WHEN Steven Wilson first heard Pink Floyd he wanted to understand how their music was made.

He listened to his dad Michael's Dark Side of the Moon record when he was eight and was fascinated by the intricacies of how it was put together.

So instead of learning an instrument he found himself experimenting with production techniques.

Steven said: "What I was really interested in was not guitar or piano or singing but in making records and experimenting with sound.

"What I didn’t know at the time but realised subsequently was that what I really interested in was being a producer. That’s what I fell in love with."

So what proved invaluable was that Steven's dad was an electrical engineer.

He added: "I was very fortunate that he was able to build me a multi-track tape machine, an echo machine, a vocoder and a sequencer and this was when I was 12 or 13.

"This was also in the 1980s when it wouldn’t have been easy to do that. He had to figure out how to do it himself.

"He’d have a diagram from an electronics magazine but that’s about as much help as he’d have. He was extraordinary guy."

That relationship with his dad laid the foundations for Steven who has since become one of the most successful progressive music artists in the UK.

Early demo tapes started to emerge in the mid 80s while Steven was still at school, and by the end of the decade he created the two projects which gained him entry to the professional music world – Porcupine Tree and No-Man.

The latter is a two-man band that Steven formed with former Appleton Grammar School pupil Tim Bowness that was once described by Melody Maker as 'the most important English group since The Smiths'.

"I spent many a day up in Stockton Heath and the Warrington area," added Steven.

"The late 1980s was a very exciting time for music in the north west so we did get swept along in that wave.

"There were great records coming out all the time and it the beginnings of the fusion of dance music and rock music which was still quite an unusual at the time.

"So it was very exciting time to be hanging out in that part of the world."

Steven found fame with the Grammy-nominated Porcupine Tree with songs inspired by his love of psychedelia, progressive rock and ambitious 70s music.

At first it was an 'imaginary band' with the 48-year-old writing and recording all of the band's music in the early days.

Although bandmates were soon recruited, that sense of being his own boss has always appealed to Steven.

And so the launch of his solo career was somewhat inevitable. The first album in his own name, Insurgentes, came out in 2008.

Steven will be at Manchester Apollo on January 29.

He said: "I think the reason I’m playing these venues and reaching a bigger audience is that my music is not associated with one genre.

"I accept it’s very much in the tradition of 70s progressive rock albeit with a contemporary edge.

"But a lot of my audience have no idea what progressive rock is. They’ve fallen in love with the music or have liked a particular song and have come along to a show and have enjoyed it.

"Progressive rock is very much an underground musical form and one of the problems is it’s very exclusive and puts people off.

"They have this idea that it’s this impenetrable, pretentious indulgence.

"Of course it’s not at all. The world’s most successful ‘progressive rock’ band Pink Floyd are one of the biggest bands in the world.

"The reason is their music was never marketed as progressive rock. It was simply concept album rock and it found a massive audience by not being exclusive.

"On a smaller scale, in a way, that’s how my career has also developed."

Steven also told Weekend that, like Pink Floyd, he likes his albums to have a concept.

This is most evident on this year's Hand. Cannot. Erase which was inspired by Dreams of a Life, a film about Joyce Carol Vincent who was found dead in her north London apartment after being undiscovered for two years.

Steven added: "It was an extraordinarily shocking story but what was more shocking to me was that she was not this little old lady.

"Quite the opposite, she was young, attractive and popular.

"So the fact that somebody who was all of these things could somehow disappear from view while living in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the planet was mindboggling to me.

"I wanted to try and understand how this was possible. How could a young woman arrive at this point in her life where she wouldn’t be missed by her friends and family?

"The more I explored it the more I realised it was easily possible.

"In this age of social networking, the digital age and the internet, it is remarkably easy for people to disappear from view.

"In fact it is perhaps easier now to disappear than it has ever been particularly in a crazy city like London. That was a shock to me so the album follows that strand."

Steven also said it is not the last we have heard of his No-Man partnership with Tim, who grew up in Ackers Lane.

He said: "Inevitably I think I’ll make another record with Tim. I don’t think it will be soon but it’s always a pleasure to work with Tim and I’d love to do it."

- Steven Wilson is at Manchester Apollo on January 29. Visit ticketmaster.co.uk