Steve Hackett on the cast behind solo album The Night Siren

A press shot of Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett releases The Night Siren via InsideOut on March 24. He refers to it as “the best album I’ve ever done”.

Comprising 11 new tracks, it features a multinational cast of musicians, many of whom Hackett has recorded on his travels. Orphaned Land’s Kobi Farhi, tar player Malik Mansurov from Azerbaijan and Icelandic percussionist Gulli Briem are among those who have performed on the album, alongside Christine Townsend (violin and viola) and double bass player Dick Driver, who originally played in Hackett’s first band Quiet World. The album also reunites the guitarist with members of his touring band, including Nad Sylvan and Roger King.

“It’s got a pan-genre approach and it’s eclectic, with instruments from the four corners,” reveals Hackett. “It’s wonderful to hear all this other stuff going on that’s not just straight-ahead rock. For example, there’s a flamenco influence that kicks off one of the tracks, and there’s a Scottish song called In Another Life which has Troy Donockley on. There’s a fair amount of Middle Eastern influence and also strains of psychedelia that creep in from time to time. Martian Sea has a 60s feel to it, with influences from The Monkees and the late Beatles.

“It’s the biggest-sounding record I’ve ever heard in my life. On some songs, we’re up to 200 or 300 tracks and you get to hear that, especially in surround sound. It’s a truly wonderful album and I’m thrilled with it. I think it’ll surprise a lot of people.”

He believes it deserves a very special place in his musical canon. “Many years ago, when I did the GTR album with Steve Howe, I remember him saying to journalists at the time, ‘This is no ordinary album.’ I slightly winced at it, but now I can say: ‘This is no ordinary album.’ It doesn’t feel as though it’s just the sum of the people that have been working on it; it feels like much more than that.”

The album title represents what Hackett terms a “wake-up call” to the world, in terms of current political divisions across the globe. It also carries underlying messages of unity and acceptance.

“We start off with the idea of refugees on the opener Behind The Smoke, and we end up with a peace message on the last track, The Gift,” he explains. “As the West adopts this fortress mentality and tries to keep everyone out, that’s exactly what my music isn’t doing. My music is about crossing boarders and I love influences from all over: the use of the Armenian duduk, the tar from Azerbaijan, the ud from Iraq, the Les Paul guitar from America. I thought the idea of multicultural diversity, as exemplified by the music business, might show that people [from different cultural and religious backgrounds] can get on with each other.”

The Night Siren comes just two years after Wolflight and the guitarist acknowledges that he’s in the middle of one of the most creative periods of his life.

“I think I’ve hit a purple patch and it does seem to be growing,” he says. “There seems to be more and more interest in what I’m currently doing and, with live shows, I’m hard-pressed to get all of those songs into two or three hours. It’s fascinating that I do seem to be touring more places than I’ve ever gone before so there’s no chance of retirement!”

Steve Hackett will be performing songs from his latest release as part of his new Genesis Revisited stage shows. For the full list of tour dates, visit www.hackettsongs.com for more information

Steve Hackett: Wild At Heart

Genesis Quiz: how well do you know The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway?

Out Of The Box: The Story Behind The Cover Of Genesis' Nursery Cryme