Progtopia Archives

Touch guitarist and composer Markus Reuter has been featured on Progtopia before (Episode 018). But he's been hitting the road recently in support of various projects, on tour with his band Stick Men - alongside King Crimson alumni Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto - as well as for some dates in Japan and Mexico as part of the Crimson ProjecKt. On April 18th, Reuter's orchestral piece Todmorden 513 will have its world premiere by the Colorado Chamber Orchestra in Denver. In this mini-episode, the first of Progtopia's Backstage Pass series, host Mark Ashby (pictured here with Reuter before Stick Men's show at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, Maryland) asked the versatile multi-instrumentalist about the hour-long composition, how it came to be debuted in Denver, and how fans can help support the project and receive something in return. Learn more about Todmorden 513 and the world premiere at http://www.markusreuter.com/news/.

Featured song excerpts:
"Nude Ascending Staircase" (Stick Men)
"Todmorden 513" - Parts I and V

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 5 April 2013


The band may have had another person's name in it, but the Alan Parsons Project was just as much the brainchild of Scottish composer, keyboardist, and singer Eric Woolfson as it was that of the famous recording engineer. Described by Arista's Clive Davis in his recent autobiography as composing "haunting, highly atmospheric, literate songs that addressed ambitious, conceptual subjects" over the course of ten studio albums, the APP employed a core band and a rotating cast of vocalists to produce hits such as "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You," "Games People Play," and "Eye in the Sky," all the while guided by Woolfson's creative touch as they sold tens of millions of records. After his time with the band, Woolfson moved on to musical theater, penning works such as Freudiana, Gambler, and Gaudi, which were seen by millions in countries worldwide. Although cancer took Woolfson from this world in 2009, his music continues to live on, exemplified by the recent release of Somewhere in the Audience, an album of his melodies brought forth on March 18, 2013, what would have been his 68th birthday. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with Woolfson's daughter and business manager Sally about Woolfson's legacy, his reluctance to take the spotlight, the reasons why he often chose biography for compositional material, and her own memories of her father. Visit www.ericwoolfsonmusic.com and www.the-alan-parsons-project.com for more information and merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"I Robot"
"The Ace of Swords"
"The Raven"
"Limelight"
"Silence and I"
"Freudiana"
"Immortal"
"Somewhere in the Audience"
"The Same Old Sun"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originall posted 29 March 2013

Direct download: Progtopia_027_Eric_Woolfson_Forever_Somewhere_in_the_Audience.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:36pm EST

Unless you've been stricken with selective blindness and deafness, if you're a prog fan, you're familiar with the music of California-based Spock's Beard. Currently comprised of Dave Meros (bass), Ryo Okumoto (keyboards), Ted Leonard (vocals), Jimmy Keegan (drums), and Alan Morse (guitar), the Beard is set to release their eleventh studio album Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep on Inside Out Music on March 25th. Having taken to the fans to cut out the middleman and help the band fund the recording of the album, Spock's Beard has returned to the scene with a powerful effort that will delight new listeners and long-time fans alike. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with Morse, Keegan, Meros, and Okumoto about the new album, the few but important personnel changes the band has weathered, and some insights the band members have about each other (coolness factor, long e-mails, and hyperactive tendencies all included). They'll be touring Europe in May, so check their website at www.spocksbeard.com for date and venue information, as well as how to order all their albums, DVDs, and assorted merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"Hiding Out"
"Goodbye to Yesterday"
"Ghosts of Autumn"
"I Know Your Secret"
"Something Very Strange"
"Waiting for Me"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like Spock's Beard. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 17 March 2013

Direct download: Progtopia_026_Something_Very_Strange_Called_Spocks_Beard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21pm EST

It's not often that two musicians who have known each other for many years take more than two decades to finally start writing music together, but that's what happened for Dutch band Gate 6. Guitarist Tony ten Wolde, formerly of Marathon, and keyboardist Jan Koster, who played with Challenge and Isolation, began to compose some songs a few years ago, eventually bringing Symmetry singer Erik Masselink into the group. Between the melodic instincts of Koster and ten Wolde and the powerful metal-infused vocals of Masselink, and helped by bassist Jacques Suurmond and drummer Martin Kuipers, Gate 6 has created quite a prog rock monster, culminating in the release of their outstanding debut album God Machines in October 2012. The album's story recalls elements of films like Blade Runner and The Terminator, centering on the fallout from an Internet so technologically advanced that it becomes, essentially, alive, while also following a man's inner struggle with thoughts of death and despair. How can such a god-like machine be defeated? Host Mark Ashby spoke with the trio about the concept of the album, their collaborative process, and plans for performing at the ProgPower Europe festival in the Netherlands in October. Find Gate 6 on the web at www.gate6.nl.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"Killing Me"
"Casualties of War"
"God Machines"
"Man to Be"
"Turn the Page"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like Gate 6. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 27 February 2013

Direct download: Progtopia_025_God_in_Gate_6s_Machines.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:13pm EST

Marillion. IQ. Jadis. Twelfth Night. These are some of the bands that came along in the "second wave" of prog rock during the 1980s, but if you haven't already heard of another of those bands - Galahad - now is the time to start stocking up on their back catalog. This UK group got their start in the mid-to-late '80s playing part covers, part originals before releasing their first proper album Nothing Is Written in 1991. In the 15 albums since, they've refined and honed their sound into something that goes beyond the typical neo-prog label so often applied to bands who got their start in that decade. 2012 saw the fivesome (Stuart Nicholson [vocals], Dean Baker [keyboards], Neil Pepper [bass] - now replaced by Mark Spencer, Roy Keyworth [guitar], and Spencer Luckman [drums]) release two albums, Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria. Both have garnered critical acclaim and will be performed this year at several live shows including Baja Prog in Mexico in early April. Progtopia's Mark Ashby talked with Nicholson and Baker about where Galahad fits in the progressive timeline, the effect of the untimely passing of bassist Pepper shortly after the recording sessions for the two 2012 albums, and the benefits that have accrued to them from being independent in a time of shrinking revenue for the music business in general, and much more. Visit Galahad on the Web at www.galahadonline.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"Suspended Animation"
"Sleepers"
"Salvation I: Overture/II: Judgement Day?"
"Seize the Day"
"Singularity"
"Guardian Angel"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like Galahad. And for video reviews of Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria plus many more prog albums, check out www.liveprog.com. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 30 January 2013

Direct download: Progtopia_024_Galahad_Battle-Scarred_but_Euphoric.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:07pm EST

Many prog bands start as studio projects, but not all make the transition to a live setting. The Cambridge, UK-based Aeon Zen is not one of those. Although multi-instrumentalist Rich Hinks uses a plethora of guest performers on the three AZ albums to date (including the latest, Enigma, coming out 22 January on Nightmare Records), he employs a talented foursome around him when the band performs in concert (Matt Shepherd [guitar], Andi Kravljaca [vocals], Shaz [keyboards], Steve Burton [drums]). The band's eclectic approach ranges from cool to red hot, from saxophones to growls, and has gained a following of fans just by following their muse, musical conventions and expectations be damned. In this interview, host Mark Ashby speaks with four of the band members about the process of picking guest performers, the reasons for their stylistic choices, and who they'd like to share a tour bus with, along with much more. You can visit the band online at www.aeonzen.com, and the Nightmare Records site at www.nightmarerecords.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"The Heart of the Sun"
"Visions"
"The Face of the Unknown"
"Still Human"
"Downfall"
"Into the Infinite"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like Aeon Zen. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 16 January 2013

Direct download: Progtopia_023_The_Enigma_of_Aeon_Zen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:27pm EST

Like most of us, NYC-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Geoff Barone was bullied in high school. And like others among us, his parents split up. Such emotional times often induce great bouts of creativity, and that's exactly what happened in his case. His debut album Conversation Pieces was released in October, and in the concept-album style of Pink Floyd and Kevin Gilbert, Barone navigates the treacherous waters of adolescent angst, but in a highly melodic way. With the help of several guest musicians from across the US, Barone's take on a universal theme will be music to the ears of those of us who love story albums. Progtopia host Mark Ashby talks with Barone about his influences (from Devin Townsend to Andrew Lloyd Webber), what parts of his album are drawn from his life, and who would make up his ideal band, among many other topics. Stream the album for free and order it (mp3 download or CD) at http://geoffbarone.bandcamp.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"As a Matter of Fact"
"...if it's too early just let me know.../Blue Sky Glory"
"Are You Still Awake?"
"Unscathed"
"To Who May Come in Dreams"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 13 December 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_022_A_Conversation_Piece_with_Geoff_Barone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:01pm EST

It’s not unheard-of for a rock band to take a non-traditional influence and incorporate it into their sound, and Eastern Indian instruments and moods have been part of that scene at least since the Beatles. The New York-based prog band Vajra is carrying on this tradition admirably. Led by songwriter and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Annamaria Pinna, Vajra has carved out a strong place for themselves in the genre with their powerful debut release Pleroma. Joined by Will Dahl on guitars, Doug Wright on bass, and Luke Markham on drums (drums by Blake Fleming on the album), Pinna has channeled her experiences of living in Mumbai into her art, and the result has garnered critical acclaim and television licensing deals. In this episode of Progtopia, host Mark Ashby discusses with Pinna how being perceived as a foreigner colored her outlook on life and creativity, how her condition of synesthesia makes her perceive music in shapes, and whether there is a different standard for women as prime movers in progressive bands as opposed to men, plus much more. Find Vajra on the web at www.thevajratemple.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Akkord Pleromy”
"3.14"
“Inside the Flame”
“Erode the Will”
“Blind”
"The Apple"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 29 November 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_021_Inside_the_Flame_of_Vajra.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:55pm EST

Whether solo or in bands, Steve Hackett has had quite the career spanning over four decades in music. His best-known role, however, was as the guitarist for seminal art-rock band Genesis as part of their classic 1970s lineup. During his time working with Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Peter Gabriel, Hackett contributed his songwriting talents and distinctive and versatile style to such important works as Selling England by the Pound, Wind and Wuthering, and Foxtrot, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012. In October of this year, Hackett released Genesis Revisited II, a star-studded double-album featuring tracks from his tenure in the band. A follow-up to 1996’s Genesis Revisited, this work hews closely to the original tracks and yet freshens them with tighter instrumentation, cleaner recordings, and inspired arrangements. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with Hackett about how he handled the re-recording of a sacred track like “Supper’s Ready,” his memories of the writing process for Foxtrot, why he doesn’t tend to play his hit singles in concert, and his involvement with Yes’ upcoming Cruise to the Edge in March 2013. Visit Hackett on the web at www.hackettsongs.com, and learn more about the cruise at www.cruisetotheedge.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:

“A Tower Struck Down”
“The Chamber of 32 Doors”
“Blood on the Rooftops”
“Supper’s Ready (V. Willow Farm)”
“Dancing with the Moonlit Knight”
“Can-Utility and the Coastliners”
“Ripples”
“The Musical Box”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 11 Nov 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_020_Steve_Hackett_Revisits_the_Classics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:32am EST

Ask 100 different fans what their idea of “prog” is, and you’re likely to get 100 different answers. But it’s safe to say UK-based To-Mera would have to be considered progressive by any definition. The quick label for them would be prog metal, given their driving guitars and pounding rhythms, but members Richard Henshall (keyboards), Paul Westwood (drums), Julie Kiss (vocals), Tom MacLean (guitars), and Mark Harrington (bass) have synthesized a unique blend of several different musical styles that has resulted in an EP and three full-length albums, including Exile, released on Illusionary Records this September. Kiss’s gothic soprano is accompanied by a band that knows when to rock and when to back off at just the right moments, and judging from critical and fan reaction to the new album, their brand of progressive music has much to recommend it. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with MacLean about the origins of the band’s unique name, the effects of early hype on their subsequent career, the pros and cons of being compared with other female-fronted bands, and why having control over their new album on their own label is so important. Visit them on the web at www.to-mera.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Inviting the Storm”
“Phantoms”
“Mirage”
“Deep Inside”
“End Game”
“Surrender”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like To-Mera. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 26 Oct 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_019_In_Exile_with_To-Mera.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25am EST

If all Markus Reuter did was record and perform as a musician, he would be plenty busy. After all, he’s been a part of more recordings since 1997 than even Wikipedia can keep track of, whether solo, with the Europa String Choir, centrozoon, Tuner, or in one of his many other collaborations. But Reuter has also designed his own touch-style guitar – the U8 – and he teaches touch guitar through an approach he calls The Family. As a former student of Robert Fripp’s and as a member of the most recent incarnation of the Crimson ProjecKt, Reuter’s latest effort is Deep, the second album he’s been a part of with King Crimson alumni Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto in the band Stick Men. Reuter’s artistry goes well beyond the touch guitar, however, and in this interview with Progtopia host Mark Ashby, you’ll learn about his varied approaches to composition, why he’d like to build a tradition with his very new instrument, his thoughts on the business model of pre-order campaigns for albums, and what he thinks about questions of whether he should (or could) fill Fripp’s shoes in Crimson. Visit www.markusreuter.com for more information and to purchase music, and go to www.touchguitars.com and www.touchguitarcircle.com for more on Reuter-designed instruments.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Big Dog” (Stick Men)
“Further Clues to Reality” (Markus Reuter solo)
“This Life” (Ian Boddy/Markus Reuter)
“Field 3” (centrozoon)
“Flinch” (Tuner)
“This One Will Please You” (centrozoon)
“Hide the Trees” (Stick Men)
“Waterfall” (Europa String Choir)
“Time’s Insane Ashes” (Stick Men)

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 12 October 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_018_Markus_Reuter_More_Than_Just_a_Stick_Man.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18am EST

Pete Trewavas has spent more than 30 years as the bassist and backing vocalist for British stalwarts Marillion. But in that time, he’s participated in many side projects, perhaps the most well-known of which is Transatlantic. In this episode of Progtopia, we discuss a different trans-Atlantic partnership – with New York-based guitarist/singer Eric Blackwood, formerly of Blackwood & Foti and other bands. Dubbing themselves Edison’s Children – for reasons that will become apparent in the course of the show – Trewavas and Blackwood released their debut sci-fi concept album In the Last Waking Moments… in November 2011. And Trewavas isn’t the only Marillion member to appear on the record; Messrs. Kelly, Mosley, Rothery, and Hogarth all show up in different songs, as do Robin Boult (one of Fish’s past guitarists) and DeeExpus’ Andy Ditchfield. But Edison’s Children have carved out their own niche in the prog universe, and in the process have garnered themselves a top 40 hit. Host Mark Ashby spoke with Blackwood about how he came to be involved as part of Marillion’s crew, the genesis of the collaboration with Trewavas, his job as an effects man in film and TV, and the recording session that spawned a 6.0 earthquake, plus more. Visit the band online at www.edisonschildren.com.

Featured tracks/excerpts:
“The ‘Other’ Other Dimension”
“Fracture (Fallout of the 1st Kind/The Last Refrain)”
“Outerspaced”
“A Million Miles Away (I Wish I Had a Time Machine)”
“Spiraling”
“The Awakening”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 28 Sept 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_017_All_of_Us_Are_Edisons_Children.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:09am EST

From Montpellier, France, comes the melodic/power/prog metal quartet Venturia, whose latest album, Dawn of a New Era, will be released this September 21st on Lion Music. Band members Charly Sahona (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Lydie Lazulli (vocals), Frederic Marchal (drums), and Thomas James Potrel (bass) have put together their trademark set of strong tracks that generally clock in at around four to five minutes, making their music not only enjoyable but accessible to a broader audience for whom the longer songs of prog might be too much. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with Sahona about the reasons behind having both male and female singers, the Swiss television special the band put together after their debut album, his involvement in the Guitar Idol competition, and how he got so proficient at his instrument. Visit Venturia on the web at www.reverbnation.com/Venturia and www.facebook.com/Venturia.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Secret Dream”
“Love Gamers”
“Fallen World”
“Running Blind”
“Relieved” (Charly Sahona solo)
“What If I”
“A Land of Dreams”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by Venturia and hundreds of other bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 17 Sept 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_016_The_Dawn_of_Venturias_New_Era.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59pm EST

If you know anything about Da Vinci or classical mathematics, you may know of a concept called the Golden Mean or, alternatively, the Divine Ratio. Without getting too technical, in practice this proportion – represented by the Greek letter phi – is why some pieces of art or music appear or sound pleasing to us. And in the case of the Virginia Beach-based band of the same name profiled in this episode, their music is going to make its divine sound known very soon to prog fans everywhere. Melding elements of Tool, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd and others to make their own style, the members of Divine Ratio (Charles Gray [guitars], Tripp Johnson [bass], James Roman [drums], and Bryan Knispel [vocals/guitars]) are set to release their ten-track debut Split by Unity through all the usual digital download outlets on September 1, with plans for a physical CD to follow. Host Mark Ashby talked with Knispel about what the divine ratio actually is, why science and religion have such difficulty mixing, the pivotal role their producer – Tom Gwaltney – played in this release, and what people he’d like to invite to a dinner party. You can find the band on the web at www.divineratio.com.

Featured tracks/excerpts:
“Change of Fate”
“One Less God”
“Severed”
“Regret”
“Away”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by artists featured on Progtopia and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 29 Aug 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_015_The_Sweet_Science_of_Divine_Ratio.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50pm EST

They’re a mega-sized band with a mega-sized debut. Germany’s Beyond the Bridge spent about seven years putting together their first album, The Old Man and the Spirit, released this past January on Frontiers Records, and if the reviews are anything to judge by, it was well worth the wait. Exploring the dual nature of humanity, the balance between knowledge and experience, the album is symphonic progressive metal which deserves the label “rock opera.” The band (Christopher Tarnow [keyboards], Fabian Maier [drums], Dominik Stotzem [bass], Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg [guitars], Dilenya Mar [vocals], Herbie Langhans [vocals], Simon Oberender [guitars and keyboards]) is part of this year’s ProgPower USA in Atlanta, at which they’ll perform on September 15. In this episode, host Mark Ashby speaks with Degenfeld-Schonburg about how reading Goethe and reflecting on events in his life helped him create the album’s concept, the reasons it took so long to make it, the different backgrounds of the band members, and why keeping a sense of humor is important to Beyond the Bridge. Visit them on Facebook and on the web at www.beyondthebridge.net.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Triumph of Irreality”
“The Struggle”
“The Apparition”
“Where the Earth and Sky Meet”
“World of Wonders”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by Beyond the Bridge and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

Originally posted 10 Aug 2012

Direct download: Progtopia_014_The_World_of_Wonders_Beyond_the_Bridge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43pm EST

Muskegon, Michigan duo The Omega Experiment (Dan Wieten [guitar, bass, vocals] and Ryan Aldridge [keyboards]) isn’t the first band to write about their struggles with drugs, but with their self-titled debut album, they certainly take their listeners on a unique journey through the depths of addiction and loss to emerge on the other side with hope for the future. Yes, anger is an ever-present emotion, but so is bliss, much like the real-life roller coaster of substance abuse and sobriety. Having received high praise from the likes of Devin Townsend, The Omega Experiment are poised to be another of those unsigned bands that you can’t believe doesn’t yet have the backing of a record label. Progtopia host Mark Ashby spoke with Wieten about his past with drugs, translating that experience into a concept album, the friends he enlisted to help along the way, and how cool it is to create a professional-sounding recording in your bedroom. Look for their music on the web at http://theomegaexperiment.bandcamp.com, http://theomegaexperiment.bigcartel.com, on Facebook, and on MySpace.

Featured tracks/excerpts:
“Gift”
“Stimulus”
“Furor”
“Karma”
“Paramount”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by The Omega Experiment and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

(originally posted 27 July 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_013_The_Sound_and_the_Furor_of_the_Omega_Experiment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm EST

With the release of their new album Nine, Norwegian metal powerhouse Circus Maximus returns with their first collection of songs in five years, and with the massive critical acclaim it’s been getting, Progtopia is fortunate to be able to profile them in this episode. Band members Mats Haugen (guitar), Glen Møllen (bass), Michael Eriksen (vocals), Truls Haugen (drums), and Lasse Finbråten (keyboards) have produced a collection of songs that range from short, introductory mood setters; to radio-friendly tunes; to ten-minute epics, all of which are so good it was truly difficult to decide which ones to include here. Host Mark Ashby caught up with singer Eriksen in the midst of a host of his other media requests to talk about the history of the group, the approach to writing the new album, his brief stint filling in with Kamelot on tour, and what the band enjoys doing in their free time. They’re on the web at www.circusmaximussite.com, as well as Facebook and MySpace.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Forging/Architect of Fortune”
“Alive”
“Namaste”
“Game of Life”
“Reach Within”
“Burn After Reading”
“The One”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net, and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by Circus Maximus and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

(Originall posted 14 July 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_012_Circus_Maximus_Plays_the_Game_of_Life.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

It’s back to Hamburg, Germany, for this installment of Progtopia, where we visit with the prog-metal quintet AtmOsfear. Having recorded three albums to date – their self-titled EP from 1997, Inside the Atmosphere from 2003, and Zenith in 2009 – the band has been favorably compared to the biggest names in the genre and has even performed as the opening act for some of them, including Evergrey, Pain of Salvation, and Vanden Plas. Members (l. to r.) Burkhart Heberle (bass), Boris Stepanow (guitar), Oliver Wulff (vocals), Stephan Kruse (keyboards), and Tim Schnabel (drums) are still rehearsing and writing together, which is when host Mark Ashby spoke to them for this show. You’ll hear them speak about why there have been six years between each album release so far, the reasons for some of their more daring titles (they’re not just for shock value), and how file sharing particularly hurts bands like them. You can visit them on the web at www.atmosfear.net – where you can listen to all their music and download their EP for free.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Courage of Despair”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“Circumcision”
“Spiral of Pain”
“Loss of Hope”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by AtmOsfear and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

(originally posted 23 June 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_011_To_the_Zenith_of_the_AtmOsfear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52pm EST

Plenty of famous and not-so-famous prog rock bands have done instrumental songs here and there on their albums, but very few bands have eschewed the use of a vocalist altogether. The Annapolis, Maryland-based foursome Contra (Alex Peters [guitar], Charles Rupertus [bass], Matt Baros [keyboards], and Brandon Wildman [drums]) have been going without a singer since their inception as a jam band a few years ago, and they’ve created two concept albums – The Epic… from 2010, a Tolkien-esque fantasy tale – and Blue Planet Chronicles, released on June 15th. The unique sound the band creates through swirling guitar arpeggios, dynamic percussion, and atmospheric accompaniment envelops listeners and allows them to envision whatever worlds they can imagine. Host Mark Ashby, a fellow Marylander, spoke with drummer Wildman about the beginnings of the band, the challenges in conveying a story concept without any lyrics to guide the listener, and the – in his words – nerdiness that is a key factor in his creativity, as well as much more. You can find the band online on Facebook (www.facebook.com/contratheband) and MySpace (www.myspace.com/contratheband).

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Primordial”
“Eternal Dawn”
“A Tale of Deception”
“Ice Age”
“Ad Infinitum”
“Fate of Man”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by hundreds of bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

(originally posted 12 June 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_010_Contra_Theyre_Pros.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm EST

Some bands come together as family affairs – the Allman Brothers, Van Halen, Oasis – and so is the group featured in this installment of Progtopia, Unwritten Pages. The Epe family (guitar- and keyboard-playing and singing brothers Frederic and Michel, along with their father Lothar) have teamed with various other musicians on their two albums, Noah Pt. 1 (2010) on ProgRock Records and the just-released Fringe Kitchen on their own Turricane label. Their debut was a five-years-in-the-making concept album, but the new CD is a straightforward prog metal showcase, with Ark’s John Macaluso on drums, Sander Stappers on bass, and British guitarist James Cook filling out the lineup. In an interview with Fred and Jim, host Mark Ashby asks about the creative forces that drive them, why the band chose to debut with a double album, the challenges and rewards of running one’s own label, and Jim’s solo instrumental project Miroist. Unwritten Pages' website is www.unwrittenpages.com, and you can find Miroist’s three-song EP The Pledge at http://miroist.bandcamp.com.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Asylum Tragedy”
“Blowing Red Ashes Pt. 2”
“Unexpected Twists & Turns”
“Terminal Defect”
“i. Non decipies me, fortuna” (Miroist)
“Auxiliary Influx”
“Intoxicating Sweets”
“iii. He had been old in the beginning; but he was saved” (Miroist)

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by Unwritten Pages and hundreds of other bands. Thanks for listening!

(Originally posted 2 June 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_009_In_the_Fringe_Kitchen_with_Unwritten_Pages_and_Miroist.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:34pm EST

It's not often that a band can take over a decade off and come back stronger than ever, but with the April 2012 release of their third album Anhedonia, Australian metal band Teramaze has done just that. With driving instrumentation, intricate rhythm work, and adrenaline-pumping vocals, the group (Dean Wells [guitar/backing vocals], Mathew Dawson [guitar], Dean Kennedy [drums], Tijon Lolis [bass], and Brett Rerekura [vocals]) has brought their brand of progressive metal to the rest of the world via Nightmare Records. In this episode of Progtopia, host Mark Ashby speaks with Wells and Lolis about the new album and accompanying video for the title track, what the reason was for such a long hiatus, live gigs in support of bands like Arch Enemy, and the legacy left by their late drummer Julian Percy. Visit the band's website http://teramaze.com.au or the label's website at www.nightmarerecords.com for more information and merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"Proverb Le Jame"
"Shadows"
"Anhedonia"
"Through the Madness"
"Fear of the Unknown"
"Black Circles"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by Teramaze and hundreds of other bands.

(Originally posted 22 May 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_008_Through_the_Madness_of_Teramaze.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25pm EST

For the previous podcast, we featured Soul Secret, who just played a few dates in Germany. For this podcast, we feature the headliner from that tour – Subsignal (Ralf Schwager [bass], Arno Menses [vocals], Roel van Helden [drums, recently replaced by Danilo Batdorf], Markus Steffen [guitar], and David Bertok [keyboards]). The band formed from the breakup of prog rock stalwarts Sieges Even has released two albums to date – their debut Beautiful & Monstrous in 2009 and Touchstones in September 2011 – both of which showcase their high level of musicianship and keen sense of melody, not always a given in the prog rock realm. Progtopia host Mark Ashby caught up with singer Arno Menses following a successful tour to talk about breaking in a (sort of new) drummer right before the recent concerts, the differences between the days of Sieges Even and now, how he made the transition from being a drummer in other bands to the frontman of this one, and upcoming solo and band projects, including the exclusive revelation of the first song title from the next Subsignal album! Be sure to visit the band’s website at www.subsignalband.com for more information, photos, and merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
“The Essence Called Mind”
“Eyes Wide Open” (Sieges Even)
“Walking with Ghosts”
“Beautiful & Monstrous”
“Wingless”
“The Size of Light on Earth”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send me a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by Subsignal and hundreds of other bands. Tell them Progtopia sent you!

(Originally posted 10 May 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_007_The_Essence_Called_Subsignal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37pm EST

It's back to Europe for this episode of Progtopia, specifically to Naples, Italy, to feature the prog metal band Soul Secret. Having been around since 2004, the band has gone through a few lineup changes before settling on the current group of Luca Di Gennaro (keyboards and programming), Claudio Casaburi (bass), Fabio Manda (vocals), Antonio Mocerino (drums), and Antonio Vittozzi (guitars). In November of 2011, they released the album Closer to Daylight, featuring guest musicians like guitarist Marco Sfogli of the James LaBrie band and singer Arno Menses of Subsignal (a band that Soul Secret will be touring with next month). Host Mark Ashby speaks with Luca Di Gennaro about the many changes in singers the band has had in its short life, its members' influences from diverse styles such as fusion, his choice of gear and the fun he has creating his own sounds, and how their manager Davide Guidone has helped them work with some heavyweights in the prog rock realm. Their website is www.soulsecret.net, where you can find links to bios, tour info, and merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"Aftermath"
"First Creature"
"River's Edge"
"Pillars of Sand"
"Checkmate"
"If"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send me a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner station PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net to listen to and request songs by Soul Secret and hundreds of other bands. Tell them Progtopia sent you!

(Originally posted 21 Apr 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_006_Getting_Closer_to_Daylight_with_Soul_Secret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:28pm EST

To prove that prog rock and metal can be found in all corners of the globe, for this episode, Progtopia travels down under to Australia to profile Hemina, a fairly new band whose debut full-length album – Synthetic – was released in October in Oz and in March everywhere else. The 80-minute concept album contains echoes of bands like Dream Theater and Vanden Plas, but even at this early stage in their career, Hemina (l. to r. Jessica Martin [bass/vocals], Phill Eltakchi [keyboards/vocals], Mitch Coull [guitars/vocals], Matthew Irsak [drums], Douglas Skene [guitars/vocals]) is carving out a unique sound that promises a strong future. Host Mark Ashby speaks with principal songwriters Skene and Coull to talk about the new album, their deal with Nightmare Records and collaboration with famed recording engineer Tommy Hansen, what the prog scene is like in their part of the world, and their desire to play internationally in the years to come. Find them online at www.hemina.com.au for the story of Synthetic, lyrics, and merchandise.

Featured songs/excerpts:
"To Conceive a Plan"
"And Now to Find a Friend"
"With What I See"
"For All Wrong Reasons"
"Haunting Me!"
"Divine"

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like Hemina. Thanks for listening!

(Originally posted 9 Apr 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_005_And_Now_to_Find_Hemina.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EST

Germany has given the world a lot of great music ever since the days of the Bach family, but for us prog rock fans, perhaps the prime example of excellence emerging from the country these days is the Hamburg-based quintet Sylvan. Having been around since the mid-‘90s with most of the same members, this thematically-strong group has eight studio albums, a live album, and a concert DVD to their credit. On the most recent of these – Sceneries, released in January of 2012 – each of the band members (Volker Söhl [keyboards], Matthias Harder [drums], Jan Petersen [guitar], Sebastian Harnack [bass] and Marco Glühmann [vocals]) served as the “godfather” of an epic-length song, with the full 90-minute work showcasing all of their considerable talents within each other’s tunes. Progtopia host Mark Ashby speaks with members of the band about the process of conceptualizing and recording such an album, the story album Posthumous Silence and the effect the live show has on the audiences, as well as the joys and trials of making a concert DVD on a budget, the difficulty of writing and recording two albums at once, and much more. Visit them online at www.sylvan.de (site in both German and English).

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Timeless Traces”
“Deep Inside”
“Belated Gift”
“A Kind of Eden”
“The Fountain of Glow”
“Farewell to Old Friends”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by Sylvan and hundreds of other bands in the genre. Thanks for listening!

(Originally posted 31 Mar 2013)

Direct download: Progtopia_004_Enjoying_the_Sceneries_with_Sylvan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:43pm EST

It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve heard of Larry Fast before. If you’re a fan of any sort of music that was on the radio in the 1970s and 1980s, chances are you’ve heard his keyboard and production work. While the names of acts both well-known and more obscure that he's worked with are numerous, the two ventures for which he’s best known are his solo albums under the Synergy name and as sideman for Peter Gabriel on the former Genesis frontman’s first four records. In this Progtopia podcast, host Mark Ashby – a long-time fan – speaks with Fast by phone from his home base in New Jersey. You’ll learn what it took to be an electronic musician in the early days of the technology, the interesting story behind his linking up with Gabriel and how he contributed to some of the singer’s more popular tracks, why his music at times sounds quite Gershwin-esque, and what projects he’s been up to (some of them anonymously) in the ten years since the most recent Synergy album. Visit him on the web at www.synergy-emusic.com.

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs by hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia. Thanks for listening!

 

Featured tracks/excerpts:

As Synergy:
“Delta Four”
“Legacy”
“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”
“Classical Gas”
“The World After April”
“The Jupiter Menace”
“Metropolitan Theme”

With Peter Gabriel:
“On the Air”
“Games Without Frontiers”
“No Self Control”

(Originally posted 4 Mar 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_003_Synthesizers_and_Synergy_with_Larry_Fast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:35pm EST

London-based quintet The Mariana Hollow is an alternative-metal band whose members describe themselves as having a “dark, progressive sound” that “endeavour[s] to create rock music that offers something truly different from everything around it.” With their 2009 debut, Coma Heart, as well as their just-released sophomore effort Velvet Black Sky, they’re gaining fans across the world despite having no backing from a label. But really, with the quality of the music and production on TMH’s albums, you’d never know they’re unsigned – at least for now. Progtopia thinks it’s only a matter of time before the world learns of the excellence of this musically-powerful and lyrically-intelligent group (l. to r. Richie Walden [rhythm guitar], Adam Stanley [drums], Rebecca “Spinky” Spinks [vocals], Danny Russell [lead guitar], Scott Chesworth [bass]). In this episode, you’ll hear about why from the start the band’s founders wanted a female vocalist, their approach to gigs both plugged and unplugged, a potential Chinese fanbase (?!), and how the bandmates describe each other in what turns out to be an amusing sort of mutual admiration society! Visit their website – www.themarianahollow.com – for information, merchandise, and tour dates (starting on February 29th) if you’re lucky enough to live in the UK. Someday, you’ll say “I knew of them when…”

To listen to a 2013 interview with the band on Progtopia, click here: http://progtopia.podomatic.com/entry/2013-08-16T05_00_00-07_00

Featured songs/excerpts:
“Enemy Lines”
“Paperplane”
“Come Undone”
“Your Halo”
“Weight of the World”

"Like" Progtopia on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Progtopia) and follow Progtopia on Twitter (@Progtopia) to send a message about the show and to receive news about current and upcoming interviews. Please also visit our partner stations IAAM Radio at www.itsallaboutmusic.net and PRM Radio at www.progrockandmetal.net, where you can listen to and request songs hundreds of bands in the genre, including many featured on Progtopia like The Mariana Hollow. Thanks for listening!

(Originally published 23 Feb 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_002_Diving_Deep_into_the_Mariana_Hollow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58pm EST

Europe is the home of a lot of powerful progressive metal music, and the small Scandinavian country of Denmark is home to one of the best of those bands – Anubis Gate. Combining prog rock sensibilities with science fiction concepts and driving guitars, drums, and vocals, paying attention to the details that make a good recording great and a great recording outstanding, members (l. to r.) Morten Sørensen (drums), Kim Olesen (guitar/keyboards), Jesper M. Jensen (guitar), and Henrik Fevre (bass/vocals) have released five full-length albums since 2004, the most recent being their self-titled release from September 2011. In this episode of Progtopia, host Mark Ashby speaks with Kim Olesen about the band’s past, present, and future, their influences, how they approach composition, changes in vocalists, cover songs, and much more. You can find them on the web at www.anubisgate.com, where you can purchase music and merchandise, as well as watch a video from their latest album.

Featured songs (in order of appearance):
“Hold Back Tomorrow”
“Pyramids”
“Future Without Past”
“The Final Overture”
“Lost in Myself”
“Golden Days”

Follow Progtopia on Twitter, @Progtopia, or find us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Progtopia) to connect with us and tell us what you think, as well as other progressive rock, metal, and electronic artists you would like to see profiled!

(Originally posted 6 Feb 2012)

Direct download: Progtopia_001_Opening_the_Anubis_Gate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:34pm EST

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