Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW TO PINEAPPLE THIEF with Bruce Soord (italian version)
by Massimo Salari & Giancarlo Bolther

Would you like to introduce yourself with a bit of history about your band, please?
The name’s Bruce, Bruce Soord. I started ‘The Pineapple Thief’ back in 1999 as a one off studio project for Cyclops (the label I have been on until now). Back then it was just me, alone in my studio. I didn’t have a name, which wasn’t ideal when trying to start a new band. So, whilst watching a film called ‘Eve’s Bayou’, a little girl steals said fruit and is branded a ‘pineapple thief!’. I thought, what the heck, I’ll use that. Little did I know back then that I would go on to write 7 albums and end up one day typing this to you. The ‘full’ band came together in 2003. We have a lot of fun and are very humbled by the response we get from fans.

How do you feel to work with K Scope and why did you broke with Cyclops?
It’s wonderful to be on Kscope, I feel very spoilt. I owe a lot to Cyclops but they didn’t have any resources to push their acts and we both knew TPT was getting to the size where a bigger label was on the cards. It actually came about because Steve Wilson put me onto Kscope (after he heard Little Man). I owe him a very large beer! (Or lemonade)

Could we consider “Tightly Unwound”, the sequel of “What We Have Sown”?
Good question. I think the best way to look at ‘WWHS’ is like an ‘8 Weeks Later’ bonus to ‘Tightly Unwound’. For those who don’t know, I wrote bonus discs with ‘Variations’ and ’10 Stories’ where I set out to write and record the entire album in 8 days. I wrote it last summer (2008) as a good-bye gift for Cyclops and it took 8 weeks from start to finish. That’s why it’s got a 27 minute track – it was the only way to complete the album in time. I knew I wanted Tightly Unwound to go out on Kscope, but I didn’t want to give Cyclops 60 minutes of Hoovers, not after 9 years signed to the label.

Can you tell us about the songs from “Tightly Unwound” and where did you found the inspiration for writing the lyrics?
There is a concept, but it’s quite abstract. A lot of the songs are about how I felt after my wife gave birth to a healthy set of twins in February 2007. Little Man was written around the death of our first child (who sadly only lived for 5 days). The pregnancy for the twins was fairly stressful because after 18 weeks we discovered they were trying to get out! At the time we were told it was ‘all over’ until a consultant decided to try a risky op to ‘stitch them in’. To cut a long story short, we kept the twins in the oven until 36 weeks and they were born healthy. The sense of relief when they were born was immense and I thought, what better way to bottle these emotions than in a healthy bout of song writing. I think that’s why 2008 was such a prolific year for me. So yeah, that probably sums up the inspiration, through various shades of light and dark…

I was deeply hit by the ethereal beauty of songs like “My Debt to You” and “And So say All Of You”, can you tell me more about, please?
Thanks – it’s something I strive for but I don’t really know what the ingredients are. ‘Debt’ took a long time to get exactly right. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to make a loud, brash rock song work. When you strip it down to simple melodies and sentiments there is nowhere to hide, so it has to be special to work. Similarly, with ‘So Say’ – one of my favourite moments (live and studio) is the way the song moves into the middle section. I remember when I got the chords and melodies working (the best ones happen very quickly) it was a great feeling. As a songwriter, I always know when a plan comes together, but it happens at such a subconscious level, I have no idea what constitutes those perfect plans…

I’ve got all your records and I saw that you became more direct and searched at the same time, can you tell me something about your evolution since “Abducting The Unicorn”, please?
Funny, I listened to ‘Abducting’ recently for the first time in years. I was very pleased to hear how far I had progressed and to be honest, was horrified when I heard some of the things I let go, from a production perspective. Vocally, my voice has got a lot better; the overuse of breath was a bit annoying. Over the 7 albums I just think the song writing has got better, not to mention the production and engineering. Lyrically, I'm much happier with how I am saying things too. All in all, I’m just glad I’m still ‘on the up’ (in my opinion that is).

In songs like “The Sorry State” I feel some influences from acts like Radiohead, does it is a coincidence or do you like them?
Yes, I like Radiohead a lot but obviously I would never consciously copy them. A few people have picked up ‘sorry state’ as a ‘radioheady’ song (circa The Bends). But I never thought that myself. Subliminally, all artists have to be influenced. You observation must be a case in point.

In my opinion the song “Little Man” stands as an important point in your evolution, can you tell me about it’s genesis?
I’m really glad you’ve said that. You wouldn’t believe how much that album split the fan base. I am really proud of that album but a lot of old fans who still rate ‘Variations’ as our best album didn’t rate it. Little Man marked the point in my life where I was happy with my song writing. 10 Stories, whilst a good album, was troubled because I got bogged down with recording technology. Before I started Little Man, I built a nice studio at home and upgraded a lot of equipment. The idea was never to let technology get in the way of the creative process again. I felt really relaxed and I think it shows in the song writing. I think some people didn’t ‘get it’ because I relied on simple structures, lyrics and melodies to convey the message. But to me, it still stands as one of my favourite TPT albums.

I’ve liked a lot your longest songs like “Different World” and “Too Much To Loose”, how much improvisation there is in your music?
I usually write songs with my acoustic guitar (the ‘hum and strum’ method). I remember though, with those two songs that I ended up jamming a bit in the studio. I would loop a series of guitar chords, open a bottle of wine and see where the song took me. Those kinds of sessions are a lot fun. The only downside is that it can often take a lot longer to get to the end product. And too much wine might end up more like Spinal Tap’s ‘jazz odyssey’

Like Porcupine Tree, it’s hard to label your music (it isn’t necessary, but sometimes works), how do you consider yourself in the music scene, do you think to have some point in common with Porcupine Tree?
I’m glad it’s hard to label my music to be honest! A lot of people raise the Porcupine Tree thing. I don’t think my music sounds anything like what Steve Wilson is doing. But then, I can also understand the comparisons because we are both doing ‘progressive’ rock. So, if you’re comparing both of us with, say, the Spice Girls, then yeah, we DO occupy a similar place. It’s hard though. Where do I consider myself in the music scene? To be honest, I don’t really think about it.

Today English prog artists are very few and the scene is poor in comparison to its tradition, how do you live this situation?
Actually, it’s good for people like me because it’s less crowded! The English scene is very introspective and because ‘progressive’ has been synonymous with the excess of ‘prog’ it’s been very uncool to admit you are influenced by it. Almost to the point of career suicide. I grew up listening to a load of 70s prog bands (which made me a bit weird as I went to school in the late 1980s) but I also love contemporary music. I suppose that explains a lot about the TPT sound?

What do you think about the actual progressive scene?
I think if you look at Europe as one territory, it’s in a really healthy state. Obviously you’ve got the bigger players like Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Riverside, etc but there are loads of other acts who are doing really credible progressive stuff. I’m really glad because I’ve never really been a fan of the neo-prog that dominated the scene during the 1980s and 1990s. I’m glad the scene has moved on.

In your opinion who is that wrote the most important music in the progressive rock history (something like the best # prog records of all time)?
OK, my top 7 prog albums from my youth (in NO order, don’t make me choose!)
Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
Crime of the Century (Supertramp)
Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Alan Parsons Project)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
The Yes Album (Yes)
Voyage of the Acolyte (Steve Hackett)
The Geese and the Ghost (Anthony Phillips)

Where are going, musically speaking, the Pineapple Thief in the near future?
I’m spending the summer months mulling over what I’m going to do with TPT8. I’ll definitely be using more guitar and pumping up the heavier elements (without venturing into metal too far). I’m also planning on making more use of orchestras, now we have a little bit of money to spend. We’re also planning to play live a lot more, especially in Europe.

Do you have a fave album in your discography or a particular song? Can you tell us why?
It’s really tough for me to choose. As an artist, the ‘here and now’ is what is most exciting, so for that reason my current favourite is ‘Tightly Unwound’. But ‘Little Man’ has a very special place in my heart (and it always will). Favourite song? At the moment, it’s ‘Different World’.

Usually is easy to listen to some people who says that the music from the past is better then the new one, but i don’t feel the same (not always). What do you think about?
I agree with you. Yes, there will never be another Beatles, or another Led Zeppelin, or another Floyd or even another Radiohead. But it’s also easy to get nostalgic about the past. One thing though – it was much easier to be innovative in the 60s and 70s. Lets face it, within the confines of drums, bass, guitars, vocals and keyboards there is a lot less to be discovered. But then that just makes the job more challenging.

Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical career?
There have been so many great moments over the past 10 years. But I think if I had to choose one it was the first time we played a live show. It was the summer of 2003 supporting Caravan at the Whitchurch festival (sadly no more) in the UK. It was the first time I realised there were actually people out there, REAL people who loved our music. We played, stood off stage startled by the crowd’s response, played an encore and then stood in amazement as a huge queue formed around our merchandise stand. It was at that moment that I realised how lucky I was.

Thanks a lot for you time, feel free to end this interview with a reflection or a salute...
Thanks for the quality questions! I’m off out now for a beer – I’ll raise a glass to you and everyone who seeks out new music.


Reviews (in italian):
Tightly Untold; Someone Here Is Missing; All the Wars; Magnolia

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