Popoff Archive 2: Progressive Rock Book. 286-page book of interviews with members of King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK, Asia, Tempest, Kansas, Streets, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Frank Zappa, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Chroma Key, Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, GTR, 3, Jethro Tull, Japan, Genesis, GTR, Saga, Marillion, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Tiles and Van der Graaf Generator.
In this edition, we have the following. I’ve included an excerpt from my lead-in explanation for each.
John Wetton – King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK, Asia, 1995
This was actually one of my first interviews ever (and an in-person to boot). I was quite nervous due to John’s daunting catalogue, but Wetton quickly put me at ease with his more than pleasant demeanor.
Lief Sorbye, Tempest, 1998
This is me deep into the Magna Carta swing of things, writing bios for them, enjoying talking to a non-metalhead, Lief, his Oakland, CA band in fact being spirited Celtic rock crossed with prog and folk.
Pete Morticelli, Magna Carta Records, 2000
The occasion of this chat was to create a little bio of Magna Carta Records itself, pretty much the premiere, thriving progressive rock record label in the mid to late ‘90s through the early ‘00s.
Steve Walsh, Kansas, Streets, April 5, 2000
Not sure how hard Steve is normally to get an interview with on the phone, but I’ve heard he’s pretty reclusive on the road, having heard stories of him dashing offstage and on his way to the hotel before the house lights come on.
Roine Stolt, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, April 7, 2000
Around our magazine, we were constantly trying to squeeze the prog stuff in because we found that a huge chunk of the metal crowd gravitated first toward prog than anything else, when sniffing outside of kerranging guitars.
Phil Ehart, Kansas, May 14, 2000
Kansas has always been my desert island bands, a band with a huge catalogue that, no matter how much I play it, I never seem to assimilate it, learn it, understand it.
Kerry Livgren, Kansas, May 15, 2000
I believe what was going down here was that at the same time I was asked to write the label bio for Steve Walsh’s solo record, I was tapped to write the bio for the new Kansas record, also to be on Magna Carta. Ergo the in-depth discussion of what was to be issued as Somewhere to Elsewhere.
Roine Stolt, The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, May 24, 2000µ
Looks like the main purpose of this interview was to gather enough info to write the Magna Carta bio for Space Revolver.
Terry Bozzio, Frank Zappa, UK, Bozzio Levin Stevens, June 1, 2000
I came away totally impressed with his sharp intelligence, business-like energy and youthfulness… he’s basically the Steve Vai of the drums.
Kevin Moore, Chroma Key, Dream Theater, October 26, 2000
The guy’s such a huge talent and should be super-famed and respected as far as I’m concerned. Man, for the the follow-up, Graveyard Mountain Home, I just did a regular interview with him for that, but I was so stunned by how cool the idea was, to write what is essentially a soundtrack album to a 1950s guidance film, an incredible album, that I had to chuck back a few drinks to talk to him on the phone.
Nick D’Virgilio, Spock’s Beard, June 20, 2001
Good drumming/drummer stuff here, along with a l’il Spock’s Beard. What I like about including a chat like this is that there’s so much on Karma here, that it might help you hook up with an album you never knew existed or maybe have forgotten about.
Robert Berry, GTR, 3, August 20, 2001
Gotta hand it to Robert, he made quite a go of it, after this first record, becoming a little Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as it were.
Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, September 28, 2001
One of the happy surprises about crossing over into getting to talk to a few prog guys was how accessible Ian Anderson turned out to be, and how delightful and interview subject he was. Out chats were always phoners, but I parlayed a quick meeting with him once backstage at the Molson Amphitheatre here in Toronto, as part of conducting an in-person with Tull’s guitarist Martin Barre, also a perfectly congenial gent.
Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, April 19, 2002
Another chat with one of the top prog legends, and, like Jon Anderson and one supposes Rick Wakeman, here’s a guy that could have been a manager or a businessman. Well, Ian is a businessman, with his hand in many pies. Good on him, a born leader and all that, plus an interesting chat all ‘round.
David Sylvian, Japan, solo, May 2002
Intimidating this was, given that it was an in-person during load-in/soundcheck, sitting in the nice theater seats at the Danforth Music Hall, which is just a couple blocks from my house. Very convenient and classy venue to see a show.
Steve Hackett, Genesis, GTR, solo, June 17, 2002
Steve’s always a perfectly pleasant guy to talk to, and besides the project at hand, i.e. the reason he’s doing press, there’s always the well of all that classic Genesis potentially to be dealt with, along with GTR and the pretty substantially solo catalogue, of which I totally love Cured, along with his more recent albums.
Michael Sadler, Saga, July 2002
So glad that they were part of our mag’s portfolio, because even though there are Toronto roots to the band, they were rarely around here, being bigger, certainly, in Germany.
Jim Crichton, Saga, August 22, 2002
So this must’ve been that bright sunny day, myself and Tim Henderson down at the Molson Amphitheater to see Saga supporting Tull. But we also had access, and as it turns out, too much of it, with one funny moment being us standing around in their dressing room while they were actually dressing, and Ian looking a bit perturbed like, what are these two guys doing here?
Martin Barre, Jethro Tull, August 22, 2002
This was likely out on the outdoor seating area off the catering room at Molson Amphitheater, for a nice relaxed sit-down chat before the show, Tull with Saga supporting.
Robbie Steinhardt, Kansas, Sept. 1, 2002
Looks like this chat was set up, likely by buddy and PR whiz Chip Ruggieri, to talk about a hits compilation, which means basically free reign to talk about anything we want—yay!
Neil Morse, Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, solo September 15, 2002
Looks like I wasn’t writing the bio for this, but rather it was a regular ol’ interview. The occasion was the release of my favourite Spock’s Beard album, Snow.
Terry Bozzio, Frank Zappa, UK, Bozzio Levin Stevens, November 9, 2002
Terry came to Toronto to do a drum clinic and I met with him one weekend afternoon at the Opera House, conducting this chat in the crappy and clammy basement dressing room... although I can’t quite picture it—we may have stayed upstairs on the main floor, where it’s marginally less depressive.
Nick D’Virgilio, Spock’s Beard, solo May 9, 2003
Looks like this would have been for the bio for the band’s follow-up to Snow called Feel Euphoria. The big deal here was the departure of Neal Morse.
Steve Rothery and Steve Hogarth, Marillion, June 10, 2005
Never thought I’d ever get to see Marillion, but here they were coming to Toronto’s Mod Club, a classy, intimate venue, but one that’s a pain to get to and pretty tight on security when you’re just trying to get in for yer damn interview.
Steve Hackett, Genesis, GTR, solo, September 28, 2005
I interviewed the mellow ex-Genesis axe-meister two days before I was there to witness his heavenly acoustic show at the Markham Theater for the Performing Arts just north of the city.
Jim Crichton, Saga, November 15, 2005
Like Kansas, Saga are one of those bands where I own everything but don’t know the records well, so in continuing to talk to the guys, I can of course give them some press, but as well I get to have these records somewhat personalized for myself. That’s the theory anyway.
Carl Palmer, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Asia, February 24, 2006
Well, this was an intimidating one to be sure. Fortunately it was a phoner so, you know, you’ve got the wiki page open, you’re surrounded by all the albums and you can constantly look at your notes and cross stuff out, change course etc. And the frustrating part is, there’s the current press-pertinent stuff to get to, but you want to talk about so much more.
John Wetton, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK, Asia, April 6, 2006
Lots of Asia in this one, plus some cool UK stuff.
Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, October 30, 2007
Another chance to speak to a legend of the biz, and one that is a natural-born explainer, the best type of interviewee one can hope for.
Chris Herin, Tiles, February 14, 2008
This is kind of a cool one, because I interrogated the hell out of him as well for a book project I’ve since sorta shelved. I had started gathering survey answers on greatest guitar solos of all time, and then thought I’d massage into my interviews, some expert/authority chat about these poll-winning guitarists.
Rich Williams, Kansas, June 26, 2008
I seem to recall that I was to phone Rich for this, and a) he wasn’t really expecting the call and b) seemed unaware that the reason for our chat was the reissue of the Two for the Show live album, which back in the day, shortly after its October 1978 release date, went friggin’ platinum. Man, go take a look—Kansas sold a lot of records!
Fish, Marillion, solo, June 29, 2008
This chat took place at the penned-in table area outside in front of the venue, so it wasn’t surprising when gobsmacked fans would stoop to interrupt from time to time.
Peter Hammill and Guy Evans, Van der Graaf Generator, July 4, 2009
Upon hearing that Van der Graaf Generator were making a rare visit to Toronto, and to an easy and relaxed venue just down the street from my office, the Opera House... well, I knew I had to sort out to be there to chat with this most interesting and gothic and dark of UK prog institutions. Intimidated I was, but the three of them were all charming fellows, as we kept the conversation light around a sticky barroom table right out front, pre-soundcheck.
John Wetton, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK, Asia, May 12, 2012
John Wetton was one of my very first in-person interviews, back in 1995, and here we were 17 year hence, and John is back, improbably fronting the exact Danger Money lineup of UK for a rare show at the Sound Academy.
Michael Sadler, Saga, July 20, 2013
It’s rare that I got out for an in-person interview really anywhere past 2010. I just started to find it all too stressful, dealing with road managers and security, and especially at the Sound Academy, which always seemed locked up like Fort Knox.
Steve Hackett, Genesis, GTR, solo, November 2, 2015
This chat with Steve was set-up by our long-standing best buddy of PR, Chip Ruggieri, who was tasked with promoting the expanded reissue of the lone GTR album.
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