Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
One thing you'll learn quickly about a band that's been around for a long time is that they know how to do things. They know the buttons to push and they know when to pull the cord to give more fire, to get the balloon up higher. They know how to blast, how to lay rubber and peel out on a dime. The groups that have seen big sales, felt the endorphins that come from having a hit single and played for all kinds of numbers of people in settings big and small are masters of the craft and can find a way to get the job done. They can see a bored gaze and then they pop you over the head with something that makes you salivate like one of Pavlov's canines.
They can win you over even if you're a hard mark. Even with your arms crossed in front of your chest, stubborn to give in to a group that you've had no opinion about for as long as you can remember, you can be beaten into happy submission. If you pick up the newest issue of Rolling Stone, you learn that Steve Miller is having a phenomenally successful summer season, selling out arenas that hold at least 15,000 people in a comeback that's really just an extension of his steadfast stardom. Bands like the Gin Blossoms are selling more records than they thought they'd be selling these days because, if you're a good band, you're a good band. If you have the songs to back it all up and you didn't eve implode on yourself, you're going to be able to keep pulling it off as long as you want to.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters is a band full of longevity that fits this bill. It started as an atypical band of friends going to high school and college together in Colorado - first at the now infamous Columbine H.S. and then at the University of Colorado, where Buffalo football and their cheerleaders used to be dubious and celebrated - and they've continued on, living off a devoted fan base and a still busy live gig schedule. They are straight-ahead rock and roll junkies who feed you universally pleasant material and are universally conditioned to give people their money's worth, no matter how much they're spending.
Todd Park Mohr - he of the big head, though one could argue that it's more the big crown of black hair that lends itself mightily to the illusion that it's the head - is a dynamic front man who doesn't just make you dizzy with his own band's music, but gives you that feel good, half-drunk feeling that you get every time "Jack and Diane" comes on the radio or random patches of "The Boys Are Back In Town" pace through your head ("Friday night they'll be dressed to kill/Down at Dino's bar and grill/The drink will flow and blood will spill/And if the boys want to fight, you'd better let them"). They are the kinds of guys that you're going to see at Dino's bar and grill, the kinds that have their seats reserved for them down at the dive bar in the shadier part of town, who can clean up and then be the entertainment. They remind you of a time before hipster hipsters, when there was a real thing called "college rock" and it was this kind of feel - of fraternity and making love to women and having an all-American good time out on the town - that spurred on a whole revolution of music that was chewable and appreciated for not being overtly deep and pragmatic. You could just go out and drink a bunch of Coors and see what the night brought you.
The music on the band's latest record - All The Love You Need - a disc that was released free and clean to the public, is an exploration of what seem to be minty cool autumn nights, the girls that storm them and other subjects that Bruce Springsteen filled his state of Nebraska and all of his traveled roads with. They give you a sense that the keg is still not all dried up and that there's a chance out there still for 90-cent-per-gallon gas. Well, maybe there's no chance in hell of that ever being the case again, but it feels like there could be thanks to this big-haired guy and his college buddies - The Monsters.