Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Pineapple Thief. Interview with Bruce Soord

Progressive rock and metal has become fashionable again. Every band with the slightest experimental or technical touch is immediatly labelled as "prog". For The Pineapple Thief main man Bruce Soord the term has lost its value and he rather refers to his own music as "post progressive" as John Toolan found out in the following interview.

What chain of events led you to record at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio?

I think there was a mistake in the press release, as the album was actually recorded in another really cool residential studio called The Chapel. However, we DID do some drums at Real World. It’s pretty local to me and I have been there before. One of the artists who used my studio a lot in 10 years ago (Sheila Chandra) was on Peter’s Real World label and she also toured with him in the USA. I actually did some assistant engineering there a few years back too, but gave up after 3 days! Life as an assistant engineer? You may as well kiss normal living good bye. Certainly not conducive to being a songwriter in a band, that’s for sure! It’s an amazing place though, although I think the musical landscape has changed since the mega record deals of the past and the large residentials are suffering as a result. You don’t need a massive studio to produce a smash hit pop song any more…

Being fascinated still by album cover artwork, could you explain the significance of the cover of “All the Wars”?

I’m really glad so many people are picking up on the cover; it’s not a dying art yet then? All the Wars has a fairly abstract concept, in focusing on the complexities of how we interact with the ones we love, especially the conflict, waste and reconciliation (if we are lucky enough to attain that). So when I saw Mark Mawson’s work, I knew it was perfectly suited to the music. The way the colours interact – it’s ambiguous. Are the colours in conflict, fighting for territory or are they harmonious? And people have told me the whole image looks like a Portuguese ‘man o’ war’ jelly fish too. So I love the way it engages with the brain like that.

How has the use of a large string section and choir allowed the music of The Pineapple Thief to expand? Did the sound you achieve reach your expectations?

Having the string section was a childhood dream come true. I love the way it’s added to the TPT sound without taking over. We were very careful, when mixing the record, not to turn all the strings up too loud, because as wonderful as they sound, the most important thing is the song. Obviously we don’t go on the road with 22 string players so the songs still have to work stripped back. As for the sound, with 22 players you are going to get a big, lush sound. I want to keep that for the next album, but also track a more intimate section too. Massive sounds aren’t always appropriate.

How hard was it to allow Andrew Skeet control over the orchestral arrangements of your compositions?

It was a gamble and I have to say, I was nervous! I gave Andrew my ideas but made it clear I wanted him to have total artistic control. I didn’t want to risk smothering his creativity. Arranging is his art. And I’m glad I let him do it, because what he came up was brilliant.

How useful are sites like Twitter, Facebook and fan blog sites in promoting your work?

It would appear that online communities, with a common interest, are a new way of experiencing music, very far from the days when you could sit in your bedroom playing music that you thought no one else had ever heard of. The world of social networking and the concept of sharing our lives over the web has totally transformed music marketing, to the point where labels will actually pay good money for social networking specialists. Everything is everywhere; the challenge is separating the wheat from the chaff, which is where these sites come into their own. Ultimately, it’s no different to saying ‘hey mate, check out this album I bought, it’s brilliant’, apart from that now anyone can access anyone in an instant and recommend anything that’s out there. It has made the musical world much more competitive. If you are good, you can get your music out there and it will spread without the need for 6 figure record deals and marketing budgets.

How has The Pineapple Thief Street Team helped to promote this release, and how did you come up with that idea?

The street team is something we’ve thought about for years, it’s something bands have been doing for a long time. We are lucky enough to have a very active, core fan base who just want more people to hear our music, so encouraging these people to do anything from flyering gigs to writing reviews online is a massive help. Even Lady Gaga has her ‘fancorps’ team! Getting good reviews is great, but word of mouth is where the money is....

Read the full interview here

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