Bruce Soord of The Pineapple Thief
April 2010 interview by Jim Clark


How would you describe the songs on this album?

A more aggressive, ambiguous snapshot of my soul.

To me, this album has a, not heavier but a sort of edgier sound. Was this deliberate?

Yes, definitely. We wanted to capture the energy of the live show. Previous releases were more layered and softer around the edges. There's nothing wrong with that, but after 7 albums we wanted to make your ears prick up.

The choruses to the title track of SHIM recalls "Prey For Me" from 10 Stories Down. Was this deliberate, or did it just happen?

Trust you to notice that! Yes, I remember thinking about that at the time, but I thought 'what the heck' and let it pass. It's a favourite of mine, the off beat chorus melody. So, no it wasn't deliberate, it was only afterwards that I noticed.

Do you have many leftovers from the SHIM sessions, or did pretty much everything get used?

There are a lot of ideas left over. Riffs, beats, sounds. In fact, I resurrected one for a digital b-side for the 'nothing at best' single. One decision I made early on was to ditch any ideas that didn't have that magic sparkle right away. I have wasted too much time labouring over songs when I should have just ditched them. I have a folder on my studio PC called 'crapbag'. It's full of the stuff...

How have you found the initial response from people who have heard this disc so far?

So far, it's been universally positive. What surprised me was that people who really rated our early stuff, specifically 'Variations on a Dream' really rated this album (even though they maybe didn't put our other recent releases up there - I include you in the category!). So, that's pleased me a lot. Maybe I've managed to get the balance right this time...

How did you get signed to K-scope?

About 3 years ago (I think), Steven Wilson mentioned on his page that he wanted ideas for a support band for Porcupine Tree. Luckily, I have a band of very dedicated fans, so dedicated in fact that after bombarding Steven's website he emailed me to tell me to call my army off! I sent Steven a copy of Little Man and he really liked it. He put in a good word for me at KScope and before I knew it, I was on the phone to them negotiating a deal. Steven is an unbelievably generous guy - he didn't have to take the time to help me, but he did. And he still sends we words of wisdom as our career progresses. I owe him big time.

How much more pressure is it being signed to a larger label than a smaller one?

To be honest, there is no pressure. They are such a nice bunch of guys, if anything the pressure seems less. I think knowing that my music will get the promotion and packaging it deserves gives me even more motivation. Plus we hooked up with a manager last year (Rob Palmen) and he has helped enormously.

How did you come to get Storm Thorgeson to do the artwork?

I have Scott (the chief designer at KScope) to thank for that. He met Storm at one of his exhibitions in London and asked him if he'd ever consider working for smaller labels and bands. Storm's reply was 'yes, if I like the music'. So, Scott sent Storm some early mixes from SHIM and before I knew it, I was on a train to Storm's studios to discuss the concepts! It was surreal. As a child I marvelled over the Hipgnosis designs. I never imagined I would have Storm design one of mine.

Was it at all intimidating working with him - I mean, he's worked with bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, Yes, Mars Volta, and so on, and has created some of rock music's best known album covers.

He's a unique guy, that's for sure. He doesn't take any shit and why should he? The guys a legend. Luckily we got on really well but yeah, I was pretty apprehensive before we met. I had a beer at Waterloo station after we met to calm down!

*While I find the songwriting on the first few CD's (137 and Variations, in particular) to be excellent, sonically, I've found that your last few released have sounded far better, production-wise. Is this a result of just having more production experience, or working with more people, or better technology?

It's a mixture of all those things. My studio is much better, I have better instruments and better gear. Technology has really progressed so computers can emulate classic analogue gear much more accurately now (although I use analogue compressors and pre-amps too). But I think the biggest improvement has come from just being a better engineer. Also, I called in some help during the final mixing stages for SHIM - Steve Kitch and an old friend Mark Bowyer applied the final polish to the mixes.

I especially find the drum sounds to be much better. On this album, the drums sound almost Bonham-esque in parts, while on some earlier records, I found the drum sound to be a bit thin. How would you account for the difference?

Yeah, I'm really pleased with the drum sound. It sounds real, like a kit in a room, which is what I always loved about 70s records. Again, it's just having better gear and better ears. Plus I'm older and slightly wiser.

You've already re-released Little Man, what do you find the schedule to be for the re-release of the remaining back catalog? Is this something you've wanted to do, or did K-scope approach you about it?

Kscope really want to get it all out there, especially after SHIM has bedded in. To be honest, I only focus on the 'here and now' so I'm not to bothered about the back cat, but I know it infuriates fans that most of the Cyclops era stuff is out of print.

Why did you pick Little Man as the first CD to be remastered?

It wasn't me - it was KScope. I know Little Man had a mixed reception but it was the one release that originally got me signed to KScope. Originally, they wanted to kick off by re-releasing Little Man, but due to some 'issues' with Cyclops it all went a bit pear shaped.

You have the 3000 Days compilation and a song on the new CD called "3000 Days." Was the song at one point going to be on the compilation?

I think I wrote 3000 Days as a one off for a KScope sampler, but it came out so good I had to keep it! When they asked for the retrospective it seemed such a natural title. I'd been labouring over TPT for over 3000 days...

You've been around for over a decade now and have been growing a steady audience over that time. Have you ever got frustrated over that span and thought "I'm going to call it a day and just go back to my day job?"

Never. I've always counted my lucky stars that I could make music, get it released and have a fan base (although that fan base wasn't always very large!). The fact I'm still doing it and still on the up just makes it sweeter.

As far as a day job, do you still have a "normal" job in addition to being a musician? If so, how do you manage being able to write, record, and most significantly, tour while holding down a job?

At the moment, yes. But it's getting very challenging holding down the 'two jobs'. If things keep going the way they are, I'm going to have to jump to full time music soon.

About a decade ago, if you said the words "progressive" and "music" together, you'd almost guarantee yourself not to get any exposure. But with bands like Radiohead, Muse and the Mars Volta, prog has almost sorta become cool again. Why do you think there's been this sort of shift over the past 10 years?

I think those 3 bands have certainly helped to dispel the 'capes and goblins' association with 'prog'. And don't forget Porcupine Tree are now pretty much in the mainstream too. Nowadays I've no problem with using the 'p' word. But to be honest, I regard TPT as rock band. But yeah, the shift has certainly helped us.

Lyrically, where do you get your song ideas? They seem largely personal - are they drawn from what's happening to you now, or are some drawn from past experiences, or from other's experiences? Is there ever any concern that you're maybe putting yourself out there too much?

Yes, it's a dilemma and a contradiction. Which is why I try to keep my lyrics ambiguous. But I can't write about anything else - at least if I try it just sounds bad. The one thing I enjoy is putting my heart and soul into the live performance. If I'm singing about something I haven't personally experienced, then I can't do that.

How do you decide which lyrics to attach to which piece of music? Have you had many (if any) instances of a song that ended up being on a Pineapple Thief CD that originally had completely different words (or words that ended up being on another song)?

No, I haven't. Lyrics always come after the song. The music is always inspired by an event in my life, so the lyrics have to come from the same source too.

Is it hard to not repeat yourself?

After 8 albums, it gets more challenging. Lyrically, a lot of my songs cover similar ground. Musically, it's much easier to invent something new.

What music do you find influences you these days?

Modern melodic rock always influences me, bands like Biffy Clyro get it spot on. I still find influences from my old 70s collection - early Supertramp, Ambrosia, Colin Blunstone, Al Stewart among others and a lot of other modern dance and electronica stuff. Basically, anything that makes my ears prick up.

Early in your career, some thought (myself included) that you sounded somewhat like Billy Corgan. But since probably Variations, that similarity has largely disappeared. Is this something you were even aware of?

Yeah, I have no idea why I was trying to sound like a more whinny and nasal Billy! At the time of Abducting I was obsessed with a Smashing Pumpkins album called 'Adore' so I think I was just trying to sound like that. I tried to tone it down on 137 and thankfully I've now just sound like Bruce Soord.

What would you consider your career highlight so far? And on the flip side, what would be the most disappointing moment of your career?

We've had a lot of highs to be honest - our first headline tour of Holland was one. We moved from playing small venues to decent clubs. The first time we saw a rider was a great moment. And when we first met our manager on the same tour. We ran out of beer and being English we were too polite to ask for more. Rob, our manager clicked his fingers and two more kegs appeared. Rock and roll!

The worst moment? Rosfest. Our first USA appearance. We were dreadful, it was embarrassing.

What's next for you and the band?
A few gigs and festivals in the summer including NEARfest (USA) in June, then a full European tour in the autumn. Then world domination, obviously. So far, these are the confirmed dates but we're waiting on 2 in France too:

Oct 17 Amigdala Theatre, Trezzo d'Adda (near Milano) Italy
Oct 18 Z-7 , Pratteln, Switzerland
Oct 20 Colos-saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany
Oct 21 Substage, Karlsruhe, Germany
Oct 22 Zeche Carl, Essen, Germany
Oct 23 De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Oct 24 De Pul, Uden , The Netherlands
Oct 25 Logo, Hamburg, Germany
Oct 26 Magnet Club, Berlin, Germany
Oct 28 Spirit of 66, Verviers, Belgium

Thanks again for the interview. Is there anything that you'd like to add?

Nah, I think you've got me covered!



marillion- happiness is the road
tilt- million dollar wound
mickey simmonds- the seven colours of emptiness
ukz- radiation
pain of salvation - scarsick
icon- icon II, icon live
the pineapple thief- tightly unwound
planet p project- levittown (go out dancing part II)
nosound- lightdark
dengue fever- venus on earth
art of all- morgan
marillion- somewhere else
abigails ghost- selling insincerity
blackfield- blackfield II
damien rice- 9
the who- endless wire
the beach boys- good vibrations
the pineapple thief- little man
the killers- sam's town
tom petty- highway companion
hem- funnel cloud
emm gryner- the summer of high hopes
jeremy enigk- world waits
razorlight- razorlight
gps- window to the soul
iron maiden- a matter of life and death
thom yorke- the eraser
richard butler- richard butler
the flaming lips- at war with the mystics
ray davies- other people's live
david gilmour- on an island
nosound- sol29
jackson browne- running on empty 5.1
neal morse- ?
king crimson- 21st century guide to king crimson
shriekback- cormorant
depeche mode- playing the angel
pallas- the dreams of men
my morning jacket- z
riverside- second life syndrome
roger waters- ca ira
various artists- backs against the wall
riverside- out of myself
sigur ros- takk
killers- hot fuss
queen + paul rodgers- return of the champions
journey- generations
yes- the word is live
emmylou harris- heartaches & highways
van der graaf generator- remaster series
rob dickinson- fresh wine for the horses
annie- anniemal
dredg- catch without arms
foo fighters- in your honor
dream theater- octavarium
belle and sebastian- push barman to open old wounds
the go-betweens- oceans apart
porcupine tree- up the downstair (remaster 2005)
coldplay- x & y
nine inch nails- with teeth
aimee mann- the forgotten arm
van der graaf generator- present
christopher o'riley- hold me to this
glen phillips- winter pays for summer
new order- waiting for the siren's call
ben folds- songs for silverman
john doe- forever hasn't happened yet
trashcan sinatras- fez
adrian belew- side one
kaki king - legs to make us longer
longview- mercury
stereophonics- language. sex. violence. other?
for against- echelons
over the rhine- drunkard's prayer
kathleen edwards- back to me
kasabian- kasabian
porcupine tree- deadwing
the wedding present- take fountain
super furry animals - songbook
arena- pepper's ghost
snow patrol- final straw
rpwl- world through my eyes
tori amos- the beekeeper
kino- picture
monarch- the grandeur that was rome
spocks beard- octane
the wonder stuff- escape from rubbish island
richard barbieri- things buried
the pineapple thief- 12 stories down
the pineapple thief- 8 days later
the innoncence mission- now the day is over
zero 7- when it falls
pain of salvation- be
california guitar trio- white water
jelly jam- 2
tim bowness- my hotel year
van halen- the best of both worlds
glen burtnik- welcome to hollywood
charlie mars- charlie mars
porcupine tree- voyage 34 (2004 remaster)
saint etienne- travel edition
lanterna- highways review
hellboys- cha cha with the hellboys review
persona non grata- the fine art of living review
tegan and sara- so jealous review
guadalcanal diary- 2x4 reissue review
voices in the wire- signals in transmission review
roger waters- to kill a child/ leaving beirut review
luna- rendezvous review
jim white- drill a hole in that substrate and tell me what you see review
the drive-by truckers- the dirty south review
the blue nile - high review
lovedrug- pretend you're alive review
twilight singers- she loves you review
keane- hope and fears review
winds- the imaginary direction of time review
kristeen young- x review
asia- silent nation review
macha- forget tomorrow review
crystal method- legion of boom dvd-audio review
kevin moore- ghost book review
marillion- don't hurt yourself singles review
attrition- dante's kitchen review
rush- feedback review
tortoise- it's all around you review
division of laura lee- does not compute review
peccatum- lost in reverie review
iq- dark matter review
bass communion- ghosts on magnetic tape review
the push stars- paint the town review
virgin black- elegant... and dying review
marillion- marbles review
the streets- a grand don't come for free review
the veils- the runaway found review
all about eve- let me go home review
john young band- live review
mary lou lord- baby blue review
the divine comedy- absent friends review
pink floyd- the final cut (2004 remaster) review
prot-kaw- before became after review
jeffrey gaines live review
mocean worker- enter the mowo review
starsailor- silence is easy review
pineapple thief- variations review
lloyd cole- music in a foreign language review
david sylvian- blemish review
spock's beard- feel euphoria eview
guy manning- press pack sampler review
magellan- impossible figures review
the tangent- the music that died alone review
john gorka- live from grace church photos and review
hothouse flowers- into your heart review
charlotte martin- on your shore review
rasputina- frustration plantation review
stellastarr*- stellastarr* review
vast- nude review
sparks- lil' beethoven review
the damnwells- bastards of the beat review
dave gahan- paper monsters review
king crimson- power to believe review
fish- field of crows review
porcupine tree- in absentia dvd-audio review
new model army- great expectations review
antimatter- unreleased 1998 - 2003 review
catie curtis: dreaming in romance languages review
the gathering- sleepy buildings review
twilight singers play blackberry belle review
vienna teng- warm strangers review
opeth- lamentations dvd review
courtney love- america's sweetheart review
blackfield review
anathema- a natural disaster review
nearfest 2003 coverage
neal morse solo photos- metuchen, nj
porcupine tree broadcast
alpha- stargazing review
david sylvian at the tla
emm gryner at the point
barry andrews at the tin angel
tweaker:2 am wakeup call review
cure- join the dots review
fish live from the tla with john wesley
spearhead- everyone deserves music review
miles hunt (wonderstuff) live

full archives coming soon!


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