It was really cool to find myself interviewing someone I had recently come to greatly admire, Jared James Nichols with his electric blues approach rejecting all that’s cool for something he believes in. His love for this music is oozing through his responses to the questions, showing that he is the real deal when it comes to the blues, that much is certain from watching his performance and following his career for a while. Jared is enthusiastic today, a very welcoming and comfortable interviewee which makes it feel more like a chat than anything too official. Read ahead for being backstage with Zakk Wylde, punching Mr. Wylde and the career (past, future and present) of a rising star in the blues rock scene.
So you’ve finished the EP. Why did you choose to do an EP rather than an album?
Honestly for me I felt like it was to early to do full other record when I feel like the first record didn’t really have its time in the sun quite yet if that makes sense, but when touring I always wanna have something fresh to bring you know because I feel like it’s kinda redundant and boring if you just come on the road and you don’t have anything, it’s just like you’re doing the same thing so I always think of moving you know. That being said there is a full other record ready to roll.
I didn’t catch the first bit of the set, did you play anything from that?
Yeah actually, what we did is we just released a new single called “Don’t You Try” and we kick start the show with that one and that’s been a ton of fun, yeah you missed it bro, you missed it (laughing). What I like to do is to just set the bar high right away and just go for it so we started with that and we played “Old Glory”, we played a few tracks off of Highwayman (New EP). [We reviewed the EP back in October – Mosh]
Yeah that’s a cool video for “Don’t You Try”.
Yeah funny right, it’s stoopid (laughing) [the video’s embedded down the bottom for you to enjoy – Mosh]
Are there any favourite pieces of work from that? Maybe “Don’t You Try”?
Ah, for “Don’t You Try” honestly I’ve had that riff stuck in my head for like four years. First I did it with acoustic, then I did it with slide and then on electric and it’s just funny because one day I sat down with one of my buddies and I was like I’m just gonna write a fucking song with that riff. But you know it’s just straight forward, no bullshit you know. Just a rocking tune.
So with all your work, it’s all very in touch with the blues roots
For you is there any connection with you music to, for want of a better word spirituality? Anything deep about it?
Yeah absolutely, I feel like for me it’s always has been and always will be totally about… I don’t wanna use the word vibe but the only time I feel comfortable when I’m playing is when I feel completely connected to the music you know, and it’s like when I first discovered the blues it put me there right away and when I started to play I could see how I could emotionally feel better from fucking shaking a guitar and just doing that. It was almost like letting go of tension, so you know for me it’s not even about the blues it’s just about the deeper connection of the music and its a lame term but actually soul, like you feel it and I put myself in the music you know and for me it’s gotta be that way because otherwise I don’t wanna do it, it’s just lame.
Yes, you always look like you’re kinda doing that
Yeah I just wanna be in it. I want to be the music, you know what I mean, that’s the way to be and it’s like that way for every great artist from fucking Motorhead you know, you’re in it, you are the music.
Old Glory’s the guitar right?
Yep that’s my guitar, man.
You’ve got a passion for the gear. Did you use the same setup for the two records?
Yeah honestly I always try and keep things as simple as possible you know, for me it’s the most important thing to not try and cloud up the sound or do anything that’s like I think people will be into, I just wanna keep it as simple as it needs to be you know so basically for all the recordings I use my Les Paul “Glory” and very simple amps. You know what we were talking about today it’s like when a band shows up and they’ve got 17 marshall stacks, It’s awesome don’t get me wrong it’s awesome but as far as recording and stuff it’s just not practical man. It’s just I keep the bare bones.
Yeah, unless we’re opening for Skynyrd or we’re playing with Zakk Wylde you know I’ll definitely beef up the setup but for the most part, yeah, it’s about the same.
Why do you think people are attracted to this kind of music in this day and age?
What I think is that all of us have had, honestly for the past 20 years since the grunge movement, shit music shoved down our throats, man, and it’s like all you hear when you turn on the radio, all you see on TV. You get this fake, fabricated music that people are just are just pushing into you and the funny part is, when I play and someone comes up to me and is like, man I’ve never heard shit like that before and I’m like man I feel bad for you, you know because there’s so much great shit that you’re not hearing and the thing to me is man I think people connect with it just because it’s real, it’s raw, there’s no bullshit man – it’s just straight up rock ‘n’ roll.
About your tours with Skynyrd and Wylde, are the crowds different from those in your own shows?
Yeah you know it’s funny whenever you walk into a support slot, you know especially with Zakk who we just wrapped up with here in the UK and Europe, we’re gonna do Canada and America with him in a few weeks. You know especially with Zakk, I’m walking into a very metal based community right and when you walk out on stage it’s a little intimidating because you got guys out there thinking who the fuck are you, who’s this guy, what’re you gonna do. But you just gotta kick in the action and just go high gear for it because you know, when someone comes to one of my shows, they know what they’re getting but for someone who’s going to see Zakk Wylde it’s like I gotta win them over. But you know that keeps you on your toes as a musician, those are the gigs that are like, no matter what if someone leaves my show saying Jared was good tonight or Jared sucked, when I’m playing with Zakk, I gotta be on my game.
Have you had any favourite support slots so far? I mean it’s a tough one to choose from!
Skynyrd was amazing because they treated me like one of their own you know, they let me jam with them and we were hanging and they were great dudes. But honestly the Zakk tour. Zakk for me… Do you play guitar?
Little bit of bass
Well for me, Zakk was one of my childhood heroes and to now be on the road with them… he’s given me guitars, he’s hooked me up with his company and we’re sitting down talking about shit and it’s just like man, that to me is worth its weight in gold, just sitting with one of your heroes. I would say the Zakk one has been the most inspiring.
I saw the video of you and Zakk backstage…
(Very enthusiastically) When I punched him?
Yeah man too fun. You know everyone’s been like oh man look out for Zakk, Zakk’s a mean guy. Dude, he’s one of the fucking sweetest guys ever, yeah man it’s crazy.
Did you ever think as a child that you’d be punching Zakk Wylde one day?
Nope, no way man. I just wanted to meet the guy and then to be hanging is just a dream come true.
Is there anyone you particularly aspire to support?
The thing is like, as far as support tours go I’d love to get on the bike, because there’s still a lot of classic bands that are still touring and still doing big stuff you know, man I wanna go out with everybody. I wanna fucking do all of it. I wanna play wherever I can you know, The Stones, Paul McCartney (laughes) I just wanna play where I can man.
As a new musician yourself what would you say to people like Gene Simmons (no offence to Gene of course) who say things like “Rock is dead” or that “There are no good new bands”?
Honestly, I feel like that’s to do with social media, everyone has a platform to put their stuff out on right, and when everyone’s doing that you’re not going to get the cream de cream. But for me it’s kinda like, don’t count on an old dog in a fight man, you know. Rock is not dead. Man, how old is classical music? How old is baroque period music? Rock ‘n’ Roll is only 60 years old or so and the fact is, as long as there’s guys like me out there that love it, guys like us that love it and wanna push it forward and they wanna put their own spin on it then it’s not gonna die. The fact that someone actually has to say that “Rock is dead” is just kinda funny because they’re still playing arenas you know and it’s just like, man, don’t count it out till you try it, that’s what I feel about it. I’d fucking die for Rock ‘n’ roll man, die for it (laughing)
How does it feel to have to have played the Stone Free? In its first year as well.
It was great man, honestly London and England has been really funny actually. Every time I’ve come here it’s fucking awesome. The first time I was here we recorded at Abbey Road and then we played The Borderline and we played The Electric Ballroom and now at Stone Free and it’s just like, man, everytime it keeps getting better and you know, I love it.
Are there any cultural differences between continents with your shows?
I really dig the UK just because it’s much more… it’s really proper.
You’re not just saying that because I’m here?
No no no, no you get what you get you know and when you walk into a venue, most of the times, especially at Stone Free and all these places, you’re gonna get just what you need and it’s like sometimes when you play in the States you don’t get treated as well. I don’t know it’s different everywhere.
Man the only advice I can give to you is to keep pushing and when it gets tough, it’s gonna get tougher and for me especially, I felt like when I was coming up I thought man I just need to get this good, I just need to do this and then I’ll be good and then I’ll be better but the road keeps going man and you just have to keep pushing harder and harder. And you know, there’s gonna be times when you wanna give up and you’re gonna say this isn’t cool but you know those are the times when you gotta dig deep and you’ll know, I mean the music’s gonna choose you before you choose the music. For me it was always should I keep going but the music kept reminding me to keep going and it was like something great would happen and you think, man I can’t stop now you know, I can’t stop now, what would it all be for you know? Especially now after being with Zakk and doing these festivals and stuff it’s like the door just keeps opening a little wider every time. So for anyone else that’s trying to do it, you’ve just gotta believe in yourself you know, know and believe in what the music is trying to say.
Did you tell the story about Lynyrd Skynyrd in Germany?
Yeah, yeah we actually talked about it a little bit, that’s like the same thing you know. When I opened up for Skynyrd, those guys knew and they could tell that I loved their music so much and that I was such a fan of the music and the band and the whole heritage of it and when they heard us sound checking and we’re playing Blackfoot songs and The Allman Brothers and stuff they’re going “Who is guy right?” So then they invite me backstage and we hang out and we talk about Southern Rock and they realise that I love it, that’s just everything and then flash forward, we get off stage, I’m out of breath and Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist) comes up and he goes “Hey man, you coming out to jam with us?” and I’m like “What, did I hear you right? You want me to come out and play with you guys?” “Yeah come play the encore; Sweet Home Alabama with us” and I was like “Holy shit” you know and then their guitar tech gives me one of Gary’s guitars and he says “Yeah go” and I was just over the moon, it was crazy. Totally crazy.
Is there anyone you’re sticking around to watch?
Tonight? Yeah, I mean, all the bands really. I mean it’s funny I love Blackberry Smoke and I saw them last night.
They’d be good to tour with…
Yeah absolutely, we were just talking about that, we’re gonna have to do something. I have never seen Alice Cooper so it’s kinda like I’ve gotta do that but I mean everything, it’s gonna be awesome, wish I was here tomorrow too.
Where are you off tomorrow?
Southampton, but yeah it’s kinda nice because usually when we play festivals and stuff, we play and we leave so it’s like no interaction but at least today we’re gonna hang about and soak it in a little bit.
The interview goes on for a few minutes after but ultimately it dissolves into friendly chit chat with Jared and his PR Peter Noble which is great to be a part of. After asking for a picture and walking to Michael Monroe’s show together we part ways. I urge you to see his shows, they really are something special and a precious thing to be preserved. I will certainly be seeing him again soon!
You can next catch Jared on tour in the UK with the legend that is Walter Trout. Dates as follows:
- Oct 17 Rock City – Nottingham
- Oct 18 Manchester Academy 2
- Oct 19 Sage Gateshead – Newcastle
- Oct 21 The Lemon Tree – Aberdeen
- Oct 22 The Queens Hall – Edinburgh
- Oct 23 Holmfirth Picturedrome – West Yorkshire
- Oct 25 The Brook – Southampton
- Oct 26 Exeter Phoenix
- Oct 27 Tramshed – Cardiff
Header photo by Gary Cooper