the English language, to forsake one cause, party, or nation because of a change in ideology. Or to leave a situation to go over to a rival one.
Steve Hackett titled his fourth album Defector, which was also incidentally one of the most successful of his solo career.
"Defector" said Hackett to a journalist in 1980 "may be a dissident who goes to live in a world of freedom. But a defector is also someone who needs to risk a new direction..."
Well, Steve Hackett has actually been a defector a few times in his life, since the time when he decided to leave Genesis. His decision seemed more a jump into the void than a conscious choice. But his courage was rewarded in different ways, despite the genuine belief of most Genesis fans that no other person leaving the band has been as traumatic as Steve's departure. His solo affirmation was stunning in the early years of his career and has continued to be so.
In between, after the 70s success, there was also the popularity in the mid 80s of the GTR experience, a successful album and tour shared with another great guitarist, Steve Howe. And once again due to the defector’s decision: Hackett wasn't artistically satisfied with the quality of the supergroup and even if those were the worst years for him because of contractual reasons, he did not hesitate to leave the comfort-zone of the certain for the uncertain.
Steve's instinct to continuously escape, looking for new inspiration, also characterised his very long solo career, started more than 30 years ago, with many records under his belt. Albums which cheerfully fly from one genre to another: progressive, fusion, blues, ethnic, pop, hard rock, acoustic, orchestral, classical and, often, some of all this gathered in one unique album (if not in one unique track!).
Steve Hackett is a curious, open minded artist with the unstoppable will to never please himself with the obvious, to point his nose in the strangest places, not caring at all of the risk - and sometimes, to put even too much in his music. It is not that rare, when listening to a track by Hackett, to become almost overwhelmed by the amount of different inputs that it includes! In the pop and rock world, where usually one and only one idea can build the whole career of an artist, Hackett is really a rare gem!
And this is just speaking of music. But Steve Hackett is also the writer of lyrics which show great originality and amazing elements of fantasy.
Moreover he is, of course, an extraordinary guitarist. One who doesn't rely on pyrotechnics, who is not interested in speed competitions, although he is skilled with a fantastic technique, but who prefers very much to experiment and to build a sound (these features, after all, immediately convinced Gabriel and Banks that he was the one for the role of Genesis guitarist).
Last but not least, Hackett the man, is surely not less fascinating: a gentle and quiet person who lives in a sort of world of his own, where the music is always at the centre of his thoughts, but a man who also, at the same time, shows an enviable serenity of soul and an appreciable humility, even collaborating with a couple of tribute bands in 2002, in one case even as a supporter.
The last time I met him (and I was so lucky to meet him quite a lot of times), in July, he invited me into his studio to let me listen to a few new songs. As soon as he let the music start, he slipped away downstairs, almost as if he was wary of my judgement! But I managed to see that he actually was just sitting on the step, fully immersed, as always, in his music.
This book, the first in the world ever dedicated to Steve, is the second episode of the series of books called Genesis Files. But I already know that the next volumes will not be as demanding (due to the quality and the wide variety of Steve's prolific output) nor as gratifying (thanks to the total collaboration of the artist and his collaborators).
My wish is that reading these pages will enrich those who are already familiar with Hackett's music, but I also hope it will encourage those who are not yet Hackett devotees to fully delve into his music.
Steve Hackett's art is all in the details, and his music often inspires devotion from the attentive listener.
Benevento, September 2005