MIAMI-BASED BREV SULLIVAN IS ON A COLLISION course with the 1980s. The son of legendary jazz trumpeter Ira Sullivan, he was already playing in the ’80s metal tribute band Lazy Bonez when through a fortuitous Facebook connection with an old friend he was invited to audition for the upcoming Adam Shankman (Hairspray) film Rock of Ages, adapted from the hit Broadway musical. “I ran down Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ during the audition,” he says. “And a couple of days later I got a call saying, ‘You’re second cut,’ which I thought meant I didn’t make it. But then they said, ‘You’re the second guitarist,’ meaning the rhythm guitarist— go figure.” Go figure, because as Sullivan’s YouTube videos and his band Featured on Fridays’ album 5 minutes ’til stage [F.O.F.] demonstrate, his shredding abilities rival nearly anyone’s. In the film, Sullivan’s a member of Arsenal, a fictional band fronted by Tom Cruise.
Shortly before landing the role, Sullivan had crossed paths with Yngwie Malmsteen’s longtime drummer Patrick Johansson, who had relocated to Florida. “I was inspired to get my chops more together after seeing Yngwie play on the G3 Live in Denver DVD with Satch and Vai in 2003,” says Sullivan. “I’ve always enjoyed any shredding guitar but there was something special about that particular performance, and Patrick was the drummer. After he subbed in Featured on Fridays one night, he gave me a call and said that he wanted to form a melodic rock and metal band, and when we started playing together the music just naturally had that classic ’80s Maiden, Priest vibe. Bassist Crystal Fawn joined us once we began recording, and now we are looking for a vocalist. We also still need a band name.”
Sullivan and company also chose to adopt a few oldschool approaches to recording. “We are attempting to capture the essence of an era before Pro Tools,” he says. “And so although we are recording digitally, we’re tracking almost everything live, with minimal editing and production, and basically using the DAW like a tape machine.”
On the new sessions Sullivan plays Vigier Excalibur guitars through both DV Mark and Revolt amps powering “an old Marshall 4x12 with 30-watt Celestions.” A Thomas Organ-era Cry Baby and a Yamaha UD Stomp pedal are also staples. “The UD Stomp has been a part of my sound for as long as I can remember,” says Sullivan. “It kind of warms things up even when the effects aren’t engaged.” He strings his guitars with SIT sets gauged .010-.042, and prefers Dunlop Jazz H1 picks.
Although Sullivan has to rein in his shred tendencies in the new band, he has no regrets. “There’s a reason why people keep going back to bands like Kiss and AC/DC, and of course some of the wonderful playing that you hear from guys like Angus Young. I don’t feel like I’m limiting myself when I’m sharing that moment with an audience who appreciates it as much as I do.”