Who are your top three singing drummers? The three that pop into your head.
“Uh… Roger Taylor… Andy Sturmer from Jellyfish... Phil Collins. Those are the three that come to mind. Dave Grohl – I can’t forget Dave Grohl.”
Drum-wise, you pull out the flash chops on Into The Blue and Kaleidoscope, but a song like Shine calls for a straight-ahead approach. Is one way more fun than the other?
“I wouldn’t say the straight-ahead stuff is as much fun, but it’s equally satisfying musically. Obviously, those types of part aren’t as challenging, so they’re not as much quote-unquote fun as the more exciting parts. But it’s not always about the drums; it’s about the song, and that’s always been my focus.
“You know, if a song calls for crazy double-bass or crazy odd-time signatures, I love to do it, but I’m also not afraid to pull out my best Ringo or Nick Mason impersonations. Those guys are heroes of mine, as well. In Transatlantic, I get to do that a lot, and that’s an important part of it. All the best prog bands had that yin and yang. Yes could do Heart Of The Sunrise, and they could do I’ve Seen All Good People. ELP could do Tarkus and could also do Lucky Man.”
In pretty much every band you’ve been in, you’ve always done cover tunes. Why do you like to perform other people’s music so much?
“There are two sides to it. First and foremost, there’s my enjoyment of doing it as a fan. Just because I’m such a fan of everything from Radiohead to Slayer to Badfinger to everything in-between, I have this instant jukebox in my head. I even carry around a list of songs that would be great to cover. Anytime I hear something on the radio or if something comes up on my iPod shuffle – I’ll hear an obscure Sweet song or an obscure David Bowie song, and I’ll be like, ‘I gotta cover that someday.’
“The other side to this is that I love exposing today’s audience to songs they might not have heard. The bonus disc on Kaleidoscope has some obscure tunes, things like a prog instrumental by Focus or the Small Faces tune, as well as the classics like And You And I and Nights In White Satin. I love thinking that there’s a 13-year-old kid somewhere who loves Transatlanic but never heard of Procol Harum. This is a chance to expose people to some music history.”
Have you ever heard from any of the artists you’ve covered?
“Yeah, occasionally. One of the coolest things was when Neal and I covered Starless by King Crimson, and Bill Bruford sent me an amazing e-mail saying how much he loved it; he thought we did a great job with it. That was tremendously cool. On Kaleidoscope, we do a cover of Indiscipline by King Crimson, and it’s going to be great to have Adrian Belew on the Progressive Nation Cruise. And, of course, there's Jon Anderson –
I was just going to mention him – he's going to be on the cruise.
“He's on the cruise. We’re going to be playing a set of Yes classics with Jon, which will be so much fun. It’s nice when you can pay tribute but you also have a relationship with these artists, as well. That’s one of the greatest perks of this music business.”