By Jeb Wright
You remember a decade or so ago when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the waters…a bunch of youngster geetar-slingers who were barely old enough to shave hit the scene? These guys were white boys playing like black blues masters. Guys like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa and Jonny Lang…well, now, in 2013 we have another one in a kid from the Land of Cheese named Jared James Nichols. Yep, this kid is 22 years old and plays blues like a sixty-year old bluesman from Mississippi.
How does he do it? Well, you’ll just have to read below to learn more about what makes this bluesman tick. When done be sure to check out his EP on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/old-glory-the-wild-revival-ep/id676243190 and his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Jaredjamesnichols
Jeb: Ok man…the elephant in the room is that you’re ANOTHER kid with the soul of a bluesman. What is happening out there? Where does this come from and is there some type of pill I can take to join you?
Jared: Damn, I wish! The Matrix style...If only it were that easy! I got lucky, I found how to express myself, channel all of my energy with this music. My guitar turned into my weapon of mass destruction. Its like anything growing up, some kids connected with sports, I was all about music.
Jeb: Your vocal chords are not old enough to have that kind of grit to them. When did you discover your vocal talent?
Jared: To tell the truth, I never really sang in my whole life. With music, it was always about the guitar. About two years ago, when I started my new group, by default, I started to sing. I never took any lessons. It just took a lot of sore throats and hard work to find my sound. I listened to all of the great blues singers growing up, so that really helped.
Jeb: You hail from the land of beer and cheese. How did growing up in Wisconsin shape your musical background?
Jared: Hell Yeah! Growing up in Wisconsin was amazing. Believe it or not, blues jams and live music were alive and well while I was coming up. I could go jam, play music every night of the week at clubs, even when I was 14 years old. I also learned what hard work was at an early age; my first job was 10 hour days of bailing hay.
Jeb: The song “Blackfoot” is impressive. Tell me about that song…how you were inspired by it.
Jared: I started humming the idea of “Blackfoot” as I was walking down the street. The main riff is basically an old blues riff that packs a punch. I love Robin Trower, his sound and groove was the main influence for the track. Lyrically, the song is about the Blackfoot Indians of South Dakota. I always admired their story and that spirit of the wild. I wanted this track to feel a little frantic and crazy, and to give the listener an instant surge of adrenaline.
Jeb: Most people your age do not like rock and blues music. Tell me how you came to love this stuff and how you decided to live this music.
Jared: My parents always listened to oldies when I was growing up. My first musical love was Patsy Cline! I knew every line on her Crazy album by the time I was 10. I connected with rock and blues early on too. When I was 12, everybody was listening to Limp Bizkit, and I hated that crap. I was listening to Ted Nugent and Zeppelin, because it was badass and real!
Jeb: You are in a world where almost everyone is older than you. Is that awkward? Does it take some getting used to when bucking your own generation?
Jared: It's not too bad, I always show respect to the musicians and artists that came before me. I let my music do the talking. Age is just a number isn't it? I don't really care what it takes to knock the door down and get people to listen. I am ready to take that on.
Jeb: I want to throw some bands out and you tell me if they influenced you and how…. Let’s start with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Jared: Stevie Ray is my all time guitar hero. If it weren't for him, I definitely wouldn't be doing what I am. He was my gateway drug into the blues, he got me hooked! Kenny Wayne was one of the first guys I ever saw live playing blues/rock when I was 14 years old. I remember when his song "Blue on Black" first came on mainstream radio. I loved it.
Jeb: Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Jared: I am a huge Skynyrd fan; amazing songs with authentic delivery. I take a lot of their style and feel and try to incorporate it into my sound. In fact, my tune "Sometimes" on the new EP was heavily influenced by that Skynyrd sound.
Jeb: Joe Bonamassa
Jared: Joe Bonamassa is an inspiration in a few ways. For one, he is out there rockin' it right now. He is opening the door to get people back into the blues/rock sound. He can play his ass off, and I love the fact that he is a huge Paul Kossoff fan, I love Free.
Jeb: ZZ Top
Jared: What can I even say about ZZ Top? Between Billy's guitar tone and Dusty's voice I get goose bumps. Besides Johnny Winter, they wrote the book on Texas blues/rock.
Jeb: Buddy Guy
Jared: Buddy Guy was a true blues visionary; he broke all the rules and made his own path in the blues. The biggest thing I love about Buddy is the way he took all of the old style 50s blues and took it somewhere new and exciting. After SRV, Buddy was my first blues guitar hero.
Jeb: The Allman Brothers
Jared: The Allman Brothers are one of those timeless groups. They incorporate so many styles and influences it’s insane. A dream of mine is to jam “Statesboro Blues” with 'em! I think I wore out three copies of Live at The Fillmore before I was out of high school.
Jeb: On the blues side, did you go back and not only learn the licks but also study the master like Muddy and the Wolf and learn about the men who made the music?
Jared: Definitely! I always wanted to know where it all came from. I studied the blues every way I could, eventually getting back to the original masters like Robert Johnson and Son House.
Jeb: Why just an EP? When do we get a full album? You are ready…
Jared: SOON! We released an EP to sort of test the waters. This was my first time recording my music in a real studio setting with a real producer. We wanted to make sure that we got the sound and feel right. I have so many songs and a ton of ideas for the next recording, which absolutely will be a full length album.
Jeb: Talk the business and marketing side for a moment. Sure, you got the sound and the look and the talent, but you are not the flavor of the day. How will get the coverage you need to break into the mainstream?
Jared: To be honest, I want to play my music for anybody who will listen. It's not necessarily about breaking into the mainstream genre for me. I am gonna play the music I love, if it goes mainstream then that’s great. The only plans I have are playing from the heart and being as soulful as possible with my music.
Jeb: Are you in this for the long haul? How serious are you?
Jared: This music is who I am; this isn't just a project. There has never been a doubt in my mind to stop, or reconsider my path in life. As long as I am on this earth, you bet I will be playing my ass off!
Jeb: Have you received any pressure to sell out? Go more commercial or more metal?
Jared: I am all for listening to ideas for different sounds in my music as I love to take risks and see where things go. If someone I respect has a great idea for the direction of a sound, I'll try it. That being said, I have worked very hard to find my own voice musically, if someone was to come up to me and tell me I need to be more "metal" or "commercial" I would just have to laugh it off.
Jeb: Will this kind of real music ever be appreciated on a mass level again in your opinion?
Jared: Totally. People always love honest, authentic music. Blues influence will always be in music, it is a part of our DNA, feeling and emotions. People are getting sick of electronic music these days. There is no soul in a computer or a drum machine.
Jeb: Here is an odd one…blues and bluesy hard rock has been done to death. How in the hell can you do anything new and exciting seeing as how much has been done before? Not trying to be rude…but it must be a challenge to find your own voice in such a historic and crowded genre.
Jared: It is definitely a challenge, but it's like anything, if you are true to yourself and play the stuff that moves you, it’s real. You won't get anywhere in this life trying to be somebody else, or copying another band. There is always room for new, fresh original voices in every genre. I worked very hard to try and strip down all of the things I thought I had to be and instead just focused on being myself, that's what comes out on this new EP.
Jeb: What’s next? Fill me in. Tell me how you will conquer the world!
Jared: Tour, Tour, Tour! I'm planning on playing this music for anybody who is willing to listen. I am showing no mercy with it, we are taking it to the streets. Also, I am already writing and getting ideas to get back into the studio to record.
Jeb: Let’s end with “Take My Hand.” This is traditional, rock, blues…its all there. Tell me about this song.
Jared: This song came up at the end of the process of getting the EP together. I didn't want to release just four songs, so I worked this one up and we recorded it in all of about six hours of time. We tried to cover a bunch of different dimensions on this track, including the dobro and the ballsy electric parts. I cut the vocals in one take, just going for the natural sound of my voice. This is really honest, raw representation for all the stuff I love in blues and blues/rock. We were really happy with the overall sound of the track.
Jeb: Okay, really…the last one…you must have stuck out like a sore thumb when you were playing in front of the blues masters… you were a skinny white boy hanging out jamming on their tunes.
Jared: I was very relentless when it came to learning the blues form and getting up on stage and jamming. Most of the traditional great blues players were just kinda confused about it, but I was very respectful and never stepped on any toes. I did get a lot of strange looks when I was copying all the classic licks note-for-note, but it started that fire and my love of the blues.
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