Two months before the release of their eleventh album “Your Wilderness”, RockUrLife had the pleasure to meet Bruce Soord, singer and guitar player of The Pineapple Thief. It was the occasion to speak about the band and their new album, available on August 19th.
How many times have you come here?
Bruce Soord (vocals/guitar): We played here by four times I think. Always a lovely crowd in Paris as well, good audience.
Your new album is going to be released on August 19th in France. What does “Your Wilderness” mean ?
Bruce: Yes, a week later in France or four days. For me, “Your Wilderness” means… it sounds a little bit pretentious but, it represents the journey you take in life, the wilderness represents life really and that’s why the cover pictures the mother and the child. It’s a bit melancholic.
There are several guests on your album. Why did you choose them ? What kind of novelty did they bring ?
Bruce: Yes, we have a couple of guests, the biggest is Gavin Harrison, the drummer. Our drummer left the band because he had no time, so we did have no drummer.
Bruce: I think it is just difficult to make a living out of music so when you start to do it now, it takes so much time, he just had to make money. So it was just the three of us and our record label suggested Gavin Harrison. I knew Gavin Harrison but I had never met him. Gavin Harrison played with Porcupine Tree. So we just got in contact. When he heard the music he was like “yeah I will do that”. I think we underestimated how big an impact he will make as a drummer, his drumming is so good. He took the songs to different places. When we heard his drumming, it made us change the songs, we played apart some stuff so he was a big influence. And it’s the eleventh Pineapple Thief album, so it was time to make it a bit different. And John Helliwell, from Supertramp, played clarinet on some songs. So it was nice to have these amazing musicians to play with.
Are you still searching for a new drummer?
Bruce: We don’t know yet, obviously I really hope Gavin will play with us, but we don’t know. He’s such a good drummer. It is going to be hard to get someone else. So we cross our fingers. (laughs)
How was the recording process for this album?
Bruce: Really nice. It was really good to make and really relaxing because Gavin Harrison, the drummer, recorded all his drums in the studio that he has in London and sent us the drums in my studio. Steve, who plays keyboard, has a little studio. But we live quite far apart from each other so I wrote the songs and then, everyone sent me their recordings.
Isn’t it a strange way of recording?
Bruce: It is, it’s less romantic. You don’t get together in studios and drink beers. But it did make it really relaxing, because there was no deadline, there were no “oh no, you know, we were not kick out of the studio or run out of money”, nothing like that. So it took as long as it takes to make a record, and it came really quickly, it was really nice.
Speaking about this album, you recently said: “I’ve also rediscovered my progressive roots in terms of songwriting and arrangement”.
Bruce: In the last album, “Magnolia”, the songs were more traditional, in the sense that they had a verse, and a chorus people can sing along to. When I say progressive, it means we don’t have to do that, we don’t have to worry about that: I don’t care if there is a big chorus. It was more like “let’s just write some songs, let’s just do some music and see where it goes”. And there are also songs on the album, like “No Man’s Land” which starts very soft and then, and all of the sudden, there is no verse, chorus, verse, chorus. It’s just different, for me that’s progressive.
Let’s speak about your new video for “No Man’s Land”, the second track of the album. It sounds like a nostalgic song. Tell us more about it.
Bruce: This is the story of a parent and a child, and what happens when his child leaves, either in good circumstances or bad. So the song is really about separation and loneliness. And when I sing “look at me, look at me now in no man’s land” means “look at me now how lonely I am”. It’s quite sad. I do write sad songs, unfortunately, but that’s what the song, the expression came from: the fact of being, of losing everyone you love and then be on your own.
Why a lyric video with photos? Are they your private ones?
Bruce: Not mine. I told Carl Glover what the album was about and he sent me all theses photos. There’re actually photos that he collected. In England, we have a thing like a flee market, he found old photos, bought them and kept the set, so this is old photos from the 1950’s of a family he has not really met.
Imagine if someone sees them and says : “Look at this, this is grandma”. It would be funny. (laughs)
Bruce: Yeah “what are these?” (laughs)
Is there any other song in this album you want to talk about?
Bruce: There is a long song called “The Final Thing On My Mind”, this song is one of my favorite. I enjoyed doing it, it was like going on a journey, when you lose yourself in the music. And that’s why the song is long. It can seem boring, but that’s the way it goes, it moves from different sections, and I started using my voice in different ways so there’s a lot of kind of choral, instead of singing words. That’s something I enjoyed doing.
What are you listening as an inspiration?
Bruce: That’s a thing because making a living as a musician is hard. So I do mixing and produce others bands. So, all of the time I’m listening to bands I mix, there is this Swedish band called Katatonia.
Yes! We’ve heard the new album.
Bruce: Yeah? You have ? I’ve mixed one song on the special edition. This is a really good album and I know Jon as well because we did an album together so I mixed on the special edition and listen to the album a lot, that obviously goes in my head a bit. What is the last album I listen to? The last Radiohead ! I remind I didn’t really get it, that’s not my cup of tea. But yeah, most of the time, I’m listening to bands I’m mixing or producing.
When will you do a show in France?
Bruce: That’s a possibility but we don’t know who’s gonna drum. It’s looking like we will go on tour next January and we definitely want to come to Paris. For the moment, no shows yet. This is a shame because Gavin Harrison, who drummed on this record, is touring with his band all around the world until December so we don’t know if he will drum but it’s kind of fingers crossed that he will.
What can your fans expect in 2016?
Bruce: The album in August. And our album “Abducting The Unicorn” is going to be released again because you can’t get it at this moment. That will come out later I think. The label is going to put it out again. I am just going to remix it to make it sound better.
Now let’s finish with our traditional question: as our website is called “RockUrLife”, what rocks your life?
Bruce: What rocks my life? That’s a good question, do you mean like music or just in general?
Anything you want.
Bruce: I think, right now, Paris is rocking my life; coming here is really, really nice. I think, for me, just enjoying being a musician and really relax in my old ages. I think, as I get older, I get happier, and less angry. In the early days I was like “oooooooh, ahhh” and now I’m chilling like an old man. That rocks my life.