“Rock is the cult music of the 21st century, in the same way that jazz became a cult. Maybe that’s not a bad thing”: Steven Wilson says the days of rock bands selling a million records are over

Steven Wilson
(Image credit: Hajo Mueller)

Steven Wilson has carved a place as one of the most unique and productive musicians of the past 30 years, most notably as the leader of Porcupine Tree and as a solo artist. So when he makes the bold claim that rock has become “a cult music”, it’s worth listening to what he has to say.

Speaking in the latest issue of Classic Rock magazine, Wilson says that the days of rock bands selling millions of albums are a thing of the past.

“It doesn’t happen with rock albums any more,” he tells Classic Rock‘s Polly Glass. “Rock has become the cult music of the 21st century, in much the same way that jazz became a cult. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. It certainly liberates it, in some senses. It’s a kind of very passionate minority. I don’t mind being a part of that minority.”

Wilson, who recently released his seventh solo album, The Harmony Codex, says that the lack of commercial pressure combined with the creative freedom provided the pandemic, meant he had the freedom to make exactly the kind of record he wanted.

“There was a sense of going to the studio and going: ‘Fuck it, I’m just gonna make a record exactly like I want to make it now, that I would want to hear at this moment in my life, almost as an antidote for everything else that’s going on in the world right now.’

He continues: “So maybe this time around, subconsciously I’m just thinking: ‘Okay, let’s make a big, self-indulgent, unashamedly reaching, pretentious, cinematic journey of a record’. Let’s give them a record that they can lose themselves in. I don’t see a lot of people making records like that. So in my view, this is the truly alternative music of 2023.”

Read the full interview with Steven Wilson in the brand new issue of Classic Rock, featuring Status Quo on the cover and on sale now. Order it online and have it delivered straight to your door.

Steven Wilson in classic rock magazine

(Image credit: Future)

The cover of Classic Rock 320

(Image credit: Future)
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