“Because I started on the piano, my dexterity was already developed. I loved playing scales, so it was fun to whip my fingers all over the neck of the guitar”: Meet Annie Shred, the former pianist who’s revolutionizing guitar

Annie Shred
(Image credit: Ekaterina Gorbacheva)

Any guitarist who calls herself “Annie Shred” had better prove it – and Annie Grunwald, the seven-string-wielding front person for the L.A.-based band Shadow Cliq, does so in grand fashion. 

On videos posted to her various social media pages, she sweeps, taps and blitzes her way through a dizzying assortment of well-known solos and licks (everything from Rage Against the Machine to Gorija) as well as her own bruising metallic runs. And just to keep everybody on their toes, she throws in a curve or two, like her shimmering cover of the Killers’ Mr. Brightside.

“People have really responded to the clips I’ve done,” Grunwald says. “As a guitarist, it’s been validating and exciting to see the reactions I get from viewers. If there’s an agenda to it all, it’s just to show people that you can enjoy playing any kind of music. Why limit yourself?”

Originally a pianist, Grunwald switched to guitar at age 14 when she heard Green Day. “I was 100 percent all in for Billie Joe Armstrong,” she enthuses.

Quickly, however, she discovered more technical players like Paul Gilbert and Lamb of God’s Mark Morton. “Then I got into death metal, and things got more intense. Because I started on the piano, my dexterity was already developed. I loved playing scales, so it was fun for me to whip my fingers all over the neck of the guitar.”

After studying at Berklee College of Music and playing in metal bands throughout her home state of Connecticut, Grunwald headed to Los Angeles, where she formed Shadow Cliq with her DJ/guitarist boyfriend Danny Dodge and drummer Johnny Tuosto.

“We call our music ‘future metal,’ but that’s sort of meaningless,” Grunwald says. “Any genre of music can fit into what we do. Rules needn’t apply.”

Shadow Cliq’s new single, Ultraviolent, bears this out. A collaboration with dubstep DJ Kill the Noise, it’s a mind-blowing assemblage of shred guitar and madcap electronic highjinks. Meanwhile, another new single, SAYMYNAME!,” hints at what’s in store on their forthcoming EP, Violent Communication.  

“We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘What’s missing in music?’ Grunwald says. “The answer is, ‘Whatever we do next.’”

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Player, MusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.