Room Thirteen tracked Colin Edwin (bass) from Porcupine Tree down before their London show at the Forum to talk about the joys and difficulties in playing live and ensuring the energy never drops whilst on stage.

Room Thirteen: So, you've recently played Mexico, how did that go for Porcupine Tree and was it very different from the normal shows you play on the other side of the Atlantic?
Colin Edwin: We were expecting it to be kind of difficult, really chaotic since it's got a real reputation... But it was actually completely the opposite. It went really well. The people were really nice, the theatre was great and the facilities were good too. It was about a 3,000 capacity venue and we sold it out. The people are really passionate so it was a great audience. It's a difficult place to tour logistically and it's very expensive to do- You can only get things over there by freight, but it was a very good experience. They don't buy records so much, it's more bootlegs over there and obviously they go to concerts. We couldn't take merchandise over there with us, but they'd made all this stuff... t-shirts, and cigarette lighters. We did buy some ourselves, so they made money out of us in more ways than one!
R13: And how is it different from America?
CE: Without sounding blasť, when you're doing a tour it's quite similar no matter what town you're in- We get off the bus, go to a venue and then you're in the town... and that's it. What we used to find was we'd do a really good territory, and then a few gigs that were terrible because you have to go from A to B and to do B you need to do C and D which might be places you don't really want to go to. But now, we're more popular so the last tour in America was more fun and it turned out much better. It turned out the tours we thought would be a washout were actually some of the best. It's really enjoyable to do a tour like that.

R13: You've had your new album out for a few months now, how is that going?
CE: It's been really positive, when it first came out we had a lot of interest and there's a real feeling that people are listening. We tried very hard to write a focussed record, with a flow to it... there was no fat, just the lean record- all killer, no filler.
R13: And you're still finding the music enjoyable to play live now?
CE: Yeah, it's very enjoyable to play, it's good music to perform. We always try to do a lot of the newer stuff when we play live. We've just put an E.P out which isn't the leftovers from the Fear of a Dark Planet record, but it's bits that didn't fit in. We've had a lot of fun playing that. The tour has been mixed up a lot- you can't please everyone and we don't want to play the same stuff all the time but there are things people have expected us to play. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but we really want people to know that if you come to see Porcupine Tree you will get a good selection of songs played- including some of the old stuff too. With the last two shows we've really changed the set around.

R13: A lot of people don't realise you have other records beyond the major record releases. What would you recommend for people to start exploring your back catalogue with?
CE: I guess... hmm. I guess the Lightbulb Sun album. We're going to hopefully reissue that with the 5:1 and all that... aiming for early next year I think. If you can get into that one, then you can get into the others I think.
R13: Will there be any extras on that?
CE: Well, I don't think there's much leftover from that era because we put a Recordings album soon after that, so lots of it is on there. Lightbulb sun is the album that really needs the reissue treatment.

R13: You've got so many different styles throughout all your music. How do you decide on these styles? Is it based on what your listening to, or do you pick up on the feelings of the music scene?
CE: No, the real reason is that the four of us are all quite curious and open minded, so we're into different things. So the mix that comes out is because we all put different aspects into it, so the result is very diverse music.

R13: What's the most challenging part of playing live for you?
CE: Well, anything can be challenging, but when performing live you never have perfect conditions, so the sound isn't always perfect but there's normally a moment in the tour when the whole band falls into sync and hopefully we're there now! I may eat my words later though! After the last tour I felt that things were really coming together well and there was that good vibe. But it's always a challenge to keep the tours good, ther'es never one aspect that is difficult. You have to be focussed on the whole thing, on the flow of the music and the band.

R13: What songs do you really like playing live?
CE: I really like playing 'Anesthetise' off the new album cause there's a bit of everything in it and it's never boring. There are some songs as a bassist you have to play the same more or less because its expected but even if I'm playing the same part it is important to keep the energy up and keep the sound flowing but a big part of playing the bass is being supportive. There are tiny little variations to make things different, and that's quite interesting to do things that appear to be the same but actually change them a little.

R13: How are your side projects going at the moment?
CE: I've got a metal thing, it's very on and off because it's difficult because I'm away a lot but we want to do a new record. That's been cooking for a while. There's another project I do called Ex-Wise Heads, which is very different from Porcupine Tree, more world music than anything else. We've just put out another CD about a month ago on vinyl... It was a bit of a challenge. The thing about vinyl is you can do really long tracks on one side, so it's a complete journey. We hadn't done it before, but we wanted to do a vinyl record and actually try and make longer pieces of music. I was listening to it this morning just to kind of check I still like it since I've not for about a month or so and I'm quite excited about getting that one out. Fingers crossed it will be out in early December.

R13: Is it strange listening to your own music on record?
CE: It's quite strange.. for me, what happens is you listen to it a thousand times when you're working on it and so you're just sick of it. If you're not careful you'll never get anything done since you could mess around with the same thing forever, so knowing when to stop is important. I tend to find when I finish something I won't listen to it for maybe two or three months so you can listen with completely different ears. Sometimes you listen and you think 'Oh my god, why did I do that?' but sometimes you listen and think 'actually, I quite like that'.

Porcupine Tree's latest album, Fear of a Blank Planet, is available now through all good music shops and online through iTunes. You can buy their new EP online at their website: www.PorcupineTree.com.