Tosin Abasi

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Tosin Abasi
Animals As Leaders @ Euroblast 2016 63.jpg
Tosin Abasi performing at the Euroblast Festival in Cologne, 2016
Background information
Birth nameOluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide Abasi
Born (1983-01-07) January 7, 1983 (age 39)
Washington, D.C.
GenresProgressive metal, metalcore, djent, instrumental rock[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, bass
Years active2000–present
LabelsProsthetic, Sumerian

Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide "Tosin" Abasi (born January 7, 1983), is a Nigerian-American musician, best known as the founder and lead guitarist of the instrumental progressive metal band Animals as Leaders. He has recorded and released five albums with Animals as Leaders: a self-titled debut, Weightless, The Joy of Motion, The Madness of Many, and their most recent album, Parrhesia. A guitar virtuoso, Guitar World ranked Abasi at #97 on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time.

Life and career[edit]


Tosin Abasi was born in Washington D.C. to Nigerian immigrants to the United States.[2] His brother, Abdul Abasi, is a former drill sergeant in the United States military and is currently a fashion designer.[3]

Abasi is a mainly self-taught guitarist. He first picked up a guitar at his friend's house, simply strumming it and making up basic licks on the spot. At this time he was being exposed to some music through learning the clarinet in elementary school. He later began to rent hair metal guitarists' instructional video tapes from his local music store, saying that some "were videos you did not want to be caught watching" due to racy material in certain tapes (e.g. women in bikinis).[4]

Abasi said that when he decided to learn the guitar, his father was "totally liberal about the whole thing and encouraging and proud" and in fact, bought him his first guitar. However his mother initially held a more conservative outlook. Tosin said in an interview, “My mom definitely represents more of the traditional immigrant mentality of education and conventional channels being way more important than a creative endeavor".[2]

Early career[edit]

He was the guitarist for the Silver Spring, Maryland-based metal band PSI before moving onto join the technical metalcore band Reflux in the early to mid-2000s.[1] During a Reflux show, Prosthetic Records noticed his skill and offered him a record deal as a solo artist.[1] At first, he refused, saying he didn't feel comfortable with his skill level to write his own record.[1] Afterwards, Abasi enrolled at the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media, a for-profit college. After graduating, he contacted Prosthetic Records asking if the offer still held.[5] He then formed his "solo" project, Animals as Leaders, the name loosely being derived from the book Ishmael.[1]

Success with Animals as Leaders and onward[edit]

In 2009, he recorded the first Animals as Leaders release with Misha Mansoor (of Periphery), who produced and recorded the album with Tosin, as well as programming the drums. Javier Reyes and Navene Koperweis were enlisted on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively, after the completion of the album, turning the project into a full touring band.[5] He also toured with the band Born of Osiris as a stand-in guitarist for former member Matt Pantelis whilst they were auditioning for a permanent replacement.

In 2011, Tosin started putting together material for a new band, T.R.A.M., consisting of his Animals As Leaders bandmate Javier Reyes, Suicidal Tendencies drummer Eric Moore, and former The Mars Volta wind instrumentalist Adrián Terrazas-González. "T.R.A.M." stands for Terrazas, Reyes, Abasi, Moore. In mid-March 2011, T.R.A.M. played their first show at South by Southwest, a multi-day music festival in Austin, Texas. Tosin explained that he formed T.R.A.M. as a trio consisting of himself, Javier and Adrian as an outlet for some ideas he had written which he felt did not fit with Animals as Leaders. Eric Moore was not added into the line-up until the recording phase of the album, and wrote and performed all the drums on the album within a few weeks.

Animals as Leaders released their second album, Weightless, on November 8, 2011. Abasi was reportedly meeting with Misha Mansoor again in late 2012, and it was reported that a new Animals as Leaders album was in the works, due to be released in 2013.[6]

At NAMM 2013, Tosin Abasi's signature guitar, the Ibanez TAM 100, was revealed. This guitar is based upon the Ibanez RG2228 model, which he had been using for some years, and contains his signature DiMarzio Ionizer pickups.

On March 19, 2014, the Animals As Leaders album The Joy of Motion was made available for streaming, via YouTube. On March 24, 2014, the album was released in Europe, March 25 in North America and on March 28 in Australia and New Zealand by Sumerian Records.[7] The album was met with widely positive reviews.[8][9] In July 2014, Tosin appeared in the first episode of Guitar Power, a web-series sponsored by D'Addario String and Rolling Stone Magazine.[4]

As of March 2014, he was on tour with Animals As Leaders. In October 2014, it was revealed that Abasi would join Joe Satriani, Guthrie Govan, and Mike Keneally on the G4 tour in 2015.[10]

In April and May 2016, Abasi joined Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Zakk Wylde, as part of the Generation Axe tour.[11] The supergroup later reprised their tour in 2017 in Asia, and North America once more in 2018.

In August 2020, it was revealed that Abasi was the musician behind the "air guitar" shredding in Bill & Ted Face the Music.[12]

Abasi Concepts[edit]

In 2017, after leaving Ibanez Guitars,[13] Abasi wanted to expand on his design and include features such as locking tuners and 6 string options. As a result, Abasi founded Abasi Concepts which features a range of 6, 7 and 8 string instruments that feature his unique ergonomic design, locking tuners, signature Fishman pickups and unique wood combinations. Abasi started with Frank Falbo but had a public fallout with the builder over business issues.[14] This led to Abasi Concepts switching to World Musical Instrument Co. Ltd as the manufacturer for their Legion Series, Dyna Gakki as the manufacturer for their JLarada Series and Grover Jackson Engineering as the manufacturer for their Master, Spartan and Space Telecaster series.


His favoured guitarists, musicians and bands include Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Mike Einziger of Incubus, and Dream Theater.[15]

Tosin Abasi playing a .Strandberg* Headless 8-string

He is a Transcendental Meditation practitioner.[16]


PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch)[edit]

  • Virus (2001)


  • Illusion of Democracy (2004)

Animals as Leaders[edit]


  • Lingua Franca (Sumerian, 2012)

Tigran Hamasyan[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Allyn, Bobby. "Q&A: Animals as Leaders". Washington City Paper. Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Animals as leaders Tosin Abasi First Generation American".
  3. ^ "about". Abasi Rosborough. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Guitar Power ep. 1 featuring Tosin Abasi". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Politte, Elliott. "Tosin Abasi: 8-String Animal". Guitar Edge. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
  6. ^ "Periphery's Misha Mansoor Working on New Animals as Leaders Album". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  7. ^ "Stream the New Animals as Leaders Album The Joy of Motion Right Now!". MetalSucks. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Chris Bird (Total Guitar). "Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion review". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  9. ^ "Review: Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion - Sputnikmusic". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  10. ^ Fanelli, Damian (October 28, 2014). "Joe Satriani Announces 2015 G4 Experience Featuring Guthrie Govan, Tosin Abasi, Mike Keneally and More — Video". Guitar World. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "Generation Axe". Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  12. ^ "Animals as Leaders' Tosin Abasi Becomes 'Bill + Ted' Official Air Shredder". Loudwire. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  13. ^ December 2017, Damian Fanelli 28. "Tosin Abasi Opens Up About Abasi Guitars, Names Key Personnel and More". guitarworld. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  14. ^ Stolzer-Gary, Isaac (January 18, 2019). "ABASI CONCEPTS Issues Statement Regarding FRANK FALBO: Cites "Embezzlement, Missed Deadlines, and Quality Control Issues"". GearGods. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  15. ^ "Animals As Leaders' Tosin Abasi: 10 essential guitar albums". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  16. ^ Sciaretto, Amy (April 12, 2010). "Animals as Leaders Guitarist Practices Transcendental Meditation". Noisecreep/AOL. Retrieved June 13, 2016.