Born in the Midwest but having made a name for himself in Nashville, with his early material, Jared James Nichols has established himself as a blues-rock force to be reckoned with.
Now 33 Jared James Nichols’ self-titled third album is both heavier and more vulnerable – the result, he tells us, of a life-threatening injury, the death of his father, and the freedom to follow his muse for the first time.
By naming this album, are you saying: “It’s me”?
Yes, that is exactly the reasoning. This disc looks like me. I wanted this to be my reference. So when someone wonders, “Jared James Nichols?” Who is this naughty asshole with long hair? they are going to listen to this record.
This may be your heaviest album to date.
These songs were written acoustically. But when we took them to our producer, Eddie Spear, he really embarrassed me, like, “Man, everyone tells me you’re this wild rock ‘n’ roll guy. So what do you do Alleluia started out as a ballad, but now that shit looks like children of the grave. I was in front of a 100 watt Marshall, so my hair was blowing, man. And I don’t use a pick, so my thumb was all bloody. After making this record, I felt like I had just stepped out of a rugby match. My ass got kicked, man.
Sounds pretty rough too?
We recorded straight to tape, we had no clicks, and we tuned our guitars to each other. So it’s really honest. If you listen to the beginning of holy or mad, where everything seems broken – I’m sure there’s a computer plug-in for that – what we did was take the tape to the parking lot and dab on it. This record was the first time I walked into a studio and did what I wanted. I said, “I’m not going to try to be the blues-rock guy.” I just let the songs go as they please.
Tell us about the accident that preceded this album?
I was on tour with Black pit cherry, and I went to get an amp head case and just heard a little “pop”. Suddenly my arm was moving really weird. It started to twist on its own and I could hear creaking inside. So imagine this: me, shirtless, wearing crazy bell bottoms, walking into an emergency room. I had chipped a piece of my bone. The worst part was that he was still there. They had to open my arm and put a small plate. Deep inside I think, “Am I fucked? Fortunately, I feel stronger than ever.
Was it difficult to write Out Of Time, about your late father?
I was crying in the studio because it was so fresh after it happened. I was trying to cut out my voice and was too muffled. It came out with a grunge, Nirvana-Pearl Jam feel, which I definitely wasn’t going for.
You are 6 feet 5 inches tall. Does that make you the greatest man in rock?
No. I met Sebastian Bach recently. This guy is a giant. It’s like, six-eight. Here’s the weird thing: when you’re tall and you meet someone taller, I freak out. I’m so used to seeing musicians trying to sound like the Stones in 1973 instead of Mountain’s Leslie West. For me, the advantage of being tall is that I stick out like a sore thumb. Everybody sees me and says, “Who the fuck is that?” And there are a few people who ask me, “Do you play three-quarter Les Pauls?”
Jared James Nichols is available now through Black Hill Records.