Gear Factor | Featuring Neil Westfall and Kevin Skaff of A Day To Remember

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Neil Westfall – Influence

If you were a fan of rock music in the early 2000s, than MTV’s Total Request Live might not have been on your list of “can’t-miss” shows. Alas, amidst the Britneys and the NSYNCs, there were a few stand out bands. One of them being Blink-182, and specifically Tom DeLonge. And that is precisely what influenced A Day To Remember‘s Neil Westfall to pick up a guitar and start playing.

He tells Gear Factor host Squiggy, “I was like, ‘What is this?’ This is so cool! Who are these people? This is so rad. They’re funny, they’re just doing what they want to do.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to be in a band.'”

So, he started to play guitar. When asked about the first riff he ever learned, he tells us, “‘What’s My Age Again?’ from Blink-182. I know that’s not, like, a ‘guitar player’s’ riff. I grew up being influenced by Tom DeLonge. Every one of my friends wanted the Tom DeLonge [signature] guitar.”

Channeling Randy Rhoads

Fast forward, and all these years later, Westfall is an admired guitarist and musician with his own signature guitar. But his model is very inspired by a certain instrument of choice of an artist who greatly predated DeLonge and Blink-182.

“The guitar is influenced by the 1974 Randy Rhoads Gibson Les Paul custom, down to the color. I remember picking up that guitar, playing it, and being like, ‘This is like the nicest guitar ever.'”

He was very involved in the guitar’s specs: “They would send me white ESP guitars, and I would take the pickup out, and I would take the electronics out and I would try to put a fake pickup in and paint it white. I actually have that guitar, it’s on tour with me now. That was my prototype: ‘This is what it will look like.'”

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Kevin Skaff’s Top Five Guitarists

Nearly three decades after his tragic death, Stevie Ray Vaughan still influences generations of guitar players. There are the obvious disciples: John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. to name two. A less expected follower is Kevin Skaff of A Day To Remember.

But as Skaff told Gear Factor host Squiggy, the legendary Texan guitarist changed his life. “I was at my friend Jeff’s house, and his dad had this VHS tape: Stevie Ray Vaughan Live at the El Mocambo, he was playing ‘Texas Flood.’ I was like, ‘What is that?‘ His guitar sounded so awesome, I just had to find out what the hell was going on.”

Soon, he had a new guitar of his own: “It was a Charvel, like a Strat-type [guitar], it was red with a black pickguard, black pickups, maple neck, black headstock.  My dad bought it. I was 13.”

That wasn’t his first six-string experience though. His parents bought him a Harmony guitar — from Walmart! — when he was younger. But, he says, the guitar sat in his closet for years. He dusted off the cobwebs when a friend asked him if he could learn to play the riff-heavy Green Day song, “Brain Stew.” His friend needed to perform the song for an extra credit project.

“I didn’t even know who Green Day was at the time!” Skaff learned the song but played it incorrectly. Still, his friend got the extra credit he needed and Skaff put the guitar back in the closet… until he saw the Stevie Ray Vaughan video.

He then learned Jimi Hendrix‘s version of “Wild Thing,” from the Live At Monterrey album “My dad said, it seems easy enough; it’s three chords.” Next up, he dipped into the SRV songbook, by learning “Texas Flood.”

The conversation shifted to Skaff’s gear. “You could play a guitar ten times the price, but you bring the SE on stage,” Squiggy noted.

The guitarist explained, “The thing’s a workhorse… like all the PRS guitars, it’s perfect, as soon as you take it out of the case. It stays in tune, it’s reliable… they just make great guitars. Yeah, I love that thing, man.”

He’s particularly enthused about Staind guitarist Mike Mushok’s signature SE, which he recently used in the studio. “That thing was awesome.”

After talking gear, Skaff listed his five favorite guitarists, the first three of whom are tattooed on his left arm.

“Number one: Stevie. Always. Number two is Hendrix.”

Next is the guy who inspired his blue-and-white-polka dotted PRS guitar.

“Number three is Randy Rhoads, there’s the polka dots, that’s where that comes from.”

Coming in at number four: “I really like Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit, his guitar playing, and all the riffs that he makes up are really cool.”

“And number five would be [Eric] Clapton, ‘Slowhand,’ ‘God’ himself.”

Catch Kevin Skaff playing his PRS SE guitars next month: A Day To Remember have a handful of dates in June. See their itinerary at their website.

 

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Catch A Day To Remember on tour: get all their dates here.

Brands Behind the Man : GET A DAY TO REMEMBER’S GEAR HERE

Click Here to get the sound of Slayer using the gear of John Mayer

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