So let’s get into the cruise. Can you walk me through what it entails?
“Progressive Nation At Sea is, I guess, the next logical step from my Progressive Nation concept that I started in 2008. I assembled three Progressive Nation tours while in Dream Theater, with Dream Theater headlining. At the time, those were six-week tours with a four-band lineup. This whole thing is something I’ve always wanted to do as an ambassador for progressive music. I’ve always carried the flag for this kind of music and always wanted to do whatever I could to help younger progressive bands.
“In Dream Theater, I handpicked various bands to go out with us – Spock’s Beard, Fate’s Warning, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation. I took all those bands out with Dream Theater, and Progressive Nation was the next step to doing a full package. Now, here we are in 2014 with the next step from those tours. I’m taking that concept and extending it to a five-day cruise with 26 bands and then some. So that’s over two dozen bands that I handpicked, groups that I love and admire them. It’s a lot of fun creating the ultimate prog experience.”
There have been a couple of rock band cruises – Weezer, KISS. Have you ever gone on one?
“I’ve never been on one as a player or a fan, so I’m totally jumping into the deep end, putting one together and spearheading it without ever having gone on one. It’s going to be very interesting for me. And I’m playing with of the three bands on board – Transatlantic, PSMS [Portnoy Sheehan MacAlpine Sherinian] and Bigelf. Not only is it going to be incredible busy for me on the planning end, but it’ll be busy for me as a drummer, as well.”
Besides the bands, what else goes on during the cruise?
“Well, the music is certainly the focal point. There’s going to be four stages on the ship, with every band performing multiple times. All throughout the day and night, there’s going to be music happening at any given moment. There’s going to be a lot of cross-pollination with all the bands, too, different people performing with different groups.
“And there are other things: There’ll be a trivia contest, Q&As, meet and greets, signings with different artists and even clinics with a few of them. Of course, while we’re docked, it’s like you’re on vacation. In the afternoons on the third and fourth days, you can go on the islands and just be on vacation. It’s both sides of R&R – you’re getting the rest and relaxation, and you’re getting the rock ‘n’ roll.” [Laughs]