Porcupine Tree defies classification. They can be hard and heavy, they can be sad and melancholy, or they can be experimental and eccentric. Now matter what style they choose, Porcupine Tree always delivers in presentation and sound. Although they've been around for more than ten years, the U.K. based group is just starting to make a name for themselves in the U.S. Currently on tour in support of their latest Lava Records release Deadwing, frontman Steven Wilson took the time to give us a little history on the band, what they're currently up to, and discuss all of the other musical ventures he's got his hands into.
RIL: If I knew absolutely nothing about Porcupine Tree, how would you describe the group’s music to me?
SW: Mostly the band has tried to draw more toward the golden age of albums which is really the late 60’s to 70’s. Then punk came along and washed all that away. There’s like a ten year period where albums became the premier art form for music. What was important was bands could make a strong forty five minute statement and go out and tour on that music. In a way, Porcupine Tree were looking back at that era of rock music, and at the same time were aligned to the future in being contemporary as well. I think it’s important that any band worth it salt really is always embracing new technology, embracing new musical styles, and is not content to be some kind of vehicle of nostalgia.
There is a sense of learning from the past, but learning from the future. I think that’s why the band appeals to a lot of people who have become slightly disenfranchised by the last twenty or twenty five years of music, which has become increasingly more kind of shallow. I think there are still a lot of people out there who miss the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Todd Rundgren, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and The Beach Boys Beach Boys; people who really valued ambition and experimenting with music, but still value a great melody. That is the force behind Porcupine Tree. We don’t want to do that for any misguided nostalgic reason, but at the same time we feel there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that musical era.
RIL: Porcupine Tree sort-of started out as a joke didn’t it?
SW: Yeah, kind of. I think it’s probably true to say that most bands start off in a bit of fun. Most bands start off as a few friends getting together in a garage to bash out some tunes, so it’s not unusual for a band to start out in a spirit of fun. I guess with Porcupine Tree I took that one stage further in that it was just me, but I kind of invented this whole mythology imaginary band, but in the scope of stretching back to the early seventies. I took it a bit further than most people would. It was the whole material background that went along with the band that was kind of jokey, but the music from the beginning I felt was something special. I guess I felt I tapped into something.