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Progressive Rock Interviews

Mike Visaggio

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Mike Visaggio from 2009
MSJ: It’s been a year or so since we did an interview. What’s been new in your world?
Let's see, Kinetic Element lost our founding member bassist Matt Harris in June 2008, right after we were invited to play the ProgDay Pre-Show gig in Chapel Hill NC. In a panic, not wanting to cancel, I asked my friend Tony D'Amato if he wanted to give it hell and fill in on bass, knowing he'd always wanted to play in a prog band. So he blitzed the material in one month and on August 29 we played the Preshow and got a standing ovation (such as you can get one from 51 paying customers). Right after that Todd Russel, a great local guitarist whom we had never met, found us, asked for an audition and impressed us mightily, and we became a quartet. After a few months of practice we played out several local shows and thanks to the financial backing of our executive producer Bill DiLiberto of New York, entered Sound of Music Studio on May 21 of this year, and recorded Powered by Light in its entirety. We were blessed to have Martin Kornick do the artwork (he has done Keith Emerson, The Tangent, Ajalon and Pinnacle to name a few) and he conceived a marvelous CD cover. And our friend Frank Stickle brought us a Mellotron to use in recording, so we have definitely moved away from the ELP mode and towards the Yes mode. Now the CD is up on CD Baby and we've sold about 50, and Synphonic just picked us up for distribution. Now Tony D. has left us and we're working in a new bassist, canceling a couple of good shows, including having to cancel Orion Studios in Baltimore which absolutely stinks, because we played there last year as a trio and loved it. And we're losing lots of money. Isn't prog great?
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
I'd still be an over-the-road truck driver, which I did for 14 years. Now I drive a very short regional area that lets me be with my wife and have band practice. 
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why? 
Hmmm, my arch-nemesis....I guess it would be somebody like Gene Simmons, a destructo type of musician. That's a heck of a question because for all I know Gene may be a great guy.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it?
Well it would of course be a prog band. So it would have a bunch of my heroes in it. In fact they would all be from the same band: Yes. I make no bones about it, I love them like I can't describe, no matter what kind of guys they are or what internal problems they may have had. Anderson, Howe, Squire, Wakeman, White ... How can you do better than that?
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing?
I would put an all-symphonic show together because I just can't get down with this experimental stuff I keep hearing. Well, I'd have some jazz/fusion guys in it too. Lets see now, Friday night would be Izz with Genesis; Saturday would be Focus, Niacin, Return to Forever and ELP; Sunday would be Kinetic Element (so we could say we played a festival before we died), Le Orme, PFM and Yes.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately? 
I got a few CDs at this past Progday, including two from a South Carolina band called Farpoint that I really like.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
What a surprise: it was the Yes/Asia tour when it stopped in Richmond on August 22nd.
MSJ: What’s been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I don't know that I have had any except for some of the colossal blunders I have committed onstage that nobody in the audience heard somehow!
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?  
We would like you to buy our album Powered by Light? I could talk politics or spiritual matters if you like. But I just hope the cards fall into place with the release of this CD. It's really well-produced by John Morand, a great local producer in Richmond, and it really does take you on a spiritual journey of the heart. Plus the customers have given us wonderful feedback about it. As I keep saying, prog crosses all the ethnic and age group lines. The young interns at Sound of Music were blown away by it, the engineers were relieved to not have to do another hip-hop record, and if we play out we expect to have a rush of young women hit us up, whom we will dutifully turn away out of loyalty to our wives.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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