While the past four albums from Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been what drummer Brian Nevin considers “experimental,” the upcoming album, “Black Beehive,” is a little more stripped down and traditional.
“It’s a blues-based pop rock record with great songs by Todd (Mohr, the band’s frontman) and great lyrics,” Nevin said. “It’s easy, but really cool music. It’s probably our favorite record. It’s a really great representation of what our band is … this gets us back to being a blues rock band.”
Fans at tonight’s free Vail Snow Daze show will get to hear some of the new songs, as well as the longtime fan favorites, songs that have landed on the rock charts, such as “Bittersweet,” “It’s Alright” and “Broken Hearted Savior.”
“We are planning to play more of a festival set so that the show will have an appeal to everybody, and not just our fans,” Mohr said.
The band will likely also play “any requests yelled out from the audience,” Nevin said. “We’re always happy to play what people want. We have a deep catalogue and if we hear something yelled out, we’re happy to do it.”
The album is the 10th studio release for Big Head Todd, a band that formed in the mid-’80s in Boulder. It was recorded at Butcher Boy Studios in Chicago, where Mohr lived until he recently moved back to Denver. The record is set to be released in February, and then the band plans to tour the country behind it.
“We recorded it basically live in the studio, without a lot of production and editing and overdubs,” Nevin said. “It was four instruments, a bunch of mics, hit record and make a record. We did the whole basic tracking on the record in a week. It was really quick. That was the idea: All get in one room and just play and not be too particular about making it perfect.”
Though the band has been around for nearly three decades, Nevin said they’ve never sounded better.
“Having the good fortune to be able to play together for as long as we have, you develop a band sound. The way we sound now is better than ever, which was the impetus for us to record this way.”
The album was produced and mixed by Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist Steve Jordan (whose previous production credits include John Mayer, Buddy Guy, Solomon Burke and Robert Cray).
“Black Beehive” arrives a quarter-century after the group’s debut album, “Another Mayberry,” which first put Big Head Todd and the Monsters on the map. After attending high school together in Denver, and then college together at the University of Colorado in Boulder, the original trio — Mohr on guitar and vocals, Nevin on drums and vocals and Rob Squires on bass and vocals — started the band. Now a quartet — with keyboardist/pedal steel guitarist Jeremy Lawton, who joined in 2004 — the band is still opening themselves to new possibilities even as they further explore their roots.
“It has some contemporary elements that bridge a gap between alternative pop and traditional blues,” said Mohr about “Black Beehive,” whose title refers to the late British soul singer Amy Winehouse, the inspiration behind the album’s title track.
“People who love Big Head Todd and the Monsters will love this record,” Nevin said.
Despite having been around since the mid-’80s, the band is still finding new fans, like Gabriela Antao, a New Jersey transplant who just moved to town. A friend who works in the marketing department at Vail Resorts introduced Antao to the band, she said.
“I honestly didn’t know anything about them,” Antao said. “A week before I drove out, my friend told me about the lineup and told me to check out a few bands. I have Spotify so I listened to them on my trip out west and I really, really liked them. They remind me of My Morning Jacket, but bluesier,” she said.
For Antao, who says “music is one of the loves of my life,” having access to free concerts such as this one is “amazing.”
“To be in this postcard and then have free music is pretty top notch,” she said.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org.