Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 71 - Interview with Jared James Nichols

JARED JAMES NICHOLS


Supporting Glenn Hughes on his UK tour is newcomer Jared James Nichols, a fiery guitar player/vocalist with a superb debut album 'Old Glory And The Wild Revival' out now. James Gaden spoke to Jared...


JaredJamesNichols



Let me start at the beginning, is this your debut album?

It sure is... well, I did release a couple of EPs, only available on tour, so yeah, this is my first proper album.

The reason I ask is because it's that good, you have no business making an album as strong as this at your first attempt!

Well thank you very much! I'm glad you're enjoying it, that's great for me to hear.

Tell me about the title 'Old Glory And The Wild Revival'. Is that a nod to the sound of the album? It's not really a throwback, but it does have a lot of Hendrix in there and there are a lot of Classic Rock influences from the 70s.

It's actually got two meanings – it totally refers to that, because the sound, like you said, that I want to build on is that 70s sleazy Classic Rock sound, with some Blues. It also comes from 'Old Glory' which is a guitar a bought, a 1950s Les Paul. I bought it from a guy who really needed the money, and I got it the day we started recording. The whole record was done with that one guitar. I called it 'Old Glory', it's so beat up and trashed, it reminded me that the guitar had played so much great music, it had basically had been on tour it's whole life. And the 'Wild Revival' is taking this music to a new level, it's not dead. As long as people are playing it, it's alive.

I really liked the superb balance of Blues, Classic Rock and hooks in your songs, it's such a great mix.

Thanks man. Before I wrote those songs, I was busy worrying what I was going to do on the record. Then I realized I should just write stuff I think is cool, and that's what I did, so to hear from a guy like you who hears new music all the time that you're into it, that's great. It gives me hope for the future, because I've almost got another record written!

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You started out playing aged fourteen, practiced like crazy for up to twelve hours a day and ended up playing on stage alongside some serious names like Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd... it reminded me of the old day, where artists would tour and be spotted and signed up by a label. That's kind of died out, but you seem to have bucked the trend?

Yeah, the funny part was I wasn't worried about making a record until about a year ago. I was so consumed with learning the craft and figuring out what I wanted to do. I had an opportunity to tour Europe last spring so I said yeah because it was a great opportunity. We go to do the tour and at our first gig, I meet a guy from Listenable Records. He said "You don't have a record out. I want to put your record out." Okay, he was moving a little fast for me...! We started to talk and put it together ourselves, no real grand scheme, he approached us and over six months we hashed out a deal. I had some songs, he loved it, we loved it, we put it out. I hope to release an EP as well prior to the Glenn Hughes tour. I just love playing this music and putting my spin on it.

You got Eddie Kramer on board for production as well which was something of a coup, what was he like?

I got lucky, all the old Zeppelin and Hendrix stuff, Eddie had a hand in those. I'm a big Hendrix fan and about two years ago, I met a friend who said Eddie was a friend of his, and that he thought Eddie should produce me. I thought 'No way, that'll never happen!" Then I played a gig at the Viper Room in L.A. and Eddie came to see me! Fast forward to preparing to make this record and he calls me on the phone, out of the blue. We started talking, went for coffee and he said he wasn't in it for money, he was there because he heard something in the music that he wanted to help build on. To have him say that really meant everything, it meant he wanted to help me make the best music I could. A few days later we were cutting 'Haywire', swapping ideas – he brought in Jonathan Hoover on drums who played with Joe Satriani, just because he was a friend of Eddie's. We cut 'Haywire', 'Crazy', then we did 'Playin' For Keeps', a whole bunch of stuff. To sit and watch Eddie work was just unreal. I learned more in those two weeks about recording than I had picked up in my whole life.

Are you somebody who locks yourself away with an acoustics guitar to write, do you jam stuff with your band, what process do you use?

Y'know, I used to try and sit down with a guitar and write songs, but I'd always feel like hours would pass by and nothing would come out, because I was forcing it. My best stuff, whether it's playing the guitar or writing songs, is off the cuff, it just comes naturally. All the songs on the record were written off the cuff. I like to jam with the band and come up with riffs. All it takes is a little riff and if that takes off, it can propel the whole song and you build on it. I tried to work with song writers and they'd be clever, working to a formula, whereas I just play the song as it is. I just want to make the best Rock and Roll possible. I like to write loud, through a loud amp, in a room. It gives you the vibe where it could go. One of my favourite bands, Free, wrote songs with so much space in them. They have monster riffs but there ain't much to 'em, it's all groove and feel. Andy Fraser said they'd write stuff like 'Mr. Big' in large empty halls to figure out how to write it so it sounded big and loud in concert. I just want to make it real, raw and so people can feel it.

The album has a lot of energy. I'm guessing you didn't overdub much?

Oh yeah, the biggest thing is take it off the floor. Go for the first take, the live experience. Everything I do is playing live with the band. All the greatest records were about the performance, the energy, the feeling, not whether it was perfectly in tune or whatever. Eddie was great for that, we didn't use a click track or any of that shit, just kept it real and live. On 'Now Or Never' and 'Get Down', those songs just have one guitar and a vocal, cut at the same time. No trickery or overdubs, just straight rock and roll.

Saying about vocals, it says on your promo sheet you sang out of necessity. I thought you sang great, but you didn't consider yourself a singer?

You got that right man, I was never thinking about that, but nobody else wanted to! About three years ago, I came to L.A. to start my own band. I thought about hiring a singer but there was the thought of that lead singer bullshit, other people's ideas, so I just worked hard, I still work my voice every day. We just did like 66 dates in Europe and my voice is getting better, so that's exciting. If you come to see me on the Hughes tour, you'll probably think the songs sound better live than on the record.

How did you get hooked up with supporting Glenn?

I've been gigging since I was fifteen and the first gig I played in London was this past April. There was a guy there from a booking agency and right after the set he comes up to me, said "I love what you do, I want to book some gigs for you!" I said "Great!", put him in touch with my manager and about ten minutes later I was told I would be opening for Glenn Hughes. I love Glenn so it'll be a real treat to fire things up for him!

The cover of 'Come In My Kitchen' is a great choice to close the album, it shows your Blues credentials and winds the album down nicely.

It was the first Blues song I ever learned, the first Robert Johnson song I heard and I thought something with a dobro and slide would be a good way to close it. I thought it was different, classic yet near and dear to my heart. Glad you dig it!

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