‘Another progressive metal band? God no!’: Steven Wilson on new artists, musical journeys and Justin Bieber

Steven Wilson’s career spans 20 years and countless genres.

Probably best known for being the founding member and principle songwriter of progressive rock giants Porcupine Tree, Wilson also has an extensive history of collaborations with the likes of Opeth and Pendulum.

, Wilson’s latest release, is something of a ‘half album’, made up of unreleased tracks from his last two solo efforts, Hand.Cannot.Erase and The Raven That Refused to Sing.

Far from typical verse-chorus-verse song structures, the tracks on create a distinctive Wilson-esque musical narrative.

The opening track My Book of Regrets begins with an erratic funk rhythm interspersed with dreamy arpeggios.

Wilson shreds on a meandering guitar solo before the song shifts into a more ambient feel reflecting the lyrics: “Under neon light she walks home, back to her apartment.”

On tracks like Vermillioncore, Wilson shows his prowess as a producer.

The track starts with a pounding bass line accentuated by rhythmically complex drum samples. A screeching, atonal guitar plays off these rhythms before the song launches into a heavy prog riff.

MM caught up with Steven Wilson ahead of his Manchester gig at the O2 arena tonight.

When asked about why he begun producing music, Wilson admitted that he’s a fan of story telling.

He said: “I fell in love with the idea of making records. I wanted to hold in my hand a piece of vinyl and say ‘this is something I made.’

“What I realised later on is that what I’d fallen in love with was the idea of being a producer.

“Being a kind of director, or an auteur, someone that could bring together all these musical elements and knit them all together into this musical journey.

“That, really, is the one thing that’s been consistent throughout all of my records. I’ve always felt that music is very analogous to cinema.

“You’ve got all these scenes in your movie, but ultimately the scenes have to add up to tell one story in a logical and satisfying way.”

Steven talked about advice he would give to up-and-coming bands and believes that expressing yourself in an authentic way is key.

“From the strictly musical perspective, there’s nothing really that hasn’t been done,” he said.

“It’s really hard. Does the world really need another hip hop band? No. Does the world really need another metal band? No. Does the world really need another progressive metal band? God no!

“There’s already far too many. But that doesn’t stop people from wanting to express themselves and I completely understand that, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to express yourself through music.

“Make the music because you love to make it. Make it purely to please yourself.

“By all means put it up on the Internet and try to find an audience, but don’t make that the prerequisite for making the music.

“If you find an audience by accident, that’s fantastic. If you can make a living from it by accident, that’s fantastic, but don’t think of it as a career.

“Unfortunately that’s the best advice I can give because I don’t know how you go about doing that, I really don’t. It’s kind of depressing, I know.”

Steven admits that he has been following the charts and is a fan of Daft Punk, but reveals he isn’t so sure about artists like Justin Bieber.

He said: “I love great pop music, let’s get this straight.

“I grew up in a house where ABBA were taken just as seriously as Pink Floyd, where I would hear the Beegees and the Carpenters as much as I heard the more arty stuff and great pop, to me, is as valid as anything.

“One of my favourite records of the last five years is Get Lucky by Daft Punk. It’s one of the greatest pop records I’ve ever heard and I must have listened to that a thousand times.

“Here’s the thing: most modern pop music sounds like it was written and created by a computer program, and that’s the problem I have.

“When I hear, particularly some of the American stuff whether it’s Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, it sounds like it was written by a computer program.

“There is nothing in it that has any personality, anything I can grasp hold of. It’s just vapour, it’s just there. It’s almost like it has been created to be ignored, and that I find incredibly irritating.

“Unfortunately it’s becoming like a virus. Most modern pop music has that sound: very banal, very bland. Nothing you could imagine could really touch anyone on a very deep level or anything that anyone would want to engage with on a deeper level.

“But of course I would say that because of where I come from and the kind of music I make, that seems to me to be completely alien.

“The sort of music that I like seems as far away from the mainstream as it’s ever been, and that’s kind of depressing.”

Image courtesy of Chorus, with thanks. 

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