Keanu Reeves, Dogstar, and the Matrix Bass Guitar Story

Keanu Reeves, Dogstar, and the Matrix Bass Guitar Story
Keanu Reeves, Dogstar, and the Matrix Bass Guitar Story

Keanu Reeves is one of the actors preferred by Hollywood fans, not only for his way of portraying the different roles he has worked but also because he is quite a humble, pleasant person. Above all, there are always some additional details you can find out about him. The artist born in Beirut in 1964 is already 55 years old, and in that time, he has acted in more than 60 films. Logically, many of them are not well-known, but he has left his mark on the entertainment industry with a lot of presence and without being someone despicable. Reeves has endured too many problems throughout his life, starting with growing up in a dysfunctional family environment, with constant moves from nation to nation.

Young Keanu Reeves. Credit: Unknown

Continuing with situations that have marked him significantly, such as the recovery process of his sister who suffered from leukemia and recently had another relapse in the disease. With his significant human warmth, Keanu accompanied her until she was victorious, turning away from his work during that time.

He had also experienced losses, such as that of his daughter, who died in her mother's womb when she was eight months pregnant, a loss that he shared with his wife, Jennifer Syme. Syme and Reeves were a happy couple until this happened, and it only brought consequences like depression for the couple and the end of their relationship. In 2001, they were close friends, trying to heal the wound that had been presented to them. However, while Jennifer returned from a party, she lost her life in a traffic accident. The pain that caused the actor was so great that, so far, no other official partner of Keanu is known.

But despite all this, his coworkers and people who know him have reiterated on many occasions the beautiful energy that he transmits. Even having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, ego has not been a part of his life. They report that every time he takes part in a film, he approaches each individual to know their name and to recognize those who also make the premiere of each film possible. The actor who brought Neo to life in The Matrix trilogy, who also portrayed John Wick in his three shows, and starred alongside Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate, had another dream, far from acting, when he was just a boy.

Keanu with his sisters Kim and Karina. Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Syme. Credit: Unknown

His passion for hockey led him to discover his musical instinct

Ice hockey was one of young Reeves' greatest passions, but due to a severe injury, he was unable to continue playing. However, it was precisely this sport that led to another lesser-known aspect of Keanu – his stage as a bassist in an alternative grunge/rock band.

Dogstar is the name of the band that was formed in 1991 and dissolved in 2002. Keanu Reeves was the founder, bassist, and secondary vocalist of the band until their separation. The band's origin can be traced back to a chance meeting between Keanu Reeves and Robert Mailhouse, who moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles to take part in a television show called Days of Our Lives. While shopping in a California supermarket, Reeves noticed Mailhouse's jersey from the Detroit Red Wings and struck up a conversation.

This shared interest in hockey sparked a friendship between the two actors. After knowing each other for a while, Rob visited Keanu's house and discovered a collection of basic rock music instruments. As a simple hobby, they started playing music together at Reeves' house. However, what began as a casual pastime soon turned into something significant for both friends. They began incorporating more of their friends into these musical gatherings, making music an essential part of their afternoon routine.

Dogstar band photo L to R: Robert Mailhouse, Bret Domrose, Keanu Reeves. Credit: Everett Collection

Step by step, this small coexistence among friends evolved into a small alternative rock band. Thus, the band got its first name, Small Fecal Matter, which later transformed into BFS, standing for "Big Fucking Shit / Sound," and eventually settled on the name Dogstar.

Their inaugural concert took place in LA, where they opened for Weezer in front of a modest audience of just over 60 people. It marked the first live performance as "musicians" for all the band members, including Keanu. The mix of anxiety, nerves, and excitement from both the band and the few spectators resulted in some applause, mostly coming from their personal friends who attended the event.

With determination, they secured more live gigs at various bars in Los Angeles, attracting attention from a woman who worked at Zoo Records and often attended Dogstar concerts with her best friend. She managed to persuade her boss to sign a recording contract with the band, thus facilitating the recording of their first album in a studio. The primary composer of the band's themes was Brett Domrose, a member of Dogstar.

This promising start paved the way for a bright future for the group of friends, bonded by their love for music, including Keanu. Despite gaining success as a Hollywood actor and landing significant roles, Reeves remained committed to Dogstar. He, along with Mailhouse and the rest of the band, cherished the special connection they had formed within this small musical family, even if their popularity wasn't astronomical.

Dogstar band photo L to R: Robert Mailhouse, Bret Domrose, Keanu Reeves. Credit: Unknown

Dogstar and Bon Jovi on the Same Stage

Suddenly, something extremely unexpected happened to Dogstar. Bon Jovi asked them to accompany them on a tour of Australia and New Zealand. This generated a significant impact on all the band members, but it was undoubtedly a positive one.

The remarkable aspect of this great opportunity was Keanu, who was already popular as an actor rather than a bassist. Bon Jovi saw him as a potential window into the world of cinema or acting and believed that knowing Reeves could provide valuable advice or contacts to help him. Though this might have been somewhat disappointing, Dogstar, including Keanu, thoroughly enjoyed the experience of opening for Bon Jovi in two countries on the ocean-continent.

The trip left pleasant memories for the musicians and actors. For instance, they played tennis against Bon Jovi, listened to music, drank wine, and shared a room. All these experiences occurred due to the Queen of England's visit to New Zealand, which led to Dogstar and Bon Jovi being transferred from their hotel for the security of the British monarch.

Jon Bon Jovi and Keanu Reeves, 1995. Credit: Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage

Bowie and Dogstar

Another important artist who asked Dogstar to be the opening band for their concert was the legendary David Bowie. The venue was the Hollywood Palladium, with an audience of over 4,000 people. But even though all this was very good, there was always the question of whether the Thin White Duke gave them the opportunity for their music or if it was just because of Keanu. However, Reeves said Bowie's intentions were not dishonest. It may be that being Keanu, he allowed them to play, but David never took advantage of the band in any way. It should be noted that the only thing the magnificent artist managed to say when asked if it was all about Reeves was: "I heard a little of his music, and it's pretty cool."

It was something you could expect to hear from someone like Bowie, but it left the whole band in agreement and also served to ease the nerves of the important show they were about to perform. It is worth noting that they did much better in this concert than in their first one because they were better prepared and won the affection and joy of the audience.

From this point on, more performances began to arrive at larger venues with bigger audiences, and Dogstar's popularity was progressively increasing. They even went to The Tonight Show while Jay Leno was still the host. And that was not the only opportunity that Keanu Reeves and Dogstar had to play for a televised event. In India, they were invited to the awards ceremony corresponding to the Bollywood industry. Back then, over 1 million people tuned in to the ceremony, and various curiosities occurred before and after bassist Reeves came out to play.

It all started with Keanu's nerves, and he started drinking water very quickly to try to calm down. Once he was done, there were about one and a half minutes left to go to the stage, but a physiological need made all of Dogstar sweat. Keanu had an uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom but could not find any toilets, so he had to urinate in the same water bottle from which he was hydrating. He managed to finish with a few seconds to spare, then he hid the bottle behind some chairs and boxes.

This amusing event was not the only impressive thing about their visit to India, as after they had performed as a guest band, the bottle and urine were no longer in the hideout that Keanu Reeves had selected. According to a member of the security team, Dogstar was told that a fan of the bassist and actor took the bottle.

Fans and crazy stories directly and exclusively surrounded Keanu. For example, while in New Orleans, a woman with fangs in her mouth got on the transport where Dogstar was mobilizing and bit the bassist's neck, pretending she was a vampire girl. On the other hand, it has to be understood that there is a difference between fans and stalkers. In the latter case, Keanu said that Dogstar was once on a tour of the United States, and a woman went to each of the band's concerts. But she always tried to go backstage to meet Keanu and never made it. The obsession she had for the actor was so great that she did a quite dangerous and morally wrong act. At two different concerts, she threw her son onto the stage. The boy was caught by security personnel and taken backstage, and then the woman entered with the excuse that she had to get her son. After this, she was banned from any Dogstar concert.

Keanu Reeves and David Bowie, 1995. Dogstar is the opening act for David Bowie's U.S. Tour at The Hollywood Palladium. Credit: Lester Cohen

In terms of the band in general, its largest audience and number of fans who knew the lyrics of most of their songs with perfection were in the Asian continent, more specifically in the land of the rising sun, Japan. Dogstar was too popular in Japan, it was almost impossible for the band members to believe, and if they were successful together, the actor added a little more value. Once in the Asian country, they had to plan distraction strategies, such as going in the same cars, and it was not known exactly which of the two were the members of Dogstar.

In addition, Reeves had to be camouflaged and imitated in terms of dress by one of the sound technicians. Only in this way was it possible for the acclaimed bassist and singer to arrive on time at the concert halls, the hotel, rehearsals, or possible scheduled meetings with other local groups. From this country, Reeves highlights the time they played in Fukushima, a dead nuclear zone where nobody can currently live due to the level of toxicity and radiation of the place. He claims that it is a shocking memory and, at the same time, a little disconcerting, but it inhabits most of his thoughts.

After this positive wave for Dogstar, the band was invited to the Glastonbury festival, where a quite hostile environment was presented for the bands that went up to the platform. What abounded most in that compartment was the throwing of objects at those who were performing. For this reason, the entire gang was tense, and once lettuce came out, it grazed Keanu's face. However, this was funny to Dogstar, and they just kept playing and laughing. In some way, the band's behavior of laughing made the audience change their attitude and spirits quite a bit. So, despite the stumbling block at the beginning, their time in England could be considered a success.

Almost at the end of the band's journey, they obtained a recording of a second album and an EP. These two productions began to have a significant boom in Europe and set a sales record in Japan. This led to two tours of the old continent and five in Asian territory. However, when everything seemed to be going smoothly for Dogstar, Rob Mailhouse broke up with the band. This was motivated by his desire to explore other rhythms, leading to a group called Becky, where Keanu Reeves himself also played the bass until offers came for the role of The Matrix. From then on, Reeves' occupations and Mailhouse's departure caused the small but slightly successful grunge band Dogstar to disband, ending Keanu's nearly 12-year stage as a bassist and actor.

Keanu Reeves holding the custom Matrix bass guitar. Credit: Unknown

Matrix Bass Guitar

Keanu is a magnet for the most unusual and incredible things that can happen to any artist. The fact that Dogstar dissolved did not mean the cessation of these curious anecdotes that always accompany the actor and bassist of the grunge band. Although it is hard to believe, there is an article that connects through an enigmatic and fabulous creation, the passage of Reeves by Dogstar, and his participation in the Matrix. It is a musical instrument that was given to Keanu a couple of years ago to have his autograph placed. This instrument, logically, could be nothing other than a bass guitar, but with a theme that is nothing more and nothing less than The Matrix. With this quality, the instrument can retain a fairly tidy aesthetic without losing the magic of the main background theme, The Matrix trilogy.

In this way, the well-known green digits take over the front face of the bass. Obviously, to make these stand out in a special way, the instrument has a black background, which gives it elegance and a good contrast between both tones. On the back of the bass, a label is presented that specifies the company with which the instrument was built, but what really makes the bass unique is the signature of Keanu Reeves. This is located under the label in a grayish-white color, with a considerable size. At this point, all Reeves fans wonder, where did this creation come from, and what is the reason it was built?

Matrix bass guitar. Credit: Unknown

It should be noted that the Matrix bass guitar went viral after photos began to circulate throughout the internet, showing the artist holding the instrument. You can also see images of himself signing the back of it and visiting the store where the bass was made. From there, most people who had the opportunity to observe this bass, at least in photos, have been greatly intrigued to know who built it and why it was made. Although the photos can be found very easily all over the internet, information about the construction of this mysterious instrument is scarce. This strange fact is what makes the Matrix theme even more striking, signed by Keanu Reeves.

First, let's start with its elaboration. Who was the company or store in charge of building this instrument? The answer is simple: Jackson Custom Shop produced the Matrix bass. This is an American store that is responsible for the production of instruments and their accessories. But this is not everything, since each piece built in their workshops is personalized, making them unique samples.

In this way, they can be ambassadors of aesthetic art for decoration, or just as part of a collection. They can also function perfectly as the stars of any concert. The quality and durability are certified by users who have purchased some instruments at Jackson Custom Shop, as long as the piece has the certificate of originality from the store. The store currently offers an online ordering service, where customers can customize their instruments and create the design themselves through the platform Jackson Custom Shop Official Page.

While the store is known to have been open since 1980, it wasn't until 2014 that Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, and the Jackson Custom Shop bass guitar finally met. Although it is unknown exactly where the photo was taken, it can be assumed with a tiny margin of error that the images that can be seen on the internet of Keanu next to the bass were taken in some Jackson Custom Shop. Most likely, Reeves was invited by this company to produce custom instruments. The reason, if it is quite clear, the bass came into the hands of Reeves at the exact moment in which it was 15 years since the premiere of the first film of The Matrix.

So with this in mind, it can be assumed that the instrument was a gift that the Jackson Custom Shop wanted to give Keanu Reeves in memory of the Matrix trilogy's 15th anniversary. All this is justified by the date on which the images of Reeves with the instrument came to light. This happened through a Keanu fan Instagram page, as the actor does not have an account on this social network.

Despite the fact that the founder of Dogstar and the impersonator of Neo in The Matrix signed the bass, posed with it, and received it as a gift, Reeves is not the owner of this mysterious and elegant instrument. After passing through his hands, an auction was created on the eBay page. Logically, once purchased, the bass and the description of the instrument were no longer available on the website. Additionally, the amount for which it was sold or who currently owns it is also unknown.

A curious fact that adds even more mystery to the bass signed by Reeves and themed with The Matrix is that there is no descriptive data on which of the Jackson Custom Shop artists made the instrument. The bass does not appear on the official website of the store, much less Keanu. That is why it is not just Reeves' signature that makes the bass special, or the fact that a specialist store produced its decoration with specific details from the film, but rather the scale of mystery and unknowns that remain to be answered about it truly make this instrument unique.

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