“I’d been communicating with Nick Beggs about a film that we’re making about [Weather Report bassist] Jaco Pastorius [Jaco was released in 2014]. He told me he was working with Steven Wilson. I’d heard of Steven but I wasn’t familiar with his solo stuff. So he said they’d be in LA at the House Of Blues, and would I like to come? I came down absolutely not knowing what to expect and I came out of there a different person! It was really amazing and inspiring, and it touched a place in me creatively that was really powerful.
"One of my friends is a drummer called Brooks Wackerman [from SoCal punks Bad Religion]. He’s a fan of Porcupine Tree. The second time I went to see Steven Wilson with my wife, right up in the nosebleed seats at Club Nokia, there’s this different drummer, not Marco. I’m like, ‘Wow, that guy looks like a Wackerman!’ And it was Brooks’s brother Chad! That show was on another level. I saw the video production, the animations… it was a huge moment for me. The collaboration with [animator] Jess Cope is really special. In a positive way I’m almost jealous – I wish we had a collaborator like that for Metallica. It sounds crazy, but I love that stuff, and I’m a big fan of Pink Floyd and they use that visual side really well. When I saw The Raven… live, I had tears in my eyes, it was so powerful. Steven certainly opened that door for me again.
"Now every time Steven comes through LA, I’ll have to go. He’s like a new artist for me to discover, and I’m excited for Nick because even for him this is new territory, and he has a lot of freedom. Each guy in the band has a strong stage presence, and you can see them blossoming with every gig.
"I’ve waved the flag in Metallica for Steven Wilson. I think that when they see him live they’ll be impressed. Metallica is certainly open to trying new things – Lou Reed, Lang Lang… go back to the S&M album with the symphony orchestra, that was a huge step forward. There’s a lot of possibilities for our future.
"To me Steven ranks with Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails or the Beach Boys; he’s capable of anything. I’m so happy that I found him!”
This article originally appeared in Prog 45, April 2014.