FAQ

Here below are frequently asked questions with Steve's answers:

Early life

1. What age were you when you first played an instrument?

I was two years old. My father bought me a harmonica, and I immediately started to practise it. Mum tells me I was already playing tunes at two years of age!

2. Why did you decide to play the guitar?

I loved listening to bands like the Shadows with their distinctive guitar sound. My dad gave me a guitar at age twelve and I bought my first electric guitar at age fourteen. From that moment onwards I wanted to be a professional musician.

3. What were your early inspirations?

After the Shadows, I loved the sound of Peter Green's playing, and I was a big fan of Brian Jones of the Stones too. Later on I found Hendrix's style exciting and different.

4. Did you play in a band before Genesis?

Yes, I played in several bands, but the main two were Canterbury Glass and Quiet World. I have remained friends with both Phil Henderson and Richard Driver. Richard Driver plays double bass on my albums to this day.

Genesis

1. How did you come to join Genesis?

I advertised in the music paper Melody Maker, and Peter Gabriel liked the way my ad was worded, so he contacted me. I then auditioned and got the gig...

2. Did you enjoy being in the band?

Yes, although there was the natural cut and thrust which every band has, I enjoyed the music we made in Genesis. Everyone had something very special to offer and we made an incredibly strong team.

3. Do you have a favourite Genesis album?

Yes, my favourite Genesis album is Selling England by the Pound. I feel it has a wonderful breadth of music, most effectively shown in Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, which begins with Scottish plainsong and runs the gamut of styles as it builds in intensity.

4. What are your most special Genesis memories?

I have several special Genesis memories, but I would say that my happiest period in Genesis was during the recording and tour of Selling England by the Pound. By that time I was a fully fledged member of the band, I loved the music we were creating and we were playing to an increasing number of people. Although I was unhappy in my first marriage, I was in my element gigging with the band. The stage felt like my home at that time!

5. Why did you leave Genesis?

I needed autonomy. It was not on offer for me to make more solo albums whilst remaining in the band at that time.

6. Will there be a reunion?

I'm often asked this question, but the answer is that I don't know. I'd potentially be willing to be a part of a reunion, but I do not know of any plans.

7. Do you still see the other Genesis guys?

Yes, I see the other guys at various functions, and we're always happy to see each other.

Solo career

1. Was it hard to launch your solo career?

I was very nervous at first because I didn't know what reaction I would get, but I was encouraged by the success of Voyage of the Acolyte. Please Don't Touch had a good response too, so from there I was able to form a band and go from strength to strength.

2. What solo albums are you most proud of?

Spectral Mornings has been my favourite solo album over the years. I enjoyed creating it with a great band and I love playing music from it live to this day. I'm also particularly proud of the albums from the current period. The Night Siren had a great response and I feel proud of both the breadth and quality of the music on it, as well as its multi-cultural feel.

3. How do you feel your music has changed over the years?

I feel that over the years I have become more experienced. Technology has played its part too, as it became increasingly sophisticated and enabled me to have access to more wonderful sounds, such as realistic orchestras and choirs. But I have always loved to use real musicians and singers as well. These days I enjoy exploring more genres from around the globe and I invite artists from the world over to join me. I love to constantly widen the musical pallet.

Guitar questions

1. Why did you choose the Gibson Les Paul?

I particularly love the feel of this guitar and the richness of its sound.

2. Why do you prefer to use the Fernandes on stage?

It has the sustainer pick-up, which enables me to play those wonderful sustained notes in a particularly effective way.

3. Did you invent tapping and sweep picking?

I discovered those styles for myself. Apparently Eddie Van Halen said he was influenced by my tapping.

4. Do you use a pick?

Only when playing the twelve string. For normal acoustic guitar I prefer just to use my nails.

5. What inspired you to learn how to play acoustic guitar?

I fell in love with the sound of André Segovia's playing which I have always found emotionally sublime.

General

1. Which artists / bands do you like?

To name a few... From the 1960s I'd say that the Beatles held a real magic for me, particularly around the time of Revolver and Sergeant Pepper, when music was developing fast. I loved the Blues of Paul Butterfield and Cream, and the rawness of the Stones. I was drawn to King Crimson's innovative In the Court of the Crimson King and Procul Harem's Salty Dog album. I was spellbound by Richie Havens' amazing voice. I thought that Canadian singer Buffy Sainte-Marie had an incredible voice with beautiful songs and I feel Joni Mitchell has always been a great talent. Since that time, I've enjoyed many more acts, including Marillion, Kate Bush, Queen, Tracy Chapman and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. More recently Florence and the Machine, Joe Bonamassa, Muse and Elbow came to my attention.

2. What was it like to play with other artists such as Steve Howe, Brian May and Chris Squire?

It was fascinating to play alongside another guitarist in the case of both Steve Howe and Brian May, because we had different styles, but they were complementary. With Chris Squire, it was great to have such a strong and characterful bass sound, and there was a special flow as we developed musical ideas together.

3. What are your hobbies?

Over the years I've dabbled in many things, including horse riding, skiing, scuba diving and hang gliding, but these days my main physical exercise is walking, and I enjoy swimming. I've always been an avid reader. For many years I've also been intrigued by the spiritual world, and I love to check out anything that's regarded as supernatural. In recent times my wife Jo and I have increasingly explored the more remote areas of many countries around the world. We're intrigued to enter all kinds of spiritual places, visit mountains, check out caves and dance on volcanoes! We love to meet people everywhere, and to learn about their cultures.

4. How do you feel you have changed over the years?

Over the years I think I've become more interested in people and what makes them tick. Everyone is important in their own right. I'm definitely more socially aware these days too, and I'm increasingly concerned about what we're doing to the planet. But one thing has always remained a constant throughout my life – my passion for music of all kinds.