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We live in a world where authenticity is not just a nice thing– but essential to our survival. To be authentic is to be master over one’s fears. When you boil every human problem down to it’s essence, including the current political situation – fear is at the root.
It’s one thing to face one’s fears and be authentic; it’s quite another when that authenticity is rewarded with success in the real world. In 2005, I was reading an interview with the drummer of RUSH, Neil Peart. (for those unfamiliar with their back story, RUSH gambled with utter failure as they built their career on a foundation of total authenticity, despite massive pressure to sell out in the name of commercial safety. This gamble paid off and earned them one of the most victorious, lucrative, and artistically free positions in music history).
Neil Peart said he only knew of two bands currently working who were making a success on their own terms, as RUSH did. One of the bands he cited was Porcupine Tree. Short story: I checked them out, it was love at first listen. Porcupine Tree embodied was a grand mix of rock sensibilities, think of Tool + Pink Floyd. Their ability to co-mingle devastatingly heavy sounds with ethereal, light sounds fascinated me. If the Yin / Yang symbol had a soundtrack, Porcupine Tree was it. As it turns out, Porcupine Tree was fronted by mastermind musician and producer, Steven Wilson.
Wilson soon put Porcupine Tree on hiatus to pursue a solo career. His solo record have been everything we all loved about Porcupine Tree, but with new levels of nuance brought on by collaborations with other world class musicians.
Wilson is kind of a big deal, though you’d never know it by talking to him. As a producer, he’s been entrusted with remastering the King Crimson, YES, and Jethro Tull catalogs. In the music production world he is highly sought after as an engineer. He’s got other bands and projects, too, such as Blackfield, Storm Corrosion, No-Man, Bass Communion. This guy is prolific by anyone’s standards.
The 4x Grammy nominated musician– widely regarded as the “King of Prog Rock”, made a tour stop in Salt Lake City, playing to an anxious crowd. Prior to the show, Steven sat down with us for a candid conversation about his work, his hopes, and fears.
On a very personal note – this interview and concert had extra significance for me. As a divorced father, I’ve found that the decreased amount of time I get to spend with my kids brings an unexpected blessing: the little things that we bond over become incredibly salient. A few years ago, I introduced my youngest daughter, Makelle, to Steven Wilson. She immediately felt a connection to his music. Ever since, Wilson’s music has been a part of our father – daughter vocabulary. I was able to bring her along to the concert and the interview as a surprise for her 15th Birthday which is this month. Attending a Steven Wilson show is a great treat. Including my daughter in the whole process was a massive honor. You’ll hear her in the podcast episode.
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