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Interview: Steve Hackett and Chris Squire In Harmony With Squackett

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Interview: Steve Hackett and Chris Squire In Harmony With Squackett

Is that a Rickenbacker guitar on the song?
Hackett:
Yes. I’m using a 6-string owned by my cousin. With Chris playing a Rickenbacker and me playing a Rickenbacker, there’s something about those guitars. I’m also playing a Fernandes guitar with a Sustainer pickup a lot of the time. It’s a Les Paul-shaped Burny model. They made me one as a present, which was in the shape of my Gibson goldtop. It also has a Floyd Rose tremolo as well.

The acoustic sounds you’re getting on “Aliens” are gorgeous.
Hackett:
The acoustics are a Zemaitis 12-string and a Yairi nylon-string guitar. There’s also a bit of sitar guitar. I’ve been a fingerstyle player for many years and when I play electric, it’s without a pick. But when I was working on this stuff with Chris, I discovered that to get the 12-string sound he really wanted, I needed to use a pick. It gave a real percussive definition to the sound.

I’m actually very bad with a pick. I make a lot of mistakes, but it does create a different kind of rhythm sound with a percussive edge that can be very beautiful.

How did you get such a huge bass sound on the song “Stormchaser?”
Squire:
Steve and Roger just wanted the bass to be loud. That’s all there is on it. They wanted it to sound like classic me. Who was I to complain about that? [Laughs.] That’s the Ricky. Apart from the first two tracks, the whole album is my Rickenbacker 4001. On the first track I play my green Mouradian bass, and on the second track I was beta testing a brand-new Yamaha they gave me.

The bass sounds on “Stormchaser” and “Divided Self” are so different.
Squire:
It’s the same bass. I was happy to turn my sound over to Roger because he’s good at what he does.

You’re known for playing with a pick. Do you ever switch to fingers?
Squire:
I do sometimes. Over the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve actually developed a style where after the very initial attack on the strings with the pick, my thumb hits the string as well. The very first attack is from the pick itself, but then the rest of the follow-through actually comes from hitting the string with my thumb. That’s something that’s developed organically within my playing over the years. That’s pretty much how I play now.

There’s a wonderful soaring guitar sound that you’re getting throughout the record.
Hackett:
That’s the Fernandes guitar with the Sustainer.

What are your main guitars?
Hackett:
These days I tend to use the Fernandes goldtop with the Sustainer and the Yairi nylon. I have several Yairi guitars—some are cutaways and some have more of the Ramirez shape. I use the Zemaitis 12-string a fair amount. I also have a Jerry Jones sitar guitar that’s called a Baby Sitar. It’s like a Danelectro copy and it works really well.

How about amps?
Hackett:
I enjoy using two Marshall 50-watt heads from 1987. I also use a [Tech 21] SansAmp, which is a mainstay, but everything else is interchangeable. I use various wah-wah pedals—sometimes a Cry Baby or a Vox. I use a DigiTech Whammy pedal and the green Line 6 [DL4] pedal that does some backwards effects. But there’s no beating a nylon-string guitar for writing.

Chris, give us a rundown of the gear you normally use.
Squire:
I always take my Rickenbacker 4001, which I’ve had since 1964, and then the green Mouradian bass, which gets quite a bit of use in the studio. I also have a Lakland bass, which is sort of like a jazz bass. I also have a Fender Jazz bass, which I’ve used on various things over the years.

I have some Tobias 5-string basses and a specialized bass that Mike Tobias built for me in the ’80s. It’s a 4-string bass, but it has a really long neck. I tune it B–E–A–D. Currently I’m using it on this tour as a standup bass. On the summer tour I’m probably going to break out my triple-neck bass. Originally it was a Wal bass, but in actual fact that bass is hanging in a Hard Rock Cafe somewhere. [Laughs.] I had a copy made by a Japanese maker by the name of Kidz. He made an exact replica of the Wal bass and it’s actually much better than the original Wal.

Steve Hackett’s Gear

Guitars
Fernandes goldtop, Yairi nylon string, Yairi cutaway nylon string, Zemaitis 12-string, Jerry Jones Baby Sitar

Amps
Marshall 1987 50-watt head driving Marshall 1960A 4x12 cabinets

Effects
Vox wah, DigiTech Whammy Pedal, Tech 21 SansAmp GT2 Distortion Pedal, Line 6 DL4 Delay

Strings, Picks, and Accessories
Ernie Ball Extra Slinky (.008, .011, .014, .022, .030, .038), D’Addario EJ43 Pro-Arte light tension nylon strings, Fender medium picks, Ernie Ball straps, Boss TU-12 tuner

Chris Squire’s Gear

Basses
’64 Rickenbacker 4001, Mouradian 4-string, MPC Electra, Lakland 4-string

Amps
Marshall 100-watt head, Marshall 4x12 cabinets, two Ampeg SVT-2Pro, two SVT 8x10 cabinets

Effects
Maestro Fuzz-Tone, custom tremolo, TC Electronics Chorus/Flanger, TC Electronics Reverb, TC Electronics Delay, vintage ’70s Mu-Tron III

Strings, Picks, and Accessories
Rotosound Swing Bass 66 (.045, .065, .080, .105), Herco heavy gauge picks, Manny’s Custom Straps, Samson UR-5D wireless system

How about amps?
Squire:
For a long time I’ve used my ’60s 100-watt Marshall with a 4x12 cabinet. I’ve used that pretty much since the beginning. It’s got more top end on it than most of the lead amps. I use my SVT Ampeg rig as well, and also a couple of 8x10 cabinets that go with it. I always run both the Ampeg and Marshall live. They’re both mic’ed and mixed at the desk.

You wire your basses in stereo, right?
Squire:
All my basses have stereo output jacks. That’s mainly to facilitate my effects rack, because I learned a long time ago that certain things like fuzz boxes always sound fantastic on the bass pickup, but sound too harsh on the treble pickup. So when I kick the fuzz in, it’s only the bass pickup that goes through it, and the treble pickup cuts out. For various other effects, I run the bass pickup or treble pickup, or sometimes both. It depends on the effect.

Tell us about your effects.
Squire:
For years I’ve had a custom made tremolo unit that I still have. I still use a Maestro Fuzz-Tone, and TC Electronic chorus, flanging, echo, and reverb devices. I also have an auto-wah and a Mu-Tron pedal.

Any plans for the members of Genesis to ever work together again?
Hackett:
I’m working on Genesis material myself and I’ll take a version of that on the road at some point, probably next year. I’m revisiting the past with a difference with the Genesis material. I’m putting a fresh spin on it and I hope it will be finished this autumn.

It’s unlikely that the original band will see the light of day because some people are retiring. When I was approached some years ago, I said, “Yes. Call me when you need me.” My door is open but it’s unlikely to happen.

What’s coming up for Yes?
Squire:
Yes is doing a summer tour in the states in July and August. Procol Harum are going to be opening for us. After that we’re looking at doing Squackett live stuff probably in Europe in the fall. We’re getting offers! [Laughs.]

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