Animals As Leaders: 'Grunge Music Killed Guitar Playing'

"The only bands that were still doing solos were Pantera and Dream Theater," guitarist Javier Reyes says.

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Animals As Leaders' guitar duo, Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, has recently tackled a few interesting topics in the latest installment of the Rolling Stone's "Young Guns" series, one of them being the impact of grunge music.

The good-natured Reyes held back from bashing the genre, but couldn't avoid noting that during the grunge explosion, he hated everything about it.

"When Nirvana and Soundgarden came out, I was probably the only kid I knew that was bummed out," he said with a laugh. "That music killed guitar playing. I remember watching music videos with Rudolf Schenker from the Scorpions or Angus Young from AC/DC just going nuts, and thinking that was the coolest stuff in the world.

"But then Kurt Cobain came out, and all that stuff was over. The only bands that were still doing solos were Pantera and Dream Theater, so that's what I gravitated to," the guitar master added.

On the other hand, Abasi had no problem with the grunge movement, and even cites its representatives as early-day role models. "I was really into Nirvana when I first started playing," he said, "but I had an older brother who played drums, and he got really into those Modern Drummer instructional videos - and most of those drummers played in bands with really awesome guitar players, like John Petrucci of Dream Theater. And that's kind of how I started to change my playing style."

Discussing musical beyond the guitar-driven domain, Reyes shared an interesting notion that metal isn't the kind of music one would listen when going out. "We're fans of all sorts of music, particularly pop and dance music. When you're going out to the clubs, you don't really go out to listen to metal!" he said.

The band's latest studio effort, "The Joy of Motion" saw its release in March via Sumerian Records.

184 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Pretelethal
    Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains still had their fair share of soloing, particularly the latter bands. Either he's exaggerating slightly or he's never heard the solo on Rotten Apple.
    yaronbeery
    What about 'cready in reach down going nuts? How could he have said that? If anything the 90s guys reminded everybody that it,s about the songs and not the superficial stuff and saved us from the hair farmer bands who had great guitarists and solos but were very shallow
    finallife6
    Its funny, because the first five songs of Bleach all have solos; and many of my favorite Nirvana songs don't feature solos (Lounge Act, Very Ape, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter and more....) If anything, Grunge music made a focus on making a song as barebones as possible after an era were everyone just played as fast as they could and in some instances make it inaudible
    crazysam23_Atax
    Nirvana and Soundgarden didn't solo as much as the '80s bands. Soundgarden's first record, in particular, didn't have a lot of solos.
    DaniArrow
    It did have an awesome raw guitar sound though. Nirvana did too. I like the rawness and feedback and all, it's just as much the soul of the guitar than any solo would be.
    Eifler121
    Like Suicide, Tighter and Tighter, and Superunknown have some of my favorite solos.
    TheExterminator
    "The only bands that were still doing solos were Pantera and Dream Theater" Going by such a limited scope, the only bands playing Metal in the 80s were Poison and Motley Crue. The only things Grunge killed were Glam and mainstream Metal, two things most of the Metal world had been trying to get rid of since things like MTV started sucking it dry in the 80s.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Yeah, but to a young kid in the late '80s and early '90s, it seemed like grunge killed guitar playing. Fortunately, the rise of grunge allowed bands in the Death Metal, Grindcore, and Black Metal scenes to solidify their musical visions, while remaining unpolluted by some idiot record company looking to make a quick buck.
    Eissari
    Jerry Cantrell?
    TreyR
    Alice in Chains is IMHO far from being typical grunge band, I mean, I saw them 2 weeks ago, and they were heavier than Metallica or Children of Bodom.
    crazysam23_Atax
    AiC are basically alternative metal, not grunge. They just happened to be around at the same time as grunge.
    michaelaurand
    "Grunge" is an era, not really a "genre." The "big four" of grunge all had very distinctive styles and influences of their own. Nirvana was a D.I.Y punk band, Pearl Jam was a college rock band with working class aesthetics, Alice in Chains were bluesy and probably the closest to "metal" of the four, and Soundgarden was very technical and just a tad bit psychedelic. Yet all of them fall under the blanket label of "grunge," just as the bands who were directly influenced by them afterward are often labeled under the (sometimes derogatory) term "post-grunge."
    entropicxdisson
    they are like a doom/sludge band with the newer stuff, probably would have been classified that way in the 90s if they weren't from Seattle.
    siamesedream777
    Billy Corgan? Smashing Pumpkins wer'e not a grunge band, but i guess he is still refering to 90's alternative bands in general.
    GeriatricNinja
    I've never quite agreed with these kind of comments - I know so many fellow guitarists who initially picked up a guitar because of bands like Nirvana and then dug deeper into different styles of music as they progressed. For me personally they definitely sparked that interest in guitar more than a band like Dream Theater did, even though I worship John Petrucci to a borderline obsessive degree now. Anywone who can write a song that gets a kid to pick up a guitar is good in my books
    coVal
    Same with me. I was raised on grunge music, but now I play and listen to various genres with progressive metal on top.
    Krieger91
    Yeah I forgot solos were the one most important that playing guitar is about, and that a song without a super fast solo is pointless. In all honesty, I was in to the whole heavy metal, fast solo scene until I heard Nirvana, unbeievably, then started looking for different things in the music I listened to. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a good solo, but I just don't have the idea that music sucks without it..
    Pick 'n' Finger
    I understand it from the point of a guitar player. You are looking behind the curtain of a Nirvana song and think. "Well that was weird, I learned that song in three hours. How the heck are they more successful than [insert non-dream-theater prog band]" On the other hand from the POV of a listener there is this: "Yeah, that song really grooves. I like it." You don't necessarily look behind the curtain of the product so you won't notice that song xyz is done with the cheapest composing methods you can find. Still it is okay because a song is no comparison of skilldicks but a matter of "How does it feel? Does it catch my attention?" If it involves skill, go for it. If it doesn't, well good for you. This is why I am quite unimpressed by the kiddos who can play scales on 300 BPM and who are faster with their hands than my electric toothbrush. Ask them to play some neat funk or mellow jazz. They have used all their practice time to grow their dexterity so they forgot to relax and build up the "feels". There is a reason why I admire Tosin Abasi, because he is able to pull off these incredibly fast licks, but then he can also just groove with some chords or play this super creamy melodic solo. Just listen to Ka$cade and you know what I'm talking about.
    third(-)eye
    For me, that's part of what made Nirvana great; they proved you didn't have to be a show-off to make awesome music. On the same point, I find most AAL pretty predictable and unengaging. Much like I find AC/DC and the Scorpions predictable and unengaging.
    MattChristTuck
    Agreed. This guy sounds like such an idiot.
    twiggy3634
    Tosin didn't say anything about solos.
    finallife6
    Right.... ""But then Kurt Cobain came out, and all that stuff was over. The only bands that were still doing solos were Pantera and Dream Theater, so that's what I gravitated to," the guitar master added."
    Niiko
    If you're going to correct someone's reading comprehension, make sure yours is correct too.
    The_Moth
    "But then Kurt Cobain came out, and all that stuff was over. The only bands that were still doing solos were Pantera and Dream Theater"
    Linkerman
    Neither Krieger91 nor MattChristTuck even mentioned Tosin. As far as you can tell, MattChristTuck was referring to Javier.
    lucas.p.pereira
    Agreed
    HUNDuffman
    welcome to ultimate guitar, where agreeing with an upvoted comment gets you downvoted
    UncleBluck
    Welcome to ultimate guitar where the younger generation continues to relish in the continued regression of the art of guitar playing. Soon it will all be about only Dave Grohl playing single note melody....Jesus even the guy from Bill Haley and the Comets (1950's) could blow away most of todays younger generations guitarists.....
    phds
    Ah yes, we can always count on you to leave self absorbed comments trashing the "new generation."
    TJHague
    Welcome to ultimate guitar where the 'elite' cannot see the beauty in simplicity. Complexity and simplicity both have their place. To say that simplicity in the name of having a good song is 'regression' is one of the more stupid things said here. It's all about what the music calls for.
    l0ld4v3
    Aren't these guys in Animals as Leaders the new generation of guitar players?
    Shavyi
    It's not only about the solos. He takes the solos as example because it is an essential part of heavy metal, but it goes in a whole dynamic. When he says grunge killed guitar playing, he is kind of correct : grunge is less challenging on the guitar that the thrash metal that was going on just before the 90', that's just a fact.Thus said, he doesn't do any value judgement, he even says that he pretty much was into grunge music.
    metalmaniac90
    They are wrong. What's really killing rock are people claiming to be "non-conforming" rockers, then when somebody doesn't conform to their sub-genre specifications they do everything they can to tear that band out. Unfortunately this seems to be the ruling majority of the rock community today, people going at each others integrity over these sub-genre specs. Keeping bands that sale, and break into mainstream off of rock radio, henceforth keeping the younger crowd from listening to it. Keeping bands on rock radio, from breaking into mainstream because you have all these musicians who feel superior technique, equals superior music poisoning the minds of impressionable people with this misguided logic. All sorts of *******s with such low self-esteem they have to make it their life goal to prove their taste in music is superior to validate themselves. That is whats killing rock. Now I'm a bigger fan of guitar solo music myself, not big into grunge, but I do respect them. They brought a ton of younger people into rock in the 90's.
    Igamikun
    When I was like 15 all that mattered was solos and super heavy riffs. Then I grew up and my tastes have expanded over the past 11 years. Honestly right now, I'm currently hooked on The Misfits and solos are pretty much non existent there.
    entropicxdisson
    Masturbatory shred band is mad that stuff that is simple with emotion to it sells more than masturbatory shred.
    fallen881
    who said it had to be a super fast spam note solo? rock and solos have some feel to them and structure too. It sounds close minded at first but hey he is kinda right if you think about it.
    third(-)eye
    Well the first guy implied that the solo needed to be at least somewhat technically impressive. Nirvana has solos with the structure you just described.
    cwm1990
    if you thought nirvana was impressive you should listen to animals as leaders, they play exactly how you just described your likes