A Personal — and Fake — “My Prog” Interview

A couple of years back, I wrote out my own answers to a Mojo magazine interview segment called “All Back to My Place.” I rather enjoyed doing it, even if they know nothing about it. The price of a life lived in obscurity, I suppose. Ah, the things I do to amuse myself …

I’ve developed a reputation online for being The Progressive Rock Guy. And while I sometimes bristle at this label, there’s no denying the genre’s impact on me. As it happens, Prog magazine does something similar to Mojo, which can be found at the back of each issue. It’s called, quite simply, “My Prog.” So … why not? Let’s do it another fake interview and see where it takes us!

For what it’s worth, I was interviewed for real by a magazine called Canvass Rebel. That was fun, too. I’d appreciate it if you checked it out.

But should Prog come calling, I’m already prepared. Here goes …

Where’s home?

I moved to Chicago, Illinois from St. Louis, Missouri two-plus years ago. I was a police officer in St. Louis and I desperately needed a change of scenery. Plus, the Chicago music scene is ten times better and that’s my new world. I’ve gotta say, I like it a lot better!

What’s your earliest prog memory?

I listened to a wide variety of radio as a kid in the 70’s, which included KSHE, St. Louis’s classic rock station. I was hearing the likes of Pink Floyd, Rush, and Genesis long before I knew what progressive rock was. After being introduced to King Crimson in ‘85, I learned the label for what I’d been digging.

What’s the first album that you bought?

I’d have to say it was Abacab from Genesis in ‘81 when I was 14 or 15. For the sake of the “That’s not real prog” crowd, that purchase led me to buy a copy of Seconds Out a month or so later, when my allowance made it possible. I still didn’t know what prog was, but what a revelation! And now that I know what it is, so much the better!

And the latest?

Geez, I get so much stuff — for both myself and for review — I’m struggling to remember. I’m thinking it’s Mount Si from Echotest. That feels right. Two bassists — Julie Slick and Marco Machera — lead that band. They’re relatively young (to me, I suppose) and immensely talented.

First prog gig?

I’d say Rush in ‘84. The Grace Under Pressure tour. I was gobsmacked!

And the most recent?

That would be PAKT. Percy Jones, Alex Skolnick, Kenny Grohowski, and Tim Motzer. All improvised, all monstrous!

What’s the best prog gig you ever saw?

Bent Knee at Schuba’s Tavern here in Chicago last year. It was one of those times when energy was tangible from both the band and the audience. It was otherworldly! Close second: Steven Wilson’s To the Bone show at the Vic Theatre. Such wonderful musicianship! King Crimson is my true love, so I’m sure one of their shows would round out the top three. I’ve been to four of them.

Your newest prog discovery?

Oh, dear! Like I said, a LOT of stuff comes at me at the same time! I’m thinking it’s a Chicago-based band called The Cyberiam, though calling it a “discovery” is a stretch since they were already established. I caught half the band opening for Riverside recently. They had me from the get-go, and I was more than motivated to check out the full band’s catalog.

Do you have a guilty musical pleasure?

No. Everything on my shelves is there for a reason. If you’re surprised to see Frank Sinatra or Johnny Cash, then you don’t know me very well. The closest I come is Kanye West, but that’s because of what he did rather than what he’s produced. I can’t bring myself to play his music anymore without feeling guilty, which is a damn shame. There’s some brilliant stuff in those records.

What’s your favorite prog venue?

I abhor big rooms, so anything bigger than a theater is pushing it. I’ve spent a lot of time in a Chicago club called Reggie’s. They have three venues. Maybe four. The best one for me is on the second floor. It’s a great seated room that can’t hold more than 150 to 200 people. Great sight lines and sound. I can get close enough to practically hand the musicians their instruments!

Who’s your prog hero?

Adrian Belew, though he transcends the genre. His innovation is something I truly admire and seek to emulate, even if I can’t make his sounds come out of my guitar (laughs).

Outside of music, what else are you into?

I’m a huge sports fan. I brought my love for the St. Louis Cardinals (baseball) and Blues (hockey) to Chicago with me. And I’ve adopted the Chicago Bears (football) and Bulls (basketball). I’m hoping to resolve a rather serious back issue so I can play golf again. I’m getting into bicycling, albeit slowly. I love movies and have been getting back into reading.

Ever had a prog-related date?

Not really. I’ve reached the stage where I’m barely willing to ask anyone to go to a concert with me, since they often take too long to make up their minds. Maybe one day I’ll have that kind of date. But I’m not holding my breath.

What’s the most important piece of prog music?

I call King Crimson’s Discipline my musical “ground zero.” Everything springs forth from there, both directly and indirectly. Without that album, I seriously doubt we’re having this conversation.

Which muso would you most like to work with?

Assuming I could get any of them to work with a very amateur me, Adrian is my obvious first choice. But you can add Stephan Thelen, Markus Reuter, Julie Slick, Trey Gunn, Tony Levin, Mike Keneally, and Pat Mastelotto to that list, easy. I’m sure there are many others.

What’s the album that puts you in a good mood?

I’ve been listening to Discipline for almost forty years, and it never fails to bring a smile. Steven Wilson’s The Raven That Refused to Sing brings a different kind of smile, but a smile nonetheless. And Seconds Out from Genesis is my favorite live album of all time. I smile through tears at the end of “Supper’s Ready.”

What’s your favorite prog album cover?

See, my favorite record cover of all time is Return to Forever’s Romantic Warrior, but I don’t know if fusion counts. I love the starkness and relative simplicity of Crimson’s Red. And it’s hard to go wrong with Roger Dean’s Yes album work, especially on the Steven Wilson Remixes collection, where he updated the original art. Shout-out to Seconds Out, too!

What are you up to at the moment?

I’m slowly completing the first draft of my second book, which is (keyboardist) Bernie Worrell’s official biography. I’m also doing freelance work where I can and working to get my YouTube channel off the ground. I run a really enjoyable music group on Facebook, and I’m hoping to have more of a presence on other social media platforms. It’s definitely a process!


Please follow me on my socials, all of which you can find here: https://linktr.ee/cirdecsongs

I’m currently at work on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Please contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com


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