Jared James Nichols - Summer 2017

Fast rising star and power- blues pioneer Jared James Nichols could quite easily be one of the busiest artists in rock. The last couple of years have seen Jared constantly on the road touring with artists such as Glenn Hughes, Zakk Wylde, UFO,  Saxon, ZZ Top and Aerosmith, whilst simultaneously weaving in his own headline shows. It's been a couple of years since his debut album Old Glory and the Wild Revival and over 18 months since the follow up Highwayman EP, so it's great news to hear that he has a new album, Black Magic, due in September, preceded by single Last Chance which is available now. We catch up with Jared in London soon after he arrives in the city from the South of France. Despite the long journey and the fact that the UK is enjoying something of a heatwave, it's a very up-beat and energetic Jared that greets us today. With so much to catch up on, we make ourselves comfortable and our conversation begins…

The last few years have been an incredible journey for you, touring with artists such as Glenn Hughes, Zakk Wylde, UFO,  Saxon, ZZ Top and Aerosmith. Tell us what the last two years have been like for you and what you would offer as your specific highlights.

Oh my goodness, well to be honest with you the past few years have been insane! We've been on the road with so many incredible artists with so many incredible support slots. I've learned so much not only about touring but becoming an artist and realising who I am as an artist. It's pretty amazing to able to tour with heroes of yours, you know, and people you grew up idolising. And not only that but being put in so many different situations that I would never have expected, from jamming with Saxon, touring 20 countries with Zakk Wylde and everything inbetween! My fondest memories are definitely just the backstage hangs that I've had with all these guys, getting to know them not only as artists but as people. It's so cool to meet so many people you grew up listening to and who become your friends. Those are some of the specific highlights of the last few years and honestly it went quick. The past few years have been flying by because we’ll be on the road with someone incredible and then I'll get a call that we're going out with someone else that's a bucket-list tour. So it's just been a whirlwind in that regards!

You have a new album Black Magic due in September and we've now had a taste of what's to come in the track Last Chance, an absolutely superb, high energy track. Having said that it's very different to the material on your debut. There's an almost electronic, futuristic sounding intro before it kicks in with the main song which is perhaps more straight-ahead rock than blues. Was it a conscious decision to create something different? 

As far as that goes, the new record is going to have a taste of everything. There's a ton of bluesy stuff, a ton of stuff that leans on the Old Glory... sound and that kind of structure. But when we released a single I wanted to come out with something with a bang, like a jet engine. It was a conscious decision to put something out that was gonna be a little more in your face, up front and really grab people. That was the whole meaning behind Last Chance – to come out with something that didn't sound the exact same as something from Old Glory..., a little more fresh. You know, with that being said though, the record, I'd like to say it’s got a whole palette of everything that I love about classic rock, blues and all of the above. For this record I think that people are going to be pleasantly surprised when the hear all the different qualities the album’s going to have. 

You talk about the track grabbing people, I think even the accompanying video is going to do much to grab people. It's a very interesting video where we see you playing a blue Gibson Les Paul. It's quite surprising to see you without Old Glory (Jared’s iconic black single-pick-up Gibson Les Paul Custom).

Well, you know what? When we filmed that video, I wasn't even sure I was going to be in it at that moment, and then we ended up starting to film, and the studios had that blue Les Paul sitting there. I said ‘Hey, give me that guitar, I'll just use that one’. It wasn't a conscious decision not to have Old Glory and I think she's mad at me for that! I've got a lot of explaining to do (Laughs).

You are touring the UK in June and July, starting with a couple of headline shows before then supporting Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and then playing the Ramblin’ Man and Steelhouse festivals. What can your fans expect from the shows?

The shows are going to be great because we’re gonna be playing a few new songs that will give them a taste of the new record, but then we're gonna be kicking it with all of the old school, high energy stuff too. It's gonna we really good to come back and stretch out a little bit and play some new stuff and just really be able to kick into overdrive on these shows. And playing with Blue Oyster Cult for us, and for me as a fan, is just mind-blowing! It's just another one of those bucket-list tours. It's gonna be insane!

One of the specific ventures you've been involved with is the presenting on the YouTube channel Fretted Americana where you talk about and demonstrate new gear. I have to say that this is something you appear to be particularly good at! How did this opportunity come about and is presenting an area where you see yourself becoming more involved?

I started doing little guitar videos on-line and they started to catch on like wildfire on Instagram and Facebook, and I was contacted by a close friend of Zakk Wylde who runs the Fretted Americana channel. There's another guitar player, his name’s Phil X. He is on tour with Bon Jovi and he usually runs the channel but since he's been gone on tour so much, I've had to kind of hold the reigns and come in and be able to do a little bit of videos myself. I was a little wary at first, I'm not gonna lie, because it was like stepping into someone else's house! But I was so surprised because there were so many amazing comments. The best part for me was being able to play one of Eric Clapton’s guitars, Eddie Van Halen’s and I did some stuff with Carlos Santana’s. It was a dream come true for a guy like me! Completely unbelievable! I was so over the moon to do it and we’re already talking about doing some more so you'll be able to expect a lot more stuff like that. It's funny because for a guy like me, you never know what you're going to get into, whether it be touring, playing on other records, someone else's music, doing videos. I will just never be able to pinpoint exactly what it is until I'm doing it.

You mentioned that you’d had lots of good comments on being involved in Fretted Americana. Phil X himself has been incredibly complimentary. That must be nice to hear.

Yes, so nice to hear! The cool part for me is meeting all of these guitar players that I've looked up to and getting their nod of approval. For a guy that was coming up loving their styles and their music, and to be able to get their approval and be friends with some of these people is unbelievable. It all really started after the Zakk Wylde tour because Zakk and I really hit it off and it seemed to just snowballed after that. I was able to meet and become friends with a lot of my heroes. I'm over the moon about it and I still don't believe it's real sometimes, you know! Cheesy as that sounds, I sometimes have to think to myself ‘you know who you're talking to, right?!’ (Laughs). It's pretty crazy!

You have an incredible summer ahead of you. What can we expect next?

The big thing in the works is we're going to get this record out - we're going to do another tour of the USA with UFO and Saxon, and we're going to go into Canada and do some stuff over there - but the big thing that we’re working on is that I want to do a headline tour all across Europe. I want to do that when the new record comes out and now we're trying to put the pieces together to make that happen. It's amazing for me to go out on these support slots and to do some headline shows across the way but I really want to do it where I can go around and play long shows and play some real shows for real fans. It's okay to play 30 minutes but let's be honest, I want to do some hour and a half, 2 hour sets to really get into it.

Do you still have plans to work with Joey Tempest and Scott Ian with Motor Sister?

Yes! Scheduling is what it's all about. With Scott and Joey, these guys, their schedules are  everywhere! It was funny, I was so revved to come over to the UK with them and do a nice tour but scheduling came up and there were other dates on the table. So we're still 100% on board with trying to do something with that. They know I would love to, so it really comes down to the schedules, and if the stars align it will happen! It will absolutely happen! 

As our conversation draws to a close we reflect on what a truly exciting artist Jared really is. The last few years have been a whirlwind of a journey for him and it's absolutely no surprise that an artist with his talent and fresh direction is enjoying such incredible opportunities – and friendships – with some of the biggest names in rock. With a career that is simply rocketing, Jared’s humility and gratitude for his success is something we found particularly endearing. It is also with huge anticipation that we look forward to the new album, Black Magic in September. Luckily we can enjoy the new single Last Chance now.

To find out more, visit https://www.reverbnation.com/jaredjamesnichols and Jared’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Jaredjamesnichols/. Enjoy the video for Last Chance below.