What's the riff that got you into music? That's the question that Gear Factor host Squiggy has been asking artists lately. He recently spoke with members of Anti-Flag, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine and Toothgrinder.
Anti-Flag's Justin Sane cited Social Distortion as a seminal influence, stating, "Mike Ness really became my guitar hero, and the riff that I really wanted to play was the lead in [Social Distortion's] 'Telling Them' and the lead in 'Mommy's Little Monster.' He was sort of my guitar hero, and that's why I play a blues-inspired lead, that's pretty much a result of him."
His bandmate Chris Barker chimed in, "The first riff I learned how to play was 'Drain You' by Nirvana, but if it wasn't for Green Day's '1,000 Hours,' I would have never thought I could play music. Seeing those kids who looked like me, playing music, made me want to do it."
Atryeu's Dan Jacobs was also inspired by Green Day. "'Basket Case'... once I saw the music video, it just kind of spoke to me," said Jacobs. "[It was] the riff, the music, even just the way he looked because he's a little short dude like me."
His bandmate Travis Miguel had a somewhat heavier early influence. "I really wanted to learn 'One' by Metallica," said Miguel. "But I kinda shot myself in the foot because that's like an eight-minute-long song."
Like Anti-Flag's Chris Barker, Bullet for My Valentine's Michael Paget was inspired by Kurt Cobain: "In the beginning, it was Nirvana. But [for] heavy metal, it was 'Burn My Eyes' by Machine Head. Once I heard the guitars on that, it blew my fuckin' mind. It was insane."
Toothgrinder's Jason Goss said, "Probably a combination of Metallica stuff, 'Enter Sandman' and 'Master of Puppets' were the first things where I could distinctly feel the riff."
His bandmate Johnuel Hasney has somewhat older tastes. "The riff was probably 'Aces High' by Iron Maiden, but before that, my uncle played in a Rolling Stones tribute band, it might have been something like 'Tumbling Dice,'" recalls Hasney.