France’s Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with British guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Steven Wilson of PORCUPINE TREE and STORM CORROSION. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Radio Metal: At the beginning, you described STORM CORROSION as very surprising for both PORCUPINE TREE and OPETH fans. Since then, OPETH‘s album “Heritage” and the STEVEN WILSON album have been released, and you said that, considering those two albums, STORM CORROSION wasn’t that surprising. Do you regret that those two records came out before this one? Would you have preferred to released it first, in order to really surprise the audience?
Steven Wilson: No, I think it’s probably better. I think it’s worked out better in the end. Had STORM CORROSION come out maybe a year ago or two years ago, I think it would probably have got a lot more of a negative reaction than it has. It seems to me that people were a little bit more prepared and a little bit more willing to accept the direction of STORM CORROSION because they’d heard “Heritage” and “Grace For Drowning”. For me, the album is very much a kind of final part in a trilogy of records. I guess I’m moving away from the more conventional rock music vocabulary into a more orchestrated, organic world. So I don’t regret it, it’s worked out very well in this order. I think the album that had the hardest time was probably OPETH‘s “Heritage”. I think Mikael [Åkerfeldt of OPETH and STORM CORROSION] had a very hard time with the metal fans, particularly, accepting their record. But he knew he would, he expected that. But I think in time, this record will come to be seen as a classic and a masterpiece, as all OPETH‘s albums are.
Radio Metal: Isn’t it sad that you have to prepare fans to a big musical change, like you did with those two records before you released STORM CORROSION?
Steven Wilson: It’s just human nature, isn’t it? The nature of music fandom and music fans is that, very often, they fall in love with a band or a particular artist, and they really would like… I’m talking generally, that’s not everyone. But a vast majority of the fanbase would prefer the band to keep making the same record and the same style of music over and over again. That, to me, is not interesting. I like artists that tend to be more interested in reinventing themselves, in experimenting. I think one of the things that you accept when you go in that direction is that you will lose some of your fans with each new release. Some of your fans will not understand and not accept the direction you’re going. But the important thing is, if you consider yourself to a true artist, you have to be selfish and you have to follow your own instincts. Is it sad that STORM CORROSION needs to be explained to people before they can accept it? I don’t think it’s sad, I think it’s inevitable. I think it’s just human nature. Human beings find change very difficult. They find change is something that can be quite an awkward thing to adjust to. It applies to music, it applies to life, it applies to everything.
Radio Metal: At the beginning, Mike Portnoy [DREAM THEATER] was part of this project but was excluded because you felt the music would have little room for drums. But in the end, there are some percussive elements and Gavin Harrison played on the album. Why didn’t you call Mike Portnoy back, since he wanted to be part of the project initially?
Steven Wilson: I don’t think Mike would have liked this music. I might be wrong, but I don’t think it would have been his kind of music. Gavin‘s the drummer for me, anyway. I think Gavin is one of the top five drummers in the whole world. And he lives about ten miles from me, so it was easy for me to get Gavin involved. I might be wrong, but I don’t think Mike would’ve liked this kind of music. I think he’s more of a metal/rock guy. But maybe I’m wrong.
Radio Metal: So you didn’t even try to call him back?
Steven Wilson: No. I’m not really a fan, to be honest, of…[he hesitates]. Anyway, Gavin is someone I thought would be perfect for this particular style of music. He loves jazz music. He’s not really a metal drummer, although he can do that. He’s a very flexible drummer.
Radio Metal: On another subject, will you tour with STORM CORROSION?
Steven Wilson: Not this time, no. I think, maybe, if we get to the point where we make a second record, we might think about it. But right now, I’m on tour with my solo album, and Mikael‘s on tour with OPETH for most of the rest of this year. So it wouldn’t be possible anyway. And also, I’m not sure how we would do it. I’m not sure what lineup of musicians could recreate this music live. You heard it, so you know it’s very fragile, orchestrated music. I’m not sure how we would do that in a live context. But maybe, if we get to do a second record, we’ll have a better idea of how we might do that. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out in the future, but we’re not doing it for this record.
Radio Metal: So you do plan to record other albums with that project?
Steven Wilson: Because we’re so happy with this one, we’ll certainly get together again and start writing together. Whether it will be something completely different or a second STORM CORROSION album, I don’t know. But I would be very surprised if Mikael and myself wouldn’t at least try again to collaborate on something, because we had a great time. We’re so proud of this record. There’s something about it that’s so pure and so outside of everything else. It feels like it’s so much removed from the rest of the music world. We’re very proud of that fact. Yes, we’ll definitely try, I’m sure.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.
“Drag Ropes” video: