Paul Masvidal

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Paul Masvidal
Paul Masvidal 11.jpg
Background information
Birth name Pablo Alberto Masvidal
Born (1971-01-20) January 20, 1971 (age 44)
Origin Miami, Florida, United States
Genres Progressive metal, progressive rock, technical death metal, jazz fusion, alternative rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, music publisher
Instruments Guitar, vocals, keyboards, guitar synthesizer
Years active 1987–present
Labels Roadrunner Records, Warner Bros. Records, Season of Mist
Associated acts Cynic, Portal, Death, Æon Spoke, The Devin Townsend Project, Gordian Knot, Onward With Love
Notable instruments
Steinberger guitars
Strandberg guitars

Paul Albert Masvidal (born January 20, 1971) is the guitarist, singer and a founding member of the progressive metal[1] band Cynic and previously led the alternative rock band Æon Spoke.

Early life[edit]

Paul Masvidal was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban-American civic and business leader Raul Masvidal. Masvidal's early days were spent in the Miami area where he studied classical guitar from an early age with Carlos Molina. Guitar teacher Dave Weissbrot was a major influence and spurred Masvidal's love of jazz, Steinberger guitars, and Eastern philosophy; he became an initiate to Kriya Yoga in his late teens and has been a Buddhist practitioner since 2000, although he has more recently gotten in touch with his roots in Judaism. Masvidal met drummer Sean Reinert in 1984 at Gulliver Academy and immediately started jamming with him, forming the pre-Cynic Crypha and Seaweed.

Masvidal talks in detail about his experiences in his early life in some posts in his "Mettā Mind Journal" series, which he publishes on the music blog MetalSucks.


Cynic released four demos from 1988 though 1991, with Masvidal developing a reputation in the Florida metal scene for his musicianship. In 1989, when Masvidal was in high school, he toured Mexico as a replacement guitarist for the band Death but declined an invitation to permanently join the band in order to remain committed to Cynic. This had many journalists curious at the time, since Death were emerging as an influential and popular underground act, but Masvidal stuck to his guns and claimed to firmly believe in Cynic. However, Masvidal returned to the Death fold replacing guitarist James Murphy for dates on the international Spiritual Healing tour in 1990, leading in 1991 to Masvidal and fellow Cynic member Reinert being recruited by Death to record the "groundbreaking"[2] Human. In addition, in 1991 Masvidal helped Chicago band Master to record their album On the Seventh Day God Created... Master. Masvidal handled all guitars duties on this album. After finishing their world tour with Death, both Masvidal and Reinert returned to Cynic in 1992.

1993 saw the release of Focus on the Roadrunner label, the only album Cynic recorded until 2008. Roadrunner released a reissue of Focus in 2005 as a special collector's edition due to high demand. Masvidal also recorded the Cynic spin-off Portal, but by 2007 Cynic returned to touring, featuring Masvidal and Reinert.

Based in Los Angeles, Masvidal studied at Musicians Institute and also formed the ethereal alternative band Æon Spoke with Reinert, described as 'progressive ethereal rock' and had a full-length release in 2007 on SPV Records. In 2004, the band received airplay in the UK for the single Silence, including BBC Radio 2 and XFM, leading to numerous UK gigs and radio appearances. The following year, the track Emmanuel appeared in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? and the band returned to Europe. Their tracks have also appeared on the Warner Brothers television series Smallville, One Tree Hill and the motion picture Cry Wolf.

Masvidal also writes and performs music for television and motion pictures, credits include main title (composer credit) on an Emmy nominated NBC teen series show Operation Junkyard, short films The Yellow Umbrella, A Bride In Black, assistant to Ben Vaughn and session musician for Carsey Warner network sitcoms That '70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun. Masvidal has library songs regularly performed on network and cable television and has also collaborated with 80s pop singer Terri Nunn. Music writer Jeff Wagner, in Mean Deviation, stated that "any viewer of 3rd Rock from the Sun, That '70s Show, The Price Is Right, Queer as Folk, and any number of random television programs has probably stumbled across Cynic's core members without even knowing it."[3] Masvidal produced a children's album for actor Jim Carrey titled "How Roland Rolls" .[4][5]

Masvidal finished recording a new Cynic album titled Traced in Air, which was released on November 17, 2008 in Europe and November 25, 2008 in the USA to critical acclaim. Since the release of Traced in Air, Masvidal has toured with Cynic as part of several large tour packages, playing with such popular metal acts as Opeth, Dream Theater, Mastodon, Meshuggah, Between the Buried and Me, and The Faceless. At the Hove Festival, Masvidal and Cynic shared the stage with more mainstream acts such as The Killers, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Slayer and Queens of the Stone Age. In 2010, Cynic released an EP entitled Re-traced, featuring re-interpretations of several Traced in Air tracks. Cynic released an album titled Carbon-Based Anatomy worldwide on November 11, 2011, receiving positive reviews.[6][7][8][9] Cynic released a 3rd full length record titled Kindly Bent to Free Us February 14, 2014 receiving critical acclaim from major press[10]

Masvidal appeared on the Devin Townsend project album Deconstruction as a guest vocalist on the song "Sumeria", alongside Joe Duplantier of Gojira.

Ben Ratliff of the New York Times referred to Masvidal's "philosophic lyrics", stating that he is "a musician who can expand his own sense of calm into an aggressive, extravagant art".[11]

Personal life[edit]

As an inventor, Masvidal filed a successful patent in 1999 (which was approved in 2002),[12] involving a device to assist voice-disabled individuals. Masvidal's interest stems from his extensive volunteer work with AIDS patients, the terminally ill and the elderly in the Los Angeles area.

As of May 2014, he, along with fellow Cynic member Sean Reinert, publicly came out as gay.[13]


Masvidal has been playing Steinberger GM & GR headless 6-string guitars since his beginnings as a professional musician. Although he was seen by far the most with this instrument, he was also seen playing a Gibson SG with Æon Spoke. Since Masvidal's association with the DTA (earlier called Death To All) tours in 2013, a touring tribute to his former band Death and the songs of Chuck Schuldiner, he has been playing his signature Strandberg Masvidalien headless 6-string guitar. He also had his recording debut with this new Strandberg guitar on Cynic's 2014 release, Kindly Bent to Free Us.


As a Guest/session


External links[edit]