- Interview -

I had the honor of conducting a short interview with Todd Nichols.

Here's my questions and his answers:

Steve:   What bands do you think influenced you the most as you were "growing up musically"? Were there certain "sounds" or styles or techniques that you particularly admired and inevitably emulated?
Todd:   When I was a kid I listened to the radio a lot -- typical 70's top 40 hits kinda stuff. I took a few guitar lessons in junior high and I learned a lot of Boston and Led Zeppelin songs. Then in high school I really got into alternative music such as: U2, REM, The Smiths, Husker Du, The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr., Tears for Fears, The Cure, etc. That really inspired me to write my own songs and start a band.
Steve:   What bands do you listen to and like a lot right now? What about these bands makes you listen? Do you think you'll work with those artists on a future project? Who would you like to work with the most?
Todd:   Well I still listen to a lot of radio. I still like alternative music but I have gotten a little burned out by it (hearing the same songs over and over). Lately I have been listening to The Flava -- an urban type station that plays a lot of cool songs that I have never heard and they mix in some old ones too. Also I like this oldies station in town that plays a great mix of great old songs that have stood the test of time. I honestly haven't bought a cd in a long time. It is a little frustrating buying a cd because you like a song on the radio and it turns out to be the only good song on it.
Steve:   When you write songs, what is the process you go through? Which comes first: a riff, basic chord progression, lyrics, melody?... It is similar every time or is it more spontaneous? Does a song just come out of a jam sometimes?
Todd:   Most of the songs I have written come from me just sitting down with an acoustic guitar strumming chords and singing whatever comes out. The trick is remembering what I come up with. So I tape a lot of my personal jam sessions. In case I forget something good, I can go back and reference it.  Then I show the song to Dean and he usually plays drums and I play electric and we rock it out and have fun with it and take it from there.
Steve:   Can you describe some of the equipment you use and why you chose what you chose and like what you like? I know you use Matchless amps and I've held your Gibson sunburst in my sweaty hands, but I'm curious about other guitars and pedals/effects, etc.

Steve and Todd
Me, with Todd (1997)

Todd:   For guitars I have a Fender Strat (painted by Brad Nack), a '56 and a '58 Les Paul Jr., a '67 Gretsch Nashville, a '56 Les Paul Special, a J-200 Gibson Acoustic, a '66 Fender Jazzmaster, a '69 Fender Duo-Sonic, and a Taylor 410 acoustic. As far as amps go: a Matchless DC 30, a Fender Deluxe reverb, a Fender Bassman, and a new digital amp simulation device called The Pod -- made by Line 6 that really sounds great and has about 15 different amp sounds in it. For effects I still play through a deluxe Memory Man chorus/delay unit, a couple of Ibanez tube screamers, and a Memory Man phaser. Dean's gear is either a Warwick thumb bass or a Fender Precision bass through an SWR amplifier and speaker setup.  Dean also likes to play my Hammond M3 organ that I bought off Jonas after the last Toad tour.
Steve:   Do you have any idea how much fun it was for me to play on stage with you [Toad the Wet Sprocket] guys in November of 1997? *smile* (That's my way of saying "thanks again"...)
Todd:   We are currently looking for musicians to fill out the live lineup for Lapdog so we will keep you in mind, Steve, since you did such a stellar job on the slide to Walk on the Ocean. Thanks again, Steve.