Taylor Hawkins: My Prog Heroes

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“I got into prog when I started drumming. I must have been 10 or 11, and the first band I heard were Rush. It was the live album Exit…Stage Left [1981]. I picked up so much from listening to Neil Peart.

“In fact, I got the chance to play with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson when I was in Toronto not that long ago. The guy who produces us, Nick Raskulinecz, also worked with Rush on their Snakes & Arrows album, and he called them up and arranged it all. You can imagine how nervous I was, but I got through YYZ with them. Even though they told me I was playing too fast! The nerves I was going through; here I was replacing Neil Peart in Rush – well, almost!

“It was thanks to Rush that I got into Genesis. After listening to Neil, I bought the Seconds Out live album, which was released in 1977. It’s just amazing. Not only hearing Phil Collins playing the drums, but also singing. He gets a really bad rap from some people for ‘daring’ to take over after Peter Gabriel quit, but you just hear the way he sounds here. The beauty of this album is that it’s got songs from …Trick Of The Tail, the first album Genesis did without Gabriel.

“Collins is an incredible drummer. Anyone who wants to be good on the drums should check him out – the man is a master.

“While I regard Phil Collins in Genesis – as opposed to his solo stuff – as a genuine prog hero, I must make mention of a few others. Where would prog have been without the Beatles? The Sgt. Pepper album is perhaps the first really progressive album. That started it all, as far as I’m concerned. And how can you not also worship the Queen II record? Also, one other band worth a mention are The Police. I know they’re regarded as a pop band. But you listen to the level of musicianship they invoked – how brilliant were they? This was a band who could do it all, and made the concept of musicianship so cool. They had an influence on so many others – after all, would Rush have attempted something like …Spirit Of Radio with the reggae part were it not for The Police?

”That I think is the beauty of great progressive music – it can take you anywhere. The likes of Rush and Genesis – and also Yes, The Who – was that they weren’t prepared to be pigeon-holed. The music world was their oyster and they’d be ready to take on any challenge. The great thing about us as prog fans is that we always accepted their right to explore!”