Interview with Porcupine Tree / Budapest 2009
In lungul turneu de promovare a celui mai nou album Porcupine Tree, The Incident, trupa britanica a ajuns si in Budapesta, Ungaria. Asa ca, am profitat de ocazie si am mers acolo.
Ceea ce vedeti mai jos este primul interviu acordat de Porcupine Tree unei publicatii din Romania. Pasul a fost facut. Urmeaza ca promoterii din Romania sa ii aduca pe britanici si in Romania.
Multumim LiveSound Production (Hu) pentru sprijinul acordat!
Photo credit: Diana Nitschke
Alina Vadean: First of all I would like to go back in the past and ask you about that imaginary band from the ‘70s . Are you still connected to that band?
Richard Barbieri: What band do you mean? The original Porcupine Tree? The way Steven created this? Well, I didn’t even know him then.
Alina Vadean: I know you came later.
Richard Barbieri: He started like in ’88-’89 . Well, I don’t know much about it. I guess he made music at home and tried to create this imaginary band,
Alina Vadean: How realistic is it now?
Richard Barbieri: [Laughing] Well, we’re not imaginary, we’re real.
Alina Vadean: But this story still influences your music.
Richard Barbieri: Well, I don’t think so.
Alina Vadean: For me Porcupine Tree music is very experimental. You can’t say that …this is, for example, alternative rock or progressive.
Richard Barbieri: Oh yeah, absolutely! We started as a band about ’93 and it’s gone through a lot of different musical changes. I think we’re a little bit alternative, a little bit experimental.
Alina Vadean: And how much progressive?
Richard Barbieri: Well, progressive in our ideas … We want to find new ways to make music, we’re not restrained by any limitation. For us that means progression; you move forward to find new music.
Alina Vadean: But regarding the most famous progressive rock bands?
Richard Barbieri: Well, we’ve enjoyed those bands, but that’s kind of another time.
Alina Vadean: And progressive bands from nowadays? Do you like any progressive band? I mean not only progressive rock bands, also progressive metal. I know there’s a connection between Steven Wilson and Opeth, Mikael Akerfeldt.
Richard Barbieri: Yeah, we like Opeth a lot. I don’t know who from the progressive bands of the moment … Mars Volta, I guess.
Alina Vadean: How about Dream Theater? Even if they are not so progressive as they used to be.
Richard Barbieri: Right! I just don’t really understand their music.
Alina Vadean: You’re not the only one!
Richard Barbieri: [Laughing] I really hope.
Alina Vadean: I don’t understand their marketing, but …
Richard Barbieri: [ Laughing] I don’t quite get it, too! There are bands like Muse or Radiohead. They’re pretty progressive. The new Muse album sounds very kind of symphonic and progressive. It sounds like Queen in some places. Have you heard it? The Muse album?
Alina Vadean: Yes. Actually, for me progressive you cannot clearly describe.
Richard Barbieri: Yes, yes, of course. They could think about progressive …oh, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes …
Photo credit Diana Nitschke
Alina Vadean: First time when I heard about Porcupine Tree I think I’ve listened to the Voyage 34 album. I guess when you’ve joined the band.
Richard Barbieri: That’s true.
Alina Vadean: So, I imagined your music as progressive, then it became more experimental, then alternative. I imagine Porcupine Tree somewhere behind these genres.
Richard Barbieri: Yes, exactly. It was quite psychedelic, too in the beginning.
Alina Vadean: What influences you? I don’t mean nature or stuff like this, I mean musical influences.
Richard Barbieri: Oh, we’re all different. Steven has a lot of musical influences. I’m not influenced by music. [Laughing] I’m going to say what you’ve said “Don’t say!”
Alina Vadean: Let’s see!
Richard Barbieri: I like more kinds of music. I like from Neil Young to Aphex Twin, to Zeppelin, to Sigur Ros, but I don’t sound like those people. When I approach music I don’t try to sound like them all.
Alina Vadean: I think there are some Porcupine Tree songs that sound like Sigur Ros, that Icelandic sound.
Richard Barbieri: Well, yes. I think Steven uses his musical influences in that way [Laughing]
Alina Vadean: Is he the most “influenced” member in Porcupine Tree?
Richard Barbieri: Yeah, I think. For me, I’ve always been influenced by sounds, by places, by atmospheres, by emotions. I’m working in a more abstract way.
Alina Vadean: And who chooses what influence to use?
Richard Barbieri: Well, we all bring our influences into it. We’re recording in different ways. One way: Steven records on his own and writes songs and he brings the songs to us and then we play the songs and arrange them. The other way: we get together as a band and go to the countryside in England like for 2 weeks and live there in the studio. We work together and then we come up with the new material. So, it’s a combination.
Alina Vadean: I know you’ve toured in USA and Canada this year. Is any difference between the American audience and European audience?
Richard Barbieri: Well, there’s a difference between the American audiences and some European places. American audiences are more open, more expressive. So, they’re more enthusiastic, let’s say. When we’ve played in places like Poland, Greece, Italy the people are very expressive, really enthusiastic.
Alina Vadean: You’re for the first time here in Hungary, right?
Richard Barbieri: Yes. So, maybe this could be the same, I don’t know. Maybe in the Northern European countries people are a little bit reserved, in Germany, in England.
Alina Vadean: My next question is about your newest album. For me it looks like an extended version of Fear of the Blank Planet. It’s the same idea of psychotic, obsessive, energetic atmosphere. How do you think your listeners understand the album?
Richard Barbieri: Everybody says something different. It’s interesting. I think it has Porcupine Tree aspects from a long while ago. You know, I think it is more melodic, more classic than Fear of the Blank Planet in that way.
Alina Vadean: Regarding the structure , is it the same circular structure as in Fear of the Blank Planet?
Richard Barbieri: Again, I think it is a bit different. In the Incident you start listening to a track and listen to the verse, the chorus, and it suddenly stops, it changes, it goes to something else. So, it’s different because things develop with dynamics, but it also has all musical aspects from Porcupine Tree music from old to the new. That’s why it is different for me.
Alina Vadean: The Incident is like a resume of everything that Porcupine Tree has ever made.
Richard Barbieri: Yes. I think so.
Alina Vadean: And do you like (you as a band) conceptual albums more than regular albums?
Richard Barbieri: It doesn’t make a difference to me. Steven writes the lyrics, he has to write systematically, so he needs to write, needs to be interested about some concepts. He’s the lyrics writer, so we let him
Alina Vadean: Is he the only one who writes lyrics?
Richard Barbieri: I think is important the person who writes lyrics. So, we give him freedom to write the lyrics. You know, I don’t like all of them, but I think he does a good job. He needs to have that kind of conceptual theme, ideas about the structure to get the album. That’s his job.
Photo credit: Lasse Hoile
Alina Vadean: If you would have to choose a Porcupine tree album. Which one do you think is the most important regarding the public perception?
Richard Barbieri: I think probably In Absentia. I think that’s my favorite album. I think that was the big change at that time. At the moment these are my favorite albums: In Absentia and The Incident.
Alina Vadean: Is In Absentia the best border in your discography? A border between the past and the future?
Richard Barbieri: I think that was the middle point.
Alina Vadean: And if you would have to choose a place where you’ve never played, where would you like to play?
Richard Barbieri: OK, we haven’t played in South America. Maybe we’ll go on the next year. It would be really good. Brazil would be good, too. Places where I would like to go and play … well, I would like to go to Iceland.
Alina Vadean: To see Sigur Ros?
Richard Barbieri: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to go there. I don’t know why. Everything I’ve seen, heard, read about it is quite amazing.
Alina Vadean: What should be expect regarding the set-list for this evening?
Richard Barbieri: The set-list would be in 2 parts. The first part of the show will be The Incident. Complete. Then we’ll have a 5-minute break. And then we’ll come back and play a selection of Porcupine Tree music, older stuff and more recent stuff. We might do one or two different songs cause we’ve never played here and there are some tracks that people fed up with.
Alina Vadean: So, I guess Trains will be on the set-list.
Richard Barbieri: Yeah, we still play that actually. We haven’t played Blackest Eyes we might play that tonight because if there will be people who’ve never seen us and that’s a strong track.
Alina Vadean: That’s why I ask you about the audiences.
Richard Barbieri: Yes, audiences can be very critical. They can fed up, they’re never happy [Laughing]
Alina Vadean: Tell me about your support act, Demians.
Richard Barbieri: I don’t know anything about them. We’re making some suggestions sometimes. I suggest a support act, Gavin also, Steven … or sometimes all of us. I think Steven suggested Demians. We had this band in America called That 1 Guy. He’s amazing. He plays his amazing instrument that he built and it’s like a metal structure with percution, string instruments, samples, electronics and he’s just amazing. And we’ve played with King’s X. They’re really good. We played with Katatonia. That would be Steven’s choice with his Swedish connections. In the past, who we’ve had … Robert Fripp is one of them.
Alina Vadean: I hoped he will be the support act here, too
Richard Barbieri: Oh, I don’t think he likes to come to Europe very often.
Alina Vadean: Did you ever use Opeth as support act?
Richard Barbieri: It’s a bit too big … I imagine Opeth on the similar level to us or more.
Alina Vadean: Why that?
Richard Barbieri: They sell more records then us, probably.
Alina Vadean: So, as financial aspect.
Richard Barbieri: Yes, but I imagine us in the same area. We did a tour together with Opeth in the past about 4 or 5 years ago. There was no support. We go on first one night, the 2nd they go on first. We just rotate. It was great!
Alina Vadean: Then, thank you very much for your time and in the end if you would like to say something to your Romanians fans who also traveled to here to see you live tonight.
Richard Barbieri: We’re always amazed every time when people travel across countries to see us. It really encourages us and we’ll seriously think about to do some shows there next time. Porcupine Tree always go where we’re invited
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2009 November 1st