Steven Wilson likes to move forward, explore, and not repeat himself. With his sixth solo album entitled The Future Bites, the British musician offers electro and pop sounds that have shaken fans of progressive rock.
Social networks have ignited since the publication, last spring, of the simple Personal Shopper. A funk track that has confused those who follow it since the days of the formation of Porcupine Tree.
The multi-instrumentalist has the impression, for the first time, to be in tune with his time.
“I am a nerd about music and its heritage, and that mindset is too present in my music and prevents me from sounding like a contemporary artist. My music makes reference to the past a little too often. The Future Bites sounds of its time and represents me musically, ”said the musician, during an interview on the Zoom platform.
And that’s what he had in mind when he launched into the design of this opus.
“Each disc has to be a step forward, to the side or something different. I don’t want to repeat myself. I knew, for this album, that I wanted to do something a little more electronic and with less emphasis on guitars and classic rock. I wanted contemporary sounds without compromising my musical personality, ”he explained.
Not a savior
Steven Wilson refers to the Beatles, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Frank Zappa and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick who never locked themselves into a single style.
The 53-year-old musician finds positive in shaking up an audience that values closing musical borders. A code that does not repeat itself.
“There are a lot of people who think of me as the savior of progressive rock. Yes, some of my records are part of this tradition and I’m proud of these albums. It is one of many things. If I bother these people, it’s because they haven’t really understood who I am, and I’ll never be able to please them, ”he said.
Regarding the presence of pop elements that we find on some pieces of his new album, the Briton admits that he has always liked this style of music. She is present through her projects Blackfield, No-Man and even in the music of Porcupine Tree.
“That’s what I did when I started with the synth-pop duo No-Man, before being propelled into the world of progressive rock with Porcupine Tree. I never lost my love for other styles of music. There is a lot of snobbery towards pop music, ”he dropped.
Despite the presence of more joyful sounds, Steven Wilson has not abandoned the dark elements of his DNA.
“There is more joy in the deployed musical palette, but the lyrics are quite dark. The Future Bites addresses the realities and the world of today through social networks. A world where we are obsessed with the image we convey and where we have become prisoners of these small screens, our phones and the number of ‘likes’ of our publications. We are more and more narcissistic and I include myself in that, ”he said.
Steven Wilson compares this situation to old-fashioned science fiction novels that referred to a world that had become a slave to technology.
“We have become slaves to social media and technology. It fascinates me and it horrifies me at the same time. And that is rather dark, ”he said.
Ironically, the musician used social networks extensively during the pandemic to promote his music and his projects. He threw four singles before the release of The Future Bites.
“You can’t put on a show, advertise on TV or participate in signing sessions in record stores. Social networks have become the only places where it is possible to promote my new album. Which is quite ironic with a record that portrays the dark side of social media, ”he said.
The British musician would have liked things to be done differently. The singles were thrown a bit out of context.
“It was little puzzle pieces that led to some negative comments. It’s like Pink Floyd launched Money before the Dark Side of the Moon album came out, people would have reacted. And if it had been The Great Gig in the Sky, we would have been talking about a gospel turn. And if it had been On the Run, we would have talked, before hearing the rest, of an electronic turn. I had no choice, ”he explained, laughing.
Good news for fans of Porcupine Tree who ceased operations in 2011. Steven Wilson believes that a new album could see the light of day.
“I don’t think I will reactivate full-time training. There might even be a tour, although I’m not a nostalgic person. Porcupine Tree has more fans today than when we were active, ”he noted.
He says he’s happy right now with full control over his destiny.
“It’s not easy to get along with four people without compromising,” he said, adding that the Porcupine Tree was starting to repeat itself, ”he said.