Greensboro, North Carolina.
Your earliest prog memory?
My dad was deep into prog so there were always records around the house – King Crimson’s Discipline, Gentle Giant, Peter Gabriel – and the covers made a real impression. Dad never pushed prog on me, but it was just kinda destined.
First prog record you bought?
Dream Theater’s Scenes From A Memory was my first, full-on “I’m buying a prog record!” record. Got it in Pittsburgh.
First prog gig attended?
Dream Theater really were the big gateway band for me. I saw them on their Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence tour . I think it was in Cleveland.
I keep a mini two-octave keyboard in my backpack at all times, along with a book of manuscript paper and a pencil!
Any guilty musical pleasures?
I do own Alicia Keys’ first album, Songs In A Minor. I really thought there was something there, but she peaked on that record.
What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?
Baseball. I’ve been a diehard Cleveland Indians fan since I was six years old.
Your biggest prog extravagance?
I do still buy a lot of records every year, mainly on CD but vinyl too. And I bought a house last year – does that count?
Your all-time prog hero?
Bass-wise it’s Tony Levin, but Robert Fripp too. I finally got to see King Crimson lately and it felt like a masterclass, a college course.
Favourite prog venue?
There’s a mountain town in North Carolina called Asheville, home of the Moog synthesiser, and there’s a venue there called The Orange Peel, which is a really cool room, great vibe. The Fox Theatre in Atlanta is another good one.
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Outside of prog, what else are you into?
Cooking. I’ve been a vegan since I was 15, and you have to learn to get creative. My speciality? How about some collard greens, barbecued jackfruit, and maybe some mac and cheese…
What do you collect?
Just records, I have thousands of records. I think I might have a bit of a problem with that.
What was the last prog album you bought?
John Zorn’s Naked City, on vinyl. It’s a cool statement. John’s all about trying to turn jazz people on their heads.
Last prog gig you saw?
The Zombies on their 50th-anniversary tour of Odessey And Oracle, in the Carolina Theatre in Durham. Tell you what, they were incredible. Great harmonies, a mellotron and Leslie speaker on stage – awesome.
Ever had a prog date?
The Zombies was a date night! Thankfully my girlfriend celebrates progressive music. She’s heard a lot of weird shit come out of the speakers…
Most important prog song?
I can still put on Dream Theater’s Change Of Seasons and get something out of it. It’s a great lesson for how to make a long song not feel so long.
Prog muso you’d like to work with?
I’ve been influenced by Danny Elfman, so that would be fun. But it’d be cool to do something with Casey [Crescenzo] from The Dear Hunter.
What’s the best prog gig you’ve ever seen?
Last summer we played Be Prog! My Friend in Barcelona and I got to see Magma. They played right after us and they fucking blew me away – it was so goddamn cool. Then Opeth and Steven Wilson played. It was such a great night.
Pick us a good proggy read.
I keep David Byrne’s How Music Works on me – it’s a great reference; he’s a great writer. Catching The Big Fish by David Lynch was the last thing I read, an extraordinary book about creativity.
Which prog album always gets you in a good mood?
I can put on Zappa’s live In New York, or Roxy & Elsewhere. I love the live Zappa records – you get that comic sarcasm and the insane musical brilliance. I always get happy and silly when Zappa’s on.
Your all-time favourite prog album cover?
I know people always go for In The Court Of The Crimson King, but I have it blown up four feet square on my office wall, right next to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
What else are you up to at the moment?
Coma Ecliptic: Live came out in April, my Nova Collective album’s out [The Further Side] and we’ve been working on the live version of that. But BTBAM go into the studio in July to record the new record, so I’ve mainly been writing music, maniacally!
You can keep up with Dan’s various projects on Twitter: @danbriggsx.