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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, April 2007
    Posted: April 22 2007 at 20:32
Recently I was able to interview Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree about the upcoming album Fear of a Blank Planet. SW was an amazing guy and very generous with his time and help in completing the interview, and gave many insightful answers as you will find below. PA wishes you the best Steven and thanks you for your continued support of our site and your music. Fear of a Blank Planet comes out worldwide on April 24 folks, go grab a copy.


> Q: The title Fear of a Blank Planet has many dark connotations associated
> with it. What type of message are you trying to send, if any?

>
> SW: I'm not really a big fan of trying to send messages within music. I
> always feel like the music should be like a mirror to what's happening
> in the world at any given time, you hold it up and let people make up
> their own minds about what they see reflected back at them. With an
> album like Fear of a Blank Planet is more an observation than a
> message in that respect. The title is a nod to the 80's album by
> Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet, and the 80's were when I was a
> teenager. At this time race relations seemed to be the most important
> issue in young people's minds. There were the Rock Against Racism
> gigs, Live Aid, the Nelson Mandela show, so it was really topical at
> that time.
>
> It struck me that in the 21st Century what's replaced race relations
> as the number 1 concern for young people is a kind of terminal
> boredom, a generation X thing, it's the blank generation. It's
> exacerbated and accelerated by living vicariously through gadgets.
> Since I was a kid in the 80's the amount of technology that's around
> now is unbelievable. The worst thing my parents were probably worried
> about was TV, and we only had 4 channels in the UK back then!
>
> But now we live in the information technology age with the Internet,
> Ipods, cellphones, Playstations, and Xbox's. You have the
> proliferation of TV channels, digital TV and MTV and it's various
> imitators. You have lowest common denominator stuff like American
> Idol, Big Brother, Cribs, and all the other similar shows.
>
> It seems to me that no one's really trying take notice or take gauge
> of how all this stuff is effecting the younger generation. You know,
> what kind of human beings are we going to turn out?
>
> I came back from doing some promotion on the album today, on the day
> of the UK release of Fear of a Blank Planet, and I heard about the
> shootings in Virginia, and I'm thinking I hope this album isn't
> cursed, because the whole Columbine thing is wrapped up in the record
> as well. Kids having access to guns, access to drugs, not just legal
> drugs, but also prescription drugs, - uppers, downers,
> anti-depressants, and stuff for bipolar disorder, attention deficit
> disorder...etc.
>
> All of this is just becoming white noise, too much information, the
> numbing and dumbing down. This is really what the album is about.
>
> Q: It seems as though the band has shifted to a more metallic sound in
> recent years, can we expect much of the same with Fear of a Blank
> Planet?

>
> SW: The metal edge has become a part of the band's musical vocabulary.
> When we made In Absentia it was a big step for the band into a more
> metal area. But I think with the last record and this one it's now
> just become part of the fabric of the band's music.
>
> Some people have said this new record is the heaviest, but others have
> said it's the mellowest, which kind of gives you an idea of the range
> of the record. It has heavy moments, probably some of the heaviest.
> From the perspective of your website, this is probably the most
> progressive thing we've done in a long time. It's basically plays as a
> 51 minute continuous piece of music, divided into 6 pieces. Like a lot
> of Porcupine Tree albums it's supposed to be like a musical journey.
> It goes from ambient textures, to fairly brutal metal riffs from time
> to time and everything in between, from beautiful pop music, to
> progressive moments, to more rocking moments.
>
> Q: Was this work a more collaborative effort of the entire group, or did
> most of the inspiration and songwriting still in your hand
s?
>

> SW: Well I wrote 4 of the 6 songs on the record in Tel Aviv early last
> year, including the 18 minute long piece. I always like to get ideas
> from the other guys, but I think it's hard for them because the band
> was created in my image. It started up as a solo project, and so by
> the time the band came together 3 or 4 albums in, the whole ideology
> and philosophy of Porcupine Tree was already in place. I think it's
> difficult for them to write in the Porcupine Tree style, whatever that
> might be. But I love to work with the band, and we do try to get
> together at some point in the writing process of every album and work
> together. For example one of the tracks on the album Way Out Of Here,
> one of the best tracks on there I think, is a collaborative effort.
>
> Q: The switch to Roadrunner this past year will help Porcupine Tree to
> gain a wider fan base. What other benefits will the band have or have
> you already noticed from the label switch?

>
> SW: Well just to clarify we've only switched to Roadrunner in Europe. When
> we signed to Atlantic in 2002, we were signed worldwide to Atlantic.
> The upside to that was the company was very powerful and had a lot of
> resources. The problem with that was certain Atlantic offices around
> the world sort of inherited a band from the American office that they
> didn't know about and had no interest in. They were much happier
> pumping out albums by Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers; and I can
> certainly understand that. In certain areas we really suffered: UK,
> France, Poland, and Spain
>
> But in other areas we did really well and made great inroads, like
> Germany and USA.
>
> So we're staying with Atlantic in America. But In Europe we wanted to
> be a much higher priority. I was really impressed with what Roadrunner
> did for Opeth. When they signed with Roadrunner they were very much an
> underground band, and I saw how they took them into the mainstream. Or
> at least as far as you can expect into the mainstream for a band like
> Opeth that writes 15 minute long songs!  They had motivation and
> enthusiasm that had been missing from the European Atlantic offices.
> I'm really optimistic. They've already got PT attention in areas we've
> never had before.
>
> Q: What was it like getting to work alongside amazing musicians like
> Robert Fripp of King Crimson and Alex Lifeson of Rush?
>

> SW: It was fantastic because I grew up listening to them. Robert I've
> known for a long time, I first worked with him in1993, and in the last
> few years he's been coming out with Porcupine Tree to be our special
> guest on tours of the UK, USA and Japan.  He's been a constant
> inspiration to me as a musician. So it's been incredible to have him
> help us with the record. He's one of the most important musicians if
> not the most important musician in my whole life. Alex is a different
> story. I really didn't know he knew anything about PT until I read an
> interview with him in a British magazine. He mentioned really liking
> Porcupine Tree, and I fell of my chair when I read that because I grew
> up listening to Rush and I've always thought Alex was one of the most
> underrated guitarists in rock. So, I got in touch with him through the
> journalist, who had also done an interview with me around the same
> time, coincidentally. And we were right in the middle of writing at
> that time, so it was kind of an obvious thing to invite him to play on
> the record. It's like it's come full circle for me now, as the people
> I grew up listening to are now playing on Porcupine Tree records. So
> you can imagine the buzz, its incredible!
>
> Copyright - Joey Kelley  2007- Copyright - Prog Archives 2007    
>
> Q: Many critics and fans say that Porcupine Tree's music could be broken
> down into phases. Do you miss any particular aspect of the band's
> older records and concerts?
>
> SW:
Yea, I miss the improvisation. In the early days there was a lot of
> improv, the pieces were more open-ended and spacey. There could be
> extended periods of improvisation. I kind of miss that aspect a little
> bit. The music now is extremely structured. It's more complicated than
> the older music, so now it's important that everyone knows how their
> part of the jigsaw puzzle fits in with all the other parts of the
> jigsaw puzzle. There isn't the opportunity that there used to be for
> improvising. But at the same time you have to move forward, you have
> to keep evolving.
>
> Miles Davis was once asked by one of his musicians, Keith Jarrett I
> think, "Why don't you play those old ballads anymore?" Miles said
> "Because I love to play those old ballads." Meaning of course it would
> be very easy for him to keep doing what he enjoyed doing and to become
> complacent. Sometimes you have to confront your own patterns and
> expectations of yourself and do away with things that you enjoy doing
> in order to move forward and keep evolving as a musician. That's
> exactly the definition of the word progressive of course. Sometimes
> you have to leave behind, not necessarily stuff your ashamed of, but
> you feel like you've already been there, you've done that.
>
> Q: Recently news broke about you helping Dream Theater on their upcoming
> album Systematic Chaos. How did you help them out?
>
> SW:
It's kind of a weird story actually. They're doing this new record,
> and they've got this track on here called Redemption. It's all about
> regret for the things you've done that maybe hurt others, and the need
> to apologize for those things. And I thought about for a minute and I
> said "why don't I apologize for being negative in the press about
> Dream Theater!?". I've been very honest about my musical likes and
> dislikes in the press, and I even got in a heated discussion about
> going public with not being a fan of DT on your website. The thing is
> they are good friends of mine and they know I'm not really into their
> music. They don't mind it, but their fans get more irate about it,
> they're very passionate. It's a free country. I don't love Dream
> Theater; it's not my kind of music, but they're great people; Jordan
> is one of my best friends.  Anyway, so I asked them "why don't I
> apologize on your record?" They said, "Great idea why don't you do
> it!".  And I've heard the finished track, and it's amazing. I'm always
> happy to be proved wrong!

> Q: Many fans are curious about the scheduled project with Mike Portnoy of
> Dream Theater, Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, and yourself. All three of
> you are releasing albums this year, so is it safe to say we won't see
> any release until well down the road?
>
> SW: I'd be amazed if Opeth released a record this year to be honest, but
> anyway it's not going to happen this year because of my commitments.
> Mikael and I have been talking about this since we first met in 2000.
> Even before he asked me to work with Opeth we had talked about doing
> something together, so it's been ongoing on for about 7 years now. The
> problem is that ever since that time both bands have been on a
> constant roll of making albums and touring.
>
> We're both the captain of our ships, so the problem has been finding
> opportunity when we are both available. We've written some tunes for
> it and they're good I think. I'm hoping next year we can find some
> time. It's just one of those things one of us is busy and then the
> other one's free and then it reverses. I'm really hoping to get
> around to it. We're just going to have to wait a bit longer
> unfortunately.
>
> Q: You've expressed an interest in film, has there been any recent
> progress on the Deadwing film project?
>
> SW:
Not really, we launched a web page about this time last year. And we
> put a page up, images from the script, about a minute long preview. We
> got a lot of interest and the site even won some film website awards.
> But it's proved very difficult to get the funding. Myself and my
> collaborator have never made a full length feature before so it's hard
> to get people to even read the script. Along with the music industry
> it's one of the hardest areas to break into because of the numbers, to
> get a movie financed and off the ground you're talking about hundreds
> of thousands of dollars. To do something with enough professionalism
> and quality you need a certain amount of investment. We haven't given
> up though, we're still trying.
>
> Q: What do you think of the current state of the radio is in as far as
> introducing new forms of music to the masses and whether it will ever
> again be the force that it was in the 60s and 70s?
>
> SW:
Well I don't think it ever can be the same force again, now that we
> have information technology. We have other ways to find music and
> listen to music that we want. Personally, I never listen to the radio.
> Part of the reason is I have a big CD and record collection, so why
> listen to somebody else's selection when I can listen to my own?
> Second, I'm more likely to go to the internet, to Myspace, to find
> interesting new music. The radio doesn't cater to my particular
> tastes, which tend towards the more esoteric, the more experimental.
> I'm not going to hear Morton Feldman, Sunn O))) or Meshuggah on the
> radio, at least not very often.
>
> So I just don't turn on the radio. At the same time I accept that one
> of the things that has been helpful to Porcupine Tree in the USA is
> Satellite stations XM and Sirius. Those stations are free of a lot of
> the concerns of the commercial stations. They are quite happy to play
> an 18 minute long track without a commercial break. So I'd like to see
> satellite continue to grow.  Commercial radio, just like the major
> record companies will ultimately have to rethink their whole
> philosophy.
>
> Q: You seem like a very busy guy, you must run on no sleep working on all
> of these projects, do you get any downtime and if so what do you
> usually enjoy doing when you're not working on a music project?
>
> SW:
I don't get enough downtime. I have a very limited personal life at
> the moment. And that's been a problem for me over the last 10 years.
> When I do get time off I have an apartment in Tel Aviv, Israel. I love
> to go to Israel and hang out there, it's the city is where a lot of my
> closest friends are.

> Also, I still like to listen to music. I'm a passionate devourer of
> music. I still pick up about 10 albums a week. And I have to own
> albums not just copy or download, I like to collect. I'm kind of
> obsessive in that way, on both vinyl and CD. I'm always searching for
> new music, to inspire me generally, to be passionate about living and
> about life. Music brings me that more than anything else.
>
> Q: And lastly, do you still express disagreement with the term
> "progressive rock" to describe Porcupine Tree's music?
>
> SW:
I've kind of mellowed slightly about the word progressive. The problem
> as I saw it is that for a very long time, progressive suggested a very
> narrow definition of music. On your website, I see people struggling
> to define what progressive is and to review albums under that premise
> - if it's a good album but it's not necessarily likely to appeal to a
> hardcore progressive fan, then should that get a lower rating?  That's
> crazy but I understand the dilemma.  I think that's the problem of
> trying to limit the scope on a music site. I love your site and check
> it out all the time, but I think progressive has become a much broader
> term than it was 5 years ago when we released In Absentia.  Then I
> think it would have been the kiss of death to have promoted it using
> the word "progressive".  I mean I personally couldn't care less, but
> in order to survive in this industry you certainly have to be aware of
> what kind of prejudices there are out there.

> People in the mainstream media used to believe that progressive meant
> it sounded like Genesis circa 1972, or King Crimson circa 1969, and
> that clearly wasn't the case with PT music. However, I see over the
> last 5 years there's a new kind of breed of bands that have really
> changed the way people think about the term progressive. It's now used
> frequently in the media in a genuinely positive sense.  With The Mars
> Volta, Tool, Opeth, The Flaming Lips, Sigur Ros, Isis, Mastodon,
> Radiohead, Muse, Coheed and Cambria, suddenly the definition is much
> broader than it was. So, I'm not so against it as I was. To be honest,
> I don't like classifying music it at all. I don't like the idea of
> Porcupine Tree as a generic band. I like to believe that we have
> ambition, that we have scope, that we're an eclectic band. I don't
> like the idea that you can sum all that up in one convenient tag.
> It's music, you either like it or you don't, so who cares what we call
> it?

> I'm guessing that many of the original 70's bands did not consider
> themselves progressive either. I don't believe Pink Floyd or Yes ever
> called themselves progressive rock bands. I think they just did what
> they did. They had their own sound, and created their own identity and
> philosophy. I think that's the same with Porcupine Tree. While I'm not
> averse to people describing us as such, I personally wouldn't call us
> any kind of band, except a Porcupine Tree kind of band.
>
> Q: Thank you so much for your time Steven. I think I can speak for
> everyone at Prog Archives when I say we look forward to the release of
> Fear of a Blank Planet. Best of luck with your continued music
> projects. We also all appreciate your appearances on the forums. Have
> fun on the tour.
>
> SW:
Thank you very much. Nice speaking with you Joey, I enjoyed it.
>
>

Joey Kelley 2007

Progarchives.com 2007



Edited by Tony R - April 23 2007 at 17:48
back from the dead, i will begin posting reviews again and musing through the forums
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moreitsythanyou View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 20:52
Wow that was a great interview. It was full of great insight about the album and the band. And I thought that I couldn't be more excited about the album, I can't wait at all!Big%20smile
 
Excellent interview Clap
butts, lol
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 21:09
Really nice interview!  Steven always has something interesting to say.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 21:23
Wow, great questions, insightful answers, nice job.

He says he'd be amazed if Opeth releases an album this year, which makes me Cry.

One question: was this done through email, over the phone, or otherwise?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 21:37
Thank God for people and musicians like Steve Wilson.
Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 22:25
Bravo Clap
 
Great interview, those were almost the exact questions I would have asked. Thank you.
When the world is sick
Can't no one be well
But I dreamt we were all
beautiful and strong

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2007 at 23:05
Originally posted by enteredwinter enteredwinter wrote:

Wow, great questions, insightful answers, nice job.

He says he'd be amazed if Opeth releases an album this year, which makes me Cry.

One question: was this done through email, over the phone, or otherwise?



it was over the phone, he was a great guy really, extremely personable, very friendly, etc.

was quite surprised at the depth of his answers and the time he spent with me


back from the dead, i will begin posting reviews again and musing through the forums
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 00:15
That really was a solid interview, on both sides.
 
Thanks for taking the time.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 02:05
SW is a bright, shining star, and the universal gods of music have whispered their songs in his ears. Musical prophets of this ilk are truly a gift from the heavens. I can even feel a bit of Jimi in him and hear the effects of the "good fairy" as Robert Fripp once described about the magic of the original King Crimson. But it's SW & Porcupine Tree's time now. Embrace their magic, and bathe in the splendor.  


Edited by Dennis - April 23 2007 at 02:10
"Day dawns dark, it now numbers infinity"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 02:20
Great interview Thumbs%20Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 02:29
Good job.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 02:57
Good interview, absolutely great new album. Porcupine Tree just never disappoint!!

Click the image. CLICK IT!!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 02:58
Sweet interview.

He seems like a cool guy, and, incidentally, Porcupine Tree is one of (if not) my favorite band(s) currently. Near every song is better than great, and Fear of a Blank Planet I'm SURE will not disappoint.

Nice interview again.



Edited by king volta - April 23 2007 at 03:14
I'm a reasonable man, get off my case
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 03:00
Originally posted by SomethingGood SomethingGood wrote:

Good interview, absolutely great new album. Porcupine Tree just never disappoint!!


agreed. lucky me--my uncle just got a job with virgin records

the album is brilliant. i can't wait to get my own copy
I'm a reasonable man, get off my case
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 05:19
Thanks so much; this is gold.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 05:41
Great interview. Steven, you are the man! Clap

Edited by peterduarte - April 23 2007 at 05:42
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 05:49

That was an excellent interview Joey. Intelligent questions providing a catalyst for Steve Wilsons insightful answers.

Does anyone know anything about PT coming to Australia as was suggested on their Myspace page???

Eternity
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 07:29
Great interview!ClapClapClap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 09:50
Ordering FOABP first thing tomorrow morning.  We here in the States are waiting impatiently for APRIL 24!
Biggles was in rehab last Saturday
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2007 at 09:51
Great interview, thanks.  The album certainly doesn't disappoint, and I was lucky enough to be at the Glasgow concert last week.  Despite being the first night of the tour they were great.  Don't miss it if you get the chance to see them near you!
"Moonlight is bleeding from out of your soul"
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