Big Head Todd plays Super Bowl Village 

As Big Head Todd and the Monsters were getting ready to start a four day East Coast run of shows last week, I talked via phone to Todd Park Mohr as he was hanging out before a show in Connecticut. He and the band (all the original members, and together since 1986) come to Indianapolis on February 1, playing the Verizon Stage in the Super Bowl Village. We talked with the Colorado native - now living in Chicago - about his recent Robert Johnson “songbook” album, what teams he follows in the NFL, and what he means when he says “a song belongs to everybody.”

NUVO: With your recent 100 years of Robert Johnson album, you called the band the Big Head Blues Club. Talk about that project.
Todd Park Mohr: Obviously it’s all Robert Johnson material and are songs from a really special time period. That is a fascinating and wonderful part for me. I loved the group nature of recording it, with a lot of musicians involved. They were very spontaneous and fast sessions; it took just three days and was fun to do something that was very uninhibited and about making the moment right. We were in Memphis, which as fabulous place to be, especially for blues music.
(Editor's note: Todd will be a part of a concert to honor blues guitar legend Hubert Sumlin, which will be held February 24 at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Levon Helm and dozens more are on the bill, honoring the life of the influential guitarist from Howlin’ Wolf’s band. Sumlin died in December, 2011, and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid for Sumlin’s funeral.)

NUVO: What are you listening to these days?
Mohr: I listen to a lot of blues before 1945, like Charlie Patton, Son House, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. I am kind of obsessed with that era right now. I listen on my iPod; I like my shuffle. I also like having access to lots of individual songs, and to be able to listen to stuff immediately.

NUVO: Any new music in the pipeline?
Mohr: I have been performing some new material both solo and with the band; we are going to be in the studio in the fall for a release for early next year.

NUVO: You must have some things you like about Indiana, since you come back here all the time.
Mohr: We have some friends in Indiana who like to drink a lot of tequila. (laughs) It’s a party town. We have been coming there [for] 20 years now. It’s always a lot of fun for us.

NUVO: In the next two months, you are on the road a lot. Is that what you do, or is that busier than normal?
Mohr: We do tours in moderate doses these days, but still play 80 or 90 shows a year. Most of those are on weekends, so I am at home a lot during the week. [I] have a pretty decent family, so I can’t complain. The upcoming three months are going to be a little bit busy.

NUVO: Tell me about the quote I read from you, describing a song as something that “belongs to everybody.”
Mohr: Nobody really owns songs. When an artist does a song, you add a verse here or there, but you are rendering the tradition and hopefully adding something of your own in there, which is totally different idea from the pop hit song mentality — I guess it is more of a communal idea. The music and the language is a traditional thing rather than something that you pretend is original. Just a different way of looking at it.

NUVO: Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Mohr: I am a fair-weather Broncos and Bears fan. For the last six years, I have been living in Chicago, so the Bears have become the only team I can watch on TV, so I thought I better root for them.

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Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols

A music writer for more than 30 years, Rob began as a rock radio jock at age 17. Born in central Indiana, Rob moved north and spent his college years in Hillsdale, Michigan. That meant traveling to Detroit for all the good rock shows, and explains his affinity for Seger, the J. Geils Band, and Mitch Ryder. He's... more

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