Steven Wilson says rock music has “already become the cult music of the 21st century”

“It’s a kind of very passionate minority. I don’t mind being part of that minority.”

Steven Wilson performing live

Credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns

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Rock music may not be shifting the same number of records as it did in decades past, but one could make the case that the genre remains in a pretty healthy place, with countless exciting new bands continuing to push its subgenres into unexplored territory.

It’s Steven Wilson’s opinion, however, that rock music has already become the “cult music of the 21st century”.

And in an interview in the latest issue of Classic Rock, the Porcupine Tree frontman says he’s embracing an audience outside of mainstream with his new album The Harmony Codex, which arrives 29 October.

“There’s always a reaction to the previous record, with everything I do,” he says. “So The Future Bites [Wilson’s last solo album] had been this very tightly controlled, very concise, only 40 minutes, electronic pop record – or at least by my standards it was an electronic pop record.

“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 [Laughs]. So in my view, this is the truly alternative music of 2023.”

On whether he’s holding out hope for The Harmony Codex to achieve massive mainstream success, he continues: “It doesn’t happen with rock albums anymore. 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 part of that minority.

“It doesn’t belong in 2023. And I sense that there’s a lot of people out there that want records that don’t necessarily belong in 2023. That’s my demographic, right there.”

In other news, earlier this month, Steven Wilson vented about guitarists who don’t experiment with sounds outside of what they’re used to or comfortable with.

“I’m constantly disappointed by extraordinary guitar players that have got no concept of how to change their sound, change their tone,” he said, noting that “They play with the same tone the whole time because it’s that tone that enables them to play a million notes… As a sound, it’s boring.”

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