Interview: Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters
February 15, 2007 11:38 AM
by Christina Fuoco
Initially, Big Head Todd & the Monsters trademark concert meet-and-greets at the merchandise booth were used to help souvenir sales. But from that start, the veteran rockers evolved into one of the most fan-friendly bands in the business.
"I ended up really enjoying it," said frontman/guitarist Todd Park Mohr said. "For me, it's really nice. It prevents me from having to deal with the after show. I also really enjoy just connecting with people and getting a feel for what they're into and what their feelings for their music is. It's really useful for me. It's been good all around."
Big Head Todd & the Monsters, rounded out by bassist Rob Squires and drummer Brian Nevin, are touring in support of their "From the Archives" CD, a collection of songs from early in their career that never made it onto albums.
Rather than embarking on their annual fan cruise to the Virgin Islands, the band will spend a week on Hawaii's big island this year, playing intimate shows and spending time at the beach with fans. The May 20-26 party at the Prince Hapuna Beach Resort will encompass extended live performances, cocktail parties and sightseeing with the band.
Mohr spoke to LiveDaily about the trip to Hawaii, a forthcoming album and releasing songs via the Internet.
LiveDaily: I read on your website that you are soliciting requests from fans for your shows. How much do you actually pay attention to those requests?
Todd Park Mohr: We try to accommodate as much as we possibly can. Every once in a while, there's some oddball request of songs that are kind of out of circulation for us. Every once in a while, we get stumped. For the most part, we do try to play every request we get.
That must be fun yet challenging, especially if you get a request for a song that you haven't played in a little bit.
In every story I've read about you, people are raving about what a good--yet underrated--guitar player you are. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel great. We sign autographs after every show and shake hands with people. I get a lot of feedback from our fans. I get that comment a lot. People say we're their favorite band. Even though we're not on the cover of People magazine, it's good to know that people are receptive and able to make their own judgments. There's a lot of flattering things that people say about us. It's great.
Why did you decide to release music on your website as opposed to saving them for a new album?
Part of it is just how much the music business has changed, in the way that people listen to music and obtain music. It makes so much sense to look at things like the podcasts and free music on the Internet, which deepens the love for your band and gets people more interested in your music. So that's something that's worked out really well for us. It's helped us keep our music career going forward without the two- or three-year album release cycle. I kind of like to be known for releasing music all the time. It gives fans a reason to always go back to the website and see the band play.
A lot of bands are leery about releasing music on the Internet because they'd rather make money off of their music. Have you completely ruled out a traditional album?
Not at all. We just released an archives disc and we're finishing up our next CD, which will be out in the summer. We're working everything we can.
Which label will release your album?
I'm not sure yet.
What can you tell me about the album? How do you feel it fits in with the catalog? Is it like the older material or a natural progression?
Every song I write is its own individual. I never am interested in really revisiting something I did 20 years ago. That being said, there's certain things about our sound that are consistent. We're a very blues- and folk-oriented rock 'n' roll band, basically. So the new record has a lot of those aspects in it, but a lot of others. I anticipate there being 20 songs on this record. So it's going to be a lot of music for a CD. Our last studio release was "Crimes of Passion" in 2004, so it's been a long time since our last studio release. I have a lot of material to deliver. I'm excited about that.
You must be one of these people who constantly writes songs, considering you release songs on the website all the time.
When I'm not on the road, I'm writing songs.
You mentioned the "From the Archives" CD. Was it difficult to choose songs for the album?
Not especially. This disc actually includes music from before any of our released discs. This sort of represents the very first body of music we worked on as a band. It's kind of a fun project in that aspect. It's more of a fan-type of release. It was fun to put together.
Was there some stuff that you heard that you said, "I will absolutely not release this?"
Speaking of the road, you decided to take a trip to Hawaii with fans instead of your traditional Caribbean trip. Why is that?
Part of it is the expense. The cruises were about $3,000. This is a cheaper trip. Plus, a lot of fans were saying a week on a boat isn't everybody's bag. This is kind of a land trip, so maybe we'll mix it up a little bit and go to the Caribbean next year. This year we're going to Hawaii. It'll be fun.
What do you have planned for the trip?
We'll play probably three shows over the course of the week. One thing that's fun about the trips we've been doing, the band doesn't play the same song twice. It gives us a chance to really stretch out and play more of our catalog than we normally did.
You've been around for about two decades. To what do you attribute your longevity?
As a band, we're very compatible just as friends. We have a great working relationship and a great personal relationship. We've always just loved what we do. It's a privilege to be able to do this for a living, to write music and play music. As long as we can do it, I will.