My Prog Hero: Inspiring The Wider Music World...

The frontman and songwriter for Grave Pleasures and Hexvessel gets religious for Mahavishnu Orchestra.

“I got into Mahavishnu Orchestra like falling head first into the deep end of a swimming pool with no armbands. It was total immersion.

I think it was an old zine interview with [Cynic’s] Paul Masvidal where he mentioned Mahavishnu Orchestra… I was excited about exploring beyond the metal scene I was in and the name seemed so bizarre and ‘out there’. So a guy from my first band brought a Mahavishnu Orchestra LP to my place. I think it was Birds Of Fire and I still remember that day as clear as rain. It was a life-changing moment. We were already getting into smoking weed and acid and opening our minds – it was that age of discovery and mind-expansion. So the music, mysticism apparent within it and the trippy psychedelic jazz of it all really sent us reeling. This was top-class crossover musical fusion blasphemy.“

Mat 'Kvohst' McNerney

Mat 'Kvohst' McNerney

“I have a particular crush on that first incarnation of the line-up, with Billy Cobham on drums. His sound and style of playing is just pretty much it. He has the feel of John Bonham but the technical prowess and fire to be able to keep up with any style the modern times have thrown up – he’s one of those rare greats. Just listen to the beginning of Vital Transformation and prepare to be blown away into drumming nirvana! I didn’t know that years later I would be making out with my future wife, to Meeting Of The Spirits.

Jerry Goodman’s violin is something that inspires me still with Hexvessel. There are whole portions of the new record where I have his style in mind. I love how it’s almost permanently in solo. There’s no single moment where they’re not tight – no single mistake, even in the live shows. They just don’t make them like that any more.

They were a multi-national group, just like Hexvessel and Grave Pleasures are for me. John McLaughlin is a real hero of mine, being an Englishman and all, crossing borders and boundaries to create limitless music. As long as Mahavishnu Orchestra LPs sit in my collection, I’ll be reminded constantly that there’s always something to aspire to. They were, and still are, ahead of their time.”

Dreamcrash is out now on Columbia Music. For more, see

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.