My Prog Hero: Luke Illingworth

“I found out about Mike Portnoy about 10 or 11 years ago when a friend of mine played me Dream Theater’s A Change Of Seasons on DVD.

It blew my mind that a song could last for half an hour and I just listened to it over and over before I found out that this was actually a genre of music. That’s how I started out drumming really, trying to work out how to play that song! Mike’s playing made me realise there was so much other stuff you could do on the kit, rather than just a standard rock beat.

I’ve got a lot of Dream Theater’s live DVDs from when Mike was still in the band and I really like the way they had the multiple camera angles. I would practise by watching the Portnoy-cam and from footage I found on YouTube. I’ve never seen him play live but I have been to some of his drum clinics and watching him play in person there was amazing!

He seems like a cool, laid-back guy and just watching him is enough for me to get inspired. I’m blown away by his playing – there’s a lot of melody in it and you can tell he really thinks about what note he’s going to play. I know he’s got about 50-odd symbols and however many drums, but it’s never just him going: ‘Look how good I am!’

When I was at college, I drummed in a Dream Theater tribute band called Nightmare Cinema – we all loved Dream Theater so we thought: ‘Why not play their songs?’ We used to play the simpler ones like Another Day or Pull Me Under but they were still hard – they don’t let up and that’s what got me more into grooves rather than the hard-hitting stuff I grew up with.

Eventually, I want to have the most ridiculous kit like Portnoy’s! I’ve got this idea of having gongs, chimes, percussion – I want to make a hybrid kit on a remote-controlled riser with electronic pads… but at the moment, I just have two cymbals because I can’t afford anything else!”

Fearless Vampire Killers’ new album Unbreakable Hearts is out now on Goremount Records.

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Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.