STORM CORROSION, the much-anticipated collaboration project between OPETH‘s Mikael Åkerfeldt and PORCUPINE TREE‘s Steven Wilson, earlier in the year completed work on its self-titled debut album for an April 2012 release through an as-yet-undicslosed record label.
In a interview with Metal Injection conducted on November 11 at the Best Buy Theater in New York City, Wilson was asked how STORM CORROSION is different from his previous collaborations with Åkerfeldt. “Well, the only stuff I’ve collaboration with Mikael on in the past has been working on his records,” Wilson replied. “This is obviously a collaboration, so it’s a different approach. We sat in a room together and we wrote music together, rather than taking his music that he’d already written and working it into a record. We actually started from the very basics — composition and arranging.”
He continued, “If you’d asked me three months ago about the music, I would have said, ‘Expect the last thing you would expect.’ But actually, now that [OPETH‘s new record] ‘Heritage’ has come out and [Steven Wilson‘s solo album] ‘Grace Of Drowning’ has come out, I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a shock to people, because it’s almost like a third part of the trilogy, in a way. If anything, it’s even more orchestral, even more stripped down, even more dark, twisted and melancholic… but it certainly feels like it comes from the same place as ‘Heritage’ and ‘Grace For Drowning’, which indeed it does because it was written during the same period — it was written during a period that he was playing the tracks that he’d written for ‘Heritage’ and I was playing the tracks that I had written for ‘Grace Of Drowning’. So we were kind of, in a way, egging each other on, encouraging each other to do those particular records, but also at the same time coming up with this music that is now gonna be on STORM CORROSION. So it’s a very orchestral record, it’s very — as you’d expect — epic, the songs are quite long and they develop in quite unusual ways.
“I’m realistic that half the people are gonna hate it and half the people probably will fall in love with it. I’d be happy with that anyway.”
In a fall 2010 interview with the U.K. branch of Roadrunner Records, Wilson stated about STORM CORROSION, “It’s nice to know that what [Mikael and I] always suspected was that when we actually got together [and began collaborating on songs], it was gonna be quite easy. It was also in the back of your mind, thinking, ‘Maybe it won’t work.’ Maybe it [was] just built up so much [in my head before we started writing material], and it was so easy. So easy. And the music was so crazy and so inspiring to both of us. So I think that was good to feel, like, ‘It’s gonna work.'”
Regarding the similarities and differences between PORCUPINE TREE and OPETH and how they play into STORM CORROSION, Wilson said, “The funny thing is that the music we’re making together is actually nothing like either of us made before. Because I think we both had this idea of this kind of music that we knew we couldn’t get our bands to play, but that we both kind of understood where we were coming from. ‘Cause we have this kind of passion [for] very experimental, obscure records, almost orchestral in their scope. And we wanted to make a record like that for a long time.”
He continued, “It’s a long way from metal and it’s a long way from anything that, I think, Mikael has ever done, including the ‘Damnation’ record [from OPETH].
“I think a lot of people thought, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be like ‘Damnation’.’ It’s not; it’s a long way from that, too. And it’s actually a long way from anything I’ve done; [it’s] possibly closer to aspects of things I’ve done, but really quite distinct from anything I’ve ever [released]. [It’s] very orchestral, lots of strings, lots of guitars and vocals, too. Lots of very long songs that kind of go in different directions that you don’t necessarily expect them to go in — almost theatrical in a way. And we both kind of admitted to ourselves that there are a lot of fans out there that are probably gonna hate it. But we’re doing it for us.”
He added, “The one thing we didn’t wanna do is get together and do a prog-metal supergroup, which would have been so easy to do — and kind of expected, in a way. And, you know, we might do that anyway one day. But this time around, we thought, ‘Let’s just do this [kind of] record.’
“Some people will love it and some people will not, and that’s OK, because, in a way, I don’t think we wanted to just give what was expected, and we’re certainly not doing that.”
On the topic of the recording process for STORM CORROSION and whether Steven and Mikael are self-producing the new project, Wilson said, “It’s great, because in many respects, Mikael is the closest I know to someone who is… How do I put this? He’s the equivalent of me in his band. He’s like the captain of the ship and we kind of understand each other — all the frustrations of being in that position, all the stresses and pressures of being in that situation — so because of that, there’s no ego thing at all — yet! [Laughs] But we’re both kind of control freaks, in a way, so that’s kind of a strange situation to be, where you’re working with someone where you don’t feel any of those issues and you have that complete trust. So we’re just like… [I go], ‘Here, you have the guitar. Do something amazing.’ And he does. And then I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve got an idea for that,’ and I do some keyboard thing. And he’s like, ‘That’s amazing! I love that.’ And so it’s really… It sounds like we’re kind of blowing each other the whole time… [Laughs] But it’s just so much fun. And that’s the important thing — I think it’s fun. Because there’s no ego and there’s no pressure. Because people don’t know what to expect.”
He continued, “We’ve kind of already resigned ourselves to the fact that we’re gonna do something that people are gonna hate, anyway. I mean, I’m exaggerating… I’m sure a lot of people are gonna dig it. But people are gonna be surprised by it.
“We’re not giving people what they expect, so there’s little pressure, really — there’s very little pressure. It’s just literally swapping instruments and I’m kind of recording it on my own system.”
Although former DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy was initially supposed to be part of the project, it now appears that he will no longer be involved.
“To be honest, there’s just no room for drums on what we’ve done so far,” Åkerfeldt told Classic Rock magazine last year. “I called Mike up, and he was cool about it. He’s got so much going on anyway, and I’m sure we will work together in the future.”