Viv Hardwick talks to Steve Hackett about constant touring, his multi-million-pound court case and why Genesis can’t re-unite.

GENESIS helped to make lead guitarist Steve Hackett a multi-millionaire, but his latest tour brings him to The Sage Gateshead at a time when he’s fighting a painful legal battle over the rights to some of the band’s songs with his ex-wife Kim Poor.

Hackett, 60, wasn’t too keen to discuss the subject with the case due to be decided this week, especially as he had to go through further legal wrangling to release latest solo album, Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth, and predicts that there’s no chance of Genesis reuniting with him in the lineup.

“My ex-partner has made it very difficult for me to do things and challenged my right to be able to make records independently and it’s been a long drawn-out court case and I’m hoping there will be a resolution this week. It’s a very hot potato and makes very good press for you but makes my life very difficult. So I’m afraid I can’t go there and prefer not to talk about it,” he says.

We move on to his busy touring career.

“I’ve done about 150 gigs back to back lately and the tour (which takes in Tyneside) is a continuation of the runaway train that’s become my life. I haven’t even had time to apply for my bus pass because while a lot of my contemporaries have retired, I’m still going.

“I’ve just been reading Keith Richards’ autobiography and he’s talking about the band arriving and he’s not got the new songs written, so it’s the same for everybody,” says Hackett who might seem to have had a number of careers over 40 years but still ends up wondering “will people like my next guitar riff”.

“You just seem to keep going by the skin of your teeth I think but I’m looking forward to Gateshead. I go all over the world but I’m still very much an Englishman at heart. I do love to play in this country once a year,” says Hackett about the touring life which began in 1971, straight from his bedroom.

“The funny thing is when I first joined Genesis I had to play town halls everywhere but up to then I was a legend in my own bedroom and suddenly I was playing Liverpool and Newcastle and I was absolutely terrified. I think our first visit was to Newcastle City Hall and I think we stayed at somewhere like the Station Hotel where the porter was very good at coming up with beer at three in the morning. Those early times were fantastic because you never used to know whether the mellatron was going to work. It took four people to lift it on and you never knew if the thing was going to cough into life or not. Sometimes it didn’t and in those early days not many liked the music we were doing. Genesis stuff was far too complicated for most audiences. I think we met our audience somewhere in the middle. Gradually the music became less bookish and more exciting and accessible to people and now I’m still trying to get it right,” says Hackett who reckons he’d never volunteer to give a masterclass to anyone.

That’s even though he went on to form the supergroup GTR in 1986 before going on to launch a series of solo albums featuring everything from hard rock to classical music.

He actually put together Out Of The Tunnel’s Mouth in his living room and says “isn’t it weird, you get all these ideas of professional studios but I think sometimes the parameters of the box (the computer) is mightier than the building”.

I ask him about being the frustrated man of Genesis having left the band because of lack of freedom and input. Attempts to revive the line-up of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Hackett, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins have proved unsuccessful.

“Genesis as an entity is retired but I still play those songs that I was involved in writing so I do what comes from the heart and I don’t mind if it comes from today or from the early Seventies. I was approached a while back (2005) but it was bit like showing up for a board meeting and a resolution is passed. It doesn’t work out because we were talking about doing a live version of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and a stage musical. Basically a certain faction, and I’m not going to name names in the band, figured it was going to be too difficult to do the musical. My take on it was it then killed stone dead the idea of the five-man piece coming together. That’s all I’m prepared to say but I’d be happy if it was turned into a musical.

I’ve not stood in the way of band reformation.

I try and be as positive as possible. I don’t think there will ever be a reformation of Genesis. It seems I’m being asked to account for the sins of others although I do tend to rubberstamp every mix (of Genesis songs) that comes through. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting, I’d rather be out there performing.”

■ Steve Hackett band, The Sage Gateshead, Hall 2, November 28,, Tickets: £22.50. Box Office: 0191-443-4661