Jared James Nichols: "After making this record I felt like I’d just got out of a rugby game"

Jared James Nichols holding a guitar
(Image credit: David McClister)

Born in the Midwest but having made his name in Nashville, with his early material Jared James Nichols established himself as a blues-rock force to be reckoned with. 

Now, 33-year-old Jared James Nichols' self-titled third album is both heavier and more vulnerable – the result, he tells us, of a potentially career-ending injury, the death of his father and the freedom to follow his muse for the first time.


By self-titling this album, are you basically saying: “This is me”? 

Yeah, that’s the exact reasoning. This record just feels like me. I wanted it to be my benchmark. So when someone is wondering: “Jared James Nichols? Who is this ugly, longhaired shithead?” they’re gonna listen to this record. 

It might be your heaviest album yet. 

These songs were written on acoustic. But when we brought them to our producer, Eddie Spear, he really put me on the spot, like: “Man, everyone tells me you’re this wild rock’n’roll guy. What are you doing?” So Hallelujah started out as a ballad, but now that shit sounds like Children Of The Grave. I was stood in front of a hundred-watt Marshall, so my hair was blowing, man. And I don’t use a guitar pick, so my thumb was all bloody. After making this record I felt like I’d just got out of a rugby game. My ass was kicked, man. 

It sounds quite rough-and-ready, too?

We recorded straight to tape, we didn’t have a click and we tuned our guitars to each other. So it’s really honest. If you listen to the start of Saint Or Fool, where it sounds all broken – I’m sure there’s a computer plug-in for that – what we did was take the tape to the parking lot and stamp on it. This record was the first time I went into a studio and did what I wanted. I said: “I’m not gonna try and be the blues-rock guy.” I just let the songs go the way they will.

Tell us about the accident that preceded this album? 

I was on tour with Black Stone Cherry, and I went to grab an amp head case and just heard a little ‘snap’. Suddenly my arm was moving really weirdly. It started to twist on its own and I could hear crunching in there. So picture this: me, with no shirt on, wearing crazy bell-bottoms, going into an emergency room. I’d chipped a piece off of my bone. Worst part was, it was still in there. They had to cut my arm open and put in a little plate. In the back of my mind I’m thinking: “Am I fucked?” Fortunately I feel stronger than ever. 

How hard was it to write Out Of Time, about your late father? 

I was crying in the studio because it was so fresh after it happened. I was trying to cut the vocal and I was too choked up. It came out with a grunge, Nirvana-Pearl Jam feel, which I definitely wasn’t going for. 

You’re six-foot-five. Does that make you the tallest man in rock? 

No. I met Sebastian Bach recently. That guy is a giant. He’s like, six-eight. Here’s the weird thing: when you’re tall and you meet someone taller, I get freaked out. I’m so used to seeing musicians trying to look like the Stones in 1973 rather than Leslie West from Mountain. For me, the advantage of being big is that I stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone sees me and goes: “Who the fuck is that?” And there’s a few people who ask me: “Are you playing three-quarter-size Les Pauls?” 

Jared James Nichols is out now via by Black Hill Records.

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.