Drummer Mike Portnoy recently discussed the history of prog rock, touching on the early days of his former band Dream Theater. Portnoy remembered the group's beginnings as somewhat of an uneasy time for the prog niche, claiming that prog was a "dirty word." "In the beginning of my time with Dream Theater, the '80s and the early '90s, prog was a dirty word," he told Prog Rocks. "We were total outcasts and we had to really fight to carry the flag and almost excuse ourselves for being progressive." Mike then pointed out that prog made somewhat of a full circle since the mainstream days back in the '70s and is once again "as popular as ever." Apart from revealing Pink Floyd's "The Wall," the Beatles classic "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the Who's "Tommy," Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" as his top 5 favorite albums of all time, Portnoy was asked to describe prog with three words. "Pompous, extreme and musical," he said. Meanwhile, DT keyboardist Jordan Rudess made a comparison of Portnoy and the band's current drummer Mike Mangini, saying that although they're both exceptional musicians, Mangini has a few skills that Portnoy doesn't posses. "[They're] both very different people and they're both very different players," he told Classic Rock Revisited. "Both of them are great drummers but a lot did change both personally and musically for use. Musically, the new Mike has certain skills that the other one does not. For example, he's incredible with mathematics, especially related to music.
"He was able to bring us some architectural structure that we've never had to this extent before as far as meters and how different instruments will interact - that was a totally new element that we got to work with. Also, Mangini has a technique on drums unlike any other human on the planet, so that brings an element of change."
So back to the first chat, do you agree with Portnoy that prog is "bigger than ever" these days? Let us know in the comments.