He's been keeping his private life under lock and key for years. Because Steven Wilson emphasises that his home is a refuge when it comes to tea with soy milk. Nevertheless, he invited eclipsed here. To a place where he could switch off, but also work in peace. What shouldn't be a problem on the estate, forty minutes by car north of Heathrow, should also not be a problem: a renovated farmhouse from the 16th century, with a huge garden, which his Japanese girlfriend takes care of, a pavilion and a winter garden with a panoramic view into the greenery.
Clearly, the chocolate side of Hemel Hemptstead, a so-called New Town, was the site of settlements that sprung up from the ground after the Second World War, where the victims of German bombing raids from nearby London found a new home. The main attraction of Hemel Hempstead today is a monstrous Aldi market. The "Telegraph" does not speak for nothing of "the ugliest city in the UK". But Wilson, who grew up here, doesn't see it that way.
eclipsed: What's keeping you in this place that doesn't have the best reputation?
Steven Wilson: (laughs) My 86 year old mother lives here and I came back in 2008 to take better care of her. Sure, Hemel Hempstead isn't the most beautiful city in the world. But I grew up here. These are my roots and I have many good memories of my childhood. I'll also be in London in twenty-five minutes, which is very convenient.
eclipsed: Why isn't it enough for you to be a successful progmusician anymore? Why the advance into the world of pop, into the mainstream?
Wilson: First of all, I've never called myself a prog rock artist. That's a media rating I've never been particularly happy with. Take a look at my back catalogue: In the last twenty-five years I've made about fifty to sixty albums, and only half of them have anything to do with progressive rock. Ten to fifteen went towards drone and electronic music. I made pop records and extreme metal stories. Also acoustic albums. But my best known are without question the progressive ones. Not to mention they sold out best. I would never classify myself that way, though. And the albums I enjoyed the most in my career were those that didn't quite live up to my audience's expectations and were considered quite controversial. "In Absentia", for example, which was too metallic for many fans. They turned away from me, and at the same time I gained new ones. And this album should have the same effect.
eclipsed: Do you feel the prog is prison?
Wilson: It can be very frustrating to be reduced to one thing. Right now I'm trying to talk about this album and get the media interested. But I have to realize that there are unbelievable prejudices against me and the music with which I am associated. For example, when my label calls the British "Telegraph" to see if they want to bring something about me, they say, "This Progrock guy? No, we don't get anything out of this music." This is depressing. That's how I'm perceived. And probably my frustration is similar to that of some fans when they have to deal with "To The Bone". I like the fact that some people get upset about it. It shows me I'm doing the right thing. It shows that I am evolving and changing. And you can't ask everyone to go along with it.