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29th May 2013
METAL DISCOVERY: There’s a nice blend of analogue and digital instrumentations on there too so was there a lot of hard work involved in finding a good balance between those two?
BRUCE: I’ve kind of learnt over the years… one of my really early projects was a band called Vulgar Unicorn and that was quite electronic back in the day. And then we sort of progressed through the trip-hop period, especially as I live near Bristol, so me and my mates used to do a lot of stuff with half speed breakbeats and all that kind of stuff and lots of sub-bass, and I was always a guitarist. So, all my career, I’ve been toying with electronic and analogue instrumentations. And ‘Someone Here is Missing’, the second to last Pineapple Thief album, had a lot of experimenting with electronic beats. But the problem with that is, when we play live, there was a bit of an identity crisis because what are we trying to be? Are we trying to be like a Nine Inch Nails/Depeche Mode style band or are we a rock band? That’s why doing this project, I thought, “no, sod it, let’s just go for the electronic versus instrument mash-up.”
(Bruce Soord on plans for a Wisdom of Crowds tour)
"If it does go well then I think we’re planning to tour in December."
Wisdom of Crowds - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2013 Ross Bolidai
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Wisdom of Crowds Facebook:
Wisdom of Crowds (2013)
Thanks to Simon Glacken for arranging the interview.
MD: It works perfectly on there. I think it’s very hard to get the balance between those two right but I think you’ve hit that balance perfectly; pretty much spot-on for the most part.
BRUCE: Ah, cheers.
MD: I gather it was someone at Kscope who suggested calling the project Wisdom of Crowds, the title of the second track on the album of course, but were there any other suggestions floating around before then?
BRUCE: We had some really dire ones like… real horrible prog-rock sounding ones like planets and nebulas involved…
MD: So clichéd!
BRUCE: [laughs] Yeah! It may as well have been ‘Lord of the Rings’ or something like that! But then we were thinking what kind of moniker we could use. To be honest, I’d much rather it wasn’t ‘Bruce Soord & Jonas Renkse’; I’d much rather it was just called Wisdom of Crowds but I know that Kscope need that otherwise people wouldn’t have a clue what it is. But I thought Wisdom of Crowds was such a perfect name. It’s a title I like as it makes you think because, really, is there a Wisdom of Crowds? Maybe sometimes but, really, I’d like to think that our self makes the difference. In this case there were three of us and it all came together and the whole was greater than the sum of the parts; individually we came together and created something bigger than we could do on our own.
MD: Indeed, yeah, definitely, even though Jonas’ voice is immediately identifiable so he’s put his individual stamp on there as well.
BRUCE: Yeah, completely. And that’s the other thing about Jonas’ voice is that there are very few people who I hear singing where, within a second, you go, “right, yeah, that’s Katatonia.” And not just the way he delivers but he’s got a style with the notes and some certain licks that he puts in that’s just his trademark, I think.
MD: Yeah, and particularly within the metal genre where there have been established idioms over the years for styles of singing and it’s become so self-imitative where people like Mikael Åkerfeldt and Jonas do stand out from the crowd. A band like Leprous as well; Einar Solberg has such a distinctive, emotionally powerful voice.
BRUCE: For me, it’s such a key because if the voice isn’t there then I’m turned off.
MD: There’s been a one-off Wisdom of Crowds show announced in July at the Garage in London as part of Kscope’s fifth anniversary celebrations. Was that the label massively persuading you to do that?
BRUCE: Yeah, it was. They said, “Bruce, come on, you can launch the album…”. I said, “great, yeah, but do you know how much shit you’ve got to get together just to get a band on the road, let alone for a tour but for a one-off gig?!” But, no, we’ve got the band together - funnily enough, the keyboard player from The Pineapple Thief because we’ve got the rig perfectly set up for all the big, fat synth sounds and everything, a drummer from Brighton and Jonas is flying over the week before the gig to rehearse.
MD: Marvellous, so you’ll get a week’s rehearsal time with him.
BRUCE: Yeah, well, the band’s gonna get together beforehand because, technically, I think there’s quite a lot that we’ve got to get sorted and then Jonas can just swan in and we’ll be ready for him.
MD: Ah good, at least he gets a few practices in there. I’ve heard of these one-off things where somebody flies in and the soundcheck is their practice.
BRUCE: There’s no way… I’d be absolutely terrified if that was the case! We just don’t know how it’s gonna go down… I know a lot of people will probably get it but I’m just interested to see how many Katatonia fans will say, “look, this isn’t metal, I don’t like it” and how many Pineapple Thief fans go, “what are all these big beats and where are the ten minute songs?” You know, all that kind of thing. If it does go well then I think we’re planning to tour in December.
MD: Oh, brilliant… schedules permitting, I guess…
BRUCE: Well, our agent has already… because they’re really excited about it and they’ve already blocked December out so, unless it bombs, and no-one wants to book us, then it looks like December’s on the cards.
MD: Well, it’s getting so much good press so it looks like there’s a market for it already. What about festival dates too, any offers that’ve come in?
BRUCE: We’re too late, I think, because all the festivals are all booked in so we haven’t had any as yet. A lot of festivals have late announcements so you never know. Maybe when the reviews are published, then promoters might buy it, particularly with Jonas’ reputation, that might certainly help.
MD: Yeah, that’s a big draw, isn’t it.
BRUCE: It’s huge, yeah, I’m very lucky, to be honest.
MD: Obviously this collaboration with Jonas seems to have engendered quite a bit of excitement ahead of the album even coming out so, hypothetically, what collaboration between musicians would most excite you?
BRUCE: Cor blimey, yeah, I’m just trying to think… that’s a hell of a good question! I’ve no idea, I’d have to really think about that to justify a decent answer.
MD: So nobody that springs to mind.
BRUCE: No and I’m really annoyed because I want to come up with an amazing answer for that!
MD: You’ll put the phone down and suddenly have ten names going through your head!
BRUCE: I will, yeah!
MD: The final thing I have to ask – do you anticipate there’ll be more Wisdom of Crowds material in the future from both Jonas and yourself?
BRUCE: Because me and Jonas got on so well, we were talking about me flying over to Stockholm with the family because Jonas has got some kids and everyone got on so well. He was saying about we should jam and see what... I think Jonas was quite keen on doing something where he would be more creatively involved. Because we got on really well, it was like, well, let’s see what happens if we both pick up a guitar and have a jam. So I think that’s definitely on the cards but what that’ll sound like, I don’t know. And I know Kscope want to do another Wisdom of Crowds sounding record as well.
MD: Cool, so there’s likely to be more stuff in the future?
BRUCE: I would’ve thought so. I think if there’s a call for it then we’ll definitely do it.
MD: Marvellous. Right, thank you so much for the interview anyway, it’s been very interesting.
BRUCE: Yeah, no worries.
MD: And I have to say again, an amazing album, so best of luck with it, I hope it does really well for you.
BRUCE: Yeah, cheers, so do I!
MD: And good luck for the show in London; I’m hoping to come down and cover that.
BRUCE: Yeah, make sure you say hello if you come to that.