My Prog Hero: Richard Shaw

“Mike Portnoy’s the guy who got me into prog. I was always massively into Queen, Metallica and Iron Maiden, but it wasn’t until I discovered Dream Theater that I went down the whole prog route and realised how massive the spectrum is.

I first got into them when a friend of mine had a spare ticket, and I spent the whole gig in the front row, right in front of John Petrucci. I still have the guitar pick he passed to me from their 2004 tour. As much as I was transfixed by Petrucci as a guitar player, I couldn’t help but watch Portnoy and the aura he gave off – there was something utterly magnetic about his performance. As soon as I got home I started buying his records and reading interviews with him, and he was always very vocal about bands that he was into. He talks about who’s influenced him and new bands that he’s into – Haken, Leprous, Periphery – I discovered them all through Portnoy. He’s a spokesman for prog, and to this day I still follow him avidly.

I even ended up watching Avenged Sevenfold because Portnoy was playing with them, and I was blown away. To me, the guy can do no wrong musically. I actually met him once, but ended up having a go at him. I didn’t mean to, but I went to see Dream Theater on the Progressive Nation Tour in 2009, and they had a meet and greet that clashed with a Bigelf set. I had a little bit of a go at him as it would’ve been my first time seeing them, and I was gutted to miss them. He was totally cool about it though…

It’s interesting, because although Cradle Of Filth aren’t a prog band by any means, quite a lot of the guys are big prog fans – when I first met them, they all had Rush T-shirts on! We’re about to release the first album I’ve been involved in the writing of, and there are a lot of progressive moments in there – harmonies, odd time signatures and so much more that we’re sneaking into what is essentially a straight-up metal album. Watch this space!”

Cradle of Filth’s new album Hammer of the Witches is out on Nuclear Blast on July 10 2015. Visit for more information.