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Mike Portnoy lets us into his prog world

The great and good of progressive music give us a glimpse into their prog worlds. This month, Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy

Where’s home?

I left New York 12 years ago and I’ve been in North Eastern Pennsylvania ever since.

Earliest prog memory?

When I was 14 I went camping with some friends, I was super stoned and I heard the guitar solo to Rush’s Limelight on the radio. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Last prog album you bought?

Hang, from Foxygen. They’re a prog/pop duo that sound like ELO meets Bowie. And the new Nova Collective album [The Further Side]. That’s Richard [Henshall] from Haken and Dan [Briggs] from Between The Buried And Me.

Last prog gig?

Cruise To The Edge earlier this year was the ultimate prog gig. Haken, Pain Of Salvation and Frost* were all amazing.

Ever had a prog date?

I’ve been with my wife for 27 years and she hates prog! If I’m playing with Avenged Sevenfold she loves it, but Transatlantic? No. I’ve never been able to convert her to the prog side.

Who do you call in the prog community for a good night out?

Damon Fox from Bigelf. We get together and shoot the shit about music and just geek out.

Most important prog song?

God, there’s so many: Heart Of The Sunrise, Firth Of Fifth, Nights In White Satin, but Starless by King Crimson is the quintessential prog epic.

Prog muso you’d like to work with?

My buddy Mikael Åkerfeldt. We talk about it all the time, but we’re both so busy.

Which prog album always gets you in a good mood?

Jellyfish’s second album Spilt Milk is so experimental, like Pet Sounds meets A Night At The Opera. There’s so much depth to it.

The best prog gig you ever saw?

Runner-up is Yes on the Union tour – seeing all eight of them together was incredible. But my favourite gig of all time was Roger Waters doing The Wall, at Madison Square Garden then Philadelphia Stadium. It was the most overwhelming experience: no show could be bigger or better.

What is your all-time favourite prog album cover?

The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request. Just look at it – it’s the proggiest cover ever! Stones fans hate this album but I love every song on it – Citadel, In Another Land

Pick us a good proggy read.

I love Neil Peart’s books. Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road, about the trip he took after his family passed away, is incredible.

You’re always busy. What are you up to at the moment?

I’m touring with the Neal Morse Band, and have some shows with Shattered Fortress over the summer, with an exclusive date in London on June 28. We’ll be playing Dream Theater’s Twelve-step Suite and other songs. I’m 50 this year, so I’m putting all that to bed…

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