Exclusive: Why I Think Porcupine Tree’s Breaking Up

Porcupine Tree

It bums me to my very core to have to break this awful news to you, but I think — mind you, THINK — Porcupine Tree will be breaking up very, very soon (I’ve since been told the band will not be breaking up and that I took something I had heard out of context — it happens; so if you just want to move on with your life, go ahead).

Tonight, I was in attendance at Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson’s solo show at Best Buy Theatre in Times Square. Luckily, I had the foresight to inquire ahead of time as to when Steven and his band — Marco Minnemann, Nick Beggs, Theo Travis, Adam Holzman, and John Wesley — would actually be going on. Doors were at 7 p.m., and I was told he wouldn’t be playing until 9:30. He went on a minute before, and for most in the crowd, it couldn’t have been a minute sooner.

For an hour before Wilson and the band took the stage shrouded behind a translucent silk curtain (which is how they stayed for the first half hour of the show), fans were shown an experimental “film,” which was projected on the screen. It was basically a series of dreary images, set to droning noise that was driving most of the grey hairs in attendance nuts.

“What the fuck is this bullshit?,” one man yelled angrily. “Start the fucking show!”

Another gent, about ten minutes later, commented loud enough for anyone within five feet to hear, “I’m so glad I paid to stand around for an hour and a half and feel like an asshole.” I guess people weren’t informed about the “film,” which was basically the opening act, in a sense.

Anyways, so, there I am, in the VIP section, which is basically a closed-off platform with a prime, unfettered view of the stage, scoping the crowd for fotch and shoosh. All of a sudden, I spot Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess snapping pictures with fans. Then, coming up the stairs to the VIP section, I see a man I know. I recognize his face. But from where?

It dawns on me. FUCK — that’s Porcupine Tree’s manager! “What’s his name?,” I wonder to myself as he approaches a group of middle-aged men with thick New York accents and bad clothing.

“Hey Andy,” one of the dudes says as they shake hands. It’s Andy Leff, Porcupine Tree’s manager and, of course, Steven Wilson’s manager on this solo tour for this solo album, Grace For Drowning; I’ve yet to get a copy of it, and may not after this.

Andy and these goombas are yapping it up, and Andy starts boasting about the scope of the show — the surround sound effect they’ve captured, by closing off the venue’s arena seating area and setting up speakers at the back of the venue, aimed at the stage. The production is intense, and Andy kept talking about how they couldn’t advertise it as bigger and better (to paraphrase) than Porcupine Tree’s live shows. Then, Andy said something that has been echoing in my head all night.

“The future of PT is in serious doubt,” Leff said.

He specifically said PT. In serious doubt. That’s what I heard him say. My heart sunk.

I love Steven Wilson. I love his solo stuff, and I am sure I will love Storm Corrosion, his upcoming project with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt. But I also love Porcupine Tree, and while I understand he’s probably 70 percent of that band, I’d hate to see the Porcupine Tree chopped down.

UPDATE, 11/12, 9:00 a.m.: Leff contacted Gun Shy Assassin last night and said he was referring to the band’s new album when he was talking in the VIP section, not the band itself, and that “PT is NOT breaking up, and the band’s future is NOT in doubt.”

Leff then said “Enjoy the show,” before advising the goombas to watch the set from the back of the venue for the full “surround sound effect.” Leff left down the stairs to say hello to Rudess, still shaking hands with fans.

For the whole Steven Wilson show — which was awesome and gave me chills at two points — I had this black specter of what Leff said hovering over my head. I overheard something that has affected me, and will — I’m sure — affect fans, once this news hits PT forums.

“The future of PT is in serious doubt.” What else could that mean? Porcupine Tree’s days are numbered, folks. Just remember where you read it first.

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