In 2002, members of the band Neurobox, K’noup, and Hiram left New York City due to the stagnant music scene after 9/11. Destiny led them to Los Angeles where Visa was born in 2005. Visa’s grown into a nine-member, global rock phenomena. K’noup is the mastermind and the voice of Visa. His David Bowie like voice is complimented by the sexy drifts of the duduk. Played by the world famous Djivan Gasparyan's grandson, the duduk is an ancient flute that intensifies and deepens the band’s progressive arrangements. While the percussion and drums create a dramatic and passionate beat.
Visa is an audio passport that integrates differing cultural rhythms with modern rock experimentation. In the De Facto and Eros albums, the music is pervaded by sonorities taken from Arabic, Armenian and Greek traditions blended with elements of rock and dance. In the upcoming album Made in Chernobyl , Russian and Eastern European styles and themes take center stage. K’noup's original compositions resonate the sounds of past generations taking life in current times. Each band member’s distinct cultural roots and differing musical tastes weave the multi-ethnic sounds. The results are hip shaking and head banging music that is pure pleasure.
Visa performances evoke the urge to drift to exotic far away lands. K’noup commands the stage with his voice and presence and the band plays in perfect cadence. The audience is captivated and cannot escape the beat. Where can you experience Visa live? The Roxy, the Knitting Factory, the Viper Room, the Troubadour, House of Blues and the Alex Theatre in Glendale are among the many local venues. Visa loves to perform live and has garnered a large following in Los Angeles .
Visa released their second EP, De Facto in September 2007 along with an award winning music video for 'Break out the violins' from the album Maktub. In August 2008, the band released their second full length album entitled Eros. Visa is managed by Serjical Strike Management and is currently working on the release of Made in Chernobyl.
The Band Members:
K’noup – voice, 12 string acoustic guitar
Born in Kastoria, Greece, K’noup is the mastermind behind the music and lyrics. K’noup orchestrates the band flawlessly as if they have been playing together all their life. He is part villain, part renaissance romantic. Founder of Neurobox, a mature metal band with a wordly Dimmu Borgiesque bent, he moved to LA from NYC after 9/11. Knoup meaning mosquito in Greek was a nickname given by friends who itched for more every time they saw him perform.
Jivan Gasparyan Jr. – duduk, zurna
Grandchild of the world famous duduk player, Djivan Gasparyan, Jivan has been learning to play the duduk from the best in addition to formal music training. Jivan performs with many musicians and bands but stays true to Visa. He is fascinated by the challenge of blending the duduk with Visa’s music. Jivan’s creativity is fueled by studying and listening to other instruments. Jivan aspires to be a master musician and his talent is noted in his improvisational skills.
Orbel Babayan – electric guitar, tar, saz
Orbel grew up in a house of musicians. He plays the guitar and the tar and tours with international Persian singer Andy. Orbel was impressed by Visa’s musical qualities and unique arrangements. He contributes different instrumental melodies to Visa’s music. Orbel performed with Rama Duke in the Warped Tour 2007.
Shant Bismejian – electric guitar, bouzouki
Shant picked up his first guitar when he was six. He grew up listening to his grandfather and father playing the oud, an ancient Arabic string instrument. After a few jam sessions with K’noup, Shant knew he could contribute his unique perspective to Visa. Shant has become an integral part of the creative process with Visa. His musical talent is also expressed in his other band, Ed. At the same time, Shant is learning the music industry while working at an independent record label.
Andrew Kzirian - oud
With years of experience on the east coast's vibrant music scene, Andrew has performed on the oud in a wide spectrum of musical genres from rock and metal to middle eastern folk and classical music. Andrew strives to contribute to Visa's creative energy through the use of the oud, providing insightful improvisation and dynamics for the group. Andrew is also an accomplished attorney and human rights activist.
Alex Khatcherian – bass
Everyone agrees that Alex is all smiles. In 2001 at a System of a Down concert, he realized he wanted to perform in front of large crowds. Alex was a member of Neurobox and then naturally moved along with Visa. Having a full load as a biology major at UCSB, he drives to LA every week to practice with the band. Alex also sings for Ed, his punk band. If he is not hitting the books or playing the bass, he is playing poker with his buddies.
Suguru Onaka – keyboard, accordion
Born in Okinawa, his mother forced him to play piano at age 6 until age12. Suguru began to play guitar and drums, but was always better at keyboard. After playing in high school bands, he went to music school for 2 years and joined Neurobox then Visa. Suguru is a big baseball fan – Dodgers, Angels or any team with a Japanese player. Suguru is influenced by heavy rock, jazz, and classical musicians like Paganini and Wagner.
Chris Daniel - percussion
At the age of 19, Chris is the youngest and newest addition to the band. Chris has been playing the drums since he was 7. Two nights before a big Visa show, Chris was asked to play the hand percussion having only had six months of experience. His performance was so phenomenal that he became the pulse of the band.
Hiram Rosario – drums
From NYC, Hiram played beat box/hip hop on the streets, drummed to rappers. He met K’noup while working at catering business and felt an immediate chemistry. Nirvana’s Dave Grohl is Hiram’s greatest inspiration. When he is not drumming, he manages a specialty automotive bookstore. His metal past and sense of humor influence his creativity in Visa.