"This gig has gotten really exciting, really quickly," says 30 year old guitarist Nick Lashley, currently on tour with alternative rock sensation Alanis Morissette. (Morissette was virtually unknown last July;by October she had graced the cover of Rolling Stone.) Lashley auditioned for and got the gig with the Canadian singer just last April, after she had finished recording her chart topping album Jagged Little Pill - as did all the members of her touring band. Lashley's musical apprenticeship has covered a lot of miles and a wide range of styles. The native Englishman first toyed with a six string at the age of four, after hearing his parent's Beatles and Pink Floyd records. He never took any formal lessons but says, "My uncle Tony, the hippy, taught me a few basic chords." Nick really got serious in 1978 when punk - the first round - got big. "It put the guitar in a very simple format that I could pick up." Through the 80s he bettered his playing by learning the riffs of the Police, U2, and Thin Lizzy. Nick formed his first band - Soldier - in London. A few years and bands later he found himself recording for Virgin records with the band King Swamp. That collaboration lasted two albums and brought Lashley to Los Angeles, where he married a record company publicist and toured with Sass Jordan for several years. It proved valuable experience for Lashely, whose melodic David Gilmour-influenced solos and atmospheric The Edge-styled chord patterns have now been heard all over North America, Europe and Japan during a series of tours with Alanis Morissette. If Lashely has forked over his dues, it's now payback time.
Luck has certainly smiled upon Austin, Texas, native Jesse Tobias: just 23, Tobias is playing in his third major label band, travelling the world with Alanis Morissette. Of course a little hard work along the way bolstered his good fortune. Tobias picked up his first axe at the age of seven. "I just always wanted to play guitar," he says. Jesse considers himself mostly self-taught and counts War and Santana among his earliest influences. "My tastes always change. I liked Hendrix, I liked [Nirvana guitarist Kurt] Cobain's playing a lot." After a few years spent knocking around clubs deep in the heart of Texas, Tobias' first band Mother Tongue decided to relocate to Los Angeles. But a funny thing happened on the road to stardom: while recording Mother Tongue's debut, Jesse was asked to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That was difficult to leave his hometown buddies behind, the gig was a dream come true. (The Chili Pepper's last album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, had sold several million copies.) Jesse left the band after just three months, but he heard about the Alanis Morissette demo, got a copy and set up an audition. It's been smooth sailing since then, and Tobias couldn't be happier. "We've come a long way," he says. "Touring really brings out a band like us. It kind of puts everybody on the spot, but we've developed in a really cool way." On the road, Jesse plays a '63 Fender Jaguar and a '65 Fender Mustang, mostly holding down the rhythm parts. He credits the band's cohesive playing to the months of steady touring they've done since last summer.
An open mind. It's one of the first things bass player Chris Chaney, on tour with Alanis Morissette, would recommend. Listen to everything. After all, it worked for him. "I've always loved music," he says. "My influences are Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, John Coltrane. But at the same time I was also into Yes, Rush and a whole bunch of rock: Aerosmith, AC/DC, you name it." Chris grew up in Mill Valley, CA, just north of San Francisco. He picked up bass in high school, and played in a band called THC (from the initials of the trio's last names). Though he didn't graduate, two years at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston armed him with a solid understanding of music theory - and some wicked chops. Afterwards Chaney kept busy with recording sessions and live gigs around Los Angeles. Among them were plenty of weddings, cruise ship gigs and gospel sessions, particularly jam sessions at a church in Santa Monica called Agape. "There's a great band," he says. "The first time I went, they had a 100 piece choir. It was an amazing gig." In studio sessions and at jams like those at Agape, sightreading skills proved invaluable, as did one truly important thing he learned at Berklee: "I usually listened to music entirely and tried to absorb it entirely. I learned from Berklee to pick out every part of a song, not just the bass." That - and the ability to handle anything any band or producer threw at him - put Chaney in high demand on the LA music scene. Morissette's band is the perfect outlet for his wide ranging abilities. "Musically I have so much fun," he says. "It's a groove gig. It's an R&B gig on the bass. And all it takes is an open mind."
Taylor Hawkins is not mentioned in this article because it is a guitar magazine.