Bassist Spotlight: Trevor Neely (Guerrilla Warfare)

Photo: Mat Schladen 

I, and several of my musical counterparts and family members have gotten vaccinated recently. I was definitely worried about it, but I had minimal side effects and was rocking and rolling within 24 hours. I can not express how happy the idea of being with my bandmates feels.

It looks like we're gonna start practicing sometime this summer, and live shows could possibly come back by the Fall. Just a little personal experience for all of you considering the vaccines, and the slow path forward to "normalcy."

Carlos, No Echo, and the rest of the contributors have gotten me through this terrible year. Without this vehicle, I would have had a much darker experience, but my Bassist Spotlight series and the song reviews I've done over these long months have given me something to look forward to every week. Thank you, Carlos!

My 4th spotlight of the year features Trevor Neely from the Louisville, KY band, Guerrilla Warfare. Miracle Drug has played several shows with them, and they just got better and better every time. They were gearing up to take over the world, and then COVID-19 shut them down.

I've wondered and worried about my friend and his band hoping they would endure this global crisis. I hope you enjoy this interview and come to see why I think Trevor and Guerrilla Warfare deserve your attention. 

Introduce yourself to everyone.

I’m Trevor from Guerrilla Warfare, but people close to me usually call me “Bogs." I used to have this thing with beanies for years, I'd wear them constantly to hide my receding hairline.

How did you get into playing the bass guitar?

I started out playing bass in a band in middle school with my 2 best friends and started off playing bass in a band called Rainboots back in high school. I really wasn’t that musically inclined at the time. I was just, ya know, friends, with some people who were starting a band and was just kind of thrown into it. After the vocalist left that band, I just kinda stepped in and started doing vocals.

Bass was never really my thing at first, I really enjoyed doing vocals, it was that dumpy high school metalcore, but it really got me comfortable in front of groups and crowds. It was kind of like a key to getting over stage fright being placed in my hand.

After that band split, I was kinda hanging around the wrong crowd, and a friend from high school was already in a touring band, The Armistice, and wanted to get me away from the people I was hanging around at the time and offered for me to go out on the road with them for a 2-week tour, that’s really when I’d say I got “into playing the bass.”

I started to kind of realize the importance of a bassist and how crucial they can be to the overall sound in those two weeks. From there on out, I was a bassist first, everything else became secondary.

Photo: Mat Schladen 

Does your family support your musical endeavors?
They 100% support me, though I know they’d be more comfortable with me having a 9-5 and all that jazz, they’ve always been the ones to push me to dream big, music has taken me across the country and I’ve really got to see and experience things I always dreamed about growing up, getting to enjoy my younger years, I think they see more value in that than anything. 

Do you play any other instruments?

Yeah, I can pretty much dabble in most stringed instruments but I’d never say I’m much more skilled than the next person. I never really took any lessons or theory at any point. I started playing guitar when I was 12. I also really like to play drums, piano, and sing.

I’m not much of a songwriter or anything, but I started singing while playing acoustic guitar back when I was starting, nothing original, all covers, but it really helped out down the line because every project I’ve been in since the go I’ve done backup vocals in. 

I’ve always been really comfortable playing and singing at the same time, maybe not as much as G (our vocalist/drummer) because that dudes a machine, but I’m pretty comfortable with it although I’m finding new challenges with it all the time.

Do you use a guitar pick?

Yes, I’d say I’m using a pick about 98% of the time. On the new record, we have a little spot that I’m not using one. 

Guerilla Warfare is a 3-piece band. What are you locking in on when you're writing/playing the songs? A lot of bass players focus on the kick and snare. Some other players dance between all the instruments in the band. What's your vibe?

We’ve never been too particular about having the bass follow exactly what the kick and snare are doing which I think can make some interesting-sounding stuff sometimes. I try to keep it close most of the time, but I really like the long-drawn-out bass lines over the top of drum loops from like that late '90s hip-hop, sometimes I like to just throw something like that in and just let the note ride for a second.

I’d say it periodically dances around the song, not always but it’s definitely a mix.

When you are picking, are you playing upstrokes, downstrokes, or are you alternate picking more? 

I’d say it’s a good amount of downstrokes, but also a good amount of alternative picking. I think that comes from the guitar background. 

Are there any bass players who inspire your style of playing?

I always wanted that Eben D' Amico (Saves the Day) bass tone from Stay What You Are and In Reverie growing up, but now being in Guerrilla Warfare that has really changed up, I really start listening to Turnstile’s Time & Space a lot when we're in our jamming/writing phase, I’d say I draw a lot of influence from that album.

There’s something I’ve always liked about the sound of a cracky growling bass tone. I try to take that sound and do my own thing with it.

Any drummers in your life that influence how you play?

I’d say Garett (vocalist/drums) greatly influences the way I play, some of the musical decisions he makes sometimes really cracks open a new avenue in my head for possibilities, especially with the style we have, he has ways of making stuff that is seemingly untraditional become this groovy break section. He is such a talented drummer, being able to play music with him has improved my playing for sure.

What is your favorite amp, pedal, bass guitar set up?

So, I’m actually in the process of upgrading all of my gear right now. I don’t have much equipment to brag about or anything at the moment. But my dream set up would be:

  • Ampeg SVT Classic
  • Ampeg 8x10
  • Darkglass Microtubes X Ultra
  • Fender P Bass Deluxe

How has Covid affected you and Guerrilla Warfare?

Me personally, it’s affected me heavily, I worked in live events as a freelance A/V tech while working at Headliners Music Hall (Louisville) and also stage handing here and there around town. Once the virus hit, every job I had was gone. My grandma passed away during COVID and not getting to be around her at the end while being cooped up inside, that was really hard. 

As far as the band goes, we had a whole lot of momentum at this time last year coming off CONSUME, it’s crazy to think it’s been a whole year at this point, it’s been a whole year since we’ve played a show. March 12th last year we played with Every Time I Die at the Metro in Chicago and were set to play with them the next night too in Detroit and that’s the day the world basically shut down. We were all bummed for sure, but we figured, it’d be gone by summer.

We had some really insane tours lined up for 2020. But as time keeps rolling on that mindset changed and we realized we didn’t know when we were coming back at that capacity, and that momentum, does it lay dormant, or is that wheel still spinning? There was a whole lot of stuff we had to figure out.

So we just started writing the next album and it’s been a long-drawn-out process, but I feel like what we’re working on now is our best stuff to date. It’s a lot more direct, it’s more personal on this album, and I think everything that happened in 2020 is reflected on that album.

Do you guys have any band plans for 2021? 

Yes, we’re currently recording the follow-up to CONSUME. Also, we plan on releasing a new track here very soon, although the release date is final for that just yet. But it’s definitely coming soon.

We’ve talked about different routes we can take to bring a live experience to people while this is all still going on, talks about a live stream set are going on but nothing concrete just yet. But we have plans.

Is there anything going on in your personal life you'd like to talk about?

Just been doing a lot of writing, skating, streaming video games, and looking for a safe job at the moment.  I’m not really the kind of person who stays inside as much as I’ve stayed inside this past year, so it’s been a struggle for sure, but oh yeah, I quit smoking cigarettes on September 4th, and that’s still going on, so that’s cool. I had smoked for 10+ years and I’ve never felt better.

If you could fill in on bass for any band past present or future, who would you like to play with?

Comeback Kid—preferably Facedown Fest 2004.

Do you have any advice for someone picking up a bass guitar for the first time?

Don’t do the bass spin around your body, it’s not as cool as it looks and the neck is too long. But if you do, make sure you warn those around you. And spin that fucker fast.

Guerrilla Warfare on social media: Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp


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Tagged: bassist spotlight, guerrilla warfare