With the return of his long-dormant alt-rock outfit Dogstar last year, Hollywood legend Keanu Reeves reminded the world that he’s more than just one of the most famous action heroes on the planet; he’s a bass player, too.
In a world-exclusive interview, Bass Player sat down with the John Wick actor to talk everything bass: what drew him to the instrument in the first place, the evolution of his rig and his all-star jams.
One highlight of our conversation centered around (of course) Bill & Ted. But while its stars – played by Alex Winter and Reeves, respectively – are known for their hair-metal guitar antics onscreen with Wyld Stallyns, off-camera the pair played bass. And they played it together – inspired by each others’ licks and, er, other things…
“Alex and I would have bass jams,” Reeves laughs. “It would be like two-bass jams. And that was wacky, good fun.
“Someone would start a central riff, and the other person would move around whatever that riff was… At the time, I won’t say that there wasn’t any weed involved!”
Naturally, the duo needed to distinguish from each other tonally during their low-end wigouts. And Reeves had just the thing.
“And then I might throw in maybe some distortion,” he recalls. “Once in a while when I played by myself, I would put the old distortion pedal through it.
“The jam space at my house in the ’90s had a Marshall amp, and sometimes I played the bass through the Marshall head and played with the distortion there, which I thought was cool.”
Sadly, he also revealed that making William ‘Bill’ S. Preston Esq. and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan bass players in the movies was never on the cards – although the series’ own bass hero, Death, would later showcase his own low-end skills in 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.
One of a number of Hollywood actors who are also bass players, Reeves recently partnered with Fender for a short film called Don’t Quit Your Day Dream, during which he described the purchase of his first bass as “like a bass drug deal”. That video has now received almost two-million views in two months.
Stay tuned to Guitar World for the full interview with Keanu Reeves, where he explains why he doesn’t consider himself worthy of a Fender signature model, what he really learned from his bass lesson with Flea, and reveals the answer to the age-old question: what bass would Neo play?