Tobias Forrest of Cityzen can't stage dive: He can roar and act instead.
Forrest and his longtime friend, guitarist Jeff Line, formed Cityzen with Chris Woods on keys, Andy Bartleson on bass and Darek Leiner on drums.
Line and Forrest met with Patch at .
Line and Forrest started making music together at Northern Arizona University.
"I own at least half of those gray hairs," Forrest joked about Line and his hair.
Forrest, a 22-year-old at the time, went to the Grand Canyon with friends after he graduated from school. The self-admitted daredevil said his friends encouraged him to dive off a rock where the water level was too shallow.
He hit the bottom and felt his spine shatter. He said he knew what happened because his father owned a company that created spinal implants and grew up learning about spinal injuries.
"A doctor happened to be there on vacation and he brought me back and all these people went into saving my life. Then I got airlifted out and then I spent two months on an respirator unable to talk, unable to breathe, finally got off that and started life as a quad in a wheelchair. Really, I thought music was done at that point," he said.
Forrest went on to earn his master's degree in psychology, moved to Los Angeles and began an acting career that would land him several roles, including a Walmart commercial and the recent movie "Sessions" with Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.
He still had an interest in music.
"The thing is, with Jeff and I. He's the only person I've ever played music with. I always saw myself playing music with jeff. Life took us in different directions but brought us together," Forrest said.
Cityzen plays in Hollywood and throughout the Los Angeles area.
"Is that goal to be the next Aerosmith or U2 or Rolling Stones? No. But it is to enjoy ourselves and entertain some people. And hopefully, [we] make a few bucks that we can print some t-shirts and get some free booze along the way," Forrest said.
The group describes the sound as Rock, Funk, Hip-Hop, Classical, Jazz and cover the Black Keys, the Beatles, Violent Femmes, ACDC and Katy Perry.
"The music is not happy wheelchair music. It's Rock music and it's got nothing to do with a disability. I always make jokes about when it's a song about standing or walk this way or get up stand up. You know I can't help myself... the most beautiful thing about the band is they don't treat me different than they would treat somebody else. They don't think we might not getting doors opened because executives don't know how to market 'guy in wheelchair.'"
"I definitely think it gives us a uniqueness that people have never seen or thought of... if the situation were different we wouldn't have these kind of opportunities. I think we've always kind of felt it's really about the music and playing music and not about Toby being a quadriplegic. It's not about that.," Line said.
The band has the opportunity to reach people with disabilities. They recently performed at an United Cerebral Palsy event and learned that a boy in a wheelchair told his mom that he realized he could be a rock star after watching Forrest perform.
"I think before I would have been happy just hanging out on the side of a mountain playing music, whereas now, I have more of a drive... 'You know what I want little kids in wheelchairs to go, 'Oh, I can do that,'" Forrest said.
"I feel like that is enough to make a difference," he added.
Cityzen will play on Dec. 29 at Dave's, 708 E. Broadway, Glendale; and on Jan. 3 at the House of Blue's Foundation Lounge, 8430 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.