The Pineapple Thief, Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before
In a world of borders and walls, Bruce Soord and Gavin Harrison are crafting explorative and freeing music
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
The Pineapple Thief has, up until now, always been the brainchild of Yeovil born songsmith Bruce Soord, building intelligent, introspective and impassioned songs with an acoustic guitar and his silky, emotion draped voice. But with the much-lauded Porcupine Tree and King Crimson sticksman Gavin Harrison and Godsticks guitarist Darren Charles in the band, they have expanded and evolved. This is a musical re-birthing, a renaissance. Together they are creating the most beautiful, uplifting songs of lucid dreaminess and of heart squeezing impact. In a world of borders and walls, Bruce Soord and Gavin Harrison are crafting explorative and freeing music. This, is The Pineapple Thief like you’ve never heard them before.
“Every collaboration you do brings out something else in yourself which is interesting, because I’ve had enough of me,” Harrison chuckles. We are sat on comfortable leather chairs by the merch stand at Sound Control, chairs positioned where a stage used to be. “Anything I can do that makes me think differently, play differently [is great]. It’s like a relationship; the other person affects you in a different way than if you were on your own or with someone else.”
“The line-up now is a completely different proposition and the general consensus from people is that it’s gone to a completely different level,” says an enthused Bruce Soord, who sits leaned back, with one arm resting on the back of the chair. “The new album was just a completely different process. Whereas before it was a bit more of an insular thing for me to do, Your Wilderness was very much a band collaboration. I’d come up with the basic song ideas and then everyone came in and did their thing. Gavin’s drumming has completely changed the thinking of the band. It brought our bass player, Jon [Sykes] out into being a completely different player.
“With Darren, it’s nice to have someone who can, technically, take the songs to different areas that I just can’t do. He allows me to focus on the songs. It’s nice to have that extra avenue. That’s why, to me, this album is so much better. The final product is something I could have never written or envisaged on my own. It was such a collaborative effort.” Together, with the line-up completed by the synth and keyboard work of Steve Kitch, this band is elevating onto another plain.
Sound Control is sold out tonight and they produce a set of ethereal, transcendental beauty. The sharp stab of opener Tear You Up sets the tone; a wonderful blend of big, overdriven guitars and genteel vocal passages – Harrison instantly exploiting all open spaces with inexplicably devious drum fills and nuances.
Charles is most impressive tonight on Alone At Sea, one of the back catalogue tracks hand picked to be reworked to best flaunt the creative talents and musical possibilities this line-up is capable of. An inventive and expressive song already, and one which leads you to an explosive, relieving conclusion, Charles’ lead playing is a sprinkle of pixie dust atop the song’s ever-rising soundscapes.
The Radiohead inspired, melancholy whispers of That Shore are followed by the expansive and epic Reaching Out. Alongside one another, they sweep you away into another world, the band’s musicianship and togetherness sparking and reacting in the air around a packed and receptive audience.
To Soord, his music is all about “doing something different when approaching a song, thinking a little bit more about the arrangements”. With this band, their ability to vocalise each song’s individualistic voice is phenomenal, from the catchy Take Your Shot, which draws you inside its being like a moth to a flame, to the winding hypnotism of The Final Thing On My Mind.
“I think a genre is a great excuse for someone to ignore your life’s work,” Gavin had said to us before tonight’s show. Cross legged, looking up from the glaring screen of his phone, passion was starting to bubble in him. “I don’t like genres. It’s all music to me. There’s only two types of music, good music and bad music, in my opinion. I don’t like sticking labels on things, there’s enough borders and fences and walls in the world already. Especially with metal there can be some very exclusive clubs that you are either in or out of, like a little island. It’s silly really.”
In a world bordering on nightmarish dystopianism, of political chaos and upheaval, of racism, conflict and discrimination, in a world where it seems society has taken several steps back into a darker age, The Pineapple Thief provide compelling escapism.