The Pineapple Thief will steal the spotlight Saturday night in metro Detroit.
The British prog rock quartet will make their long-awaited Motor City live debut at The Crofoot in Pontiac as part of a 22-date North American tour.
Bruce Soord (guitars, vocals), Steve Kitch (keys), Jon Sykes (bass, backing vocals) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) have embarked on their first North American tour in support of 2018’s “Dissolution,” a splendid nine-track album via Kscope Records that poetically chronicles the impact of social media on people’s lives and society.
“Over the last four years since ‘Your Wilderness’ came out, the band’s just gotten bigger, and we were playing to more people. The modern band is quite weird because you get so much data to analyze, so you look at your Spotify listeners, where your Facebook people are coming from, and you can see where people are,” said Soord, who formed the band in 1999.
“We knew the USA was the big market for us. Obviously, it’s a very big place, so it’s difficult, but we knew that Germany, the U.K., and the USA were the three big territories that are into The Pineapple Thief. Since we’ve been selling more records, we were able to afford to do it.”
The Pineapple Thief’s Live Set
Saturday night’s show will feature selections from their 12-album catalog that spans nearly two decades as well as some surprises for hardcore fans. With each new release, The Pineapple Thief has elevated themselves to new heights due to more sophisticated songwriting and technical capabilities.
“One of the things we did recently was Gavin regularly goes back through The Pineapple Thief back catalog, and obviously that’s 10 or 11 albums he hadn’t played on. He keeps finding things and saying ‘Oh Bruce, this song, I feel like I could so something really cool on it,’” Soord said.
“What we did was we actually recorded four songs from the back catalog that we’re going to release at some point. Gavin has just come in and replayed the drums in his style and completely changed it in some aspects. There are some songs from the back catalog that we’re going to do because we went through that process, and we thought we’re going to have to do these live.”
North American fans will get a preview of The Pineapple Thief’s live performance with the release of their latest live album, “Hold Our Fire,” which dropped Nov. 15 on Kscope Records. The band recorded the album during their 16-date European headlining tour last September and featured nearly all of “Dissolution’s” tracks, including an explosive live version of “Threatening War” on the project.
“They’re mainly from one show that we did in Germany, but there was one song we had to get from a different show because we didn’t play it at that gig. I hope it captures the energy of our shows because it’s very different,” Soord said.
“It’s always a tricky thing when you’re doing studio albums because you want it to have that certain vibe and that certain polished studio feel, but you also don’t want to lose that kind of live energy and excitement you get from being at a show. I think it’s a nice companion to the album because it has got a very different sort of feel in terms of the energy around it.”
Soord’s New Solo Album, ‘All This Will Be Yours’
Outside of “Hold Our Fire,” Soord recorded and released his third striking solo album, “All This Will Be Yours,” Oct. 25 also via Kscope Records. The observational project was inspired by the birth of his third child juxtaposed by the local deprivation of his hometown, Yeovil, in the U.K.
“I just wanted to capture that kind of emotion and put it into music. It was just sort of this really nice moment in your life that you only get once, and it kind of reminded me that every day was different,” Soord said.
With a new baby girl, Soord viewed Yeovil and the larger world through a different lens, one that hints at the promise of the future, yet reveals uncertainty associated with declining local neighborhoods and growing national disparities like Brexit.
“My home is not a particularly bad town, it’s just very typical of a small town with a lot of problems with drugs, alcoholism, meth, unemployment, no prospects, the separation of wealth and what you certainly see in the people who are running the country,” he said. “They’re all from the elite, and they all have very prestigious upbringings, whereas, you see in this town, the people that were left behind.”
Soord conveys that message beautifully in the title track, “All This Will Be Yours,” which opens with a single high-pitched guitar chord that echoes in the atmosphere and joins harmoniously with glistening pianos and synths, pulsating drums, thumping bass and wailing sirens – “In this moment/Let’s just take a walk/Push past 158/There’s no time to talk.”
“For me, writing that you push past it, obviously at the literal level, I have to push past it. There’s sort of the symbolism behind it that we just don’t deal with the problem, and everybody sort of turns a blind eye to it, and it’s right here on my doorstep,” Soord said.
“That kind of thing was informing the writing, and of course all the time, I was pushing my baby daughter, she’s looking at me smiling and thinking everything is wonderful. Again, I wouldn’t want to stress that it’s all bad because there are wonderful people in this town, and the countryside is lovely, but you kind of focus on the darker aspects when you’re writing.”
Throughout “All This Will Be Yours,” Soord features acoustic guitars delicately layered with samples and employs emotional, accessible vocals to provide a window into his contrasting feelings. Together, this dichotomy allows him to write about austerity while his newborn sleeps in his home studio.
Soord recorded the album’s audio as two continuous linear pieces to replicate the pleasure of listening to it on vinyl and had it mastered by Kitch, who’s developed a magic technical ear for sonically packaging different projects together.
That same sonic magic is evident on “Our Greatest Threat Apart,” which melodically highlights Soord’s personal struggles with Brexit – “There has to be another way/We didn’t all come this far/To go our separate ways.”
The track starts at the heels of its calm predecessor, “The Secrets I Know,” and quickly transitions to high-pitched synths ticking back and forth to mimic the frustration of society’s political decline against a cinematic backdrop.
“You can take it at a very personal level about being together, but it was also about as a nation we have become so polarized, and that was what was inspiring me, especially at a time when Parliament was an embarrassment to watch. Every day there was another news headline about how hideous our government was becoming,” Soord said.
“But what I really like about that was how it cut from the first track, which was a very simple, soft acoustic song about my daughter, and then it cuts to this very different vibe with a song about the future and how divisive everything is.”
Next Up for The Pineapple Thief
In addition to releasing a new solo album, Soord and his bandmates will continue their North American tour through Dec. 14 in Seattle. After that, they will start working on a follow-up to “Dissolution,” which already has a concept, title and artwork that Soord’s not ready to reveal just yet.
“We’re currently in writing mode, and as soon as we get back from the USA, we’ll be back in the studio and hopefully get a new studio album out before next summer,” Soord said. “That way, we can come and start touring in September and hopefully come back to the USA as well. We’ve got a good plan actually with the next couple of years planned out, so fingers crossed.”
7 p.m. | Saturday
The Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St. in Pontiac