MP3 Big Head Todd & the Monsters - All the Love You Need
Songwriting in the tradition of Dylan and Springsteen with the blues/rock guitar chops of Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan.
12 MP3 Songs in this album (47:59) !
Related styles: ROCK: Modern Rock, ROCK: Jam-band
People who are interested in Dave Matthews Band Big Head Todd and The Monsters Led Zeppelin should consider this download.
BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS
Todd Park Mohr (Guitars, Vocals)
Rob Squires (Bass, Vocals)
Brian Nevin (Drums, Vocals)
Jeremy Lawton (Keyboards, Steel Guitars, Vocals)
Though his band has racked up seven studio albums and countless miles since he first picked up a guitar as a Colorado teen, Big Head Todd and The Monsters frontman Todd Park Mohr still uses the word “discovery” when he talks about writing songs. He says of “Blue Sky,” from the group’s forthcoming album, All the Love You Need: “We befriended this guy who’s in research and development for NASA, and he asked us to come up with a song for their launches. But I’m not the kind of person who can say, ‘Okay, I’ll write you a song about a particular topic.’ A few months later, though, I discovered a piece of music I knew would be great; I just sort of fell upon it.”
More than anything, it’s Mohr’s excavation of his imagination that continues to drive Big Head Todd and The Monsters – singer-guitarist Mohr, bassist-singer Rob Squires, drummer-singer Brian Nevin and keyboardist-guitarist-singer Jeremy Lawton. The fact is, BHTM could have begun resting on their laurels back in 1993, when their Top 10 singles “Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior,” “Circle” and “It’s Alright” pushed the album Sister Sweetly to platinum certification. However, Mohr says, “I’ve fought throughout our career not to be a one-trick pony, to be the kind of band that has depth and diversity in its catalogue. I’m a fan of this band, and I’m constantly looking forward to what comes next.”
Asked how All the Love You Need – produced by Grammy winner David Bianco (Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, AC/DC) – departs from the band’s last studio album, 2004’s Crimes of Passion, for instance, Mohr begins, “There’s a punk-rock element.” His assessment is unexpected considering the disc’s expansive melodies, diverse arrangements and sophisticated wordplay. “It isn’t so much the angst or anger of it,” he clarifies, “but a rhythmic aggressiveness, especially on songs like ‘Spanish Highway’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ and definitely ‘Beautiful Rain.’ I’ve always loved the spirit of punk rock.” He pauses, then deadpans: “I guess you could call those tracks ‘punk-rock epic ballads.’”
The title track, too, finds Mohr challenging himself, venturing into uncharted thematic waters. He diverges from the traditional love song with the tale of a woman who takes him by the hand and says, “Let me let you in on a secret/ You’ve already got all the love you’re needing/ In your heart, in your mind, in your imagination/ You’ve already got all the love you need.”
This rather revolutionary notion was inspired by Mexican writer Don Miguel Ángel Ruiz. Mohr explains: “In his book The Mastery of Love, he imagines a magic kitchen, where you have all the ingredients to make anything you want. It’s a metaphor for our inability to see what we have and have faith in it. There’s so much love in our hearts to give and receive but we just aren’t willing to believe it or act on it. That’s a really powerful idea.”
Mohr is particularly fond of Spanish art and literature. “It tends to be very dramatic and romantic,” he illuminates. “There’s a tremendous emphasis on death and tragedy and this classic macho outlook.” “Spanish Highway” is among the more personal outings on All the Love You Need. Written while he was mourning the death of his mother, the song returns to the image of an empty runway. “It’s about life’s departures,” he says. “The plane has flown off and you’re left standing there alone.” “Spanish highway, driving back to what belongs to you, longs for you,” Mohr sings of the aftermath of loss.
He informs that Bruce Springsteen, whose work with The E Street Band has surely influenced Big Head Todd and The Monsters, has himself been influenced by the richness of Spanish culture and storytelling. Coincidentally, the narrative of the standout All the Love You Need track “Fortune Teller” came to Mohr in a dream obliquely related to Springsteen. “It was the vibe of his early stuff, running around in Jersey, to bars and pool halls with this friend of his, this poet who was so in love with one of Bruce’s girlfriends that he took the rap for her after she killed her abusive husband. The dream was so vivid,” he relates. “I wrote the song from the poet character’s point of view.”
Mohr stresses the involvement of producer David Bianco (who, in another bit of serendipity, recorded Springsteen’s tour for Darkness on the Edge of Town) in the creation of “Fortune Teller.” “We really benefited from David’s musical vocabulary on this record,” he attests. “He has a great feel for the mechanics of songwriting and arrangements. One of the records he did that sold us on working with him was Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. It has that sound where you just hear a band playing but with this heightened sense – when you close your eyes you can see the musicians playing together live. He doesn’t pile on the sounds; he just brings out the essence of what’s there.”
The essence of Big Head Todd and The Monsters – a rootsy, emotionally direct variety of rock ’n’ roll that lends itself particularly well to a live setting – has been winning fans since Mohr, Rob Squires and Brian Nevin started playing together in high school (Jeremy Lawton joined in 2004). Needless to say, the three never expected to be in the same band at this late date, but, as Mohr points out, “It was a really fortunate combination of musical personalities, and we’re still partners in every sense of the word.”
The band spent seven years developing their chemistry and amassing a following, boosted significantly by the independent releases Another Mayberry (1989) and Midnight Radio (1990), before being “discovered” by the listening public at large with 1993’s Sister Sweetly. After a major-label stint (Sister Sweetly, 1994’s Stratagem, 1997’s Beautiful World), during which the trio increasingly found itself frustrated artistically, they reclaimed their independent status (2001’s Riviera, 2004’s Crimes of Passion). “If it were not for our ability to do things for ourselves, we would have disappeared a long time ago,” Mohr allows.
Among the chief perks of independence is, of course, the songwriter’s freedom to pursue his muse, but it also enables a uniquely committed relationship with BHTM’s fans. “We love playing music for people,” Mohr states matter-of-factly, “and we don’t need a record company standing between us and the fans. We got rid of the middleman and we’re still here and we’re doing great business.”
Much of that business involves touring. BHTM calibrates carefully the number of dates they perform each year (among them their annual throw-down at Denver’s Red Rocks and yearly New Year’s Eve blowout) to make sure everyone’s happy – not least of all themselves. “There was a period in my life where I was on tour nine months of the year,” Mohr reveals. “It felt endless; it just wore me down. I was a very unhappy person. Now, we play about 35 dates a year, plus a lot of festival shows, and we really enjoy it. I do like traveling. For 20 years I’ve watched the country go by. It’s a magnificent place, and I feel very lucky to know it as well as I do and to have made fans and friends all over. That’s the way it should be.”
The band is so devoted to its fans, in fact, that they’ve logged three fan excursions, two cruises to the Caribbean and a land-lovers jaunt to Hawaii. “We play a bunch of shows, and we never play the same song twice, which we all love,” Mohr says. “We don’t make any money off the trips, but we have a blast and there’s really no better way to get to know your fans.”
Still, for Big Head Todd and The Monsters, remaining connected to their audience means taking creative risks and inviting their longtime followers to grow alongside them while also welcoming new fans into the fold. “We’re never going to be one of those bands that relies on their hits,” Mohr says. “I think All the Love You Need is the best record we’ve ever done. I’m enjoying being a performer and a songwriter more than I ever have, and I think that’s the payoff for making new music, discovering something fresh and interesting and ultimately, worthy of our fans.”