August , 2013
By Kat Sugg
Jared James Nichols
Are You Ready For The Wild Revival?
JAM Magazine Speaks With New Blues Guitarist
Photos Courtesy Jared James Facebook
Last week, I received an email from JAM managing editor requesting me to take a look at an electronic press kit of a young gun out of Hollywood by way of Wisconsin.
On July 23, Swing House Quality Recordings released a new EP, Old Glory and the Wild Revival. I had never heard of him before, so I watched the video as requested, and I knew I wanted more. I was given a copy of the disc to listen to, and I can only say that the young man impressed upon me through his music, a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.
In speaking with him during a phone interview, I found the young musician to be polite, charming and well versed in his musical heritage. He was thoughtful and honest with his answers and during the course of our conversation, I realized that this was the forerunner for the next generation. Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce you to Jared James Nichols?
JAM: The first thing I want to do is congratulate you on the release of Old Glory and the Wild Revival. The title reminded me of Lynyrd Skynyrd's God and Guns. Can you tell me what the significance of the title is to you?
Jared James Nichols - Thank you so much. The title actually represents a few things in my eyes. Old Glory is obviously symbolic of the American flag and American tradition. It is also the nickname I gave to my vintage Les Paul guitar. It's really reminded me of everything that is great about classic rock and everything that is pure and authentic about the music that I am trying to create. It just gave me that kind of feeling every time I picked it up.
The Wild Revival is something I am trying to create with my music. We have gone through a lot of different Blue booms in the sixties and in the eighties when Stevie Ray Vaughan came about. But now is the time, more than ever, to have a great revival of the Blues.
JAM: In your press kit, you describe your musical style as the Blues Soul Power. Who were the musical influences that have affected and led you down this path?
I have so many influences from so many different genres. What really affected me coming up and honing my craft, were always musicians and bands and artists that really mean it and they have a lot of feeling in their music. We already touched on Lynyrd Skynyrd and that is a huge influence on me along with the other southern rock acts that were great. The Allman Brothers, Blackfoot and .38 Special, a lot of bands like that were really influential on me. Most especially guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix and a lot of the old blues greats got to me when I was young. It was about the feeling they put in their music and the truth and honesty that great music brings like that. It's made for everyday people and that was something I always loved.
JAM: You're 22, is that correct?
JAM: You were barely even a year old when Stevie died in that helicopter crash at Alpine Valley. Who influenced you towards the blues? What person in your life led you to that type of music?
Honestly, it's funny that you mention when Stevie died in that helicopter crash. I grew up in East Troy, Wisconsin which is basically where he played his last concert. I grew up there and lived there until about two and half years ago. I heard about Stevie from a young age from my parents and a lot people around town. If anything, it was probably my mom who got me into the blues. She took me to my first blues jam when I was 14 years old. Basically, she got me on stage with a lot of old real deal blues cats from Chicago and opened my eyes to how exciting the blues really was. Stevie Ray Vaughan was the guy who really brought me there. I remember someone giving me a tape of Stevie playing when I was probably about 14 and it just blew me away. I mean when I heard that tape I just knew what I wanted to do. I read it like a book. It was right there in front of me.
JAM: You're guitar, the Flying V, was Albert King's weapon of choice but yet I noticed in your press kit, that you are particularly fond of Freddie King. Are you aware that there are actually four great kings of the blues?
Yes, ma'am. Earl, BB, Freddie and Albert.
JAM: Actually, I don't know about Earl, but to us down here, there is B'nois King, he plays with Smokin' Joe Kubek and that is the fourth and final King. On the new CD you have a track called "Blackfoot". You mentioned the band Blackfoot. Is this your tribute to them?
Honestly, Blackfoot has been a huge influence on me, but that track was written for a different reason. It was influenced by the actual Native American tribe of Blackfoot Indians from the South Dakota area. I was really getting into a lot of old history and stuff a few years ago. Growing up in Wisconsin, we used to do a lot of casino and Indian reservation tours. I played with a Native American singer and I started learning more about different tribes and learning the culture and what they represented. I wrote that song with the Blackfoot Indians in mind. I came up with that riff when I was just sitting down with a singer and it just started grooving. It was what was on my mind at the time. I just focused all my thought on what the warrior mentality of the Indian and that was the song that came out. It's just a crazy, wild, running rift that just keeps going. To say that Blackfoot band was an influence would be correct as well.
JAM: How did you get hooked up with Jessica Childress from the Voice to record that song?
Jared:We recorded the track and we had the track basically done. The first time in the studio I laid down the harmonies on the chorus. It sounded great, but I always had a feeling like that song needed that feminine touch maybe. It just needed a little more soulful, almost jazzy R&B style voice on it. I met Jessica a few months before that and she said to me "I'm a singer" and this was before she was on the Voice. I told her I had a track that I would love to hear her sing on. She came down to the studio and I gave her my ideas for some harmonies and she came in there and blew me away. She started singing and I said "That's it. That's what I want on the track.” So we just sat there for about two hours and she knocked out all of the harmonies in the song and the rest is history. Now every once in a while, we try to get her on stage with us to sing the harmonies when she is available.
JAM:In the next tract, "Can You Feel It", you can really tell that your southern rock influence is coming out in that track. Aside from Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, what other influences went into the making on that song?
Obviously the Allman Brothers, but a ZZ Top kind of feel, a real deep Texas groove, and maybe a surprise a little bit, but some early Aerosmith stuff was an influence as well. I was looking to get that driving Texas rock feel out of it. Something memorable on the guitar part that kind of stuck in your head, I was fooling around with it, I was listening to all the great stuff. I came up with that little riff with Warren Huart who helped me write the song, and we knew right then that was the song. We added the other parts and came up with the little hook "Can You Feel It". That's about it on that song.
JAM: On the next track, "Let You Go", you have at this point on the EP developed your own style and it comes out right there. Is that where you are trying to show you do have your own style outside of your influences?
On a whole different level, you are completely right. I really wanted to break out and show the different stuff I could do. With a track like "Let You Go", when we first started writing that it was basically a blues song with that hook we use versus the guitar rift. I wanted to take it somewhere else. I knew I could be safe and write a blues song around that rift, but I wanted to take all my influences from the blues and the rock stuff and try to make a song that is acceptable to anyone. I wanted to have a song that I could hear on the radio. Even if it never gets on the radio, something almost as a crossover. Like the Allman Brothers' with a song like "Melissa". It doesn't matter what genre you are into, everyone can enjoy a song like that. It's just that beautiful. "Let You Go"to me was my inspiration to do something really different on the EP. It merges all the different styles from blues and the rock and even pop. It was a departure from everything else on the EP.
JAM: On "Sometimes", it gets even better. You have built this major crescendo on the EP. "Sometimes" is better than the song before but by far and away, "Take My Hand" was to me, the best cut on the EP. I say that because in listening to it, within the first few bars, I immediately think Rory Gallagher, who was the great bluesman out of Ireland. You get into that deep, dirty groove that the blues is all about. That is where I can tell that you're feeling it. How did you write that song, being only 22?
As I said before, I love the old, acoustic delta style blues and I grew up trying to emulate my heroes in that genre. I just started humming it one day, subconsciously. One of my friends I was with asked "what song is that?" I said "I don't know." If I start humming or I start singing something I think is kind of cool I record it on my phone, seeing how this is like the new age, right? So I record it on my phone and when I get home and I will go to a guitar or I'll sit down and try and figure something out around it. In the first intro on "Take My Hand", totally is like a Rory Gallagher kind of deep blues groove like you said. I sat down with my old dobro and just started writing it. It just came out. "Take My Hand" basically wrote itself. It was probably ten minutes and the song was done. It is one of those songs I feel like kind of summed up everything I love about the blues. The dirtiness, the groove, and the feeling and it summed it all and captures the excitement there is right now that there in the blues. It's such a great style. Combining the resonator with the electric sound to me is just so exciting and inspiring.
JAM: Now I am going to ask you the question I ask everybody I interview, which is mainly a point of reference for me, but everyone at some point in their life and you may not have reached the full total has five records that will have influenced and changed their life. Can you tell me which ones have changed you?
Totally. The biggest one that changed my life right from the get go like we started talking about Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood. When I put that record on, I felt like it was the holy grail of modern blues guitar and that one sums it up for me. Another record that I could not live without forever was Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix. That also just opened the door for the psychedelic free rock songs that showed the potential of what electric guitar could do. But then the older stuff that really grabbed me was obviously Robert Johnson's The King of the Delta Blues. That was my introduction into the deep delta slide guitar blues. I still listen to that almost daily. Two other records that brought me there, I would have to say Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore. That was one of the big ones for me. I listened to that forever. Learned every one of Duane's licks on that. It was an amazing record. If I could say another one, it would probably be Howlin' Wolf The Real Folk Blues, the Chess compilation from his fifties and early sixties Chess stuff.
JAM: Like the first track, Blackfoot, it made me think about the early days of Led Zeppelin when they weren't really where they were going to go, but yet they were relying heavily on that early Chess sound. Some of Zeppelin I was written by Willie Dixon. Has Zeppelin played a part in your music at all?
Definitely. Led Zeppelin was just one of those cornerstone bands that influenced me probably more than I recognize. Between those first three or four records, I took so much inspiration from them. Like you said, Led Zeppelin I was basically a blues cover record. All those the Sonny Boy Williamson, the Willie Dixon songs, it was just the new approach to that Chess sound. Honestly, a lot of those classic rock groups like Free were a big influence on me as well with Paul Rogers. Even bands like Humble Pie. It was a lot of that late sixties, early seventies British classic rock - blues based music that was huge for me.
JAM: If you could take one guitar lesson from any guitar player, living or dead, who would you choose?
Oh man, I would love to sit down with Jimi Hendrix because honestly, a guy like Stevie Ray Vaughan or maybe even Robert Johnson. I would have to say either Robert Johnson or Jimi Hendrix. There is so much documentation of Stevie throughout the years. There is a lot of Jimi, but it is more serious with guys like Robert Johnson or Jimi Hendrix. There is not a lot of documentation of them just sitting down with a guitar and just footage of that. There is a lot of performance of Jimi Hendrix, but if I could just sit down for an hour with Hendrix and pick his brain I think that would be towel in the mouth thing, so to speak.
JAM: At this point in your career, who has given you the most help to get where you are? Which other musicians have helped you along the way? Here in Texas, when the musician gets big, he grabs the next one behind him or somebody and helps them get to where he is. Basically, Texas Blues has a tradition of raising one up to the next level. Who has done that for you?
A lot of local musicians in the Chicago and Milwaukee area helped me along quite a bit substantially. If I could pick anyone, it would have to be a guy named Greg Koch. He is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin guitar player. From the time I was 14, even now, I still listen to his music religiously. He's been a great influence and has helped me along the way so much since I was younger, showing me different stuff with the guitar, inviting me to play at his gigs. He has just been a pure inspiration. Every time I see him it's like we don't skip a beat. If I could ever help anyone along, it would definitely be Greg.
JAM: What advice would you give the next generation of players?
I would tell the next generation of player to be original, to find their own voice and find their own sound within the music. Whether it's blues or southern rock, whatever it is that anyone wants to pursue, I think the biggest and most important thing is to find your own unique sound, to stamp the music out for yourself because I think what today's music is lacking is real honest and traditional sounds, and authentic players and authentic people. There is too much stuff that is done with a computer or it's faked in the studio. The next generation of players just need to work and take the time to figure out who they want to be as an artist and what they want to share with their fans and the community of musicians. In the sixties and seventies there were so many different unique guitar players coming out that had their own sound and were inspiring and were writing great songs. Nowadays you just don't hear about a lot of great guitar players coming out in that way. You hear about them more that they can play really fast or are very technically good. There aren't any more Duane Allman's walking around. It's a different time and I think that people need to get back that originality and authenticity in music.
JAM: You picked the one genre that cannot be lied to. The blues is about the most purest and simplest form of music that exists yet it covers all the human emotions. What one word would you use or how would you describe music as it means to you?
To describe my music?
JAM: To describe music, in general.
I would have to say spirit. I think that would be the word to describe the music in general. The things that have really kept with me since I started listening and started playing music were songs and sounds that took on a life of their own. They brought something else to the table. If you listen to any great song, even like a Led Zeppelin song like "Since I've Been Loving You", "Heartbreaker", or any of the Who stuff, it's all spirit and that is really what I like to take away from music is a larger than life sound that a band or a player represent.
JAM: This interview is going to be an introduction for you to the people who haven't heard of you before or even know of your existence. What would you want the audience to know most about you?
What I want the audience to know is that they are getting an honest, real deal, authentic experience, whether they come to a show or buy the EP. Nothing that I do is put on. If you come to one of my shows you get me, you get Jared and it's all about the soul and the feel. I'm trying to create music that everybody can listen to and everyone can get into using all the great moments of the old classic rock and the old blues, bringing it fresh and bringing it forward to now. I want people to be excited and to know that there is great blues and blues rock music that still exists.
JAM: Do you believe that the energy comes more from the live performance or from the recording?
I love to record and I love to be in the studio, but really playing live for me is where it is at. Getting a crowd reaction and getting the vibes from a live audience and that energy and excitement, that is what it's all about. I feed off the crowd so much. When there is a great sound and people are really receptive, it takes me to another level. The songs and the sound take on a life of its own and nothing can beat the vibrations of being on a stage with a lot of receptive, great people listening to the music. I think that is the segue that music should be in right now. The wild revival is coming and it's going to be from a lot of different groups that are coming out right now. I think that people are craving authentic, true, honest music and I think that is clearly on the horizon.
JAM: I want to thank you for your time. I know I will be looking forward to what comes next. Can you give us a sneak peak at what's next for Jared?
We are going to be leaving and heading out on tour for the next few months and we're going to get that live crowd interaction in support of the new EP. After the touring slows down, I'm just going to start writing again and get into that frame of mind to record a full length album. That is my next goal and keep doing it, to keep it honest and real to the best degree that I can.