Welcome back! I hope you don't mind me having been critical of some of your previous releases (journalism...). How do you feel 'Your Wilderness' is being received?
So far it’s all been great, what I’ve seen that is! I certainly feel it’s the most complete and mature TPT record in our history and I am feeling rather old now. As for being critical of previous releases, that’s your job! Ironically if it’s a well written piece, I really enjoy reading ‘critical’ reviews. It’s the rants that bother me….
Could you tell what you started with, working on this new album: was there a certain point where you got a picture of how you would like it to be?
The first thing I did was jot down on a piece of paper how the whole album would feel, from start to finish. Nothing too specific, just a ‘vibe’. In the past I’ve let things fall together naturally, but this time I wanted more of a structure. I think it worked because the album flows pretty nicely.
It is mentioned that you'd like to remain tight-lipped about the concept of 'Your Wilderness'. While I fully respect that, I'd like to ask a question about it (journalists...). A constant factor that to me permeates the material is the theme of loss. This comes back and haunts me in many forms when I listen to the album. Would you like to say something about how you view loss in general or in day-to-day life?
Well you are pretty spot on there.. Loss is something in life that bugs me, something that is very hard to reconcile, which is the reason why I turn to songwriting and music to convey my feelings on the subject. The album touches on loss through estrangement and also death. But it also covers loss through our natural journeys in life. The loss of childhood, the loss of friendships, family bonds and the overwhelming emotion when you contemplate how much you have let people down. Nothing is ever as perfect as we want it to be. It’s a horrible thing to have to live with.
Could you shed some light on who is part of The Pineapple Thief right now?
The core of TPT is now myself, Jon Sykes (bass) and Steve Kitch (keyboards). We’ve known each other for over twenty years so it’s a great unit. No estrangement between us just yet! In the early days TPT was really my vehicle, but now I’m just a part of something much bigger. And that feels great. Gavin Harrison also contributed a huge amount to the new album. He didn’t "just drum", he changed the whole direction and feel of the record. In a great way.
You've got a lot of other nice projects and music going on, would you like to give an update about some of those? For instance, how do you combine your solo material with your band material? And could you advise Katatonia to ask Gavin Harrison for their next album, pretty please?
Ha, yes I think Gavin would bring a huge amount to any record he graced! As for me, the next musical project is pretty exciting but (I’m gonna be really annoying now), I’m having to keep really tight lipped about it at the moment. I am hoping to do another Wisdom of Crowds with Jonas too, we wanted to do something this year but Katatonia is insanely busy. Maybe next year! And I definitely want to do another Bruce Soord solo record. As I said, TPT is no longer my vehicle, it’s so much more than that. So it seems the right time to be able to write solo… So plenty going on luckily...
A while ago I interviewed Darran Charles and asked him about your collaboration with Godsticks. My question was: can we see a guitar exchange sort of thing between you two in the future? He didn't think so back then, but now we seem one step closer. I think it would be great if you two would for instance build a lead passage together, as you both have very distinct, possibly complementing styles. Could you see something like that happen? (I know you're also a great lead guitar player who knows how to make the instrument weep and squeal, so no excuses there!)
Thanks, but really I am nowhere near as good as Darran! We get on really well, have a laugh together. It’s a very open and refreshing musical relationship we have (translation: if he thinks what I did is shit, he tells me to my face it’s shit!). We always help each other out in the early song writing phases of albums too. Darran is currently sending me his early Godsticks demos for the upcoming album for my feedback, most of which he ignores anyway. But it’s sounding great already.
Answer from Darran: Although it’s probably hard to believe, I’m not a huge fan of lead guitar, so the thought of trading licks with another guitar player - either on stage or on record - fills me with dread!
But I suppose the collaboration you talk of has already taken place in some sense. Even though we’ve not literally built a lead passage together, Bruce has presented me with some pretty inspirational platforms on which to construct melodic solos. A case in point would be the solo in ‘Tear You Up’. Bruce asked me to try a solo over this, but all I wanted to do was imitate then embellish Bruce’s original riff at the beginning of this section rather than wail all over it.
How is the material from 'Your Wilderness' going to be presented live? Is there budget to take Gavin Harrison on tour, as well as Darran Charles - or are you going to grab a shred-axe yourself? Also, are there plans to bring this record as a whole to the stage?
We haven’t announced yet but yes, it looks like we’ll be taking the album lineup on the road and perform the whole of 'Your Wilderness' - there is no way I am going to attempt to shred Darran’s parts, I’ll be bottled off! So it is very exciting, I can’t wait. But if enough people don’t come out to see us this time out, it may well be our last tour. So many bands are struggling to make money, even on the road. It’s a real worry for the business.
These were my questions, the parting words are all yours!
See you on the road, I’m really not that miserable, honest!