Just wanted to let you know when we told you we were “changing the way we operate” we meant it.  Having TWO guitarists for our live shows (Pat Kliesch being in Los Angeles and unable to play live dates) became necessary and we didn’t look far.  One simple advertisement and in comes Bryan Zeigler, 3RDegree’s new lead guitarist.  On recordings (and possibly even live from time to time) the 2 man guitarist spot will be a “platoon” like the New York Yankees outfield or something like that.  I (band founder Robert James Pashman) figured you might want to know a bit about “the new guy” so here goes:

RJP: What made you answer the advert for playing guitar with 3RDegree? Had you any knowledge of them? What's your impression of the band?

BRYAN: I’d been looking for a band to join for a while, and once a week or so would head over to Craigslist and run a search for “Prog” and “Progressive” and “Porcupine”, all of the good “P” words. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, just something impressive musically, yet song oriented. When I found the 3rDegree ad, it seemed to hit home. It said the position required chops, but that the song came first. I wasn’t familiar with the band, but as soon as I got the link and started checking out their material I knew it was something I wanted to do.

The music was really interesting and complex, yet there were melodies and hooks galore. I think good music makes you sing along with not only the lyrics but the lead lines, and 3rDegree has that. The songwriting styles of the various writers in the band made the music diverse enough to keep my interest, yet it all hung together well and sounded cohesive due to the arrangements. And dare I say it had a message I could get behind, which is rare enough in contemporary music.

RJP: What's your history in live and recorded music (how long, what sort of situations, etc.)?

BRYAN: I’ve been in a lot of projects over the years, from glam metal to a Pink Floyd tribute to being the musical director for an improvisational theater group. I’ve also been co-writing and recording an album with my wife over the past few years, under the name Dark Beauty. We call that classically influenced gothic alternative progressive rock, and it mixes her operatic vocals with some darker somewhat proggy at times music.

The one through line in my musical career though, ever since the early 90’s has been playing “gangsta prog.” Though the name of the project has changed, from ESP to Electric Sheepdog to Progressive Dementia to the Ass Orbiters, I’ve spent much of the last twenty years playing eclectic pseudo-progressive rock, with angry lyrics about stupid topics.

“They’re angry about really stupid things” went one tag line. The lyrics were about cameltoe or water heaters, or how cruel it is to yank baby carrots away from their parents. All the while, we fought the tag of being a “joke band”, as we put a lot of time and effort into mixing genres, time signatures and offensive concepts well. We tried to evoke the spirit of Zappa, Mister Bungle and They Might Be Giants, without really sounding like any of them. Somehow, this never made me a lot of money, but I’ve played hundreds of shows, and recorded half a dozen albums worth of this type of material.

Playing in all these different genres over the years though really helped me adapt to the myriad of styles in a 3rDegree song, much less the whole show.

3. Where you from? Where you been?

BRYAN: I’m from Salisbury, Maryland, via a decade in Pittsburgh. I’ve been on quite a long strange trip as it were, generally making job and career decisions that let me make music as much as possible. I’ve dropped out of engineering school, worked as a fast food manager, run live sound, been a produce buyer, delivered pizzas, dj’d weddings, managed a rock club, bartended, did Y2K remediation, worked in HR and payroll, and managed a dot-com. By the time I was in my early thirties though the starving artist thing was getting a little grating, so I went to law school and now work for a corporation that happily gives me days off for studio time, but doesn’t quite understand what style of music I play anyway.

RJP: How's it going being in 3RDegree? How's it working out with three guitarists?

BRYAN: So far things have been going quite well. Check back with me after we start playing shows of course, but the environment has been quite supportive. I was worried a little, being the new guy in a group that has been together for a while, but I felt welcome from the beginning. I’m something of a stage junkie, and I always have to temper a desire to be on stage RIGHT NOW, but things have come a long way in the few months we’ve been working together. We’ve begun the transition from a bunch of guys covering their own songs into a real band sound, and it’s exciting.

The situation with three guitarists has worked out as well as it possibly could. Pat has been incredibly helpful in helping me learn the voicings of various parts. My cries of “what the hell is he playing there?” have not gone unanswered. Eric has been fantastic too, and what helps a lot there is we’re both focused on the song and the show, rather than gratifying anything in particular. With more than one guitarist, things can get “territorial”, but I haven’t felt any of that. It’s all about the songs, and beyond that the show. As it should be.

RJP: Do you share the band's love of beer?

BRYAN: Yes. IPA’s are my first love, and I’m far from a Budweiser drinker, but I think I’ve learned as much about beer as about music in the band!

RJP: Favorite 5 or 10 non-prog albums

        Favorite 5 or 10 prog albums

This is a tough one, as a lot of what I listed to straddles the line between what’s “prog” and what isn’t. I don’t know whether Steely Dan or The Tubes or 80’s Yes are prog, so I’ll just lump them together, and you can categorize them as you will.

Yes – The Yes Album, Drama and 90125.

Spock’s Beard – Spock’s Beard

Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

King Crimson – Thrak

The Tubes – What Do You Want From Live

Steely Dan – Aja

Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime

Toy Matinee – Toy Matinee

King Diamond – Abigail

Casiopea – Main Gate and Inspire

Metheny Mehldau – Quartet

The Residents – Third Reich 'n Roll

Bowling For Soup - A Hangover You Don't Deserve

Foo Fighters – Greatest Hits (Cheating I know, shut up)

Psychostick – We Couldn’t Think of a Title

Mr. Bungle – Disco Volante