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With: Jonathan Mover


Serge Marcoux - May 2024

NOTE: L'entrevue est trop volumineuse pour être traduite en un seul lien "Google Translate". La limite est de 5000 caractères. Merci de votre compréhension.

ProfilProg (PP): Hello Jonathan and thank you so much for giving us your time to answer our questions.
From a musical perspective, you have covered a lot of ground since the beginning of your career. Is it right to say that you began with prog music. First with Marillion and then GTR?
JM: Hello Serge, to begin with, thank you for the interview and the opportunity!
To answer your question, in the “professional” sense of playing with a band that was established and well-known, then yes it would be prog by way of Marillion, and especially GTR, since GTR was categorized as a ‘supergroup’ and had immediate world-wide attention and recognition. But I was actually playing prog professionally before that. While in high school, I got the call to play and tour with one of the biggest regional acts of the Northeast U.S., which was called The Incredible Two Man Band, or ‘ITMB’ for short. It was a duo made up of keyboards and drums, and was around for many years, playing all over the Northeast, including Montreal, back in the day. The leader of the band played keyboards, bass pedals and trumpet, and sang lead, and the drummer, which I was one of a few through the years, played lots of drums, percussion, some keys, and anything else possible. He had a rig bigger than Keith Emerson’s and I had a rig bigger than Neil Peart’s–it was quite a show visually and musically! The set was a mix of original and covers; the original material was from two records he had previously released and included prog, with lots of odd-time and big arrangements, and the covers were everything from ELP and The Beatles to Lee Michaels and Richard Strauss–we did an amazing prog rock version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. So, I would say ITMB was my first professional prog gig, which had a big impact on me at sixteen and helped pave the way–we played to audiences of up to 2,000 on some nights, and for a kid still in high school, that was really something and very important in that it made me feel like I had what it took to ‘make it’, so to speak.

PP: It must have been exciting for a young man to play with two of the greatest guitar players like Steve Howe and Steve Hackett?
JM: Exciting is an understatement! Yes, it certainly was, and especially at 20-years old. Not only two of the greatest guitar players, but also two of my favorites and from two of my favorite bands, Genesis and YES. I will never forget the first day of getting together to was just the three of us in a rehearsal room, no bassist or vocalist had been chosen yet, and we were jamming–playing all sorts of riffs, mostly from the two of them and a few from me–just to see how it felt and what would come of it. And it was immediate in that we had something very cool in the making. Several times during that day, and many times after, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m playing with Steve Howe and Steve Hackett!”

PP: Could we say that those early experiences with bands had an influence on the fact that you worked mainly as a session or guest musician?
JM: Not in the sense that both of those situations were not long-term. I think the two biggest influences on my wanting to be a session/freelance player were: one) I love so many different styles and genres of music, that I never thought of just playing or aspiring to play just one. From all styles of rock to fusion, to soul and funk, folk and acoustic, I love playing them all, because I loved listening to and practicing to them all–from Zeppelin to James Brown, Fairport Convention to Mahavishnu Orchestra, and everything in between. And 2) most of my favorite drummers were guys that played with lots of artists and covered lots of ground, such as Steve Gadd, Simon Phillips, Phil Collins, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jim Keltner, Andy Newmark, Jeff Porcaro, Dave Mattacks… some of them may have been known for one particular artist, like Phil with Genesis or Jeff with Toto, but they all played on hundreds, if not thousands of sessions, and to me, that was the career path I wanted to pursue.
Also, I just really love playing, and often, when you’re a member of one band, you don’t work or play as much as you could or would if you were on your own. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, bands were putting out a record a year, sometimes two, and touring when they weren’t in the studio. In the ‘80s, that seemed to change to one record a year at most, which often took a year to write and record, and then there would be a tour, and then there would be a break, and maybe then, if the band still liked each other and got along, they’d start the process all over again. That’s why someone like Phil Collins is on so many records outside of Genesis, he never sat still for very long. If Genesis finished a tour and were going to take a break before reconvening to write the next record, Phil would have done a couple dozen sessions before picking up sticks again with Genesis.

PP: You did work with Steve Hackett after the GTR experience?
JM: No. I got the gig with Hackett first, before GTR, but we didn’t get the chance to do anything. We were scheduled for a UK/European tour, but then he called to tell me that the tour was off; he had gotten together with Howe to talk about forming a new guitar-based supergroup, and asked if I was interested in playing drums. No need to tell you, my answer. Post GTR, I believe Hackett released some material that has me on it, which was recorded for GTR, and leftover/not used…something to that effect.

PP: You worked with so many great music people, Aretha Franklin, Alice Cooper, The Tubes, Frank Gambale, Mick Jagger and the list goes on and on. But you also played on records and onstage with another incredible guitarist, Joe Satriani. How did that come about?
JM: Meeting Joe was totally by chance; one of those lucky moments of ‘being in the right place at the right time.’ The short story is: while on tour with GTR in ‘86, I was approached by TAMA [drum company], which was a drum I was very interested in playing. They invited me to their main facility in Pennsylvania to check out product, meet everyone and sign me, though it would be a while before I could make the trip, as I was still living and based in London. I finally found myself there in early June of ‘87, and as coincidence would have it, Joe Satriani was there on the same day being courted to play Ibanez guitars; both TAMA and Ibanez are owned by the same parent company, Hoshino. At the end of the day, before going out to dinner with our respective artist-relations people, Joe and I found ourselves waiting in the lobby alone and struck up a conversation. Joe found out I was there to sign with TAMA, and I found out he was there to sign with Ibanez and then he just said/asked, “I’m playing a gig with Steve Vai at the NAMM show in Chicago for Hoshino, would you be interested in playing drums?” It was at the end of the month, and I was supposed to be back in London, but instead, I accepted his offer and changed my plans, which gave me some extra time with my parents back in Massachusetts. The show in Chicago was great, and then a month or two later, I was back in London when Joe called and said, “Hoshino wants us to do it again in Japan at the Tokyo Music Fair in October; are you available and up for it?” I said yes again, and it was during that trip to Japan that Surfing with The Alien came out and hit the charts. And with that, came the beginning of the ‘Satriani Trio’ as we were known, and lots and lots of touring through all of ’88 and into early ’89. It was after all that time on the road with Joe, and him wanting to continue with the trio to record and tour, that I decided to move back to the States and ended up in NYC.

PP: Do you consider that collaboration like something that kept your prog flame alive or was it always there?
JM: The prog flame was always there, because even though prog, in the sense of what it was when I was listening to it as a kid, was over, I was still listening to Genesis, YES, Crimson, U.K., ELP, Gentle Giant, Bruford, Jethro Tull, and so on… I never stopped listening.

PP: In 1996 you released a solo project called Einstein Won and another one in 2002, Einstein Too. Why did you choose to invest efforts in time in those projects? Is there an ‘Einstein Returns’ possible?
JM: Einstein came about when I discovered my ability to write more than just a riff. What I mean by that is, up until that point, I was involved with writing from time to time, as I had done with GTR, Marillion and others, but only in as much as offering an idea or a riff here and there. Moving to NYC in ’89, had me playing around town with a variety of artists and spending more and more time in the studios doing sessions, and often times, I would find myself helping an artist with an arrangement and/or composition in one way or another. I had lots of ideas in my head, but never had a way of materializing them, other than writing down the basics on some manuscript or singing a line or a melody to someone. It was in ’95, during a break from playing with Aretha and before going back out with Joe, that I decided it was time to invest in myself and explore composing a little more seriously. I went out and bought a Yamaha Clavinova 560 and a Yamaha QY20 sequencer and set up a little workstation. It took half a day to rig it up and learn the QY and as soon as I did, material just started pouring out of me. I wrote the entire first Einstein record in just under three weeks, and then sought out the musicians I needed to play and record it. My thought for Einstein, which came very naturally, was to make complex odd-time signatures, very palatable. Similar to songs like “The Crunge” [Zeppelin], “Freewill” [Rush], or “Money” [Pink Floyd] where the melodies are so strong, the average listener has no idea that they’re in odd time, though Einstein’s material is much more complicated. As for a third Einstein record, there’s no shortage of material, but there are only so many hours in the day. Maybe one day, if I find the never know.

PP: Let us dig a little deeper in prog territory, especially with the new ProgJect of yours. What are your earliest prog memories? Record-wise and first shows.
JM: My earliest prog memories record-wise are YES and King Crimson, by way of my older brother, who had a varied record collection starting from the mid-60’s. I would often thumb through his records, to either play something that I had heard him playing and liked, or to gaze at the record covers and sometimes look at the pictures of instruments, if there were any. Two of the obvious groups that immediately caught my attention were YES and Crimson. YES, for the Roger Dean covers [Fragile, Close to The Edge, and Yessongs] and Crimson [In the Court and In the Wake], but artwork aside, I loved the music! After that, the big one for me was ELP, which I found on my own via hearing “Lucky Man” on the radio and the sound of Emerson’s Moog solo really captured me. I asked my parents to take me to get the record and while at the store, flipping through the ELP bin, I saw Brain Salad Surgery with the H.R. Giger cover and that was it, ELP then became my favorite prog band…until I discovered Genesis.
As for shows, I saw everyone. The first prog show I saw was YES in early 1974 on the Tales tour, when I was ten years old, and then again, later that same year, on the Relayer tour, when I was eleven. My brother took me to both. After that, it was a constant rotation of concerts–ELP, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Genesis, U.K., Rush, Kansas, Dixie Dregs, National Health, Zappa, and YES, many more times. I would say that between 1974 and 1982, I saw every prog band that played in Boston or near enough to go to, and I saw them every year that they toured, along with hundreds of other shows too; Alice Cooper, Queen, Elton John, Chicago, Black Sabbath, Jean-Luc Ponty, The Cars, Van Halen, Chuck Mangione, Aerosmith, Gino Vannelli, Rainbow, Jeff Beck, Styx, Deep Purple, Sweet, Blue Oyster Cult, Utopia, The Outlaws, AWB, Toto, Journey, etc. I loved live shows, and especially back then, when bands could play and sing without the help, need and use of technology.

PP: Who do you consider your biggest influences? Behind the drum kit, of course, but also musicians in general.
JM: For musicians/artists in general, The Beatles and Zappa are it for me, along with Zeppelin, Genesis, and Pink Floyd; those five covers everything I need in music. For individuals, I would have to include David Gilmour, Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorius, amongst many others that speak to me and move me in different ways. Of course, I could write a book when listing who I listen(ed) to and have been influenced by. The same for drummers, but at the top of the list is Steve Gadd, Simon Phillips, John Bonham, Jim Keltner, Phil Collins, Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta, Bill Bruford, Jeff Porcaro, Andy Newmark, Dave Mattacks, Barriemore Barlow, Tony Williams, Rick and Jerry Marotta, Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers, Mark Craney, Rod Morgenstein, Steve Jordan, Manu Katche, and my teacher, Gary Chaffee… like I said, I could write a book!

PP: You have a great career, incredible musical opportunities. Why have you chosen to go ahead with your new musical idea, ProgJect? After all prog is not a dirty four-letter word anymore but it is surely not the most popular music around.
JM: It may not be the most popular music around, but it is the most fun to play. To me, prog incorporates everything in music – elaborate compositions, various time signatures, multi-layered arrangements, meaningful and poetic lyrics, the full range of dynamics, aural soundscapes, big melodies, great grooves, long(er) songs, etc. For the same reasons that I might like one genre for an individual aspect–for example, jazz/fusion has the freedom to solo and improvise; folk has great lyrics and storytelling; funk and soul have deep pockets of groove; rock has the power and energy–prog has it all.
I still play with other artists and play all the same styles and genres I always have, but to be honest, it’s few and far between these days that I play on sessions and tunes that I really enjoy or bring me the enjoyment that I used to feel–a sense of all-round satisfaction. To begin with, I miss playing with real people in a ‘live’ studio setting, where you’re feeding from each other and creating on the spot while recording. Because of computers and programs, everyone now thinks they’re an artist–they can write a song, play most of the instruments, produce it, mix it, and often engineer it. And most of the time, they can’t. Or at least not at the level that I prefer and have been used to for most of my career. I would love to get called to play on some material that really moved me, musically and lyrically, and go into a studio with some great players and a great engineer, and work it up from scratch, but it just doesn’t happen often enough these days. And for someone that owned one of New York’s biggest recording studios for almost 20 years, Skyline Studios NYC, I do know how to engineer, produce, and mix, and I know what’s possible in the right situations with the right players. There’s nothing better than being in a room with Will Lee, or Frank Gambale, or Shakira, and the red light goes on to record. On the flipside, there’s nothing worse than spending time getting great drum sounds, and coming up with great parts, only to send them to someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, and then hearing the results a few months later–the drums sound like cardboard boxes, or the kit is out of balance, or the loudest thing in the mix is the instrument that the artist plays, or the mix is out of name it. I had an artist, who is a drummer friend, in my studio mixing with their own engineer. At the end of the week, I was called in to hear the final mixes, so I sat in the middle of the room and hit ‘play.’ At first, I heard it, but didn’t say anything because I thought it must be intentional, but after the third song, I hit ‘pause’ and asked, “Why did you mix all the drums in mono?” The artist looked at me like I was crazy and then looked at the engineer, who came over to me, and with an attitude, said, “What are you talking about, look at all the pans, the drums are stereo from left to right.” I then looked at the board and then back at him, and without attitude, said, “You said you knew the Neve may have twisted the knobs and pointed them in various directions, but you didn’t engage any of them. Your drums are all right up the middle in mono.” My point is, the engineer should not have been engineering and the artist should not have been producing, but that’s what a lot of the music industry is these days.
Two of the most important lessons I learned early on when doing sessions, was: 1) to have an objective ear to the song and the mix, and 2) to let the people who know what they’re doing, do what they do. My first sessions, I overplayed so much and if I was there at the mix session, always thought my drums should be louder. Fortunately, I was working with people that knew I was inexperienced, and instead of listening to me, they would do the ‘real’ mix, and then give me a mix with louder drums. Of course, I loved my mixes, at first, but after doing more and more sessions, learning more about the art, and letting some time go by, going back and listening, my drum-heavy ‘ego’ mixes were terrible, and the ‘real’ mixes were great.
Anyway, after all these years and now feeling like I’ve come full circle, the focus is on ProgJect, which is very enjoyable and very satisfying.

PP: Let’s talk about the other guys playing with you, starting with keyboardist Ryo Okumoto. Did you meet when you collaborated on his latest solo album, The Myth of the Mostrophus or before?
JM: ProgJect came first. Ryo and I met through a mutual friend, who happens to be the musician that I first mentioned my idea of ProgJect to. I was somewhat new to Los Angeles at the time and was asking if he knew any players that might fit the concept of ProgJect. He had done a gig with Ryo and connected us.
The Myth came after knowing each other and playing together for a few years, when Ryo asked if I would play on a few songs. He then sent some rough demos, and when we got together to review them, I offered my opinions and a variety of options, which he took favorably and that led to me (re)arranging them. Then I called some ‘friends’ to play on it too...Steve Hackett being one, and obviously, the guys in ProgJect.

PP: We talked about some of the great guitarists you have played with. We can easily say that Mike Keneally fits the definition. Was it hard to convince him to join ProgJect?
JM: Keneally definitely fits the definition, and believe it or not, he took no convincing at all. I just called him up, we chatted for a bit, I told him about the concept and my ideas for the gig, and he asked me to email him the setlist. He got back to me the next day and that was it. I’m very happy and grateful to have him in ProgJect, not only is he a brilliant player (guitar and keys), but also one of the nicest guys ever and couldn’t be easier to get along with. Not to mention he’s a walking encyclopedia of music knowledge. Who needs Google when Mike is around?!

PP: Matt Dorsey is not as well-known, but his collaboration with Sound of Contact, In Continuum or Dave Kerzner, among others, makes him a very good choice. How did it happen?
JM: Actually, Matt only did the first leg of the first tour; for a variety of reasons, he did not work out as intended. We’ve played with a few bassists, but by far, Pete Griffin, who is out with us this year, is my first choice for bass and favorite to play with. We would have had him last year too, but he wasn’t available for all the shows. Not only does Pete have the chops for the gig, but he’s also got a serious groove, and that’s equally important to me. Some guys have lots of chops, but no ‘feel’ for rock or don’t get the concept of prog, and other guys can lay it down in 4/4, but don’t ‘feel’ comfortable playing in 9, 13 or 19. Pete has it all.

PP: Last but not least, the singer. Michael Sadler, that us Canadians know very well of course, was the first singer for ProgJect. But now it is Alessandro Del Vecchio. Why was there a change and please tell us about Alessandro?
JM: First off, I’m very appreciative that Michael came in from the start, which certainly helped when I was picking and choosing the players. But, and this is entirely on me, when I put together the initial setlist and spent time editing together various medleys, I didn’t really give much thought to whether or not someone could cover something; I just dove in and put together this two-plus hour set of the prog I always wanted to play and didn’t think twice about anyone not being able to handle it. But what I really didn’t consider was a vocalist having to cover the wide range and spectrum, from ELP and Crimson to YES and Rush. It wasn’t until we got into rehearsals that Michael basically said Rush was out of the question and YES was questionable, at best. And again, that’s not on Michael, that’s on me. Anyway, I went back to the drawing board and redid the Rush medley, which originally had vocals in it, and made it an instrumental, and when it came to YES, we got by, but it wasn’t as comfortable as when we did something like “Have A Cigar”–Michael nailed that! That being said, once we were up and running and out there on tour, Saga seemed to be getting some new attention and before long, Michael was letting me know that Saga offers were coming in, though we’d try and juggle to make both work. But, within the first one or two times of trying to book shows, it was a problem, and I did not want to sacrifice one for the other, nor did he.
So, it was time think about another singer/frontman, and one with a range that could preferably cover all the prog that I want to play, which is not an easy shoe to fit. I tried a modified lineup last year for some shows, but that also didn’t work very well, because even with technology, you can’t fake YES, or Rush, or Peter Gabriel. Instrumentally, the band was smokin,’ but vocally, it was still lacking.
I began thinking about which singers out there have that kind of range, and that I’d want to work with. One of the first names that popped into my head was Bob Harris, who used to work with Frank Zappa. If you listen to him on the Tinsel Town Rebellion record, you’ll know why he’s one of my favorites; there’s nothing he cannot sing. I got in touch with Bob, who kindly declined the offer due to not wanting to tour/travel much anymore, but he loved the concept of ProgJect and immediately recommended Alessandro. I wasn’t familiar with Ale`, but Bob raved about him and basically said that Alessandro had the range to cover everything, and, that he was a wonderful person to hang and work with. While Bob and I were speaking, I was searching Alessandro on the Internet, and was immediately into the idea of working with him; not only can he sing everything that is in our repertoire, and he’s a serious keyboardist, but he really knows music–he produced for Frontiers Records, he writes, records and mixes, and has worked with many of the same people I have and know, like Steve Lukather, Tony Franklin, Joe Lynn Turner, Doug Aldrich, James LaBrie, Carmine Appice, Rudy Sarzo...and everyone loves him. Anyway, Bob said he would reach out to Alessandro and get back to me…and within a few hours, Ale` and I were communicating and sealing the deal.
I must add that there was no audition for Ale`, but I did send him about a dozen song snippets for him to sing to, just so I could hear his vocal style and personality, which could influence my choice of songs and/or the medleys that I piece together. I uploaded a folder, and he messaged me back that he would send some examples as soon as he had some spare time in the studio. Before I knew it, I had an email back with a full folder of tunes. He sang every one of them, from Rush and YES, to U.K., Kansas, and Crimson, all in full voice, and absolutely crushed them!
So, I found the impossible–one person that can sing everything!

PP: How was it to choose from a more than fifty years repertoire? Were only the seventies considered?
JM: On one hand it was easy, because I do have favorites that I’ve always wanted to play, but on the other hand, it was difficult, because I have a lot of favorites. If it was up to me, we’d play a five-hour show, and that still wouldn’t cover enough! The great thing about this outfit is that there isn’t anything we cannot play, and there isn’t anything that someone doesn’t want to play. As for the time-period, it’s late ‘60s – mid ‘70s at the moment, but with each year and tour, we’re expanding without losing the general concept of ProgJect, which is paying homage to the bands and material that influenced us the most. So, eventually we just might tackle some 90125 and some Duke, and Discipline, and who knows, maybe even some Love Beach…did I say that? Actually, I could see us whipping up a bit of “Canario.”

PP: Was the set-list a band decision or a founder suggestion? And do you have variations from time to time even with the difficulties, learning and playing, it might involve?
JM: So far, the setlist has all been me, and no one has complained. On the contrary, everyone seems to love the choices and the challenges. And that is not a constitutional dictatorship, it’s just that I was the one with the initial idea and spent the time in Pro Tools editing and making the medleys. And yes, it varies quite a bit, but it is not difficult at all. Each tour has what we refer to as ‘the staples’ of the set–the songs that we love to play and the audience loves to hear from the “big four” - Genesis, YES, Crimson and ELP, and the rest is mix of material from other artists, such as Gentle Giant, U.K., Bruford, Rush, Floyd, Tull, Gabriel, etc., as well as other material from the big four. For example, with YES, we have “Siberian Khatru,” “Roundabout,” “Long Distance Runaround,” “Perpetual Change,” “Gates of Delirium” and “Heart of the Sunrise” to choose to play and/or mix and match. For Genesis, it is “Dance on a Volcano,” “Los Endos,” “Squonk,” “Firth of Fifth,” Cinema Show,” “The Lamb,” “Back In NYC.” For Crimson, “Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, Pts I & II,” “One More Red Nightmare,” “Pictures of a City,” “21st Century Schizoid Man” ... So, it is a different setlist every time we go out, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of all we want to play. The only difficult thing is deciding what we want to play. Like I said, we could do a five-hour show and still have leftovers.

PP: Talking about difficulties, what are some of the songs that you guys find the hardest either to learn or to perform?
JM: Honestly, so far, nothing has been difficult to play, only to sing, as I mentioned. If anything, I think the difficulty is learning, or I should say, unlearning and re-learning a song that for the past fifty years, you knew it one way, and now, due to me changing up some parts or editing together some complex medleys, there’s a lot to purposely forget and learn all over again. I’ve yet to come in with anything too difficult for anyone to tackle and nail. And that, in and of itself, is truly wonderful for me, because having the desire to play all this material is not the same as being able to pull it off. Now, I say that two weeks prior to starting rehearsals for this next tour and there are some new tunes in there that are pretty challenging, so we’ll see if I end up eating my words!

PP: All those songs are surely among your favorites. But do you folks have a few that you especially like to play together?
JM: What I hear from the guys is that everyone loves the entire set, but I think it’s safe to say that the band favorites are “Firth of Fifth”, “Cinema Show” and “The Lamb” [Genesis]; “Siberian Khatru” and “Perpetual Change” [YES]; “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression Pts. I & II” [ELP]; “In the Dead of Night” [U.K.]; and “Lark’s Tongues in Aspic, Pts I & II” [Crimson]. And for sure, the “Bruford Medley” [Bruford]–everyone loves playing that, and agrees it is probably the most challenging, and is certainly very rewarding. That’s one of the reasons I make the medleys; there just isn’t enough time to play five of my favorite Bruford songs [Hell’s Bells, Abingdon Chasp, Age of Information, Sahara of Snow, Land’s End], so I sliced and diced them up, and fit them together to make one piece to cover them all.
Having said that, I just now took a peek at the Tour ’24 setlist and there is some new material that I cannot wait to play. Without naming songs, Gentle Giant and Rush are really going to be fun this next time out.

PP: Do you take liberties, solos or jams, with some songs or are you faithful in your renditions?
JM: I personally do not take a solo, even though I am being asked to all the time. As far as I am concerned, I play enough in all the tunes we’re doing and am happy with that. As for the others, it is a mix of liberty and integrity. If there is a solo that is more along the lines of a melody that is an integral part of the song, then we’ll stick to it. For example, the guitar solo in “Karn Evil 9” is such a memorable part of the song, Keneally nails it note-for-note, whereas in, “Perpetual Change” or “21st Century Schizoid Man”, it is liberty–Keneally’s choice to do as he wishes. Same for Ryo; everyone knows and loves Tony Banks’ solo in “Slippermen,” so Ryo delivers it, but in a song such as “Money” [Pink Floyd], it’s all Ryo. And yes, we do have some extended jams that feature Mike and Ryo, and will also include Ale`, now that he is onboard.
As for the arrangements, it is mostly sticking to the framework of the originals, but we do throw in our ‘take’ here and there and do them our way. It can be something as simple as a rhythmic part that we all play together, which was originally played by only one instrument, or we might rearrange voicings and have a different instrument play a part that was previously played by something else, or rework a particular groove to fit the instrumentation, which may not be exactly the same as what was originally recorded. There are lots of surprises in there for the audience–musicians and fans alike.
But, unlike a ‘tribute’ band, we don’t dress like another artist, or replicate the equipment of another artist, or aspire to play exactly like another artist; we’re a ‘tribute to a genre’, which is more along the lines of what I said earlier–paying homage and tipping our hats to the prog giants that we all grew up listening to, were inspired by, and wanted to be like.

PP: You are obviously a great prog fan. Do you still discover new prog music? From the past or nowadays?
JM: Well, I think it depends on the definition and meaning of “prog” nowadays, which for me, I believe is different than most. “Progressive” to most means new(er) bands that are playing like and sounding like the prog from the past. Personally, I don’t see the point of listening to a new artist that is trying to sound like Genesis, or U.K., or Gentle Giant, when I can just listen to Genesis, U.K. and Gentle Giant, and nothing beats the original.
To me, “progressive” has nothing to do with hearing lots of keyboards or playing a song with a different time-signatures and a dozen parts in it; “progressive” means breaking boundaries, trying new things, sounding different, and stretching the limits. In my opinion, Jane’s Addiction is true prog in the more modern sense, they really broke rules and boundaries and stretched limits; that to me is the meaning of progressive. I love them. And I love Nik Bartsch’s Ronin, from Switzerland–talk about progressive and innovative, Nik and his band(s) are amazing; no one sounds like them, and vice versa.
That being said, I can’t say that I’ve discovered much new in prog from nowadays, but I certainly have rediscovered lots of things from the past, due to going back and listening all over again from a different perspective–breaking down the songs in my head and imagining how we’re going to cover them and who’s going to play what, has me listening in a way that I hadn’t before. It is fresh and exciting to me all over again and I’m really loving it.
Also, I do enjoy a lot of the newly (re)released old, classic records that have all the extra cuts on them. First you bought the record, which had ten tracks on it. Then ten years later you bought the CD version, which had the same ten tracks, and another one or two tracks, which were usually a single/radio edit and/or a ‘B’ side. Now, you get the original ten tracks, the singes and the ‘B’ sides, and another entire record’s worth of extra cuts, outtakes, and alternate takes. I much prefer all of that to most of the music of recent years.

PP: The two last questions won’t be easy on you I guess. First, can you make a top ten album. I will be nice, only in prog music!
JM: If you mean a top-ten list of “prog” records, here goes, and not in any particular order, other than what pops into my headfirst, and excluding live records, Beatles and Zappa.
1. U.K. – U.K.
2. Smallcreep’s Day – Mike Rutherford
3. Wind And Wuthering – Genesis
4. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - Genesis
5. Brain Salad Surgery – ELP
6. Close To the Edge – YES
7. The Power and The Glory – Gentle Giant
8. A – Jethro Tull
9. Red – King Crimson
10. One Of a Kind – Bruford
Okay, I have to include some live albums too, because not only are they incredible examples of some of the best prog ever, but also, as I said earlier, they’re performed by musicians that can actually play their instruments!
1. Playing The Fool – Gentle Giant
2. Seconds Out – Genesis
3. Bursting Out – Jethro Tull
4. Yessongs – YES
5. Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal – King Crimson
And, as mentioned, the two Jane’s records Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual De Lo Habitual, and Nik Bartsch’s Ronin Llyria, to start with.

PP: Second, with such a band we would love to hear music created from your heart and soul. Have you talked about it or gave it a thought?
JM: You’re not the first to ask that question! Anything is possible. Speaking for myself, I have a lot of ideas and material that would be great for ProgJect, and I’d love to collaborate with the guys, but it would have to be in a way that did not detract or distract from what ProgJect is about, which is paying homage to our favorite classic prog artists and music. If the right opportunity presents itself to possibly begin with a tune, see where it goes, play it live and receive positive feedback, then sure... But remember, with a band that has five guys in it, that have all written, arranged and recorded their own music, and produced and mixed their own records… I’ll just leave it at that!

PP: Jonathan, thank you very much for the music you will offer us in Québec city on June 22nd and in Montréal on June 26. The last words are for you.
JM: Just to say thank you, not only for the opportunity to talk about and present ProgJect, but also for the support, which allows myself and the others to embrace and enjoy this platform to perform and pay our respects to the music we love, and the amazing musicians that wrote and performed it first. Thank you!

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