The Underground Thieves' Nick Perri on ignoring directives from Eddie Van Halen, and why he's more satisfied with his tone than ever before

(Image credit: Austin Nelson)

Imagine you’re 20 years old and your band is on tour supporting Van Halen - essentially living the dream of every young American rock and roller. Now imagine that your hero, Eddie Van Halen, suddenly sends his people over to your people and asks that you not perform a spotlight guitar solo during your nightly set anymore. Talk about a potentially dream-squashing moment. Nick Perri, guitarist and frontman of the Underground Thieves, doesn’t have to imagine this nightmare scenario, as it’s exactly what happened to him when his band Silvertide was touring with Van Halen in 2004.

“I think the first emotion I felt when I heard about it was that I was bummed out,” Perri says. “But then I realized something - that I didn’t have to say yes to this request. I mean, if Eddie Van Halen was that age and one of his heroes asked him not to solo, he probably would have said, ‘Fuck you.’ Now, I didn’t say it quite like that, but I did politely refuse to stop playing my solos - and I think Eddie respected that.”

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Jeff Kitts

As a teenager, Jeff Kitts began his career in the mid ’80s as editor of an underground heavy metal fanzine in the bedroom of his parents’ house. From there he went on to write for countless rock and metal magazines around the world – including Circus, Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs, Rock Power and others – and in 1992 began working as an assistant editor at Guitar World. During his 27 years at Guitar World, Jeff served in multiple editorial capacities, including managing editor and executive editor before finally departing as editorial director in 2018. Jeff has authored several books and continues to write for Guitar World and other publications and teaches English full time in New Jersey. His first (and still favorite) guitar was a black Ibanez RG550.