Conceived as the bedroom brainchild of Bruce Soord in 1999, The Pineapple Thief became the first signing of Kscope in 2008 – following endorsement from Steven Wilson.
Since then they’ve pioneered progressive rock in a decidedly contemporary, dynamic and beautiful way. Hard guitars meet ethereal layers with a vocal nod to Thom Yorke, and on new album Magnolia they condense their lush rock ruminations into masterful, pint-sized pieces.
With Magnolia you stepped back from the production to focus on writing. That’s quite a shift from your DIY ideals.
I never thought I’d be able to let go; I’d never met anyone I trusted. Then Dan [Osborne, drummer] introduced us to Adam Noble [engineer to Paul McCartney], and I met Andrew Skeet, our string arranger on the last album [2012’s All The Wars]. Amazingly talented people, I thought, right, you take my baby and do what you want do with it. And I was able to nurture each song until it was right.
Your lyrics tend to be abstractly personal. Magnolia drew from the death of a friend, 2006’s Little Man illustrated your loss of a child at birth. Do dark times breed the best songs?
In a really sado-masochistic way, sometimes when I’m in a dark place I can almost revel in it. When I wrote the best songs on Magnolia it was a sad time, and the way I dealt with it was by writing music. Often late at night, when I’d had too much to drink.
That drink being…?
Duvel, the Belgian beer. One kicks you off nicely. Too many and you start writing terrible songs. Certainly playing live, in the early days there was far too much Dutch courage… Nowadays we’re more grown-up maybe.
Presumably having kids keeps one foot in a less grown-up place?
Oh yes. I think having kids [seven-year-old twins] and being a musician keeps you having fun. As much as my music is quite dark and melancholic, I still love life.
You’ve said that we’ll never hear a saxophone on a TPT song. What’s your beef with that?
[Laughs] I always think of Bill Clinton playing the sax, things like that. It should be banned. If I ruled the world I’d instigate a mass burning of saxophones.
Given the expanding UK appreciation of ‘nu prog’, are our musical tastes becoming more forward-thinking?
Yes and no. In the prog scene there’s a lot of great acts who have no intention of crossing into other genres. But then you get artists like Steven Wilson and Anathema, and prog fans may claim them as ‘prog’, but listening to the last three Anathema albums I’d say they’re a rock band. So yeah, it’s partly that people are more forward-thinking, and partly that progressive music has really matured. With this record some people say it’s the most progressive thing we’ve done, but others say: “I didn’t get you guys before, but I love this – it’s more accessible.”
**Where do you move from here? **
I can’t see myself going back to prog epics. Listening to our old stuff, choosing songs for the live set, I found myself thinking: “Bruce, why is that song so long?!” Christ, I used to love those giant outros.
Magnolia is out now via Kscope. TPT tour the UK from December 3.