Justin Shekoski is a musician from Orange County, California, currently residing in Lake Elsinore, Ca. He is primarily known for his role as the guitar player and a founding member of the rock band, Saosin but is now the guitarist for The Used. He is also being recognized as an educator of music as much as a performer, with much of his time spent teaching music through the way of the guitar to students of all ages and backgrounds all over the world.
Growing up with records constantly playing and a high regard always put towards the art of music, Justin’s musical life began at a very young age. At age 10, he was given his first electric guitar. In the beginning, as a product of the 1980’s, most of his efforts were geared toward learning the techniques of all of the emerging virtuosos of the time.
As time progressed, the need to join a group, start writing and playing live shows became obvious. After being in a few different bands with high school friends and playing local shows, he joined a band named ‘In Reply’, later changed to ‘As Hope Dies’, which was a technical metal band from La Habra, Ca.
During his time with As Hope Dies, Justin caught the eye of fellow guitar player, Beau Burchell. After meeting and discussing what their vision of music was, they realized that they had the raw ingredients for something truly great. After months of late night writing sessions, they assembled an incredible group of musicians with similar musical upbringings rooted in the hardcore music scene but longed for something more rich in harmony, originality and possibility.
In 2002 Saosin was born. Little did they know, what they created would quickly prove to be a genre defining sound.
Saosin recorded and released the EP ‘Translating The Name” on their own in June, 2003. Self-funding and self-releasing ones own music was, at the time, a new idea. This ultimately let the band concentrate on touring and gaining their reputation as one of the hardest touring bands of the time and….one of the most fun to watch.
After the quick departure of their first singer, Anthony Green, there was an open slot at the front of the stage. Cover Reber would be the one to fill it. From there, touring, touring and touring lead to the realization that a full length record was the next logical step for the Southern California quintet.
In 2006, Saosin signed with Capitol Records and recorded their freshman LP, Saosin’s ‘Self-titled’ with world renowned producer, Howard Benson. Released in September, 2006, the record would prove to be a success. receiving critical acclaim from fans and fellow musicians alike.
Around this time is when Justin began his relationship and studies with Berklee College of Music, who had an emerging system for distance education, which was absolutely perfect for life on the road. There, Justin focused on studying Jazz and learning to view music from a new perspective.
During the ‘Taste of chaos’ world tour, Shekoski would find himself filling in the position of lead guitar player of headlining band ‘Taking Back Sunday’ after being approached by the band because of an emergency that required Fred Macherino to go home a month early. Justin took over the position and pulled double duty for the rest of the tour. Years later, on Linkin Parks “Projekt Revolution Tour”, Shekoski was once again called upon to help Taking Back Sunday, by not only covering Lead guitar for Macherino for a few shows but also filling in for Eddie Reyes for 3 shows. The shows were incredibly fun for all parties.
A few years later, while Saosin was supporting Underoath, Justin was asked to fill in for their charismatic guitar player, Timothy McTague. Shekoski was honored, and to the delite of a sold out crowd in Worcester, Massachusetts, played back to back sets, one with Saosin, the other…Underoath.
In the midst of touring, Saosin filmed a set of theirs and released it as their first live DVD, “Come Close.”
After recording another EP for capital records, Virgin records acquired Capitol records and Saosin recorded one last full length for the label. ‘In Search Solid ground’ would prove to be the last release with the label and subsequently with vocalist, Cove Reber, who was let go in the summer of 2010.
The last show that Saosin performed with Cove was in Australia, on the seven year anniversary of the release of ‘Translating the Name’.
It will prove to not be their last.
Ever since, most of Justin’s focus has been on teaching music.
Privately, on-line and in person. (See ‘Lessons’)
In 2012, Justin received his Masters certificate in Guitar and a Specialist certificate in Improvisation from Berklee. In June 2012 and 2013, he attended Victor Wooten’s Music/Nature camp, after years studying Victor’s views of music, which expanded Shekoski’s perception of music more profoundly than his past 19 years of playing.
In 2013, Justin and Beau Burchell, joined Anthony Green on stage during the encore of one of his solo project concerts in Pomona, Ca to play an acoustic version of “Seven Years.” This reignited rumors that the members of Saosin and Anthony have been talking and possibly, just possibly, a reunion could be seen on the approaching horizon.
2014 arrives and so does a ‘new’ Saosin…………The “old” Saosin. Saosin played its first show back, with Anthony on the mic in Philadelphia, Anthony’s home town. The show was one of the best in Saosin’s entire eleven year history. The connection and energy between the crowd and the band was like they never stopped playing shows. All of the members seemed more connected and having more fun than ever before. Not to mention, they have never sounded better.The continued on to play 4 more sold out shows on the west coast. All went equally as well.
Now, with Saosin being back to its original state, more shows are being planned and new music is being written and recorded.
In January 2015, Shekoski received a phone call from the band The Used. They asked if he would be interested in joining the band on account of Quinn Allman wanting to take a hiatus. After playing one set together, everyone felt a naturalness and flow that felt right. This is still The Used. He was asked to join that day.
In February 2015, The Used completed an extensive tour of the United Kingdom. This being the first tour with Justin on guitar, no one knew what to expect…..It couldn’t have gone better. The crowds were incredible and the chemistry between the band members and energy onstage was electric.
2015 has been an eventful year to say the least.
“Above all else, I have been welcomed into a family of individuals who are more caring, inspiring, cooperative, and more supportive than I could’ve ever imagined. I started working with The Used in January on a temporary basis and, in a nutshell, it has turned into something more serious. Their new guitar player, I am. I couldn’t be more excited or feel more fortunate to travel and write music with this group of guys. Over the past year of touring, fans of The Used have treated me with an incredible amount of respect and love. It was truly touching and I really can’t thank you enough for the welcome thus far. As far as Jeph, Dan, Bert, and I, in addition to an incredible year of shows, we’ve been working on new music and putting together a bunch of ideas that I think are going surprise you in the best way possible.
In light of this news, after years of writing and waiting to produce a new record, some of the members of Saosin have decided to end our 13 year relationship for questionable reasons. This was a shock to me. Even though all of this happened a few months ago, I’m still processing it. I’m sure I’ll discuss this in greater detail at a later time. One thing I can be sure of is that I could not and would not have done anything differently over the past years. The shows were some of the best we have ever played. It truly seemed as if everyone was happy and positivity was at an all-time high. I was proud of the new music we were creating and to be turned away right before we tracked the record that we had spent years writing and our entire career working towards is saddening at best and angering at worst.
If anyone’s heart or commitment to Saosin could have possibly been in question, it certainly wasn’t mine, ever.
C’est la vie.
To all of the fans that have seen Saosin play, listened to our music, shared in the emotions, supported us or in any way—shared the ride, thank you. Thank you for everything.
Experiences: some joyful, some tragic, some trivial, and some life-changing. Saosin has taught me a lot, Thank you.”
In 2017, The Used record “The Canyon” with Ross Robinson at Studio 606 and Valentine Records in Los Angeles.
After a business dispute, Justin was terminated from the band.
Shekoski is currently working on new music.