Up-and-coming guitarist Jared James Nichols headed out on the road last week with fellow guitarist John 5 as part of John 5’s new headlining tour. Nichols’ dates in support of John 5 are in support of his new, forthcoming EP, Shadow Dancer, which is scheduled for release Sept. 17 through Black Hill Records. Nichols was nice enough to take some time out of his already busy schedule to talk with this writer about that record, his future music plans, touring, and being recently named a Gibson Brand Ambassador. Nichols’ interview is featured below to enjoy.
PS: This year has proven to be pretty busy for you. You’ve been named a Gibson brand ambassador, you’ve got a new EP on the way, which has already produced two singles and companion videos, and you’re touring with a guitarist in John 5 who is very well-known to say the very least. How are you handling it all? It’s got to be pretty overwhelming.
JJN: Absolutely! I feel so grateful and honored to be having such a monumental year. These are serious dreams come true, to be honest, I never dreamed this far! Earning a title as a Gibson brand ambassador is easily one of the coolest things that I have ever accomplished. And to be back on the road? Amazing! The fact that I’m releasing new music as well is the complete icing on the cake! We still have quite a bit of time left in the year to keep on making moves.
PS: Touching on your forthcoming EP, Shadow Dancer, which is scheduled for release Sept. 17 through Black Hill Records, it is your third EP, if my recollection is right. You released Old Glory and the Wild Revival in 2013 (which I had the honor of reviewing), Highwayman in, I believe 2016, and now you have this one coming out next month. What specifically to you sets your new EP apart from its predecessors in terms of its musical and lyrical content? Where do you think it stands overall in comparison to those records?
JJN: I know that it is very cliché to say this upcoming release is so much more than anything else. But, this record encapsulates everything I have been striving to achieve in my recorded music! This EP is set apart not only by the prowess which it was recorded but also the thought and motivation that went behind it. We recorded live in a room together! We recorded to tape! No computers, no editing, just real music. We wanted these recordings to serve as a menu for our upcoming live shows. What you hear recorded, is what you get live! In terms of lyrical context, I dug deep. I tried to expose the feelings and thoughts that I have been having the past 17 months of being off the road. Simply put, this EP encapsulates who I am and where I am going to musically.
PS: Changing gears to your live schedule, you, again, are set to tour alongside John 5 this summer. Knowing Mr. Lowery’s pedigree, what was the first thing that went through your mind when you learned that you had been tapped to join him for his latest tour?
JJN: I better practice! John is such an amazing guitarist, musician, and songwriter. I feel honored to be on the bill with John. When we met, I realized aside from being an incredible artist, John is a sweetheart of a guy. I’m so lucky to be able to travel playing music with so many heroes and flat out legends, including John!
PS: What are your thoughts on getting out in front of audiences again, now that live music is back? Additionally, there have been a lot of reports of the COVID-19 Delta variant spreading. Are there any concerns by you, John 5, or anyone else as to the possibility of live music getting shut down again as a result of this? If that happened (god forbid), what kind of impact do you think it would have on live music and the economy in whole?
JJN: I can express from everyone on this tour that we want to be as safe as possible! With that being said, we are all so excited to be back out playing music in front of live audiences again. To be honest, this has been the biggest thing missing in my life, playing live shows. We can only do as much as we can when it comes to seeing the future. Every day we wake up and assess the reality of our current situation. Day by day, we will do our best to rock ‘n’ roll. If we end up getting sent back home due to health concerns, then that is what it is. Health and safety first over everything!
PS: Along with touring with John 5, you are also scheduled to perform at Metal in the Mountains this year. For audiences who might not already know, the festival was canceled last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What was your initial reaction at learning that you had been tapped for the festival this year?
JJN: Thrilled! We can’t wait to go and rock at the festival. It’s always super fun being on the road and being able to experience all different types of gigs. Whether that’s clubs, theaters, festivals, or anything in between! I think that we will bring our own unique Brand of bluespower to the bill.
PS: The MITM festival is going to have a wide array of act on the bill this year. From the hard rock of Soulfly, to your bluesy southern rock-tinged sounds, to the nu-metal of hed (p.e.) and others, there is a lot for audiences to enjoy. What does it mean to you to be among that extensive range of bands scheduled for the festival?
JJN: It’s so awesome. It’s honestly what I love about music, being surrounded by all different genres and we all complement each other. I’m so grateful that the style that we play can fit in with so many different acts. It’s always really fun for an audience to get so much variation at a festival, so I truly believe this will be a special one!
PS: Which band(s) are you most looking forward to see at Metal in the Mountains this year? Are there any that, again looking at the scheduled, that you would really like to tour and/or record with?
JJN: All of them! A ton of bands that I love and respect. Also a ton of bands I’ve never seen live, it’s going to be awesome! There are so many bands I would love to tour or record with. Rival Sons, blackberry smoke, gov’t Mule, the list goes on and on! I’m truly looking forward to the future and sharing the bill and recording with a ton of different influences that I have.
PS: Staying on the topic of playing live, what has been the response among audiences to your music? Have you been able to gauge maybe “x” or “y” song is getting more response than “a,” “b” or “c”?
JJN: Totally! I always try and read the room. Every show it’s a little different, sometimes we really want to hit the audience over the head right away and not let up until the end. Other times we want to slow it down or maybe get funky. I can say with absolute certain tea that our new songs are really connecting with audiences. Whether it is Bad Roots or Skin ‘N Bone, they are connecting.
PS: Looking at your social media channels, your established audiences are offering a lot of support for your upcoming live dates, all included. What does that support mean to you as an artist who is technically still considered up and coming?
JJN: It means everything. My biggest goal is to play for as many people as possible and to share my music across the world. The true reality is the engagement and interaction with fans. Especially online, it means so much! Also, when I see all of the connection happening, it gets me pumped up! I feel very grateful and honored to have people excited about what I do. I’m just so excited to be able to be out and play in person for them.
PS: Changing gears a little bit, what exactly does being a “brand ambassador” entail? You obviously are playing Gibson guitars, but what else if anything does that entail if anything?
JJN: If anything, it signifies and solidifies my relationship with Gibson. It means there will be more guitars coming, more development and partnership with the brand. For me, it’s home. It signifies that my relationship with Gibson is more than just a name on the headstock, it embodies a massive piece of who I am as a guitarist.
PS: One last question to round everything out. Thank you again, by the way, for your time. We’ve already pointed out here that your coming EP has produced two singles. What are your personal favorite songs from Shadow Dancer and why? Additionally, do you think audiences will see a full-length album from you in the near future, considering you will have released three EPs as of next month.
JJN: Absolutely, expect an album. I have a lot of things up my sleeve for the near upcoming future. Get ready for that. As far as my favorite songs of the EP, it’s hard to pick! There are special elements in each song that make me love them. Different emotions, energy, soulful intensity in each track. That might be the hardest question!
More information on Nichols’ new honor, tour, and music is available along with all of his latest news at: