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Progressive Rock Interviews

The Pineapple Thief

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with The Pineapple Thief from 2010
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of the group and your involvement in music?

Bruce Soord – I started this whole thing as a lone studio project back in 1999.  It rumbled on slowly until all of a sudden we had a fan base.  Prior to this I spent my time in a band called “Vulgar Unicorn” with an old school friend.  We never gigged even though we sold a few records (and I wasn’t the creative force either).  I just played guitar and wrote a few riffs.  That was the reason I decided to do TPT to be honest.  So, by 2004 we had some nice gig offers so I called the guys and we formed the band as it is today.

Steve Kitch - I initially met Bruce after being called up by the local studio wanting to borrow my sampler for a group currently recording. Turned out to be Bruce and Vulgar Unicorn. I remember attempting to record Bruce’s early demos in my parent’s house. I joined the band in 2005 when replacing my now next door neighbour Matt O’Leary.

Keith Harrison – I joined the band through Wayne Higgins who was playing rhythm guitar with them in 2004.  He and Bruce had known each other for years and they had tried out another drummer for TPT but it hadn’t worked.  Wayne called me and asked if I was interested so I went along for an audition and the rest is history.

Jon Sykes – Bruce and I played in bands together for a few years in the nineties and had been close friends ever since. TPT needed a bass player and I wanted to play some rock.

MSJ: Where does the name The Pineapple Thief come from? Is there some significance to it?
Bruce Soord – No, not really.  Apart from the fact that there is supposed to be no significance.  I wanted a name that gave nothing away.  I’m not sure what image it gives but I hope it’s not too literal!  The name came from a US indie film called “Eve’s Bayou” – there is a scene where a little girl steals a pineapple - inspired.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Bruce Soord – Astronaut?  Professional football player?  Professional drinker?  I think I’d probably be in some dead end job somewhere moaning about stuff listening to other people moaning about stuff on Spotify.  Like me.

Steve Kitch – I can’t ever imagine not being involved in music. It’s an alien concept really. It’s been such a large part of my life ever since I can remember.

Keith Harrison – Like Steve I can’t really conceive of not playing music.  I guess I’d be working for a living ...

Jon Sykes – I’d probably like to make things that go into space.

MSJ: How would you describe the sound of The Pineapple Thief?
Bruce Soord – Always a tricky one, this: it’s rock, we don’t conform to pop boundaries and you need to listen to it multiple times to get the maximum from it.  I remember a fan in Poland telling me that “it feels like you’re speaking to me”.  That was a great compliment.

Keith Harrison – This may sound sycophantic or self indulgent but I would be a fan of TPT if I wasn’t in the band.  There is something deeply emotive about the songs that seems to reach a lot of people.  Ultimately, it’s a rock band but the songs are borne out of personal experiences that touch all of us at some time; grief, joy, love, loss, regret and so on.  I think the TPT sound captures these emotions and connects with a lot of people’s most personal life experiences.

Jon Sykes – Yes Keith, that does sound both sycophantic and self indulgent. They are hopefully intelligent rock songs that are supposed to be musically and lyrically interesting. But then why would anyone try to write anything that wasn’t?

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences - both as a group and individually?
Bruce Soord – As a songwriter I was influenced a lot by 70s stuff.  More recently bands like Deus, Beck, Katatonia, Long Pigs, Biffy Clyro - actually, all kinds of stuff.  We went through my CD collection with a guy from my label the other day and I was pulling out all kinds of old CDs, from Del Amitri through to Supertramp through to the Deftones.

Steve Kitch – Growing up as a young child in the 80s I listened to a lot of rubbish but for me it still remains as a magical period of music history. Being the keyboard player I am stereotypically more in to electronic and dance based music.

Keith Harrison – I have a pretty eclectic taste in music but as a drummer I’ve been influenced by loads of people.  My main influences are probably Buddy Rich, Stewart Copeland, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cobham and too many more to name them all.  More recently I’ve been massively inspired by Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree and saw him give a clinic a few weeks ago which was phenomenal.

Jon Sykes - I like simple, but rhythmic and melodic players. People like Sting and Paul McCartney don’t get enough credit – as bass players.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Bruce Soord – The new album is the big thing we’re focusing on – after that we’ve got a few dates in the summer (USA, UK and Germany) followed by a full European tour in the autumn (full details on our website)
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Bruce Soord – To be honest, no.  I’ve got enough on my plate playing with these guys to think about anything else!

Steve Kitch – Frankly I would be too embarrassed and rubbish to play with anyone with real talent!

Keith Harrison – I love meeting other bands and like to get to know drummers so we can be anoraks and exchange ideas and tips, although anyone who doesn’t play drums wouldn’t understand!

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
Bruce Soord – Personally, it can help us as more people get to listen to our stuff, the kind of people who wouldn’t shell out 10 buck on a physical CD.  But the major thing is that it doesn’t help the labels or the retailers.  And we need them to survive.  KScope seem to be doing ok as they are thinking smarter, getting special editions out there that make fans feel like they’re part of something.  If I am a fan of a band, just having a digital file on an mp3 player leaves me feeling a bit cold.  Call me “old fashioned”…

Steve Kitch – I would never condone illegal downloading but as a band attempting to move up the ladder it can have its advantages. If a fan downloads your album but as a result then goes on to attend a gig, buys the t-shirt and then goes on to buy the back catalogue then we stand to gain a lot more.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?
Bruce Soord – I hate it, purely because I’d like to control what goes out there!  I had a look on You Tube the other day and I was extremely disturbed to see the amount of dire content with our name on you could find.  I had to shut it down and cry myself to sleep.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Bruce Soord – Hmmmm, if I was a super being like ‘The Tick’? Probably Rufus Wainwright.  My wife adores him.   We’d have to fight to the death for her love…

Keith Harrison – I’d have to annihilate any pre-pubescent, production line boy band types so probably someone like Justin Bieber!

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it and why?
Bruce Soord: Chris Squire from Yes on bass because he gets the most amazing sound with his 4001 and he’s still rockin at god knows how old.  Justin Curry on vocals from Del Amitri because I simply love the sound of his voice.  Anna from Anekdoten on keys because she promised us she’d show us her mellotrons (and I love mellotrons), Danny from Supergrass on drums because no one pulls a drum face like he does, and Simon Neil from Biffy on guitar because he knows how to rock it.

Keith Harrison: Jaco Pastorius on bass, Buddy Rich on drums, Kerry Minnear on keyboards and anyone other than Bruce Soord on guitar.

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Bruce Soord: Blimey…..  Deus, Biffy Clyro, Deftones, Katatonia and…. Supertramp (original line up mind).

Steve Kitch: I would pick us to headline. Saturday night in front of 150,000. It’s probably the only way it’s going to happen.

Keith Harrison: This year’s 40th anniversary Glastonbury line up would be pretty close for me.

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Bruce Soord: Last CD I bought was Night is the New Day by Katatonia.  Recently we’ve been listening to cheesy 80s synth pop like AxelF, Bros and Falco on Spotify.  Seriously, ask Steve.

Steve Kitch: I can’t actually remember the last time I brought a CD. I used to buy loads but have now embraced the digital age. I like the fact that any song in my collection or indeed the world can be played or streamed anywhere. The downside is that I rarely get into an album properly these days. There is always something new to hear… 

Jon Sykes – I haven’t bought one for a while. Last one was probably Taste The Secret by Ugly Duckling. It has a great song about going to Rio which I am saving up to play repeatedly whenever it happens that we get to go there (Which frankly is long overdue. Somebody have a word with the manager).

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
Bruce Soord: Biffy Clyro, last night in Bristol.  God, I sound like a Biffy nut.

Steve Kitch: Ditto. Bruce got drunk and I had to drive home.

Keith Harrison: I went to see Cliff Richard in 1986 at the Bath & West Showground - top night’s entertainment.

Jon Sykes: I couldn’t possibly admit to the last one, but rumour has it that bass god Steve Swallow might be playing locally this summer. If that happens I will be there.

MSJ: Do you have a musical "guilty pleasure?"
Bruce Soord: Tales of Mystery and Imagination by the Alan Parsons Project.  It was the first proper album I ever go into as a boy.  But Alan isn’t exactly hip so I don’t normally tell anyone…

Steve Kitch: I like to go back and relive all the naff songs from the 80s. The drunker I get the worse my musical taste becomes.

Keith Harrison: Three Simply Red albums on cassette.  I used to play them in the first car I ever owned to impress the girls - didn’t work.

Jon Sykes: I like big band swing and have been known to actively participate.

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Bruce Soord: Turning up to the airport after a gig in Poland only to find it was shut.  After ranting at an armed guard for 20 minutes we realised we got our 24 hour clock muddled up and turned up 12 hours late.  We had to go back to our hotel and drink vodka to pass the time before shelling out a fortune on flights the following day…

Steve Kitch: Before we had a manager we ended up doing some pretty stupid things. Playing in a band and maintaining some common sense is hard work. Just ask Keith…

Keith Harrison – What can I say?  Guilty as charged.  It was all my fault.

Jon Sykes – I once arrived for a gig at the right street address in the wrong city. Even Keith probably wouldn’t do that

MSJ:

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Bruce Soord: Keep loving music but try to buy the ones you love.  And remember your 24 hour clock.

Steve Kitch: No matter how big we get you can always buy us a pint.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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