Metal Evolution (2011) s01e11 Episode Script

Progressive Metal

In this final episode
of Metal Evolution,
I'm exploring metals
most unusual
and experimental sub-genre;
Progressive Metal.
Some of my favourite
modern metal bands like
Atlanta's Mastodon have expanded
the sound of metal by adding
odd time signatures and
atmospheric passages to
their music but I actually
don't know what the term
Progressive Metal really means
and so the question for
this final episode is; what
is Progressive metal and
what does it tell us
about the evolution
of Heavy Metal and the
future of the genre.
Progressive Metal is a
sub-genre that encompasses
a huge range of heavy bands
from over the past 30 years,
from Rush in the '70s to
present day prog metalers
like Mastodon, but before I get
into the specific contributions
of these bands I'm meeting
with the Mastodon guys
to get a sense of Progressive
Metals musical roots.
Sam: So with Mastodon, who
were your big influences?
Brann Dailor: Genesis, Yes, King
Crimson all that good stuff.
I got deep into metal early but
prog rock was always there
you know, it comes up and
we're playing it as a kind of
free-spirit thing you know we
are always trying to do it and
I think the progressive music is
something that that speaks to.
Bill Kelliher: Prog Rock that's
just where we all come from.
It's the kind of stuff I
would listen to and just be
like what the hell just
happened, what is that?
Is that music or is that
coming from another planet?
It's very alien.
It kind of gave me the knowledge
that you can do stuff
like that and get away with
it and put it in a song.
Brann: Especially with a lot of
the Genesis stuff they had this
weird corky like almost
circus like aspect to them.
Brann: So that appealed to me as
well, as the really heavy dark
deep stuff you know that
they were able to achieve,
so I think Genesis
really had the best of both
those worlds you know they
definitely collided.
It was the full spectrum
of emotion in their music.
Sam: So I'm doing a series on
the history of heavy metal,
I never imagined that I'd be
exploring British prog rock.
I mean this music to me is
more connected to flutes and
mythology and distorted guitar
but it turns out a lot of metal
musicians were influenced by
bands like King Crimson and Yes
and Genesis and so I've come to
the studio of Steve Hackett who
was the Genesis guitarist back
in the '70s 'cause I want to get
a deeper understanding as to
what really is the relationship
between British
prog and heavy metal.
Sam: From your vantage
point does it make sense that
contemporary metal bands
would be inspired
by the Genesis
records of the '70s?
Steve Hackett: Yeah, I think so.
I take off my cap to heavy metal
because what you normally find
is guys playing it in
their spare time and they were
listeneing to many different
kinds of music including what is
now known as progressive, so
you know somewhere between heavy
metal and progressive there
is a meeting place in music.
Steve: For instance,
think of technique.
In '71 I did my first album
with Genesis; Nursery Cryme.
I was trying to play a line
out of 'Toccata et Fuga' and
I thought the only way I could
do it would be all on one
string you know if you
wanted to make that stretch
and that's when I came
up with tapping.
Steve: And I found that you
could do that phenomenally
fast on one string and then skip
from one string to the other and
it would look like you weren't
really moving, it's the economy
of energy, minimum
movement maximum distribution.
Sam: Of course it ended being an
essential tool in the toolkit
of heavy metal guitar and
still to this day kids
are trying to perfect
this technique.
Steve: Yeah.
Chris Welch: It's quite
fascinating and almost baffling
in a way, that later generations
of heavy metal bands
would be inspired by
progressive rock bands.
I suppose it's because
although they weren't playing
heavy metal music the
stuff they did play had
tremendous vitality and
tremendous energy.
What it was really was a
coming together of all
the better class of musicians,
guys who had studied and
maybe undergone for classical
music training.
They wanted to be part of
the rock music scene as well.
Sam: In your own musical
upbringing to what extent
was classical music
part of your influence
in where you were coming from?
Chris Squire: No yeah mainly
English carl music was part
of my background, hymns
anthems and things.
I loved church organ
stuff 'cause it was
so powerful and umm yeah
I'm sure I tried to
translate some of
those ideas into Yes.
Bill Bruford: The whole
point of Yes was so that we
could be a small orchestra.
However that was in
the DNA of the day,
that's what rock and
pop was all about.
All we wanted to do was
sound a bit different.
You know you can come all
these art school guys from
universities and colleges which
was exploding, fueled by ideas
of other aspects of art,
surrealism particularly Dahley,
Herman Hesse all
the books of the day.
All that stuff is being
brought in by the
so-called intelligencia.
Chris: You know we were quite
intellectual as people in
different ways and so
all of those talents
kind of combined into
what Yes became.
The British prog rock bands
made an enormous impact
in the early '70s by expanding
the instrumentation
and sonic palette of rock
music and this has been
influential on many
contemporary metal bands.
But metal is also dark and
heavy, so I'm meeting with
Michael Giles, the original
drummer for King Crimson
to try to understand if
there's a connection between
the heaviness of prog
rock and heavy metal.
Sam: I was reading
some archival reviews.
Words like overwhelming
and evil were coming up.
Michael Giles: I remember
the word evil being used.
Some of it does sound
evil I must admit myself
but musically we wanted to
do something different,
to play music we had
never heard before.
In terms of progression you
could say that the Who in the
early '60s, Led Zeppelin
were all doing there thing,
what's the point of copying them
or doing anything similar,
the dark side is always
attractive isn't it?
Jerry Ewing: There was a
very hard-hitting side to
what King Crimson did, it
is proto thrash metal.
It is so heavy and brutal that
is why I think they were such
an influence on Metallica, I
mean you speak to guys like
Kirk Hammett and these
guys are still in awe
of these musicians.
Kirk Hammett: King Crimson
were the first to really explore
things like odd time changes
and weird long arrangements
that didn't rely on the
classic first chorus
first chorus bridge sort of
thing and a lot of the chords
they used were chords that you
weren't really hearing too
much back then, they really
went out on a limb.
I suppose the power of dark
hard edged music would be
something that both
progressive rockers and
heavy metalers would want to get
into. It's mostly about power
and volume and scaring the
life out of people. (laughs)
British progressive rock
bands like Crimson were clearly
heavy for their time but still
these bands were not heavy
So now that I have a better
understanding of prog rocks
overall sonic contribution,
how did the sound of
progressive music find it's
way into heavy metal?
Sam: When I was a teenager
I was obsessed with the
really heavy styles of metal
like thrash and death metal,
but there was one band
that started to expand
my horizons beyond those
styles and that was Rush.
They had the heaviness of metal
but they also had all of
these other sounds I had
never really heard before.
So I've come to Cleveland,
the city that broke Rush and
I wanna ask them why were
they inspired to combine
heaviness with other more
progressive elements.
Sam: Hi there.
Geddy Lee: Hi Sam.
Sam: I wanna start with your
progressive rock influences,
tell me about how these
bands influenced you.
Geddy Lee: Well I think it kind
of began with Yes and Genesis,
they were not afraid to
put challenging influences
in their music.
There were these complex
melodies, there were these
time changes, you know not
just texture not just melody
but drama but that's the
way it appealed to me
and that sent me on this kind
of journey trying to emulate
that as a young musician for
sure. It's interesting because
even though we love progressive
music we also love to rock.
Alex Lifeson: I admired
those progressive bands,
I certainly listened to them
and got stuff from them
but for me it was more of those
heavy hard rock bands that
really appealed to me.
For example, when the first
Zeppelin album came out,
you know it had the weight
and the riffs were great
and the playing was loose
and free you know.
That's always been a thing
that's knocked me out about
Jimmy Page the way he
just played so freely.
Neil Peart: We came together at
that nexus where all liked the
same music so that was an easy
thing to combine specifically
those early years we were trying
things and learning things,
experimenting as broadly as we
could such that that whole
'74 to 1980 period was
really our kindergarten.
Jeff Wagner: They were kinda
toying with the new sound
of the day which was
this ultra really heavy
hard rock that doesn't
have name yet,
and they're also grabbing from
prog rock so it's probably
the first real significant
bridging those 2 worlds,
and then bam you've got Rush
and got maybe prog metal.
In the mid '70s Rush set
out to combine hard rock and
progressive music in a totally
new way and beginning
with the alums 'Fly by Night'
and 'Caress of Steel'
they created there
first prog rock epics.
Sam: That transition from the
first record 'Caress of Steel'
how was the bands
sound shifting?
Alex: Well you know I think we
started writing longer pieces,
more complex arrangements
so there were greater
dynamic shifts where
you could do something
that was a little out of
the ordinary I suppose.
Terry Brown: 'Caress of Steel'
was a dark sounding record
and subject matter
was a lot darker,
it was complex and the
story line was quite long.
For me it was a step forward
I mean it was a challenging
piece to do, it was almost
like a rock opera.
Jeff: Caress of Steel just had
this story book quality to it
in terms of it was like you were
reading a book by chapter,
so that was to me was
mastering the art
of writing the long form epic.
Geddy: Ultimately even
though I liked the music a lot,
the style was still too
experimental but somehow all
that imagining what we should
sound like all came together
with 2112, it was very much
felt like our first record.
Sam: Is 2112 the record that
it is because you had to
some extent harnessed and
improved on what you had been
trying to acheive on the
previous 2 records?
Alex: With 2112 I think we felt
more confident with the format.
Doing a whole side
dedicated to one concept,
so for me that's the first
record I really feel like
we were getting our own sound.
Neil: It's the anger in there
the people responded to,
we were so frustrated with the
whole music business trying
to tell us what to do, urging us
to be more commercial and all
that and it was all about no
this is what were going to do.
The music is visceral and
it's demanding to be heard.
I think there's a real
commitment to the sound and
that reached our first real
audience of any size.
Sam: In 1976, how is this album
different from everything
else that was going
on in rock music?
Jeff: I think because if you
listen to the Genesis records
or Yes records from that era,
all of these prog rock bands
were sort of at a peak
or were peaking out,
and Rush were not only
continually climbing,
I think they sort of provided
a heavier take on what
these bands were doing so that
the people into Zeppelin,
into Sabbath had this
other place to go.
Jerry Ewing: In the same that
Sergeant Pepper did, to Yes and
Lincoln Palmer in Crimson, 2112
was the album that showed metal
bands had an interest in
exploring a more progressive
side they could sonically, and
because Rush had that hard edge
to them it opened up a whole
new world to the metal heads.
The Rush albums 2112,
Farewell to Kings and
Hemispheres firmly established
Rush as one of the
all-time greats of Progressive
music, but by the late '70s
the bands sound
started to change.
Sam: In the classical
definition of progressive rock
an album like Permanent Waves
seems to be a step away
from that much more
traditional approach.
Geddy: Yeah. To me that was
becoming a stereotype.
So I said it's much more
interesting to try and take
that idea of being progressive
and not do it in a way
that people expect you
to be progressive.
We thought ok lets do
individual songs and
each one can be a mini
concept unto itself.
To me that was Rush progressing
and not just staying
in the same mold we
had cast on 2112.
Neil: We were just trying
to find greater economy in
our music, still have a
bunch of parts in there and
some hard playing but
in a shorter format.
So we went from 12 minutes
down to 8 minutes down to 5.
Hard to get much
more below that for us.
Jerry: The thing about Rush is
even when they wrote shorter
material, the way they did it,
the way they clearly thought
about putting it together,
it's still progressive.
So this is why they occupy
this a very unique
sonic position in the
bigger scheme of things.
Sam: And yet there was a bit
of a backlash, the fans that
had loved the expansive
songs weren't necessarily
all on board with say
the Spirit of Radio.
Geddy: You know, I guess what
I'm saying is there's lots of
reasons that fans have turned
away from us at certain points
in our career and there's
nothing we can do about that.
By the early '80s Rush and
the British prog rock bands
had abandoned their
iconic heavy sound
so with the forefathers of the
genre having moved on where
would the next generation of
progressive metal come from.
(Fans cheering)
In the early eighties as Rush
and other progressive bands had
moved away from their
heavy sound, heavy
metal was exploding.
Bands like Iron Maiden,
Judas Priest and Van Halen were
pushing music in a more
aggressive direction and
a metal culture was being
born and the first band from
this new generation of
heavy metal to embrace
progressive music was
Seattle's Queensryche.
Sam: So I've come to suburban
Seattle and I'm standing
outside a roller rink where
many bands in this area
used to play back in
the eighties because
I want to find out
how did Queensryche
metalize progressive music?
Sam: What was the kind of
band you wanted to create?
Where were you at that time?
Geoff Tate: Well we didn't
really have a model in mind.
We more or less had a philosophy
which was no limits, you know,
whatever we could imagine
that's what we will do
and we won't let
people dictate to us
what we should be or
what we shouldn't be.
Chris Degarmo: We knew what we
wanted to be but we didn't
really know how to be
it necessarily yet.
I don't really know that
innovation had arrived in the
Queensryche story necessarily
yet at that time but the
British wave of heavy metal was
definitely making an impact
and I would also draw
back even to groups like
Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd,
so there was kind of a
progressive pop angle
that influenced us.
Geoff: We brought in everything
from classical to jazz to pop
to rock, you know, everyone
would bring in records and say,
"hey listen to this, can
you relate to this, look
what he's doing here"
and so that was our
starting point.
Jeff Wagner: What they were was
a very traditional metal band
who sort of became progressive,
in the same way as Rush did
and they really have
visionary kind of ideas that
made them stand out so much
from the rest of the metal pack.
They were certainly a
bit of intelligencia
leader in that sense.
Jerry Ewing: Just remember
Queensryche's early stuff was
still very very heavy, I mean it
was only when they really went
conceptional with 'Operation
Mindcrime' that they went from
being like just another
American metal band to like,
wow, they've done something
quite pivotal here.
In 1988 Queensryche released
'Operation Mindcrime',
a record that was heralded
as the most important
progressive metal album
since Rush's '2112'.
So I'm meeting with the album's
producer Peter Collins to find
out what was so significant
about the sound of this record.
Sam: When it came to hearing
Queensryche's music
for the first time, what
were your impressions?
Peter Collins: I loved
the musicality of it,
it stood apart from just sort of
basic headbanger stuff to me,
also the fact that this was
going to be a concept record
caught my imagination, the
story of a young guy that gets
caught up in a terrorist type
movement and how he's initially
excited about being and tries
to get out and can't, I mean
the whole concept had a kind of
magic to it, it was extremely
cohesive well put together and a
lot of kids could relate to it.
Geoff: The thrust of the
exercise really was to create
a concept record, you know,
one that was modeled
after what had come before.
'The Wall', 'Tommy',
'Quadrophenia', taking those
albums as models and kind
of giving it our twist.
Sam: What was the reaction
to 'Operation Mindcrime'
in the rock community?
Derek Oliver: I think it sent
a shock wave through the heavy
metal genre, that record was the
peak in Queensryche's history
and development, although
commercially obviously
they enjoyed far more
success later on.
On the heels of
'Operation Mindcrime'
Queensryche began to streamline
their sound and started to
appeal to a broader audience
leaving a void for a band
to pick up the progressive
metal mantle.
So I've traveled back to
Boston to meet Dream Theater's
founding member Mike Portnoy to
talk about their musical roots
and how they contributed to the
evolution of progressive metal.
Sam: Tell me the story of
how you came to Berklee and
why you wanted to do it
in the first place?
Mike Portnoy: Well when I was
around 16 or 17 I just became
immersed in Rush's music and
then from that point started
backtracking and discovering the
rest of progressive rock and
I just wanted to be the best
drummer I could be, I wanted to
learn as much as I could about
music, theory and harmony
and Berklee College of Music
was 'the' music school.
John Petrucci: But soon as you
go to Berklee you're immersed in
an ocean of musicians, everybody
with a gig bag strapped over
their shoulder but it's a jazz
school really so you definitely
notice a divide, like you got
the rockers and the jazzers
and the rockers were
out numbered for sure.
Mike: You know I definitely
stood out like a sore thumb and
then once we formed Dream
Theater with John Myung and
John Petrucci, there we were in
this practice room at Berklee
while everyone else was
playing jazz standards,
we were jamming metal
and prog tunes.
Jerry: In simple terms if
Rush were Led Zeppelin
meets Yes, Dream Theater
was Metallica meets Yes.
John: Yah Metallica meets Yes,
it's like Yes' instrumentation
and types of songs, the
different lengths and stories
but it's Metallica's metal, you
know sensibility and fast beats,
hard drumming, heavy guitar
riffs, all that good stuff.
Sam: This is the early nineties,
this is in the middle of the
grunge explosion, virtuosity,
complex arrangements,
couldn't be more
out of fashion.
Why did you want
to sign this band?
Derek Shulman: They were amazing
actually, there was something
that I hadn't heard musically
for a long time, they were
fantastically arranged tracks,
well played so even though at
the time it was grunge and
it was all lumberjack shirts
everywhere, I knew that when
a movement and the people who
follow that movement go one way
there becomes a huge void in the
marketplace for a kind of music
that still very popular and
Dream Theater led fans of metal,
fans of progressive music
to come together and
understand that
they weren't
mutually exclusive.
Mike: It opened up the
floodgates for a whole new
generation of like progressive
metal muzo oriented bands,
you know for better or
for worse, I don't know.
In the wake of Dream
Theater's success, there was an
explosion of bands in the 1990's
that helped establish prog metal
as a recognized musical style
but there would be one 90's band
that would completely
transform the development
of the progressive
metal sub-genre.
In the early 90's
grunge became the world's
most popular hard rock style
and grunge bands created a sound
that was the furthest thing from
progressive metal and then a
band came along that was
embraced by both the progressive
and the alternative crowds
however Tool is notoriously
elusive and I wasn't able
to secure an interview
with the band so to get some
perspective on Tool's place
in the prog metal story,
I've tracked down their
Grammy award winning
producer David Bottrill.
Sam: So even though Tool played
Lollapalooza, they are outsiders
enough to be completely
different than everything else
on the Lollapalooza bill and
to be completely different
than anything else that's
going on around them.
David Bottrill: I think in
every generation there is a band
that's able to do things by
their own rules and not have
to do the same kind of
promotional techniques
as other bands and they
get away with it.
Tool's that band for the
alternative generation but at
the same time they were never
for me an alternative band.
Sam: What do you think is
unique about Tool 's music
in this story of
progressive rock?
John: I mean Tool you listen
to it and it's something that
you're drawn into by the
darkness and the mystery of it
and that's something that a
lot of progressive music has in
common but whereas Dream Theater
and Queensryche it's about that
majesty, the over drama and
Tool is doing it in this
sort of dark intense way
that in so many ways is a
hundred million times
cooler than the other way.
David: With what Tool does it's
less about look at the musician,
what the musician's ability is,
it's look at the sculpting of
the piece of music that we
have written and played.
Like they're virtuoso players
but they're virtuoso players
in that it's not so much how
many notes they can do or
even the order really, a
lot of it is the tone
and the character of each note.
Jerry: They were hugely
important in terms of
progressive music because they
opened up the left field side
the indie side of music. That
whole strand of progressive
music, the kind of indie stroke
left field post rock side,
it now falls under the prog
banner and it would never
have happened if it wasn't
for Tool's success.
Sam: They opened up
another side of the brain.
Jerry: They opened
up another door.
While Tool was taking
prog metal in a distinctly
darker direction, metal bands
in the 1990's started to combine
brutality with a progressive
sensibility and it was
Sweden's Meshuggah that
turned prog metal
into a rhythmic
metallic juggernaut.
Sam: So the kinship you
share with Tool is that
one of the key elements
for your adventurousness
in the music is rhythmic.
Can you give me a sense
of why creating interesting
rhythm was so important?
Tomas Haake: It's just, I don't
know, when you find that really
cool rhythm, it's almost like
a tribal thing, if you hear a
cool beat most people will pick
that up even if they don't
like the song or whatever so
regardless of what's going on,
you still got that thing,
that's just kind of keeping
it going you know, you can
actually dance to it.
John: They've taken the
whole idea of rhythmical
adventures beyond
anything that anybody has done.
The stuff is going by that's
just so interlocked and complex
rhythmically that these
guys have to be math geniuses.
Tomas: All the instruments
basically in this band are
percussive instruments even down
to the vocals which are also
very kind of charted out because
it's not a melodic instrument,
it's just basically
full out screaming.
Sam: And the guitar approach
of Meshuggah with the
sort of floating jazzy dissident
lines is a very signature part
of their sound, can
you tell me about that?
Jon Weiderhorn: Meshuggah have
a strong foundation in jazz but
not the conventional jazz of
a Charlie Parker or even a
Miles Davis, it's more like
an Ornette Coleman slap to
the jaw, it's more of his free
form insanity, who knows where
it comes from exactly but there
is this interest in presenting
music in a new way and
approaching metal in a new way
and you have players
who are able to do it.
We definitely felt we were on to
something that intrigued us you
know and of course the music has
changed over the years but we
still see ourselves as a niche
band like we're never gonna sell
a million records we know
that for a fact because we don't
wanna write the kind of music
that usually does that, but yeah
it only took 20 years for people
to star digging our music.
Meshuggah wasn't the only
'90s underground metal band
that was infusing
progressiveness with
extreme metal.
New Jerseys' Dillinger Escape
Plan was creating a sound
so complex it was
labeled math metal.
Sam: I remember the first time
I saw them back in 2000,
not only did they not
sound like metal to me
but they barely even
sounded like music.
What inspired them to
create this insane sound?
Ben Weinman: Well Dillinger
itself was us giving up
on being musicians
for a living.
It was us giving up on
caring what people thought.
We really stopped trying
to appeal to a market
and a certain fan base.
It was really us saying we're
never going to fit in,
we're never going to
musicians for a living so
it's really just one situation
where someone is doing
something they love and it
happens to work out because
they love it it's a
perfect example of that.
Jeff Wagner: The level of
aggression they play with
makes them instantly
appeal to metal fans.
They kind of take what
Meshuggah is doing
but they went farther
as a progressive band.
They create an art out of
utter aggressive insanity.
Matt Jacobson: The first time
we saw them play we drove
to Redding, Pennsylvania
and Dillinger Escape plan
performed in kind of a
basement kind of a garage.
They were just losing they're
minds you know they were they
were moving around and
swinging the guitar in the air.
The singer would jump into
the audience and scream
in your face, it was totally
extreme and charged with energy
so we walked out of there and
one of my co-workers said
'what'd you think?' and I said
'we have to sign that band.'
I mean that was pfft.
I remember the first time
I had ever seen Dillinger
live and it looked like
they were really trying
to deliberately hurt the crowd
with the guitar you know
smashing the heads and necks of
the guitars into the people
in the front row and kind
of poking it in there
and I had never seen
anything like that before.
I think Dillinger is
probably one of the worlds
most dangerous bands.
Not only did we make
things hard for ourselves
physically, technically however
you wanna put it but we were
making things challenging and
difficult and uncomfortable
for the people who are
experiencing it as well.
We wanted to take people out of
there comfort zone, we wanted to
take ourselves out
of our comfort zone
'cause no great art ever
comes from comfort.
By the early 2000's
progressive metal had
become so extreme and complex
that it's links to pioneers like
Genesis and Rush seems to be
lost, but this all changed with
the arrival of Atlanta's
Mastodon who reconnected metal
with the sounds of
early prog rock.
Sam: So you guys formed in '99,
what was the climate like
for metal and heavy music
when you guys when
you guys started out?
Brann: As far as metal was
concerned I think it was still
sort of a bad word
you know what I mean.
Like grunge was still
sorta popular but it had been
completely watered down it was
suffering from the same thing
hair metal was suffering from
in the late '80s but there was a
lot of like grindcore and there
was a lot of like really crazy
death metal bands that were out,
we really come from that late
'80s early '90s technical
metal you know, we knew
we wanted to do a little
more, really progressive.
Bill: What I really wanted
to achieve with Mastodon
I guess was just to play
music that was
challenging in the right way and
I was completely in control of.
I wanted all of us to be a
collective, make sure every note
and every riff fit and
sounded good together and
kind of throw a curveball
in here and there
just to put like an ode
to prog rock in there.
Sam: What does Mastodon bring
to progressive metal, how are
they different from everything
that has come before?
Mike Portnoy: Mastodon are
like the Black Sabbath
of modern progressive
music. With a twist of
King Crimson thrown
in there too.
It's all about the riffs with
them, riff after riff after
riff, crunching and so
heavy but at the same time
there's this unbelievable
musicianship I mean
Brann's drumming he's like
the Bill Bruford of metal,
what he does with his
hands are so incredible.
You control the parallel with
the Dream Theatre thing
because Dream Theatre brought in
the Metallica side you know,
the thrash metal thing but
Mastodon they were always
received as like sludge metal
bring that into the mix,
and again (beep) the
rule book we don't care
if people think Yes and
King Crimson are not hip,
we love them we're going to
throw that into our music and
you're gonna hear it and be
damned with the consequences.
Breaking from many of their
metal contemporaries in 2004,
Mastodon created the first prog
rock metal concept album of
the new millennia; Leviathan
which was inspired by the
American classic
adventure story Moby Dick.
Brann: I had like this really
long flight, and I met the guys
in London and we were starting a
tour and I was like we gotta do
the record about Moby Dick, so
I had like this big shpeal and
just talked about the big
whale and all this stuff
and everybody was excited
about it so I was like
ok cool sounds good
let's go record it.
Bill: The book Moby Dick in
the whole story was so much
how we felt inside at the
moment because we had
this white van that we would
leave all our families and
say so long we're going to
take off into the unknown
just like the guys on the boat.
We really just personally
related to it I think until
that record came out.
A lot of people might have
just thought of us as another
heavy metal band and it's like
'ooh, these guys are a little
intellectual if they're
reading books'
so I think people just
gave us a second glance.
Matt: Leviathan made a huge
impact to make a concept album
about Moby Dick with a whale on
the cover, it was taking things
to the next step and people
pretty much freaked out I mean
they were suddenly getting
glowing reviews everywhere.
They were getting the cover of
magazines, the likes of Spin and
Rolling Stone and people
like that were starting to pay
attention so we weren't
surprised that it did well but
it did resonate on a larger
scale than we anticipated,
which was fantastic of course.
Mastodon has grown to
become one of the most
successful metal bands of
the 2000's, but Mastodon
isn't alone in carrying prog
metal into the future,
some of the founders of the
genre are still going strong.
Over 40 years into their
career, Rush has set aside their
keyboards and returned to
their prog metal roots.
So why does progressive
metal remain
one of heavy metals
most vital sub-genres?
Sam: Why do we see kids
at Rush shows today,
air guitaring, air
bassing, air drumming
what do you make of that?
Neil: I pretty much try to
stay in touch with that kid
as much as I can and it
certainly drives my drumming.
I play stuff that I find
exciting, so there couldn't
be anymore genuine
style than that.
We make songs that we like, we
try to make them better and
then we play them for people.
That is the progressive urge.
Mike: The key characteristic
of progressive music
is musicianship, and there is
always going to be young kids
who are picking up a guitar
or a pair of drumsticks
for the first time and want to
see a drummer
with a 400 piece drum-set
and a guitar player
that can play a million
miles per hour.
There's always gonna be
an audience for that.
Tomas: Interesting music
doesn't have a due date on it.
You can play a Rush song 50
years from now and it's still
going to be something viable
and you'll need that,
and you'll need to want
to challenge yourself.
Geddy: I think there is always
a portion of the fan base
that are more intrigued by
conceptual music
because it's a little more
complicated and harder.
Whatever preposterous term
you wanna give it and the other
thing is there's a lot of empty
calories on the radio so there's
going to be a need for people
always to listen to something
interesting and I think young
fans when they can't find that
on the radio are gonna find
it in Genesis, they're gonna
find it in Tool, they're
gonna find it in Rush.
I set out to explore what
the term progressive metal
means and what it says about the
future of heavy metal music
and I've seen that dedication
to creating adventurous and
challenging music is the
defining characteristic of
progressive metal, but what
I've also learned in this
final episode is that
this characteristic
is not exclusive to
progressive metal.
Whether it's metals new emerging
bands or the legends of the
genre it's the same commitment
to pushing boundaries
and the spirit of one upmanship
that drives heavy metal as
a whole so it's evident to me
that heavy metal will remain
relevant and continue to
evolve for decades to come.
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