The Bills Prog Blog F.U.Q.

Hello, Constant Reader, and welcome to the Bill’s Prog Blog F.U.Q.

For the record, that stands for Frequently Unasked Questions.  Get your minds out of the gutter.  Really.

These are questions that may have been asked once or twice that deserve a bit longer of an answer than I can usually provide in a comment.  There may actually be a F.A.Q. (that’s frequently asked question, natch) or three in there as well.  I reserve the right to not only add more questions and answers in the future, but radically change my answers as my mood suits.  It’s my F.U.Q., and I’ll cry if I want to…

Anyway, on with the show:

1) How do you listen to so much music?

Wow, it’s a true FAQ.  I get asked this a lot, not only here but on a load of forums.  And the real answer is that I don’t listen to half as much music as some people I know.  At the same time, I probably listen to more than the average person.

Music is my life.  I love it.  I need it like air.  Music is like oxygen…you know, the whole ‘you get too much you get too high, not enough and you’re gonna die’ bit.  And it’s true.  Without music there’s no colour in my world…and if you look at my history of blog posts, you can tell when I lived in a black and white world.  Realistically I have music playing from the moment I get into my car to drive to work in the morning to the moment I shut my PC down at night.  That probably works out to 10 to 12 hours of music a day.  When I’m working on reviews, there’s a limited group of records I listen to (those I have to review, of course).  When I’m relaxing, I’ll listen to anything.

2) How much music do you have?

Another FAQ.  My collection is smaller today than it was 2 years ago.  But that’s not a story for here, save to say that there’s a mess of titles I need to replace for one reason or another.  Roughly half my collection is out on racks right now, and that comes to about 1000 titles.  That means there’s another 1000 albums in storage right now in my closet in boxes.  Add to that my collection of…ahem…unofficial recordings (that be concerts, studio outtakes,…which topped out around 4000 recordings, and I have a decent sized collection.  And before you ask, the official stuff I have listened to at least once each (save for new stuff that is coming in for review), and the other stuff I’d say 75% has gotten at least a cursory listen.

3) How much of that have you listened to?

Umm…I answered that already.

4) Oh.  Sorry?

Don’t mention it.

5) Why prog?

Why is a mouse when it spins?***

Seriously now…who knows why prog?  I could blame it all on Frank Zappa, and that’d be fine and make for a nice story, but really, I have no idea why prog.  When my family was listening to country AND western music (and hey, I’m not going to put it down…I love some country from time to time) I was digging into my dad’s old Doors and Zeppelin and Zappa albums.  I was also very involved in classical voice training in high school, loved classical and baroque music, dug some jazz, and it all came round to finding in progressive music something I really connected with.


This does not mean it is all I listen to.  I love metal…and no, not just prog metal.  I am a huge fan of extreme metal in general…Amon Amarth, My Dying Bride, Emperor, Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, Finntroll, Hellhammer, and so on.  I dig some 80’s thrash…your Exodus, Metallica, early Megadeth, Slayer type stuff.  I mentioned country above…one of the best concerts I ever went to was Johnny Cash on one of his last tours of the US.  I like some jazz (Miles, Coltrane, Brubeck, Parker, and so on), love classical music of all types, early vocal music (Tallis, Byrd, and much before that too…all the way back to Hildegard of Bingen)…the list goes on.  In my world, there’s two kinds of music; music I like, and music I don’t like.  And I know it when I hear it.

6) Who is your favourite band?

And now the knife goes into my heart.

No matter who or what I answer, I’ll be betraying one of my loves.  We have this very carefully worked out relationship, me and my favourites, and I treat them all with TLLC so none of them gets jealous of any of the others.  Hell hath no fury like a band scorned, after all.

I can’t pick a single favourite.  I just can’t.  The side listing of bands gives you a taste of what I listen to, and on any given day any one of those bands, and/or perhaps a hundred more, could easily be my favourite.

There’ll be no more of this favourites silliness now.  I mean it.

7) Who have you seen in concert the most?

That one’s easy, but there’s a cheat involved in it.

I’ve seen echolyn more than any other band.  I have to think for a moment, but there was NEARfest 2002, NJ Proghouse (Metlar House) 2002 (recorded for Jersey Tomato), Sellersville 2003 (recorded/filmed for Stars and Gardens), another show at the NJ Proghouse in 2006 (if memory serves it was 2006), NEARfest 2008.  That’s 5 concerts.  But I then have to add in the rehearsals I got to attend, and things get hazy and fuzzy.

There’s a number of other bands I’ve seen multiple times…The Flower Kings are 3 or 4 times, Frogg Café has to be similar, Riverside twice, Hackett twice, some local bands I’ve seen multiple times, and so on.

8) What are your 10 Desert Island Discs?

There’s that knife again.

I hate these questions because they are designed to make someone want to cheat.  ‘OK, for my first DID selection, I’ll take this set of ALL of the Brandenburg Concertos.  For my second selection, this boxed set of ALL of Wagner’s Ring cycle…’

I’m going to try and be reasonable and actually select 10 releases that fit in a single jewel case each.  They are in no order.

Marillion, Marbles.  King Crimson, The Night Watch.  Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones.  The Beatles, Abbey Road.  White Willow, Ingus Fatuus.  Finntroll, Visor om Slutet.  Johnny Cash, American Recordings.  Any good recording of Mozart’s Requiem Mass (I’m partial to the DG release conducted by Bernstein).  Take Five, Dave Brubeck.  Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Darwin!


OK, that’s 10.  And damn, that was hard like wow.

9) Do you get paid for this?


Ha ha.

(breaks down laughing, face turning purple, gasping for air)


OK, let’s explain something here.

Prog bands generally are not full time musicians.  If they are, they certainly aren’t full time prog musicians.  If they are, in fact, full time prog musicians, they’re either members of, or former members of, one of the big six bands.  Those are the facts.  Take them out of the equation, and the people who are full time musicians generally do prog as a hobby because they love it, and they do studio sessions or work as a sideman for someone else or are in other bands to pay for their dirty, nasty prog habit.  Everyone else?  Teachers, doctors, dentists (hello Kenso!), construction workers, the list goes on.  They want to make money in prog.  Generally they don’t.  Just like 90 plus per cent of the musicians in any other genre.

I do this blog for the same reason.  I love the music.  I love sharing my interest with others.  And some people for some unknown reason seem to enjoy what I do.  So I keep doing it.  It’s fun.  When it stops being fun, I stop doing it.  The only ‘payment’ I get is the occasional free CD or DVD.  Other than that, my compensation is in comments left on posts, e-mails from bands and musicians and label executives, and so on.  It may not pay for a cup of coffee (not even a cup of awful Starbucks crap), but it works for me.

So no, no payment.  I’m in no one’s back pocket.

Well, no one in the music industry anyway.


And as a by the way, this is also a true FAQ.  I get it a lot.

*** The higher, the fewer.