Tosin Abasi

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Tosin Abasi
Animals as Leaders @ The Forum, Tunbridge Wells 28082011 (16).jpg
Tosin Abasi playing with Animals as Leaders on August 28, 2011
Background information
Born (1983-01-07) January 7, 1983 (age 33)
Washington, D.C.
Genres Progressive metal, metalcore, Deathcore, Math metal, Djent,[1]
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, bass
Years active 2000–present
Labels Prosthetic
Associated acts Animals as Leaders, Reflux, Born of Osiris, Darkest Hour, TRAM, PSI
Notable instruments
Ibanez TAM100 Signature
Ibanez RG2228 Prestige
Strandberg guitars
Rick Toone guitars

Oluwatosin Ayoyinka Olumide Abasi, better known as Tosin Abasi (born January 7, 1983), is a Nigerian American guitarist who is best known as the guitar player and founder of the instrumental progressive metal band Animals as Leaders. Before founding Animals as Leaders, he was the guitarist for the technical metalcore band Reflux.[1] He has recorded and released three albums with Animals as Leaders: a self-titled debut, Weightless and The Joy of Motion.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Washington D.C. to Nigerian immigrants to the United States,[2] Abasi's first name "Oluwatosin" means "God is worthy to be served" in Yoruba.[3] His brother, Abdul Abasi, is a former drill sergeant in the United States military and is currently a fashion designer. 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 video tapes from his local music store, saying that some "were videos you did not want to be caught watching" due to the mild profanity in certain tapes.[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] He was the guitarist for the Silver Spring, Maryland-based metal band PSI. He joined Reflux in the early to mid-2000s. During a Reflux show, Prosthetic Records noticed his skill and offered him a record deal as a solo artist. 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. 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]

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 Mars Volta wind instrumentalist Adrian Terrazas. '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, entitled '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.[10]

As of March 2014, he is on tour with Animals As Leaders. On October 2014, it was revealed that Abasi will join Joe Satriani, Guthrie Govan, and Mike Keneally on the G4 tour in 2015.[11]

He is a Transcendental Meditation practitioner.


He has cited many bands and guitarists that influenced his unique style, including styles of music, ranging from jazz to pop and R&B. His favored guitarists include Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Fredrik Thordendal, as well as the artists Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Meshuggah, and Dream Theater.[12]



Tosin Abasi playing a .Strandberg* Headless 8-string

Tosin has endorsed Ibanez for several years and has access to the LA Custom Shop, as well as his own signature guitar.

  • Ibanez TAM100 Signature 8-string 2013 [1] – Tosin's signature model, equipped with his signature DiMarzio Ionizer pickups.
  • .Strandberg* #8 Custom Headless 8-string
  • .Strandberg* #34 Demo Headless 8-string
  • .Strandberg* #17 Custom Headless 8-string – stolen while on tour, but was later recovered
  • .Strandberg* Boden 8 prototype – this was the prototype for a line of "production" Strandberg instruments, built under licence by Strictly 7 Guitars in the USA. Manufacture of these guitars has now switched to the Washburn Custom Shop, also in the USA.
  • Ibanez LACS RG 8-string – similar to the RG2228, except it had a white finish, a pickguard and Dimarzio D-Activator 8 pickups. The D-Activator pickups were later changed to his signature Ionizer humbuckers.
  • Carvin DC800 8-string – stolen while on tour; can be seen in multiple live recordings
  • Ibanez RG2228 8-string – stolen while on tour
  • 8-string Ibanez LACS RGA – stolen while on tour
  • 7-string Ibanez LACS
  • Ibanez Universe – his main guitar when he played in Reflux
  • 7-string Eastman ER-1 hollow body – stolen while on tour
  • Custom Illustrated Luthier 8-string – Tosin remarked that this instrument was difficult to play and very strange tonally, as it had a 30" scale length (compared with the more manageable 27" scale on his Ibanez 8 strings).
  • Legend custom 6 string
  • Mayones Regius 8 string – stolen while on tour
  • Rick Toone Sketch 7 string
  • Rick Toone Blur 8 string[5]


Tosin uses D'Addario Guitar Strings and Accessories for his instruments [2]


Preamps and amplifers[edit]

  • Fractal Audio Axe-FX Ultra preamp
  • Fractal Audio Axe-FX II XL
  • VHT 2/50/2 stereo power amp
  • Port City Pearl
  • Matrix GT1000 power amp – backup in case his main power amp fails
  • Line 6 POD XT Pro – used in Reflux
  • Line 6 POD X3 – used to record the self-titled Animals As Leaders album.


  • Orange Amplification 4x12 speaker cabinet
  • OS Vertical Wave 2x12 cabinet loaded with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers

Tosin did experiment with running his Axe FX direct into the PA without using any cabinets, but decided that using a cabinet would be better for the purposes of monitoring since they often play in smaller venues which lack adequate enough PA systems.


  • Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro MIDI foot controller
  • Fractal Audio MFC-101 MIDI foot controller
  • Boomerang Plus Phrase Sampler—this is used live during some songs to simulate a third guitar player and to create loops and background noise when he is tuning or talking to the crowd.

Guitar rig and signal flow[edit]

A detailed gear diagram of Tosin Abasi's 2011 Animals As Leaders guitar rig is documented.[13]


PSI (Pressure Per Square Inch)[edit]

  • Virus (2001)


  • Illusion of Democracy (2004)

Animals as Leaders[edit]


  • Lingua Franca (Sumerian, 2012)


  1. ^ a b c d Allyn, Bobby. "Q&A: Animals as Leaders". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2010-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Animals as leaders Tosin Abasi First Generation American". 
  3. ^ "Oluwatosin". Baby Namer. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Guitar Power ep. 1 featuring Tosin Abasi". YouTube. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Politte, Elliott. "Tosin Abasi: 8-String Animal". Guitar Edge. Retrieved 2010-12-17. 
  6. ^ "Periphery's Misha Mansoor Working on New Animals as Leaders Album". Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  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. ^ "Guitar Power ep. 1 featuring Tosin Abasi". YouTube. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Animals As Leaders' Tosin Abasi: 10 essential guitar albums". Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cooper, Adam (March 11, 2011) "Tosin Abasi's 2011 Animals As Leaders Guitar Rig". GuitarGeek.Com