Jared James Nichols
Jared James Nichols is more than a blues musician and solo artist, he’s a journeyman on a quest for truth and from his soul he delivers his authentic sounds from the wire, wood and electricity of his guitar.
In this interview Jared shares with us his musical influences, early years as a musician, academic achievements, his Flying V guitar, his most recent recording “Old Glory & the Wild Revival” and more.
August 9, 2013
Guitarhoo!: Who are some of your musical influences?
Jared James Nichols: I have quite a few different influences but they all have the same things in common, that is the power and truth in their music. I love listening to anyone who can show their emotion and feelings through song. With that being said, some of my biggest influences are guys like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Stevie Ray, and Jimi Hendrix.
G!: What was the first concert you have ever seen and what did it mean to you?
JJN: My first real concert was ZZ Top and Aerosmith, with Kenny Wayne as the opener. While we were walking into the venue, Kenny was starting his encore, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) The moment was amazing. The energy between the crowd and the music gave me chills. Everyone was feeling the music and connected with the groove instantly. I saw first hand the power of live music.
G!: When did you play your first gig and how did it turn out?
JJN: My first gig was about two weeks after I started playing guitar, and it was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had. When I think back to it now, it’s hilarious. We played a local music festival, covering Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused and Black Sabbath’s Electric Funeral. These were the only two songs we knew, so we played them twice in a row. I was so nervous that I kept my back to the audience the whole time! It turned out pretty well though, that moment really started my drive and dedication to try and be a performing musician.
G!: Did you receive a double scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston? If so, what did you learn the most from your experience at Berklee?
JJN: Yes I did! When I was 16, I went to a summer camp at Berklee for a week. It was a great experience and I met a lot of like minded young players all with the same drive and dedication I had. While at the camp, some of the teachers thought I showed potential as a player and they awarded me a scholarship to come back to study when I was out of high school. Then about a year later, I applied for another musicianship scholarship and was awarded that as well.
What I learned most at Berklee was not really from the actual classes, but more of the life experience it gave me. There were good points of the school, learning theory and the general mechanics of playing. But then there are also really bad points of it… Berklee is like its own world with their own rules, they try and force a certain way of playing, and sometimes neglect certain unique qualities players have. That is why most guitarists that come out of Berklee have the same sound, mostly because they have all been trained the exact same and are too schooled to be truly creative. After a year, I decided to take my own path. I learned to work my ass of, study from the masters, and to be bold and break rules. No school will make you a great player, you need to earn that keep for yourself. You can’t teach feel and you cant teach truth.
G!: You’ve won quite a few awards. In 2010 you won the Musicians Institute Les Paul Guitar Competition “Outstanding Guitarist Award”. How was the experience and is this where the ball officially got rolling on your music career?
JJN: That was an amazing experience. This was definitely one of the pivotal moments that helped my career get rolling. I entered the competition right when I moved from Wisconsin to LA. It just so happens that one of the judges was a very well known and influential force in the music industry, since the contest he has been my manager as well. The best part about the competition is that it gave me the shot to get out in front of a great crowd of people and share my love for the music.
Musicians Institute Les Paul Guitar Competition featuring Jared James Nichols
G!: Most blues players tend to lean towards the single coil pick-up strats. What made you decide to go with a Flying V?
JJN: Honestly, I started out on Stratocasters! My favorite players were all Strat guys, Jimi, Stevie, Robin Trower and Rory Gallagher. I will always have a soft spot for that single coil sound, but I knew it wasn’t really “me”. I couldn’t find my own voice, I needed more power and full tone, so I moved over to the humbucker territory. I started playing with my fingers, and dropped playing with a guitar pick all together. I dig the flying v’s because of my hero’s Lonnie Mack and Albert King. The korina wood has such a bite and a midrange tone that I love. Plus, nobody rocks V’s in the blues world anymore! Also, I recently started playing Les Paul Customs as well for even more bottom and midrange “honk”.
G!: Which guitars and gear are you using for recording and live?
JJN: For main guitars I have a vintage Gibson Les Paul Custom and a older Gibson Flying V. Both are strung with heavy D’addario strings and Seymour Duncan pickups. I like heavy guitars with big necks, the more I have to fight with them, the better. For pedals, I use a T-Rex Yellow Drive for gain, a Fulltone Deja-Vibe, Tychobrahe Octavia, and an Xotic effects EP Booster. For amplifiers, it’s a Blackstar Series One 50watt heads with Greenback speakers. I use the same gear when it comes to recording and performing live. Basically, the live shows sound just like the recordings do.
G!: Your second and latest album “Old Glory & the Wild Revival” has got a great snarly live vibe to it. How did you approach the recording process?
JJN: I wanted to make the most honest and authentic recording I possibly could. Most of my favorite records are live, I love records that breathe and have a vibe to them. The music I want to create is all about capturing a feeling and spirit. Naturally, we recorded all of the tracks live in one room, then went and overdubbed a few guitar parts and the vocals. All of the tracks were recorded straight to tape as well, so we could achieve that authentic tone. We kept focused and tried to keep it real, almost all of the tracks are captured in only a few takes. We went for feel before perfection.
G!: Who did you work with on this record?
JJN: I was very lucky on this EP! I was able to work with the great Warren Huart. (Aerosmith, The Fray) Besides the opening track “Blackfoot”, Warren and I wrote the other songs in just a few days. It was a very organic process, I would bring in a song idea, or we would come up with some riffs and just jam out. We both share a lot of the same influences and love the same players. It also doesn’t hurt that Warren is a ridiculously good guitar player! We could bounce back and forth ideas while always working together with ease. Songwriting aside, Warren produced and mixed the record as well.
G!: Where do you find your inspiration comes from musically and lyrically?
JJN: I find inspiration in everything. Everyday struggles and everyday emotions fuel my fire. I try to tap into myself on a lot of different levels, from love, joy, and pain. My songs are written with honesty, I perform with truth and use my soul before anything else. I have never tried to write a song for a certain genre or style, it’s just whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
G!: What is your favorite track off “Old Glory & the Wild Revival”, something you feel is a good starting point for listeners to get to know what you are about?
JJN: Honestly, I dont have a favorite track, it’s more like these songs represent my favorite different flavors. I think a good starting point would be the first track off the EP “Blackfoot” Its raw, real and in your face. If you are into that, listen further!
G!: Do you have any projects lined up after your current tours, you can share with us?
JJN: I plan on being on the road for a while! I want to share this music for as many people as I can. After the touring is done, I’m gonna get back into the studio with Warren Huart to start writing for a full-length record. There are a lot of song ideas floating around right now, I’m already starting to get excited.
Interview © 2013 Guitarhoo!
Jared on the web