HC: You’ve had a phenomenal career, how does it feel to still be playing & creating music after all these years?
SH: It is still just as important as it always was and it becomes more and more important the older you get. I am aware of the passing of time but somehow music overrides all of that, music is timeless. It re-energises people. I think it is so important it’s powerful, it’s a powerful force, it is the thing that gets me going every day. If I feel under energised and I start playing and it immediately makes the blood flow and everything else and the dreams come. It’s been a wonderful thing, it’s been my friend, it’s never left me.
HC: Do you have a favourite song/album that you’ve created? Is that even possible?
SH: My favourite Genesis album is ‘Selling England by the Pound’ but there are many, I think ‘Foxtrot’, which we are going to be playing at the end of this year, there was something very special about that. Ones that I have done myself is more difficult as they are all my babies, they are like my grandchildren, I wouldn’t say one album over another. I’m invested in them equally.
HC: How does the magic work – what’s the song writing process?
SH: A bit like when you are a kid – I have to play with my toys! I play with my equipment and that might be guitar or two, it might be a nylon guitar as I like the gentle stuff as well. Once you realise how close these toys are and then everything else seems to fall into place. I couldn’t tell anyone how to write a song as it all happens in a very organic way. I might hear something somewhere and I think maybe I can take on board that influence, that could be anything from music I heard last week or 500 years ago. All the influences are there and all the genres impinge on it somewhere.
HC: You’ve got a lot of tour dates booked around the world for this year, tell me more about the 2022 UK tour (Genesis Revisited, Foxtrot at 50 & Hackett Highlights) – what can the audience expect?
SH: Well it’s the fiftieth anniversary year of the Genesis album ‘Foxtrot’ and that will take care of about an hour’s worth of stuff on stage which will give me another hour or more, because sometimes we do a two and half hour show so I can include some other things as well. I can include some favourite solo things and more Genesis songs and still make it 50/50. Both types of audiences are well served by this extraordinary band which I feel privileged to lead.
HC: How would you describe your fans?
SH: Extraordinarily loyal. They range from eight to eighty and sometimes more! There are lots of people who are interested in how to play the guitar so a lot of young kids, who follow me for that. There will also be young inspiring drummers, who will be watching Craig Blundell on stage. He teaches and does all sorts of stuff such as live seminars and has a huge following of his own. To describe the audience? There are people who want to be returned in spirit to the 1970s and I can do that and help them reminisce and there others who’ve not heard it before, I’ve also got fans who have only heard what’s been on Classic FM and that’s a very different audience and they are interested in composition, orchestras and other things. Plus the rock albums I’ve done which have charted in recent times, so there will be people who are just interested in that. I’ve kept it going in all directions over years and years and years and somewhere along the line all those different audiences meet up. I expect there are people who prefer one thing over the other but that’s music. I like to capture all those collisions and different schools of thought that collide into each other, there is respect from jazz fans and classical and even blues. It’s all part of it. Music is all there to be raided and I’m happy to take influences from everywhere.
HC: If you could choose any singer/musician (alive or dead) to join you and the band for one gig, who would it be?
SH: I did some stuff with Richie Havens many years ago, he’s the guy who opened Woodstock on his own with just an acoustic guitar. He had such an extraordinary voice and I got to work with him just after I left Genesis. Unfortunately he has passed on now, he was a wonderful character and he a brilliant voice and I would love to work with him again.
HC: Is there any country you’ve yet to perform in but want to?
SH: I would very much like to play in Greece I must admit. I‘ve visited Greece many times but only as a tourist and I’ve never been invited to play there yet. But it might well happen as I have a feeling there may be….I’ve been doing those cruises from time to time where rock bands are on and I’ve worked with guys who have been on board like Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Marillion. They normally sail go out of Miami and go around the Caribbean but I have a feeling in a year or two they are going to leave from Greece so that might be something that happens. Hopefully, I would really look forward to do that.
HC: What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
SH: my goodness – I enjoy not having a proper job! I did do proper jobs when I first left school and I have to say being a musician is preferable than working in an office or working in the street, or whatever. It’s been the most rewarding thing and I think I have been very lucky to have had a gift.
HC: Anything bonkers happened at one of your gigs?
SH: Yeah, one of the gigs I did with Genesis many years ago in Germany, they had a site of an amphitheatre that was built by the romans and then reconstituted by the Nazi’s so that Hitler would be able to address the victorious multitudes but of course that didn’t happen however the site remained and it became a Rock ‘n’ Roll venue and we re-opened it in 1976. The only problem was, the police decided to have a drug bust centre right next to the stage. The audience didn’t take too kindly to that so they set it on fire and then the stage caught fire – welcome to culture meeting the establishment.
HC: Any special skill/talent outside of music that we don’t know about?
SH: I used to be gymnast. Although no-one would expect me to do that these days! I used to compete and I used to love doing it. I wanted to be a professional gymnast at one point but music took over. So it’s gymnastics of the fingers.
HC: How many guitars do you own
SH: You know what, I’ve lost count. Probably about 40.
HC: What was the last book you read?
SH: The last serious book I read was Anne Brontë and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
HC: If you could only eat one thing for a whole week, what would you choose?
SH: Cheese on toast
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
SH: “I Did It My Way”
HC: Who is your favourite superhero
SH: When I was a kid it was definitely Batman
HC: What was your worst subject at school
HC: What’s the least cool thing you’ve done recently?
SH: The washing up
HC: What’s your favourite season
HC: Who was your first celebrity crush?
SH: Hayley Mills
HC: Oh I was named after her!
SH: I was in love with her when I was nine years old
HC: Is there any music style you don’t like?
SH: I’m not great with rap
HC: Looking back on your life so far, is there anything you wish you should have done, but didn’t?
SH: Probably learned to sing better.