Kinetic Element is a neo/symphonic progressive rock band from Richmond, Virginia that harbors musical roots in classic artists like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Asia and Genesis and blends those influences with philosophical and spiritually powerful and uplifting lyrics. They are a known act in the prog rock genre.
Kinetic Element was formed to perform the music of Mike Visaggio’s solo CD, “Starship Universe” which was released in 2006 after Mike was selected to perform at the 2006 Pop Montreal festival. Since then they have assembled a repertoire of that entire CD, plus selected classic prog and classic rock covers and their new prog pieces they have put together since they formed which comprise “Powered By Light” (2009) and their new CD entitled “Travelog.”The cover art for both CDs was executed by the very talented Martin Kornick. “Powered by Light” was nominated for Best Debut CD of 2009 by The Prog Awards, which was at that time an Italian reviews website. They were signed to Melodic Revolution Records at ROSfest 2013.
The band is comprised of Mike Visaggio (keyboards); Michael Murray (drums), Peter Matuchniak (electric and acoustic guitar) and Mark Tupko (basses). In May 2008 the original incarnation of KE was privileged to be a support act for Circa (featuring Tony Kaye and Alan White of Yes, at Jaxx in northern Virginia), Rare Blend (at Orion Studios in Baltimore, Maryland one of prog’s must-play venues), and IZZ (who have played every prog festival in America, at the Artomatic festival in Washington, D.C.) In 2009, KE’s Powered by Light lineup supported Morglbl (at Capital Ale House Music Hall in Richmond VA) and in 2010, with Edensong (at Orion again). Kinetic Element opened the nation’s longest running prog rock festival, Prog Day, at the Pre-Show on August 29, 2008, with Speechless and again on Sept. 3, 2010, with Jack Dupon. They played The Magic Room in Boston in November 2011 as a headliner, with support acts Eccentric Orbit and Resistor. They were invited to play the first Ohio Prog festival to be held in September 2012 before the festival was unfortunately canceled. In 2015 KE has headlined at Orion Studios again (May 29) with support band Brave, and supported Lo-Fi Resistance at New Jersey Proghouse (June 6). Kinetic Element was featured in Progression Magazine #59.
Kinetic Element appeared as the opening band at the Friday night show of ROSfest 2016, and as the Sunday opener at Terra Incognita 2016. They also appeared as the Sunday opening band at Progtoberfest 2017.
The band has recorded their second album, titled Travelog. It was released on June 1, 2015. Vocals were recorded by guests Dimetrius LaFavors of Odin’s Court, Michelle Schrotz of Brave, and solo artist Mike Florio. They engaged the profligate talent of the two gentlemen at the heart of symphonic prog legends Glass Hammer, Fred Schendel and Steve Babb, to mix the new CD at their Sound Resources studio in Chattanooga, TN.
MEET THE BAND:
MIKE VISAGGIO (keyboards and vocals): Mike is the founder of Kinetic Element and has been involved in music since 1962, playing in a number of New York City cover bands, progressive rock groups Randori (early ‘70s), Innervision .(early ‘80s) and recording several albums with noted singer-songwriter Billy Falcon’s Burning Rose in the years 1977-1981 and the Richmond’s legendary Strokers in the early 2000s. The veteran keyboardist began his first foray back into the realm of progressive music, after a long hiatus, with a spiritually tinged neo-symphonic solo CD called STARSHIP UNIVERSE in 2006, which served to introduce him to the prog rock community. A spiritual Christian, Mike believes the overall tone of the disc is one of hope and enlightenment. That sentiment carried over into the POWERED BY LIGHT project, a symphonic progressive rock album which musically reflects Hammond B3 organ and synthesizer giants like Keith Emerson and Tony Kaye as well as Rick Wakeman and Geoff Downes. His sensibility to the individual rights of man as the basis of liberty inspired the TRAVELOG album. Mike was also heavily influenced by the pop and rock of his youth citing Felix Cavaliere (Young Rascals), Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge), Steve Winwood (Traffic, Blind Faith) and Lee Michaels as essential touchstones.
MICHAEL MURRAY (drums and backing vocals): Michael received his initial impetus to pursue the drums from his father who also is a drummer. He began playing in the 6th grade and has not looked back since. He has been a mainstay for three decades on the Richmond, Virginia music scene having performed in a number of blues, classic rock, country and southern rock cover bands. He is a big fan of classic bands like Rush, Heart, Yes, Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers but also follows the modern progressive and jam scene with Dave Matthews Band, Govt. Mule and Spocks Beard topping his list. Yearning to play more intellectually stimulating music, Michael performed on Mike Visaggio’s solo project, and in 2006 joined Mike to form Kinetic Element. He is credited with coming up with the band’s name, and performed recording engineer duties as KE recorded its new material.
PETER MATUCHNIAK (guitar): Peter grew up listening to a variety of music, but it was the early Genesis albums that captured his imagination. He began teaching himself guitar, mostly under the influence of Steve Hackett, Andy Latimer (Camel), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Mike Oldfield, but ultimately forming his own unique style. While still at school, Peter released cassette albums with London-based Janysium and Mach One that became associated with the British neo-prog movement in the early 1980s and subsequently sold copies in the thousands. During his travels to India he wrote and recorded commercial jingles for national TV (1987), before moving to California where he released several CDs since 2008 with Evolve IV (2007 & 2008), Gekko Project (2009 & 2015) and Bomber Goggles (2018), as well as two solo albums and a live DVD & Digital Video (2012 & 2015). Peter has also recorded sessions for Marco Ragni, Transportinae and Psychic for Radio (2012 & 2017). In 2016 he was asked to form a tribute band to “Early Steve Hackett” called The Steppes, with musicians well-known to the L.A. prog community (Randy George, Jonathan Sinfelman, Scott Connor and Pamela George) that received rave reviews from Hackett’s original touring band. Peter was contacted by KE keyboardist Mike Visaggio after KE’s guitarist decided to leave the band late in 2017, and his work trying his skills and sensibilities on one of their new pieces convinced KE members to ask him to get involved with their ongoing project. Peter became part of the KE family in early February 2018 and will be on their forthcoming CD The Face of Life. KE is happy to have a genuine British prog-rock guitarist involved with them.
MARK TUPKO (bass): Mark joined Kinetic Element as of May 2014 as the band continued work on its latest CD release. Born in Poland, Mark has demonstrated some serious bass chops and prog rock sensibility in spite of not having played prog since before coming to America. Still active in Richmond classic rock band Crush, it is plain he is comfortable in many styles of music. He, like Michael Murray, joined Kinetic Element to play something more challenging. KE is enjoying a promising creative relationship with its new bottom dweller.
SAINT JOHN COLEMAN (lead vocals): Kinetic Element’s kilt-wearing newest member has pleasantly surprised them in his second attempt to join the band (the first was in 2013), and the guys are pretty excited that it looks like in 2016 this is going to work. In the wilds of the Bronx, NY train yards lived a boy. By the wits developed running from wild rats and dogs, all sorts of riff raff and later the police, little Johnny was discovered to have a voice quite like that of Geddy Lee – After singing for a string of RUSH cover bands, John studied with Katie Agresta, New York’s premier vocal instructor, to broaden his vocal abilities to their current range and refine his technique. Currently also performing with stadium rock tribute DEJA, he is now happy to be singing with Kinetic Element. John hates pants.
GUEST VOCALISTS FOR THE TRAVELOG ALBUM WERE: DIMETRIUS LAFAVORS, MICHELLE SCHROTZ, MIKE FLORIO. KE decided to upgrade its singing component and recruited Odin’s Court front man Dimetrius to sing on Travelog. He was unable to continue after recording three pieces, and Michelle (lead singer of Brave and While Heaven Wept) and Mike Florio (Mass Dream project) have completed the vocal work on the CD. All are excellent and on concert dates, Michelle and Mike Florio will be handling the vocals. The band is now in the process of working a new album, no release date at the moment.
No longer with the band, but a person who contributed mightily from 2008 to 2017.
TODD RUSSELL (guitar): Todd is a classically trained musician from the Richmond area who joined Kinetic Element in November 2008. He is a big fan of Steve Howe of Yes along with many seminal ‘70s era bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The versatile guitarist is comfortable in a solo setting (as his unaccompanied composition “Meditation” on Powered by Light will attest) or can lay down some soul-stirring electric lead lines that will enrapture your senses as well. Todd has his Ph.D. in music and was part of the bedrock composers in the Kinetic Element family. He and Mike Visaggio collaborated on the material for KE’s Travelog CD which takes its name from the title of one of his pieces. Todd departed on Oct. 29, 2017, due to irreconcilable musical differences.
St. John Coleman: Vocals
Mike Visaggio: Keyboards & Vocals
Mark Tupko: Bass
Michael Murray: Drums & Backing Vocals
Peter Matuchniak: Guitar