Steven Wilson Says Radiohead Got Away With Making Conceptual Rock Music

During a recent conversation with Rob Moore, Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson said that Radiohead has managed to gain recognition in the mainstream, although they deal with conceptual rock music.

Steven Wilson has established himself as a prolific artist throughout his career spanning over three decades. While the famous musician is widely recognized for his long-term tenure in Porcupine Tree, he has also served as a member of Blackfield and No-Man. Besides fronting several bands, Wilson has also built a solo career by releasing six studio albums.

His music is mainly described as a combination of progressive and art rock and has post-progressive influences. Wilson has been known for his willingness to take risks and for always being experimental in his style. In a recent interview, the singer discussed Radiohead’s sound by comparing it to his own music. The musician stated that Radiohead makes conceptual rock music but somehow gets away with it despite its common negative reactions.

When asked for further explanation, Steven Wilson highlighted that Radiohead successfully incorporates various elements of conceptual music into their sound, but the mainstream audience has still embraced them. He likes their music because he also follows a similar line, yet he is also aware of the typical attitude towards that style. However, Radiohead has somehow managed to escape from these negative comments. According to Wilson, the reason for that is they come from the alternative rock scene of the ’90s. Thus, their acceptance from the mainstream is understandable, considering that point.

Steven Wilson speaking on Radiohead:

“Here’s the thing. I think Radiohead gets away with essentially making very obviously conceptual rock music, using a lot of what you might call progressive rock tropes, clever triumph time signatures, and weighty lyrics about the human condition. I’m saying this in a slightly sarcastic way, but of course, I love all of that, and I do that too.

Weighty lyrics about the human condition, things that the mainstream media traditionally sometimes have found to be worthy of taking the piss out of, not embracing, but Radiohead seems to get away with it in the sense that they have been completely embraced.

When I rationalize it to myself, I say, ‘Okay, what is the difference?’ The difference is that Radiohead came from the tradition of alternative music. They came through the same era as Britpop. They were seen as part of a scene that came from alternative culture whereas I was very obvious right from the beginning about my roots.”

You can watch the rest of the conversation below.