Music has given us so much over the years and never more so than when creating and performing with Solstice. Something about the experience and the energy from those who enjoy the music is just so uplifting. I remember being totally amazed by the vibe at our very first gig, and that generosity of spirit from the audience has been there, sustaining us and drawing us back, ever since.
So here we are in 2011 with a new studio album 'Spirit', a new live DVD 'Kindred Spirits', and, finally, a line up that feels like home.
Here's what Steven Wilson form Porcupine Tree had to say about Solstice:-
When we launched Spirit at the Pitz, Milton Keynes, UK we had no idea that Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree was in the audience and it was only afterwards that we discovered that he's a fan! In fact, Steven has been into Solstice for many years, first seeing them at Cellar Club in Hemel Hempstead on 30th September 1982, and was more than happy to reminisce with Festival Music's David Robinson.
"I had heard Marillion on the Friday Rock Show and, at the age of 14, went along to see them. Support on that night was Solstice and I was really impressed with them. The singer in the band at the time was Sue Robinson, and I bought a copy of their Pathways demo tape which I have to this day.
Steven didn't wait long to see the band again, this time at the Queensway Hall, Dunstable, England on 20/11/1982, where Solstice were playing one of their not infrequent gigs as a four piece. Since then Steven has seen quite a few Solstice gigs, most recently the launch gig for the latest studio CD release "Spirit" in March 2010.
"I went to see a lot of the Prog bands around 1982 / 1983. At that time I was discovering this kind of music through my Dad's record collection, but I was too young to see many of the bigger names and the places they were playing in were just too large. Seeing bands like Solstice allowed me to experience the approach to this kind of music on a far more personal level."
"Many of the new Prog bands were playing live in and around Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, local to where I was living in Hemel Hempstead. The bands were always playing places like the Wheatsheaf in Dunstable. I was discovering bands like Marillion, Pallas, Haze, Twelfth Night, Gothique, As Above So Below and many others. But Solstice were the best. Musicianship wise, they really stood out and were very accomplished in what they were doing. And with the violin player adding a folk aspect to their music, they stood above the "rough and ready" approach of many of the other bands. The live shows were always fun, another thing that stood them out from the crowd. Aged 14, I would stand in awe at the magical music being created."
"I remember the guys in Solstice looked 100 years old at that time, with all the hair and beards, as if they had just pulled up with the cosmic caravan in town, but they looked authentic. Seeing them at the "Spirit" launch gig almost 28 years later, I couldn't believe how much younger Andy looked!"
What does Steve think to the current band?
"It's difficult to compare the old Solstice and the new Solstice. They are just different. The old Solstice was a regular gigging band, playing most nights of the week, and this really showed in their gigs. But the gig I saw on the last tour really brought back the magic. They are a great band."
So have Solstice influenced Steven's own music in anyway?
"It's difficult to say if their music has influenced my approach to music at all, but when you hear this kind of music at that age, it becomes part of your DNA. Karma, my first band, was very derivative of bands from this era, but it was harder to be influenced by Solstice because we just didn't have the same ability!"
"Songs like Earthsong and Cheyenne are amongst the best. Hearing those songs again recently brought back the same feelings I had when I first heard them as a 14 year old kid."
Many thanks to Steven for taking the time to chat.