The Bangles begin recording a new album

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Limelight Magazine

By GEORGE AUSTIN

Back in the 1980s, when they were exploding onto the music scene with songs like “Walk Like An Egyptian” and “Manic Monday,” members of the Bangles were being asked if they were starting a new trend with all-female rock bands.

Despite their considerable success, the women rock group thing never really took off. Vicki Peterson, guitarist/vocalist for The Bangles, says it’s still a mystery to her why more women did not form their own bands after that. She said she does not know if she should blame the music industry or she wonders if The Bangles and The Go Gos were just not big enough precedent setters.

But The Bangles, who also include Vicki’s sister Debbi, the drummer, vocalist/guitarist Susanna Hoffs and vocalist/bassist Annette Zilinskas, since having had families, are still around, playing concerts and are working on a new album.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Peterson said in a telephone interview. “There’s a very nice dynamic when women play together. It’s different than when women and men play together. It’s different than when all men play together. It’s a different attitude.”

The Bangles recently started recording a new album and they are going about the process differently than in the past. Instead of taking a collection of 40 songs and going into the studio, they are kind of making it up as they go along. Peterson said The Bangles are growing the album as they record it and doing some experimentation with the music.

“In the end, it will sound like a Bangles record,” Peterson said. “There will be lots of jaggly guitars and lots of harmonies.”

Peterson said today’s state-of-the-art technology makes it possible for the band to make an album that way and it also weighs less on their family lives. She is not sure when the new album will come out, maybe by the end of the year, but she said the band is working steady on it. But the days when they would spend 24/7 on The Bangles as they did in the 1980s are over.

“Probably the biggest change is the double-edged sword in that we’ve structured the band, so it’s viable for us to do as mothers with children,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the demise of the band in 1989 had come because they could not sustain their work schedules and needed separate lives. And they are content with the way their lives are now.

“We’re not expecting to be big stars anymore,” Peterson said. “We’re not as concerned with radio hits. We just want to continue to put on good shows.”

Peterson said it is also not as expensive to record an album nowadays. They do not have a record company involved with their new album and Peterson said The Bangles may go back to their own label, called Down Kiddie, that they used in the beginning back in 1981.

Peterson said “it is about bloody time” for a new album.

Peterson said she has very eclectic tastes when it comes to the music she likes to listen to, from Bonnie Raitt to World Cafe to music of the 1920s.

The members of The Bangles also do a lot of charity work. They have done several events to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer. Peterson has designed a bra to go along with that work. They have an ongoing fund raiser on their web site for Doctors Without Borders and they also do a lot to help schools.

Peterson said the band has been active, just not actively recording lately. The Bangles have been out playing regularly in recent years. They’ve toured Europe, Australia and Japan. They are playing a few shows, but are not doing a full concert tour at this time. They played the House of Blues in Boston on May 27.

Peterson said she thinks the band will be playing some of their new songs at the shows, but promises the audiences they will hear the familiar material from the ‘80s, as well.

“If you come to a Bangles show, you’re going to hear at least one of your favorite Bangles songs,” Peterson said.

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Sarah Borges: The transition from alt country to pop rock

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2009 issue of Limelight Magazine

By GEORGE AUSTIN

If you knew the music of Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles before, you would think of alt country and Americana. But that is not what her latest album sounds like. Borges and her band have gone toward a more pop rock genre.

“This new record has a lot less country,” Borges said. “There’s a lot less pedals and steel guitar. It sounds like our band and it definitely sounds like us, but there’s no pedal or steel. Even taking that away lends a different sound to it.”

Borges said the band decided to go a different direction on the album, called “The Stars Are Out,” because when she and the Broken Singles toured, they saw what worked well. Their performances are very energetic and they wanted to reflect that on the CD. And so far, it seems that trying to translate the live show to the recording has worked. Borges said the album has done really well and the band is playing a lot of shows behind it.

The song “Do It For Free” has gotten radio play. Borges wrote about creepy men in bars.

“There’s so many men songs written about women, so I decided to turn it around a little bit,” Borges said.

The album has five original songs and five covers. There’s a Smokey Robinson song on the CD called “Being With You.”

“That’s a song a lot of people know, but we did our version of it,” Borges said. “We’re so excited to be showcasing that one, too.”

Borges had grown up in the small city of Taunton in southeastern Massachusetts, not exactly the music capital of the world, but it was a close knit place where the high school had a great drama program. She was in theater and the choir at Taunton High School where she graduated in 1995. Borges started playing guitar as a teenager. At 16 years old, she started playing in bands.

“My parents listen to a lot of classic rock and Bob Dylan,” Borges said. “When I got older, Boston had a vibrant music scene, so I went to see a lot of college rock bands, like Buffalo Tom and Morphine, on the weekends.”

Borges said her musical influences include Bonnie Raitt, The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones.

“And I like a lot of new music, too,” Borges said. “It depends on the day.”

Borges studied radio at Emerson College in Boston where she graduated in 1990.

“I knew I wanted to do something with music and be close to what I love to do,” Borges said.

After graduating from Emerson, Borges played in various bands in Boston before meeting the members of the Broken Singles who she hit it off with. The members of the Broken singles include guitarist Lyle Brewer, bassist Binky and drummer Rob Dulaney.

“I think our personalities really were complementary,” Borges said. “We had a good time hanging out, which is really important since we spend a lot of time hanging out together.”

Borges has played at the famous South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas five times.

“It’s really just sort of a mecca for people in bands,” Borges said.

Bela Fleck: Back to the origins of the banjo

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Limelight Magazine.

By GEORGE AUSTIN

Bela Fleck is known for his innovations with playing the banjo. But the Grammy Award winning musician wanted to go back to the origins of the instrument. So, in 2005, he traveled to Africa where he played with other musicians and bands, made a film, came back with ideas for an album and made some friends who he is bringing to America for a concert tour.

“I think it was the completing of the circle of the banjo,” Fleck said. “I was able to bring over the modern American banjo and introduce it to the African music of today.”

Fleck said his experiences in Africa were very exciting.

The African musicians who will be playing with Fleck on his current concert tour, include Vusi Mahlasula, Toumani Diabate, D’Gary, and Anania Ngoglia. They will come to the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, Mass., on April 11. Fleck said there will be a lot of improvisation in the concert. He said all of the African musicians will play individually, he will join them in their individual performances and then they will all play together at the end.

“The main job is going to be for me to learn their music,” Fleck said. “I’ve already played a few songs with them. Everybody plays in different keys and everyone plays in different disciplines, so it’s going to be exciting to see what we can come up with.”

Some of the members of the band come from Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania. Fleck knew about some of the musicians in the band before he went to Africa and some of the other ones he met in villages in Africa.

When he went to the dark continent, Fleck went to different towns where he found musicians to play with.

“It was different from anything I’ve ever done because we grew up in different worlds,” Fleck said. “But it was exciting because there were some things we had in common with the rhythm and melodies from folk and bluegrass, so there was a natural bridge.”

When African musicians come to the United States, Fleck said they often play popular music from their continent with electric bass guitars and drums, but he said on his concert tour, audiences will be hearing traditional African music. He said he will be showcasing some of the beautiful instruments from Africa, such as the kora which is a West African harp, and a thumb piano.

“This is a much more intimate type of music, like folk or bluegrass,” Fleck said. “It will be almost like you’re in a living room and I’ll be playing with these people.”

In Fleck’s album, called “Throw Down Your Heart: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Volume 3: Africa Sessions,” listeners will hear a variety of music, some of which are from musicians who are not coming over to the states for the current tour.

While he was in Africa, Fleck played with groups as large as 200 people and with vocal groups of 30 people. He said there were instruments he never heard of and a marimba that was played by 10 people. Fleck said his experiences in Africa have had a large impact on his music. When he came back, he was editing the film and working on an album, so he was listening to the music he played with other musicians there every day.

Fleck’s first album was with the Massachusetts based Rounder Records in the 1970s. He said it is difficult for a banjo player to get a record deal with a major label. He was able to land contracts with Warner Brothers and EMI. But he has since gone back to Rounder. While he says a lot of the people he dealt with at the major labels changed during the years, he said the same people he worked with at Rounder were still there when he decided to go back to that label, so he said it was “a homecoming,” of sorts for him. One of the things he likes about Rounder is the label keeps its records in print for many years. He said he wants people to be able to buy his records for years to come.

Fleck, who has won eight Grammy Awards and has been nominated for that honor more than anyone in history, is best known for his band the Flecktones. He has opened for Dave Matthews Band and the Grateful Dead.

The film of Fleck’s experiences in Africa has played at festivals and will be put in art theaters.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” is what first got Fleck interested in playing the banjo. He took up the instrument at 15 years old and has played pretty much every day since that time for the last 35 years. Fleck said he has tried to make the banjo a more flexible instrument to play in different musical genres.

“For me, I play the banjo more like it’s a contemporary musical instrument,” Fleck said. “Most banjo players don’t learn the skills to play jazz.”

This Lennon is creating her own legacy

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Limelight Magazine

By GEORGE AUSTIN

Lennon Murphy thinks that it was “cool” that her mother named her after the late, great Beatles singer. As John Lennon and the Beatles did, she does draw a lot of attention because of both her music and non-related music aspects of her life. But that’s about as far as the comparison goes. She’s not a Beatles fan at all and has not done research on John Lennon. Her music sounds nothing like the Fab Four. But Murphy says her mother loved John Lennon.

“To her, he was a good man, a gentle man,” Murphy said. “I was born in New York. He was a New Yorker. New York loved John Lennon.”

In her young life, Murphy’s has been the subject of stories in the national media. From becoming an 18 year old rock star to her mother dying and her custody battle for her sister, to a controversy with Yoko Ono over the trademark of her name, much of her life has been in the public eye. But even though she does not get a lot of radio support for her music, she says the press has helped her to develop that loyal fan base. Perhaps they may find out about her because of the controversies, but when they listen to her music, they like what they hear.

Murphy said the disagreement with Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, over the trademark of her name helped her to get a lot more fans for her music.

Because of the issue, radio show host Howard Stern and television show host Bill O’Reilly did interviews with her.

“I was trying to do Stern for seven years and it took her suing me to get on,” Murphy, who performs under the name Lennon, said. “It’s a little weird.”

Murphy said she never talked to Ono. She said there was a mediation about the issue with lawyers. She said Ono could have handled the matter better. Murphy said Ono sent her a paper asking for termination of the Lennon trademark because she felt Murphy falsely acquired it.

“She could have had the damn trademark if it was that important to her,” Murphy said.

When asked about her musical influences, Murphy said her mother brought her up with musicians like Barry Manilow and Harry Chapin, but as she got older, she got into much different music with bands like Nine Inch Nails. Murphy says what draws her to a band, no matter what type of music it is, is the songs more than anything else. She is currently writing some songs for some young pop acts who are clients of her manager.

“It’s something I’ve never done before,” Murphy said of writing songs for other artists. “It’s something new and maybe it’s something that will help me buy a house. It’s fun.”

When Murphy was a young girl, her mother, who was a chef for people who were chronically ill, wrote songs in her spare time. Murphy wrote songs as a young girl as well, and said her mother quit writing songs after admitting her daughter was better at it than she was.

“It’s all her fault I got on that stage,” Murphy said of her mother. “I like writing songs. I didn’t want to be in the spotlight. She said I had no friends, I was always staying at home. I’m putting a band together for you. I said I’m not getting on that stage. Needless to say, I got on that stage and fell in love with it.”

Murphy said she writes songs about things that happen in her life.

“I always find it’s better to write something about what you know instead of faking it,” Murphy said. “So I write about my experiences. I write a general story so people can interpret them into their own lives.”

With her new band, Devil’s Gift, Murphy has gone a much heavier route with her music. She said she always wanted to perform more in the metal music vein, but never had the opportunity, especially living down in Tennessee which is not a hotbed for metal. She said she and Jason Suecof had some time off and decided to go into the studio to produce some music. They started working on the record for Devil’s Gift in September of 2007 and finished up in December of that year. Suecof could not tour with the band, so Murphy had to get five musicians for a tour of Europe that lasted three months at the end of last year.

“The music was a great hit,” Murphy said when asked about the audience reaction to the band in Europe. “People loved the record. It’s got a lot of great press.”

Murphy said she wants to continue with Devil’s Gift, but also with her solo career and acoustic performances.

Murphy was named “one of the hottest chicks in metal” by Revolver Magazine. Asked if there is a stigma to being a beautiful woman in the music industry or if it detracts from her music, she said good looks helps a woman or a man, not just in music, but in many other industries. She said musicians have to personify the music themselves, not just with the words and the guitars, drums and keyboards, but also with how they act and dress on stage to get people’s attention, especially for opening acts.

Murphy’s advice to young, female musicians who want to make it in the music industry is to go to school, get a college degree and become a doctor or lawyer.

“That will make you happy,” Murphy said. “I grew up in the country world and I saw what happened. It’s a hard business.”

Murphy has toured with a lot of well-known acts, such as Alice Cooper, Tesla and Heart. She says Cooper has become like family and his daughter is one of her best friends.

“To get to do Europe with Journey was an amazing experience,” Murphy said of another one of the acts she has opened up for. “You never realize how many hits they have until you see their show every night.”

Murphy, who is now based in Florida, said the only time she gets nervous is when she is playing on stage by herself. She said she is fine when she is playing with a band. To get over those nerves, she said she tries to have a good time on stage, making an acoustic show like a rock show, as much as possible.

Murphy had a battle against family members to get custody of her sister. But Murphy apparently has been a good influence on her sister, considering her sister is now about to graduate from high school early at 17 years old.

Murphy allows her fans to download her records through her website and to pick the price.

“Music is free,” Lennon said. “If they want the song, they are going to find it one way or another. It’s the state of the music industry. You want to get the music out there. If it’s free, I’d rather have them enjoying the music than make the $10.”

Rock the Ink: When two worlds collide

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Limelight Magazine.

By GEORGE AUSTIN

At the Rock the Ink festival in Providence, R.I. at the end of the October, people could choose from many artists from around the country to give them a tattoo and then could walk into the arena to watch bands, ranging from local bands to national acts, play all weekend long.

Glenn Kuczer, drummer for the band A Breed Apart, said offering tattoos and music at the same festival would not work with any kind of music. He said it worked at the Rock the Ink festival because it was done with the right type of bands.

“I think this style, genre of the music fits perfectly,” Kuczer said. “It’s totally interchangeable crowds. It goes with the heavy rock, heavy metal. It all goes hand in hand. If you had country rock, there would be a separation.”

Many of the musicians at the festival, which was sponsored by Live Nation, had tattoos.

Guitarist Joseph MacGregor had tattoos of a reefer and a biomechanical three dimensional giger. He said he has been getting tattoos since he was 18 years old.

“I think it’s a great idea,” MacGregor said of combining tattoos and music in one festival. “I think that music and art and tattoos should be best friends. They should have a working relationship.”

Cameran Drew is a tattoo artist who competed in the Miss Tattoo pageant at the Rock the Ink festival.

“I think a lot of people in the tattoo world are some of the largest music fans,” Drew said. “You’ve got such a diverse world with the tattoos. You have to have the music.”

Drew said that music helps people to zone out into a different world while they are having the paint put on them.

At the Miss Tattoo pageant, there were evening gown, bikini and Halloween costume competitions. Contestants had to have a certain number of tattoos. Drew, who owns two tattoo studios in Ohio and Texas, said the winner is chosen based on all around talent and beauty, much like the Miss America pageant.

“I love to compete,” Drew said. “I think it’s a lot of fun. I support all tattoo women. I want people to realize you can be real cool with tattoos.”

Tattoo artist Joe Zaza Peterson had a booth at the Rock the Ink festival. He said he was fairly busy in his booth at the festival. One customer at the festival had Peterson make a tattoo that was a portrait of his son who is a marine.

“Music throughout time has gone with everything,” Peterson said. “It’s a way to rejoice together. Today, tattoos go with everything. It expands through every lifestyle, every walk of life, every generation.”

Peterson, whose studio is named Zaza Ink, said he prefers not to have music playing while he is creating a tattoo because he likes to concentrate on what he is doing and communicate with the customer.
Peterson said he has done tattoos for musicians in his shop in West Boylston, Mass., but he says you don’t have to be in a rock band to be cool.

Steve Smith, drummer for the band Resin, which performed at the festival, has a “rock star” tattoo on one of his hands. He liked the concept of the Rock the Ink festival.

“Rock ‘n roll goes with tattoos like it goes with super models,” Smith said. “It’s a lifestyles event.”

Smith said the festival was a great opportunity for local bands that were able to perform at the same festival with such big names as Godsmack and Bret Michaels. He said he walked around with Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin. Smith said Resin has gotten more hits on its web site just because it played on the same bill with such well known acts. Smith said playing in a major festival gives a small band credibility. He said he also discovered other bands he liked at the festival. Smith said what was even more important than the 20 minutes the local bands were on stage playing, was the booths they had set up to give information to people at the festival.

“It gives a band confidence to be able to do something like this,” Smith said as he was standing outside his booth.

Josh Horn, an artist for Daytona Hardcore Tattoos in Florida, said he was booked solid for tattoos every day of the festival.

“Music is an art,” Horn said. “Tattooing is a form of art. It’s good to put two arts together. It complements each other very well.”

Combining tattoos and music seems to be catching on. While the Rock the Ink Festival was a one-time event, a tour, featuring punk band Social Distortion and metal band Motorhead, with many tattoo artists traveling with them to sell their skin art, is scheduled to kick off at the end of January and run through mid-March with the same type of concept.

Ronnie Surprenant, a shipper at a produce company from New Bedford, Mass., came to the Rock the Ink festival to see Godsmack and was thinking about getting a tattoo after walking by all the booths with the artists.

“I love it,” Surprenant,” said of the idea for the festival. “I’m a tattoo lover and I’m a rock metal head. I love the metal music and I love the tattoos.”

They also had a contest at the festival for best tattoo, best portrait tattoo and most realistic tattoo. Trophies and medals were given to the winners.

Raymond Pacheco, a telecommunications worker from Westport, Mass., said he came to the festival for both the music and the tattoos. He said the festival, which was held at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, had a nice atmosphere.

“The two concepts put together is pretty cool,” Pacheco said. “Tattoos and rock stars go together. I think it’s a pretty neat idea.”

Sand men: Zox has matured into a great band

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Limelight Magazine.

By GEORGE AUSTIN

Through their three CDs, you can see the growth of the band ZOX. When they wrote the college rock and reggae songs for their first CD, they were in their late teens. They were in their early 20s when they produced the second album three years later and they had their own producer and used a better quality studio. But with their most recent CD, called “Line in the Sand,” ZOX took their recorded music to another level. The band enlisted the help of John Goodmanson, a recording engineer and indie rock producer who has worked with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Harvey Danger and Hanson. Instead of just recording songs for the CD as the band has done in the past, ZOX made demo tapes of the songs first, listened to them and then honed their work into a finished product they were satisfied with.

“The album reflects our band members’ tastes more,” drummer John Zox said. “It’s darker. We were just more experienced as musicians and as people in life. I think that is reflected in the music.”

Zox said the members of the band also had become better musicians since their second album. “Line in the Sand” was produced on the same label as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in February. The band pre-ordered 1,000 copies of the CD and did a press and radio campaign to promote it.

“We’re really proud of it,” Zox said of the album. “We think it’s the most mature album out of our three albums. I think people recognize that also.”

Songs from the album that have been chosen for airplay have included “Goodnight” and the title track. “Line in the Sand” is an upbeat rock song that the band has made a video of with a guy dancing as he is walking down a sidewalk after buying the “ZOX mouse” in a pet store. The members of the band are seen inside what looks like a pet box that the mice would be in playing their instruments during the video.

“If you read the lyrics, it’s pretty self explanatory,” Zox said of the meaning of the song. “It’s realizing who you are or what you believe in and fighting for it.”

“Goodnight” is more of an acoustic sounding song. It won third place in a national songwriting competition that had 15,000 submissions and was judged by Tom Waits, Robert Smith of The Cure, Frank Black of The Pixies and producer Steve Lillywhite who has worked with U2, Talking Heads, Dave Matthews and The Rolling Stones.

“It’s not traditional Zox stuff, but it’s still in the vane of what people like about us,” Zox said.

“Line in the Sand” charted 48th on Billboard Current Independent Albums during the first week it was released and has been played on alternative radio in Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.

Zox said the band has a traditional song and music writing process. Singer Eli Miller writes the lyrics and a skeleton section of the song on acoustic guitar and then the other three members of ZOX create the musical arrangements. They then take the verses and chords and turn them into a complete song.

Zox met Miller in college at Brown University in Providence, R.I. Miller was playing guitar and needed a drummer for a band. They started playing at fraternities and at the campus bar. They added Zox’s roomate who was a first chair violinist in the Brown orchestra. But the violinist graduated and got a job and so they put an advertisement in a paper for a violinist. That’s when violinist Spencer Swain, who had transferred to the University of Rhode Island, joined ZOX. A friend of the band, Dan Edinberg, joined as bass guitarist.

Swain adds a different twist to the music of ZOX. A lot of bands use the violin for support music. But with ZOX, the violin is an integral part of the music and Zox says Swain is a different kind of violin player. You won’t see too many violin players on stage in orchestras with a lot of tattoos, as Swain has. Swain also does not play the violin fiddle style. Zox said it is more of a rock style and on the third album, he used a lot of pedals with the violin.

“The violin is treated as the lead,” Zox said of the use of the instrument in the band. “He doesn’t treat it as a violin in many ways. He treats it like a guitar.”

The members of ZOX have a wide range of influences. Miller likes Paul Simon. Zox is interested in electronic music. Swain listens to a lot of heavy metal. Edinberg is in to jazz. Zox said the different influences allows the band to cross genres in its appeal to people.

Zox, who was an engineering and sociology major at an Ivy League school, said the best part of the band is that the members are their own bosses, get to see the country, playing their music for a living and are able to do something creative for a job. The band signed with record label Side One Dummy of Los Angeles 2 1/2 years ago, but Zox said the band has maintained creative control.

ZOX is not like the band that appears on the stage when their show starts and disappears afterwards. Zox said the band members like to talk to their fans before and after their shows and have made friends that way.

“I think we’ve done over a thousand shows in the last five years,” Zox said. “Our fans are very fervent and devoted.”

And when ZOX is not working together, the members of the band are all involved in some other music. Edinberg, who was a musicology major at Brown, writes music and commercials and is in a couple other bands. Swain, who was a music major at URI, is in a couple other bands.

ZOX recently completed seven months of touring. Locally, ZOX has played at venues, like Lupo’s in Providence, R.I., the Paradise in Boston and the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass. The band has toured with punk band Streetlight Manifesto and singer/songwriter Matt White and has headlined some of its own shows to promote the new CD.

“It’s been a good run off this album so far,” Zox said.

ZOX also recently toured Europe, playing in Germany and Switzerland. Zox said it was an honor to play at the Reading and Lee festivals in England. Zox said he sees a lot of differences in the way music is treated in Europe. He said the venues have better sound and lighting systems and said the musicians are treated better by the people who run the venues. He said people in the United States go to one or two big concerts a year, and not as much to smaller venues to see shows.

“Going to music events is more ingrained in their culture,” Zox said of the Europeans. “There’s more venues. There’s more appreciation for the arts, overall. I think that’s in their blood. They pay more money for tickets. The experience of live music is appreciated more.”

Zox said the band is taking the fall off and looking at the possibility of touring next spring. He said the band will probably release an EP with a couple of new songs.

The fans of Zox also have been maturing over the years. When the band started out, most of the audience was high school and college-aged people. They still have people in that age range at the concerts, but they also see older people who have stuck with the band.

“That’s good because our albums have grown and matured with us,” Zox said.

Dream Theater: Making dreams come true for other bands

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Limelight Magazine.

By George Austin

With the success of the band over the last 23 years, Dream Theater has cemented its place in the music world. Now, the band is trying to help other progressive rock groups to have some success. That is part of the goal of the Progressive Nation Tour that Dream Theater has embarked on this year.

“I wanted to provide something for fans out of the mainstream,” Mike Portnoy, drummer for Dream Theater and the brainchild for the tour, said. “There’s a whole world of progressive bands that don’t get the attention they deserve.”

Dream Theater, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, and Three were the lineup of progressive bands that fans on the Progressive Nation Tour got to sample. While Dream Theater does not have to worry about selling tickets to its shows since the band has a worldwide following, Portnoy said he wants to assist progressive bands that don’t draw big audiences at their shows.

Portnoy said he would like to make the progressive rock bill an annual event for music fans that is different from other music festivals.

“It’s been great,” Portnoy said. “It’s been a total success. All four bands are getting along great, having a good time together.”

As far as advice he would give up-and-coming bands today, Portnoy says not to sign their careers away to someone else. He said musicians are not as much at the mercy of the record companies as they once were.

“It’s not like that in 2008 anymore,” Portnoy said. “They’re all folding. They’re at the mercy of the artists, finally.”

After this tour, Portnoy said Dream Theater will be working on a new album. If you went to see Dream Theater in the same city on the Progressive Nation Tour, as you did on the band’s last tour, you would have seen a different set list. Portnoy actually goes over the setlists that were played during the last tour in each city, to make sure Dream Theater gives its fans a different show. He says he does a lot of research.

Dream Theater has played concerts with a lot of well known bands over the years, including Yes, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Deep Purple and Queensryche.

“We’ve toured with everyone we’d like to, except Rush and Metallica,” Portnoy said. “We’re still waiting for the phone calls from them.”

Dream Theater has its roots in the East Coast. The members of the band are from New York, but Portnoy, bassist John Myung and guitarist John Petrucci attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“We were just some teenagers who wanted to play music,” Portnoy said of the establishment of the band. “We didn’t start this to become rich and famous.”

Portnoy said the members of the band are like brothers now.

“We’ve been together for more than half our lives at this point,” Portnoy said. “Now, we’re in our ’40s with wives and children.”

Portnoy said he is also looking forward to working with Petrucci, Dream Theater bandmate and keyboardist Jordan Rudess and Tony Levin, known for his gigs with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, in the Liquid Tension Experiment.

“That will be a lot of fun,” Portnoy said. “We haven’t played those songs in a long time. It’s going to take a lot of work to put those shows together because they are so intense.”

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