Bruce Soord: "I heard The Alan Parsons Project and my life changed"

A press shot of Bruce Soord, sat down in a striped top

Where’s home?

Yeovil, Somerset, near Glastonbury and the Jurassic Coast. I grew up here. It’s lovely.

Your earliest prog memory?

I was a spotty 12-year-old at a mate’s house, and his mum put on The Alan Parsons Project’s Tales Of Mystery And Imagination. I can clearly remember the needle going down on their expensive record player. At the time I was into Howard Jones and Madonna, but the moment I heard that, my life changed and I wanted to be a musician.

The first prog record you bought?

Pink Floyd’s Meddle, in a shop called Acorn Records, which has only just closed down. I remember opening up the gatefold and thinking, ‘Who are these greasy weirdos?’ But when I heard Echoes, everything became clear.

The first prog gig you attended?

Camel in 1991, at Kentish Town Forum. Dust And Dreams had just come out, it was their 20th-anniversary tour and they played a track off every album.

Favourite piece of technology?

At the moment it’s this crappy little Zoom recorder. I’ve been carrying it around with me and when I come across interesting or strange people, I’ll ask to record them. I’m building up a catalogue of sounds for my next solo album.

Your specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind?

Probably film noir – the Bogart noirs up to Chinatown.

Favourite prog venue?

The Paradiso in Amsterdam. We supported Blackfield there. It’s a beautiful venue, an old church on the river with these amazing stained-glass windows, and the sound’s great.

Outside of prog, what are you into?

I play football, twice a week. I’m slowing down in my old age, but it’s a good way to keep the beer belly away. Tim Bowness plays too – we should get a prog tournament together!

What do you collect?

Nothing, but I’ve accumulated a lot of wristbands from the festivals we’ve played. They’re a nice keepsake – they remind you of how much you’ve done and how long you’ve been in the game.

Do you have any guilty musical pleasures?

There was a band in the 70s called Ambrosia (above left) who started off as prog but turned into this R&B band. They did this really cheesy tune called How Much I Feel, and I love it.

Who is your all-time prog hero?

It has to be Alan Parsons, but Eric Woolfson too (left) – he wrote the songs after all. I love their first four albums and still listen to them. Their string arranger, Andrew Powell, is an all-time hero of mine too.

What was the last prog album you bought?

The last Haken record, Affinity. For that genre it was exceptionally well done. It’s really different to my style, which is why I enjoyed it.

Have you ever had a prog-related date?

No. My wife’s a grunge girl, but I took her to see Opeth once and she did like it. In Pineapple Thief we always laugh about the stupid myth of bands getting groupies. Well, our bass player was accosted by a female fan once, but he’s a married man and he ran away…

Who in the prog fraternity do you call for a good night out?

Opeth – now they know how to have a good time. Both Mike [Åkerfeldt] and Jonas [Renkse, Katatonia] are so proud of Stockholm – they took us out there to show us a good time. Going out there with the Stockholm massive is recommended!

The most important prog song for you personally?

Alan Parsons’ The Fall Of The House Of Usher defines prog for me. It’s just the most amazing piece of music. That and Lady Fantasy off Camel’s Mirage. Andy Latimer’s a guitar hero of mine.

Which prog music would you play to get yourself into a good mood?

Year Of The Cat by Al Stewart. He’s prog, right?

The best prog artist you’ve ever seen live?

I saw a band called Ultrasound (above) at Glastonbury years ago and they absolutely blew me away. I bought the album [Everything Picture] straight after but it didn’t live up to their live show. It’s a shame it went a bit wrong for them after that.

Can you recommend a good read?

I get The Economist every week, but my wife’s forced me to read novels again. I’ve just finished Joseph O’Connor’s The Thrill Of It All, which follows a band who meet at uni, get big, then get into heroin and it all goes horribly wrong. It’s a really good read if you’re in a band or into music.

What’s your favourite prog album cover?

I really like Storm Thorgerson’s cover for Biffy Clyro’s Puzzle. They’re a more mainstream band but they obviously really care about the whole presentation of their music.

What are you up to at the moment?

Well, the album [Your Wilderness] has been doing well, and the tour’s coming up – sales have been going through the roof. I’m so pleased Gavin Harrison’s coming to slum it on the road with us! I’ve been mixing bands from Chile, Brazil, India, and I’ll be opening for Steven Wilson on a few dates of his US tour in November.

Your Wilderness is out now on Kscope. For full Pineapple Thief tour dates and more information, see www.brucesoord.com.

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