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Tommy Guerrero

A legendary figure in the world of skateboarding, Tommy Guerrero has also led a highly successful musical career. Primarily a guitarist and bassist, he’s released dozens of mainly instrumental records that blend elements of rock, jazz, Latin, soul, trip-hop, and numerous other styles, name-checking a wide range of influences including John Coltrane, Bill Withers, Bad Brains, and Gabor Szabo. Making his solo full-length debut with Loose Grooves & Bastard Blues in 1997, he then released acclaimed albums such as A Little Bit of Somethin’ (2000) and Soul Food Taqueria (2003), both on the legendary down-tempo label Mo Wax, in addition to making experimental post-rock as part of the group Jet Black Crayon and jazzier sounds as a member of Blktop Project. He also collaborated with Money Mark and Shawn Lee as Lord Newborn & the Magic Skulls, releasing a self-titled full-length in 2009. He remained highly prolific during the 2010s, issuing solo albums like No Mans Land (2014) and The Endless Road (2016), additionally collaborating with Trevor Jackson on 2019’s Dub Tunes.

Born in San Francisco, Tommy Guerrero began playing music with his brother Tony in the late ’70s, forming the raucous skatepunk band Free Beer in 1981. Guerrero joined the skateboard company Powell Peralta in 1984 and became one of the original members of the legendary “Bones Brigade” team. He began taking music more seriously during the ’90s. A 12″ EP released under the name Beats of San Francisco appeared in 1996, and Guerrero’s debut album, Loose Grooves & Bastard Blues, was released in 1997 on the Galaxia label. To support the record, Guerrero turned to his friends – skateboarder and bassist Monte Vallier, DJ Gadget, and former Threeo drummer Tim DeGaugh – to form the band Jet Black Crayon, who toured with Isotope 217 in 1999. With help from Gadget, he released Hoy Yen Ass’n in 2000, as well as the solo record A Little Bit of Somethin’ on Mo Wax. Jet Black Crayon also released several albums and EPs of boundary-pushing abstract rock, beginning with 2000’s Low Frequency Speaker Test. In 2002, Guerrero and Tokyo’s DJ Yas collaborated on the mini-album Angler Fish. He also remixed tracks by Nigo and Poets of Rhythm, in addition to making a guest appearance on Prefuse 73’s acclaimed 2003 full-length One Word Extinguisher.

Guerrero’s warm, soulful music continued on 2003’s Soul Food Taqueria, and after the five-song EP Year of the Monkey, he moved to Quannum, issuing From the Soil to the Soul in 2006. The self-titled debut from Blktop Project, a jazzy combo featuring Guerrero, also appeared on the label Galaxia in 2006. Another record on the same imprint, Return of the Bastard, followed in 2007. Four years later, Lifeboats and Follies was released on the imprint and largely featured the same cast (including an appearance by Money Mark, Guerrero’s bandmate for the 2009 one-off project Lord Newborn & the Magic Skulls). In 2012, Guerrero recorded his seventh solo album No Mans Land, which was released in Japan; two years later, the album would receive worldwide distribution via the Modulor label. The Japan-only Perpetuum also appeared in 2014, with worldwide Perpetual following in 2015. Another limited release, The Endless Road (2016), followed 2018’s Road to Knowhere. In 2019, Ed Banger released Dub Tunes, a Guerrero LP that featured mixes by Trevor Jackson.

  • “A very talented guitarist and composer, each of Guerrero’s albums have been magnificently unique and have each pulled inspiration from multiple different genres.”

  • “Tracks that fizz and jangle with shades of funk, jazz, hip-hop and soul.”

    Irish Times
Tommy Guerrero