THE PINEAPPLE THIEF - From Lighted Stage To Lighted Field
January 15, 2013, 4 years ago
By Jason Hraynyk
In the thin choices offered up by the music industry of the new millennium, it is often a struggle to find solid start to finish albums. Finding artists who can challenge you musically and lyrically, let alone have some depth and substance and perhaps some actual musical talent; a difficult task indeed.
Thankfully, through smaller labels like Kscope, it is possible to find those hidden gems who are breathing life back into an often dull and lacklustre music scene. Boasting artists like PORCUPINE TREE and the many side projects of STEVEN WILSON and fellow band mates, ULVER, ANATHEMA, and MOTHLITE, they also can be proud to list THE PINEAPPLE THIEF to the roster.
The Pineapple Thief was started by Bruce Soord, who had already created a name for himself on the UK scene. With a small fan base, the band developed and grew over the course of a number of years. As the band evolved from 1999 to 2007, they released a number of titles on Cyclops Records; many of which are no longer available and highly sought after collectors editions. As the momentum continued to build for the band, it grew into a cult like following and the band began to create attention globally. As word spread and the recognition continued to grow, they found themselves at their current home, Kscope.
It was with the Kscope label that the band truly planted itself and created a name to be respected and with a support system of label-mates to enhance each offering. Following a string of solid releases for the label, with what has been called a trademark ‘bittersweet’ progressive sound, their current release All The Wars has already garnered critial acclaim and solid reviews globally.
From start to finish, the album ebbs and flows between beautiful soundscapes with haunting ballads like One More Step Away, through driving electronic tinted Give It Back To Last Man Standing, which sees the drums and guitars build into an emotional crescendo.
The band decided to enhance the recording by working with a 22 piece string section and a choir for the first time in the bands history and it fills out the entire album beautifully. So often bands try to utilise a symphonic style and sound but rarely succeed. All The Wars would be an entirely different creation without it.
The enthusiasm when speaking with frontman Bruce Soord is refreshing and enhances his confidence in what the band has accomplished with the release of All The Wars. It also fuels where the band is heading creatively and how the energy isn't just spent on music but often on mud filled football pitches.
Jason Hraynyk: How do you motivate yourself to produce a full album that offers the overall package, including the artwork and enhancements?
Bruce Soord: "That's a really good question and I think Kscope has made it a mission out of wanting people to buy the physical products and have the album that people want to hold and have. I think the physical album has sold more albums in the first week than the last one did in four months. Thankfully that means people are still buying records. However, I do wonder what the young generation are doing. Are they hearing a track and saying I like that and then buyng it for 99p?"
JH: With legendary artist Storm Thorgerson, who has created historic covers for the likes of PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN and has created the cover of All The Wars, the importance of artwork seems very important to you?
Bruce Soord: "It is important, I spent my childhood in secondhand record shops and sat on the train looking at the artwork, through the booklets and credits. That is an experience that a generation may miss. The only bonus and positive I see is the resurgence of vinyl. I think overall we have to accept that the future is digital."
JH: The flip side to the loss of record stores and artwork enhancing things is that technology helps to get you to places that you may not have ever reached.
Bruce Soord: "Well that is the debate about money getting to artists and downloading, but I just did an interview in Iran and there is no way that an Iranian kid would ever have been able to hear The Pineapple Thief. It is depressing that anyone can go out and basically find the catalogue. However, I have had people come up at gigs and say they've never bought an album. But the fact they came to a gig and the fact we made more money on that than buying a CD, touring really is where its at and where bands make ends meet."
JH: With nine studio albums under your belt and some listeners just hearing of The Pineapple Thief for the first time, do you feel that this was the right time to put out All The Wars?
Bruce Soord: "I think it's as good a time as any. Everytime you release an album you wonder how people are going to react. I do get the impression that a lot of people are hearing us for the first time. It's difficult because I do hear people say it's quite deep and takes a few listens and compared to Someone Who's Missing, which is quite accessable. It does get to a point where you can't really think that way. You just put it out there."
JH: Are you finding some of the long time fans saying it takes a few listens?
Bruce Soord: "It's very different. Some people say it's instant and others say a number of listens and it starts to click. As a songwriter, I've never got that chance to hear it for the first time because I've had the songs going around for eighteen months. It's certainly growing because of the layers and the depth in the music. The nice thing is that we've seen reviews stating that All The Wars will be on your listening rotation in ten to fifteen years time. So that is worth the risk that it isn't as instant."
JH: In hearing you state taking a risk, you brought in a 22 piece string section and a choir.
Bruce Soord: "It was a risk in that the strings cost a lot of money. It was something that we had never done before but as a muscian and songwriter, it was something I had always dreamed of. It was a real privilage to have that. As a kid, I used to love rock when it was fused with strings in a good way. When it worked, it was brilliant. The choir, well that's another story. They were a local amature choir and that didn't cost us too much at all. In fact, I only had to buy them lunch!"
JH: How would the album have changed if you had not had the opportunity of working with the string section?
Bruce Soord: "The demos did have strings and nowadays there are sample libraires which give you very accurate string arrangements. I always remember speaking to Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and he said you can get close but nothing beats the real thing. When you get to that level where you try and get that extra percentage point in quality, you've got to spend that bit of money to get that extra bit of class and quality."
JH: Does bringing in something like strings show the depth in this genre of music if you want to call it progressive rock?
Bruce Soord: "I think it shows that, the fact that it works, and I think it works without the strings as well. But the fact that the strings come in and they don't sound like they had been just added because we had a big budget and we could do it. It was part of what we were doing and a part of the process."
JH: In terms of the live shows and playing to North American crowds, are there plans on the horizon to see The Pineapple Thief on this side of the pond?
Bruce Soord: "I would love to and they do want to get us over to North America with some talk about something like that in 2013. I think we need to find some like minded bands to go out with."
JH: You are very passionate and energetic when talking about your music. Turning things to other passions, and what you get up to outside of music, from what we've heard The Pineapple Thief members are quite the football players (soccer).
Bruce Soord: "Well I do still play and our 'merch' guy and I talk football quite a lot. To be honest with you, football is a real release. When you're a songwriter, it's a release to follow it and play it."
JH: So as per most kids growing up in England, football is ingrained in the lifestyle.
Bruce Soord: "Most kids at school play football. Later on for me it was Sunday leagues type of thing, but nowadays for me it's more five-aside keeping me fit. When the band go out on the road, we usually look for a match. Anyone who wants to play us we'll play. Everyone in the band plays. The K-Scope crew and the office in fact have a team, so there are lots of opportunities."
JH: We'll have to get a charity tournament together! Have you played in any of the charity games?
Bruce Soord: "No, never have, which is a shame because our drummer is 6'9” and I recon he'd be pretty good up front. We call him “Crouch” when he's on a football pitch. (laughs)"
JH: So, as you say, kick arounds are a nice break in the day when on tour.
Bruce Soord: "We do. When we're touring, we'll find a park 'cause usually the busses pull in quite early and when the crew sets up and sorts things out, we'll all find a park. If there are people around we'll look to play them or we'll just have a proper kick about."
JH: So did you play through school to a point and then music took over? Is that kind of the stroy?
Bruce Soord: "To be honest, yeah. That's why I never became a professional football player. I fell in with a bunch of nerds at school and we just got 'Bruce Soordessed' with music and that took over. I think it was in my mid twenties that I discovered the love of football again."
JH: So you got away from being the passionate player and supporter.
Bruce Soord: "I did actually, because we were so focused on music. I grew up on football and then it was music, music, music, and then I thought you need some balance in your life and everyone around me got back into football again."
JH: So ,are you a local team supporter when it comes to your team?
Bruce Soord: "I do follow the local team Yeovil Town, but they're in a lower division (Division 1). The bass player and I used to follow Leicester City who are playing in the Championship at the moment. I think the most fanatical out of all of us is our 'merch' guy who's a Newcastle supporter and they're some of the best supporters around."
JH: So you're still a Foxes supporter in terms of checking the stats and scores every weekend?
Bruce Soord: "Always follow Leicester City. I love watching football so we're always watching the Premier League and then following the Championship."
JH: Usually it's pretty difficult to get to live games when being part of a band with the studio time and touring. Are you able to get to the odd match?
Bruce Soord: "Not as much as I'd like to. I think the last match was in Cardiff where we got to see Cardiff City vs Blackpool which was a great match. Great atmosphere and the Welsh fans are really interesting."
With his talented songwriting and deeply creative music and his love of football as either a passionate supporter or pulling on the studs for a friendly kick around or full out Sunday League match, Bruce Soord is prepared for All The Wars; perhaps an appropriate description of his level of passion about both music and football.
One can only hope that The Pineapple Thief continues to build its fan base and produce solid efforts like All The Wars. They are well deserving of gracing some of the world's great stadiums...only as a concert venue and not a football pitch. Though Bruce Soord wouldn't say no to stepping onto the pitch.