It’s no secret that Big Head Todd and the Monsters is a Denver favorite. For over 20 years the Colorado-based band has entertained crowds with their unique blend of blues, soul and roots-rock. Their 9th studio album Rocksteady hits the stores Tuesday, July 20, but already the record is generating buzz, with their single “Beautiful” recently charting at number 20 on the AAA charts–the most radio attention they’ve gotten since “Sister Sweetly”, according to BHTM guitarist-vocalist Todd Park Mohr. “It’s a very exciting time for us,” he says.
BHTM celebrates this new release here in Denver this Saturday night, July 17, with a special private event (open only to a few lucky KBCO-97.3 contest winners) held at Herman’s Hideaway–the place where the band essentially got its start in the late ’80s, one of the few stages at the time that would hire local bands playing original tunes. Todd Park Mohr was good enough to answer a few questions for us in anticipation of this special event.
Q: Tell me about the new record Rocksteady. What stands out about this record for you, and what serves as the inspiration behind it?
A: Basically, I describe it as a soul/R&B record that rocks. It’s a very focused R&B, almost Caribbean-ish influenced album. It’s less all-over-the-map like many of our records. I mean, we’re a rock and roll band–kind of–so it’s more of a specialty thing. And it’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this, and I think what I’m really pleased about is that it’s very focused.
Q: What prompted that particular direction? If you were going to narrow the field–not saying that it’s good or bad, but what made you decide on the soul/R&B/Caribbean vibe?
A: Well, part of that was about 30 songs, and we kept working away at it, and over time we made the decision to pump that material into two albums that were more focused, because we had a lot of really great rock tracks, also…everything just worked a lot better for us to have two records, and that’s why we sort of split it up the way we did.
Q: So this record is really the first of two, then, that are coming?
Q: It’s been a few years now since Big Head Todd and the Monsters went independent again after being with a major label–something a lot of bands seem to be doing these days. What’s the band’s journey been like since then? What are some of the benefits of being independent, and what, to you, are some of the challenges?
A: Well, we’ve probably tried every business model out there, from mailing out a half million copies of our last record for free, making our own record, being on our own label, being on our own label distributed by a major, being on a major label…and so we’ve had kind of a windy journey through all the business models. I think the best scenario for us musically is not to have a major label that’s, at least on the A&R side of things, heavily involved in our career…[it’s] a pretty non-musical process, the way records today are produced under major labels. But on this record, we’re sort of in the middle again, ’cause we’re on a smaller label that’s sort of under the umbrella of Warner Brothers…[also] we have a large management company now, Red Light, who manages Dave Matthews and a bunch of other groups. So we’re kind of back in the majors in a way.
Q: Do you have a personal favorite on Rocksteady? A song with particular meaning, or one that’s just a blast to play?
A: I like “Happiness Is”. That’s kind of one that we all really love. I mean, I like a lot of them, “Muhammed Ali”, “Rocksteady”, “Beautiful”, there’s a lot of great material, I think. But my favorite is probably “Happiness Is.”
Q: You were here at Red Rocks last month, celebrating the 20 year anniversary of Midnight Radio, and along with hearing the band play the entire tracklist for Midnight Radio, we got a preview of some of the songs from Rocksteady. Kind of a meaningful evening all around–can you reflect a bit on the show, your reaction to the evening in general?
A: Well, the first cool thing was getting The Colonel up there [on stage], which was our ’77 Dodge van that we pulled out. It only like rolled 20 feet [laughter]…it was a pretty unique show. I think it’s the first time that the band has ever played an album all the way through. There’s a number of the tracks off Midnight Radio that I hadn’t performed in zillions of years, so it was fun doing that. And of course, it’s the best thing in the world…I have to pinch myself everytime we go [to Red Rocks].
If you weren’t a KBCO-97.3 playlist contest winner and didn’t get an invite to Saturday’s show, you’re out of luck this time–not that the band wouldn’t love to see you, but there just isn’t enough room at the venue. (If you didn’t enter the contest because you don’t listen to KCBO, well, maybe next time you’ll pay more attention.) However, you can read about the show here next week, and you can get the latest news about the band from BHTM’s website.
For more music info:
- Mile High Music Festival: single-day passes
- Underground Music Showcase preview