Todd Park Mohr On BIg Head Todd and The Monsters' First Tour in Three Years, Delta Blues and Not Playing LA
C Taylor Crothers
It may be hard to believe, but Big Head Todd and The Monsters just sprinted past their 25th anniversary. For many, it feels like Midnight Radio was just released yesterday, yet it was released in 1990. In tribute to their best known work, the band is embarking on their first tour in three years, and will be playing the album in it's entirety. Recently, we caught up with singer Todd Park Mohr before the band's gig at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Valentine's Day to chat about all things about the band and what they've been up to in the three years since they last toured.
Did you expect that 20-plus years down the road, that the band would still be playing to packed houses and Midnight Radio would still be as well received as it is?
It's been a couple of years since we've been out on our own tour. We're coming off last year doing a Robert Johnson tribute disc and we're anxious to get out on the road again as Big Head Todd and The Monsters. We picked six shows to do Midnight Radio in its entirety. We performed it at Red Rocks two years ago and it was one of our most successful shows ever.
Why did you decide to take on this concept in six cities?
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It's a special concept that the band doesn't do very often and that was our rationale for doing it only six cities instead of the entire tour.
What are some of the other sets going to be like?
Fortunately, we have 10 studio albums so we have a lot of songs to choose from. We like to make our sets as different as we can every night, while at the same time playing the hits that people want to come to see. We have a lot of new blues material we learned from our friends on the Robert Johnson tour and we're just having a great right now.
The Robert Johnson album is definitely an interesting route for the band to take in exploring the roots of music. What was the impetus for you guys decide to record the album and get the guest artists to perform on it?
It was going to be Robert's 100th birthday and nobody else seemed to be doing anything, so it seemed like a great idea to pay tribute to him. Honestly, I wasn't really familiar with his music before this project. I was more of a '60s electric blues guy, so it's been a fascinating learning curve for me to discover what a treasure delta blues was. Getting a chance to meet some of the guys in this genre has been a wonderful experience as well.
At this point in the band's career, you've avoided many pitfalls that plague bands. That being said, what does it mean to you that you're still playing music with predominantly the same group of guys that you started out with and are still having success this far down the road?
I'm so fortunate that I can still does this and not have to get a day job. It's obviously a great tribute to our music that people are still supporting us and that we're still playing at the best clubs and selling them out. We're having a blast and what else is there?
How come the band decided to play in the South Bay and OC instead of somewhere in LA?
I enjoy being in those towns, there's just a cool vibe along the outside towns on the California coast. I think that's where the people are. We can obviously play in LA periodically but I like being able to get to the smaller, cooler towns. The difference is the crowds in Hollywood are stale. It's more fun to play in places that feel like a community.
With the music business being drastically different than when you started out, do you find it easier to have more control of your material and image without having to yield to the pressures of a label?
It's a lot better for us that's for sure. We can focus on what makes our fans happy and works live. I love being a songwriter and we're looking forward to putting out a lot more music so I have a great gig right now.
Are there any upcoming sessions slated? Do you guys have any new songs written?
We'll be recording in the fall for a release in winter of next year. We have 40 songs ready to go.
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