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STEVEN WILSON Explains PORCUPINE TREE Reunion, Why Deluxe Reissues Are "Probably The Last Hurrah Of Records"

The lockdown gave the band a window of opportunity.

Porcupine Tree 2021

In a new interview with Classic Rock, Porcupine Tree main man Steven Wilson explained why now was the right time for the group's return.

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"But for lockdown, it probably wouldn't have happened,” Wilson said. “These songs were written over the last ten or eleven years, and we always intended to finish them. My solo career and Gavin's [Harrison, drummer] work with King Crimson sidelined that plan, but lockdown gave us the window of opportunity to knuckle down and do it."

In November of last year, Porcupine Tree announced they would reunite for the first time since 2010, along with debuting a new single "Harridan," the first new music from the band since 2009. Their forthcoming Closure/Continuation album—their 11th studio effort—is scheduled to be released on June 24 through the Music For Nations label.

The British prog-metal titans exceeded the expectations of what was an already vast cult following. Their influence reached far enough to have drawn mainstream appreciation, as well. In Wilson's interview with the aforementioned, it seems that with influence also comes expectation.

"One of the recurring themes in [my work] is of not wanting to repeat myself, and of confronting the expectations of the fan base. The problem with having a professional brand is that it's very easy to get locked into a pattern of giving people more of what they want…. I never planned for [Porcupine Tree] to be over for so long, or even permanently, but I did know that for a while I needed to go on and do something different." In recent years, Wilson has made a splash in the arena of recording and sonic fidelity remixing classic albums in 5.1 sound to try to enhance their quality.

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Asked to pick a favorite of those projects, he said "There are so many, but the ones I'm most proud of are the ones to which I made the biggest difference. Some records didn't sonically match up to the artistry involved. I really felt I was able to lay the shine on Jethro Tull's Aqualung, which was plagued by technical problems. I'm also proud of my work with XTC and Gentle Giant because both bands are so underrated." (This humble scribe was incredibly impressed with the job Wilson did on Chicago's 1970 album, Chicago II).

With the new album on the horizon and tour kicking off this September, the Porcupine Tree reunion is poised to be a memorable one. But memories can wait when it comes to deluxe reissues of any of the band’s previous albums, as it’s not something Wilson seems very interested in.

"It's a bit of a knotty one. The whole culture of the 'deluxe edition' is probably the last hurrah of records. People are now buying records for maybe the third or fourth time, only now it's a 20-CD box with the demos, B-sides, and alternative versions. I can't think of anything more boring. I'd rather hear new music. We've become archeologists, but for those people that do want those products with which I'm involved, if it isn't an oxymoron, I feel duty-bound to do the best job I can."

I don’t think there’s anything boring about demos, b-sides, and alternative versions. Far from it, to be sure. Nonetheless, everyone can appreciate an artist who is always looking forward artistically and gives 100 percent of themselves to whatever project they are tasked with.

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