By: Navjot Kaur Sobti
Infusing all shades of rock into a “twisted” and “experimental” musical incarnation is a long-anticipated and newly embarked project – to feature Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt, as well as Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy. In a recent interview with Chordstruck Magazine, Wilson explained how the project is still “in [its] very early days,” as he is currently getting the concepts out and onto the paper, drafting the first few tunes with Akerfeldt. Thus far, both European progressive metal masterminds have churned out “15 minutes of music” in Wilson’s London studio.
Now, Akerfeldt, Wilson, and Portnoy – are dudes that keep themselves busy, dabbling in dissection with all types of music – exemplified by and ranging from the traditional death metal calls of Bloodbath’s Resurrection Through Carnage, through to the progressive, experimental tunes of records like Dream Theater’s When Dream and Day Unite, and Opeth’s My Arms, Your Hearse. Nonetheless, zooming in on the present and collaborative effort at hand, Portnoy added that, in spite of their more traceably progressive metal backgrounds, “people are going to be very surprised by the direction” – especially those who may spin the record with expectations of the “death-metal-progressive rock” feel. He assured readers of this, so too that “if you put the two of [both Wilson and Akerfeldt] together,” the “last thing [they’d] do is something similar to what people already known from our most high-profile project.” In short, they itch to innovate, forever avoiding that easier but all-too common path of writing music that is predictable, familiar, and perhaps more welcomed by their established fanbases.
Despite the fact that the duo (and soon to be, trio) intends to venture into the more “mellower” and less “prog” sonic realms, they have promised that their direction is “arty…ambitious,” and inevitably, “epic” – undoubtedly “dark” – a sure-fire way to hook listeners on the deliberate melodies and the introspective lyrics that gave both musicians a solid status in the musical world. They have walked into the studio’s with the intent of doing “something really, really special and really different” – a desire that they have kept in mind for years. Added Portnoy in a 2009 interview with Pyromusic.net, “the three of us each mentioned wanting to work with each other years ago, and since then it’s kind of been this rumor that won’t go away.” Rumor-turned reality? Not quite, as he also explained how the exponential “hype and anticipation” has ironically made them “hesitant” to go forward with the project. Perfectionists as they are, it’s due to the overwhelming reception from a record that has barely been drafted, to-date, that they feel the hype has “surpassed anything [they can] realistically deliver.”
As opposed to a more silent and understated entry of new music into the libraries and flowing from the headphones of music listeners, Portnoy attributed the excitement to the Internet, on which news and music getting “leaked” is an increasingly common phenomenon: often a source of bliss for beloved yet impatient fans, and a royal nuisance for bands (and their loving labels). He vehemently critiqued such “leaks” and the internet for too often “[opening] up [a] can of worms of discussion,” after which “people starting discussing and discussing and discussing and dissecting and anticipating…[building] up such a level of hype and expectation in their head that it’s impossible to ever satisfy.”
As far as expectations are concerned, Portnoy and Wilson wish to keep the project’s growth “under the lid,” but have promised that they “would love to work together” and get it all together, synthesizing a record that’s “different” as anything they’ve ever made but essentially, and perhaps most crucially, straight rockin.’