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Porcupine Tree Biography

Home > Music > P > Porcupine Tree > Biography

Birth Place: Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England.
Years Active: 1987–present
Genres: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock, Ambient

Porcupine Tree is a progressive rock band formed by Steven Wilson in 1987 in Hemel Hempstead, England. Their music is difficult to categorise, being associated with both psychedelic rock and progressive rock, yet having been influenced by trance, krautrock and ambient due to Steven Wilson and Richard Barbieri's penchant for the Kosmische Musik scene of the early 1970s, led by bands such as Tangerine Dream, Neu! and Can. Since the early 2000s, their music has been leaning towards progressive metal and alternative rock. Despite being signed to both Roadrunner and Atlantic labels, the band has their own record label, Transmission, which they use to launch independent releases and special editions of their albums.

At the time Steven Wilson was going to sign to the Delerium label, he owned a lot of material recorded during the mid and later 80's that he had recorded subsequently on three demo tapes – “Tarquin's Seaweed Farm,” “Love, Death & Mussolini” and “The Nostalgia Factory.” He sent copies of those tapes to people he felt would be interested in the recordings, asking them to spread the word. Delerium originally intended to release all of the material in a double debut album, but Wilson decided to pare down the songs he considered the best. These songs were mastered to make Porcupine Tree's first studio album, 1991’s “On the Sunday of Life...” The leftover tracks would be later released in 1994 on a compilation album called “Yellow Hedgerow Dreamscape.”

Richard Barbieri and Colin Edwin met Steven Wilson to play on a few songs he was working on. Again, there was an amount of songs written that would perfectly fit on a double album. Ultimately, ten tracks were chosen for their next studio album, 1993’s “Up the Downstair.” At the end of 1993, Chris Maitland joined the band for live shows and would later record some drums and percussions for three songs of Porcupine Tree's third studio album, 1995’s

The Sky Moves Sideways.”

They did not record as a full band until 1996’s “Signify,” the first Porcupine Tree album to be performed entirely by the four members. It contained shorter compositions and fewer improvisations than its predecessors.

The next album was delayed for almost three years as the band was looking for a new record label after finishing their deal with Delerium. In the meantime they launched 1998’s “Metanoia,” a compilation of improvisations recorded during the “Signify” sessions, some of which were later shaped into songs.

Finally, they signed to Snapper/K-Scope and the 1999 album “Stupid Dream” was issued. The album was a departure in style from all their previous works, in favor a more song-oriented direction, as a consequence this alienated some older fans but brought a lot of new ones.

Its follow-up, 2000’s “Lightbulb Sun,” assured the fan based and solidified the ground of its predecessor. For this one, they worked with Dave Gregory of XTC, who provided string arrangements. A collection of EP tracks and out-takes from the previous two albums was launched in 2001 under the title “Recordings.”

Released in 2002, “In Absentia” turned out to be one of their most successful works to date, remaining a favorite to many fans, charting in many European countries and selling over 100,000 copies in its first year of release. “Deadwing,” released in 2005, peaked on the Billboard 200 Albums chart at #132 marking their first entry on the Billboard charts.

Porcupine Tree's next studio album, 2007’s “Fear of a Blank Planet,” debuted at #59 on the Billboard 200, and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Surround Sound Album category The album featured collaborations with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and King Crimson's Robert Fripp.

In September 2007, they released “Nil Recurring,” an EP of four leftover tracks from the recording sessions for “Fear of a Blank Planet.” It was released on Transmission, the band's own record label as a limited edition of 5000. The EP was later reissued in February 2008 on Peaceville Records.

A live album from the “Fear of a Blank Planet” tour, “Ilosaarirock,” was released in March 2009. It was recorded from their performance at the Ilosaarirock Festival in July 2007. In September 2009, the band's tenth studio album was released, titled “The Incident,” peaking at #23 on the Billboard 200 setting their best chart performance to date.