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Steven Wilson: The Power Behind Porcupine Tree

In 2011, Prog talked to Steven Wilson about Porcupine Tree's 20-year struggle to become a successful band

Steven Wilson reclines in a chair in his conservatory, and mulls over what has been an enthralling and perhaps defining 14 months or so for Porcupine Tree. Outside the winter chill pervades the rural Hertfordshire early evening gloom, but the atmosphere in the musician’s house is as warm as one might expect. In case you were wondering, yes, Steven is trademarkedly barefoot.

“When I remember we were playing to two, three hundred people a night and it tended to be a kind of older, male audience...” Wilson’s voice trails off, as he allows himself a slightly disbelieving touch of a grin. “I think I would have been very surprised to learn that in 10 years we were going to be playing to 2,000 in New York at Radio City and 3,500 in the Albert Hall. It’s just amazing.”

Wilson is, as ever, being modest. Porcupine Tree’s manager Andy Leff told Prog after that aforementioned Albert Hall show that, had Cliff Richard not have booked himself in to celebrate his 70th birthday with a series of gigs, Porcupine Tree could have easily sold out another night at the celebrated venue. Considering the band had played London’s Hammersmith Apollo at the beginning of their The Incident world tour, and the perceived norm is for a band to perform at the larger venues first, then return to a slightly smaller venue towards the end of a tour if demand dictates, it merely adds to the sense of the band’s growing achievements.


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