Interview – Porcupine Tree [Eng]

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Porcupine Tree released their last album in 2010, Anesthetize. Since then, the band has been pretty quite. Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri come back this week with a new masterpiece, called Closure/Continuation. What a misterious name for a quite different project. Is it a real comeback? We met the guys in order to answer that question and capture the vibe of this new record.

Since how long have you been working on this comeback? How did you get back to business together?

Richard: Steven started to work with Gavin (Harrison, drummer) in 2012. We just enjoyed to do music together. There was no guitar. They started to write songs together with Steven on bass. So, obvisouly it brings a different kind of energy. They worked together in a room. There was more musicallity between those two. Between us two, it’s more about design, atmosphere, emotion, we try to tell a story.

But what about your more recently comeback…

Richard: We were on the compositions of eachother. It sounded quite exciting but it actually had Porcupine Tree in it. No other musicians, no orchestration, no guests, it was just the tree of us, producing, arranging. It became clear when we were listening to all the tracks. It was Porcupine Tree.

Steven: I guess lockdown was a surprise for everyone of us. Suddently, I have all this amount of available time. One of the first thing I thought was; « Ok let’s finish all these songs we have been developing for the past 7 years ». So I took my phone and after a long walk into the woods listening to them, I came back and knew I had to contact the guys because I knew we had something special. If it wasn’t for lockdown, we would probably not being there now because it gave us the time to focus on this unfinished work.

What was your biggest challenge on that album?

Steven: The most challenging was to not comeback with an another album that sounds exactly the same. I say that because when we stopped in 2010, we both had the feeling that the band started to repeated itself and that’s for me is a red flag. Anesthetize was a good record but there was nothing new, it seemed to be the beginning of the end of something. For this new record, we were searching for an evolution in the sound but at the same time, of course, we have to recognize Porcupine Tree. I think that’s what we have acheived. You can instantly say it’s Porcupine Tree but it also sounds fresh. If it wasn’t a challenge, then it was a goal. We had so much fun to do this record. I felt more relax because because I’m usually not a team player and it feels like I was joining a band. It was effortless, Now, I can be more of the guys in a band. That’s why even if this record sound quite drepressing and dark, it also have a lot of joy. It’s like joining a band and enjoy playing music I owned.

When we actually hear the bassline of the opening track, we get it: it’s gonna be a fun record…

Steven: Yeah exactly, and a different one!

Fans are waiting for this moment for a while, the expectetion is very high. Do you feel any pressure?

Richard: Not at all. It was the first time in our carreer that we felt no pressure to create an album. Both of us, since we are in the music industry, are used to sign contracts and promess albums. There’s always another album option, there’s always a management to tell you what to do next. So, there was always the pressure to do something. But this time, nobody knews. We just wanted to make the music we wanted to make. And if we didn’t like it, we could just push it aside. Being free is part of our process. And you can see it in the title. It couldn’t no more « no pressure ». It can be the end or continuation, it can be either. Whatever is our decision, we win.

Steven: It always sounds horrible when I say it and doesn’t want to be but… I actually don’t care what fans want or expect. Let me just explain what I mean: I think that’s how all artist should feel. They should never think about what their fans want or expect. It doesn’t mean I really don’t care about the audience, of course I do, I’d be really happy if everyone love this record, but it wouldn’t make any difference. We’re releasing this album because we think it’s good. If we didn’t, we weren’t be releasing it. We’re not here to satisfy a demand. I’m aware of the expections, I’m know them, but I’m also immune. I never read the comments on the Internet.

Some of your new tracks are pretty long and the lyric videos have really interesting visuals, it makes me think of a soundtrack movie. Did you get inspiration from Cinema?

Steven: I’ve always loved cinema. When you are listening to our songs, there are like scenes. It’s not like just verse/ chorus/ verse/chorus… When you watch a movie, you have an happy scene then there’s a tragedy and there’s an emotional shift. You usually don’t have it in a Pop song. Pop songs are either happy or sad. But what’s cool with Conception Rock or Progressive Rock music, whatever you call it, it’s that within the same song, you can have different moods and different scenes. So there has always been an analogy for me about how I write songs and the way I enjoy cinema. And I follow this idea into the visual world. In my solo carreer, I’ve always been committed to do great videos. With this album, we wanted to create more strong visual for shows and we’re gonna realised a video for everyone of our songs.

Don’t forget: you will have the oppotunity to enjoy the live experience with Porcupine Tree next november:

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