Stereoboard.com have just posted part one of a two part interview with Steven Wilson, where he discusses his new solo album ‘Grace for Drowning’ and the recent tour that took him across the USA, Canada and Europe. I’ve included two questions and answers from the interview below. For the complete interview, visit Stereoboard.com here.

Steven, when I first heard you were releasing a solo album I remember being surprised because of the vast range of other projects you have had. Now that I have heard both of the solo records though I think that perhaps your solo material wouldn’t fit comfortably into any of your other projects after all. What’s your take on that?

I think that is part of it. More broadly I would say that it is very difficult in any of my other projects to bring all the aspects of my musical personality together as I can do on my solo albums. Now, without question, Porcupine Tree is clearly my most commercially successful and best known musical project but that is not through design.

That is just something that happened. Porcupine Tree is an aspect of my musical personality. Bass Communion is an aspect of my personality, etcetera. I think the thing about my solo project is that it is the first time I have tried to combine all these different parts of my musical personality. There is my interest in jazz and in industrial music and in progressive rock and in drones, in pop music even as well. It is the first time, in a way, that I have been able to bring everything to one project. In a way, that makes sense because all the other projects are collaborative with the exception of Bass Communion and they involve other musicians.

I wouldn’t want any musician that I played with to have to play music that they themselves didn’t like and didn’t want to play. I mean, for example, there is one member of Porcupine Tree who really detests jazz music. I would never be able to bring that element into Porcupine Tree, for example. Similarly, in Blackfield, Aviv is very committed to the idea of the three minute pop song. He does not like things that go on for ages, which are too long in his view. All my other projects have something of me in them, quite a lot of me, they are still collaborations and thus I still have to be aware of what the others are thinking. With a solo project I am liberated from that. For the first time I think the whole breadth of my musical personality has been touched upon.

I for one thought “Grace for Drowning” was an incredible record. I haven’t actually read a single bad review of it that I can remember. How proud does that make you?

It is funny people ask me that. I am often not particularly aware of the reaction it has received. I always try to make things as good as I can and that I would like to listen to. I am enormously proud of it of course. For some reason…this record seems to have…captured something that people wanted at this time, more so I think than other records I have made in the last five years or so. I mean, those albums are all albums I am proud of and they all have their fans but this one seems to have been more universally acclaimed. I am not sure I approached it in any different a way to other records other than the fact that I spent more time upon it. I mean, I have this reputation as a bit of a workaholic and someone who releases ten albums a year or whatever but in reality that isn’t really true.

Actually the last record I made before this one was “The Incident”. There was the Blackfield record but I didn’t write that, those were Aviv’s songs that I just played on. I have pretty much worked on this record for two years straight. In the meantime all these other records that I have been involved in have come out, whether that is Anathema or King Crimson or Opeth or whatever, but I am just involved in those. I am not writing for those bands. For two years all my creative energy really went into “Grace for Drowning”. I think this record, in particular, seems extremely uncompromising in comparison to other albums I have done. Not that any of them have compromised but this one especially is very ambitious and experimental. 

I think there is a sense that at this time in the history of rock music…with all the download culture and all the reality bullshit…that people seem to want this record and this kind of music and musical statement from me….and that’s brilliant for me. I think this record is the kind of record that really taps into the music I fell in love with when I was a kid, in particular the mix between jazz and rock music. I think people forget the influence jazz had on ambitious rock music towards the end of the sixties and in the early seventies. That is why I think there was such an extraordinary run of albums at that time. Trying to tap into that spirit has been run of the fundamentals of the album. People seem to have picked up on that and my passion for that. 

Sorry, I am aware that this has been an extremely long answer to your question! In summary, yes I am happy but I am not necessarily that aware of it because I do not read reviews much. I try and cut myself off from that side of things but I cannot help but get an impression of what has been said and I have had lots of people telling me how much this record means to them and that is a great thing for me and it makes me very proud.

Thanks to Benjamin Bland for conducting the interview. Visit Stereoboard.com for more on music news and reviews, tour info and merchandise here.