"I suppose seeing pictures of me at 2 1/2 years old holding a guitar like I'd been playing for years, I should have known that music was my destiny."
From the age of 14, he always felt best when on stage performing at local clubs. "I'd pay the other busboys to close for me so that I could play bass in the lounge for tips."
At 18, Michael had a band in Prescott, Arizona called "Shogun." With Whitfield Mercer III on bass, and Mike Loomis on drums, they tore it up at the St. Michael's Underground as the house band for several months. Note the customized guitar and hand-built light show, or as they called it back then, "color organ."
"The old days (70s and 80s) created the best music ever. It is timeless. That's why they put it in GuitarHero, RockBand, and on half of the TV commercials."
The '80s was a big influence on Michael, and bands such as Styx, Toto, and Nightranger had a power rock sound requiring several band members. The band "SEAL" was the rock/progressive rock band of the 80s in Phoenix. It consisted of Dave Froehlich on drums, Earnie Reed on bass, Dave "Doc" Dixon on keyboards, Christine Aquilino on vocals, Russ Graves on guitar, and Michael on guitar, synths, and vocals. Christine's brother Jon Aquilino was in the Schoolboys, and IKON, which along with Surgical Steel, were the "hair metal" bands of Phoenix.
Michael started with harmonica at age 8, guitar and choir at age 9, bass at 13, drums at 14, and keyboards at 20. His mixed-use of live synthesizers with guitar adds a fullness that one is used to hearing from 5 and 6 piece bands, not trios.
"Element 115 really takes advantage of the multi-instrument talents of all its members."
In 2007 and 2008, the band was the center of attention at the Roswell UFO Festivals.
With a degree in Computer Science, and over 10 years of experience as an electrical engineer and mechanical designer, Michael always has plans for improving the wow factor of Element 115's live shows. As it is, it takes the band 4 or 5 hours to set up the full show (video wall, PA, towers, trusses, robotic lights), and 2 more hours to take it down. A Holographic AL 3.0 is in the design phase now.
"I can relate to Tom Scholz of Boston. He has had his own studio since the late '60s, plays all the instruments, and writes melodic parts which still rock! I wish I could play the Hammond organ as well as he does."
If you haven't seen Michael or Jess play guitar with one hand, and keyboard with the other, then be sure to check out "Hot Cars" in the video section of the web site.
"People often ask why I created an ALIEN drummer. I just wanted to take diversity to another level. Aliens would love to jam on some good ol' rock 'n roll if it weren't for the MIB's busting their chops!"
There is a more serious side to the alien connection with Michael, however.
"Having been 'abducted' in my own house by five really tall slightly large-eyed aliens, I know first hand that our government is covering up the truth when it comes to alien life here on Earth. I was not hurt or probed (to the best of my recollection) but they did let me know how much they appreciated my sense of humor. All communication was telepathic, and to this day I have conflicting sources as to why I was visited, Carla was numbed, and I was allowed to remember some part of the event.
"I've known from as young as I can remember, and telling my little brother when he was about 3 and I was 7 or 8, that I wasn't from this planet. I remember wanting to tell everybody, but confiding only to my brother. I drew pictures of the world and its moon (which became the new world). I feel that I've been visited from the time I was younger than 2, and I displayed an acute ability to apply logic and mathematics even back then."
The band's music often includes a view on a song's topic from an alien perspective. Element 115 focuses on not only presenting a situation or question, but also on providing potential solutions.
Michael's musical influences include Boston, Def Leppard, the Monkees, Van Halen, the Doobie Brothers, Yes, Aerosmith, Steelheart, Stryper, the writer of Greensleeves, and all the classical music used in Warner Brothers cartoons. His stage show influences include KISS, the Tubes, Pink Floyd, and Queen.
Phoenix Rock Band Element 115