Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. $12 for 12 weeks.


Big Head Todd and The Monsters are celebrating the release their brand new studio album, Rocksteady (July 20, 2010/Big Records).

As the Denver Post reported in a recent feature story, Rocksteady finds the platinum selling artists "centered and rejuvenated" and moving the BHTM legacy forward. The album's first single, the infectious "Beautiful" has already reached the Top 20 on Triple A radio charts, and it's still climbing. In support of Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters hit the road for a sprawling summer tour, including a recent big play at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Midnight Radio by performing the album in its entirety, and a headlining performance at WXPN's XPoNential Music Festival.

For Rocksteady, Big Head Todd and The Monsters' eighth studio album, the band draws on a surprising body of influences. The album cuts across a broad swath of stylistic terrain including R&B, reggae and even punk rock. Throughout, the collection's 11 tracks are funky, lilting, and melodic - all the qualities that have become signature to the band's sound during their 25 years of making music.

"It's a soul/Caribbean record that rocks," frontman Todd Park Mohr says. "We almost went out of our way to take all the rock out of it, but it really rocks. It's the very first album we've ever done that's cohesive. It makes a difference, in terms of this album standing out from our other albums."

Look for Big Head Todd and The Monsters on tour this summer in support of Rocksteady. Complete list of tourdates is as follows:

Friday, August 6 Wisconsin Valley Fair Wausau WI

Saturday, August 7 Ravinia Festival Highland Park IL

Tuesday, August 17 Rococo Theatre Lincoln NE

Thursday, August 19 The Vogue Indianapolis IN

Friday, August 20 Preservation Plaza Arnolds Park IA

Saturday, August 21 Fall Park Festival Grounds Sioux Falls SD

Monday, August 23 Capitol Theatre Madison WI

Tuesday, August 24 The Venue in Fargo Fargo ND

Thursday, August 26 Minnesota State Fair St. Paul MN

Friday, August 27 Crossroads Kansas City MO

Saturday, August 28 Southern Brewers Festival Chattanooga TN

Sunday, August 29 3rd and Lindsley Nashville TN

Sunday, September 5 Snowy Range Music Festival Laramie WY

Monday, September 13 Cain's Ballroom Tulsa OK

Tuesday, September 14 Forest Rose Park at Mojo's Columbia MO

Thursday, September 16 Buster's Billiards & Backroom Lexington KY

Friday, September 17 The Fillmore Charlotte NC

Saturday, September 18 Variety Playhouse Atlanta GA

Thursday, September 23 9:30 Club Washington D.C.

Friday, September 24 Nokia Theatre New York NY

Saturday, September 25 Electric Factory Philadelphia PA

Thursday, September 30 House of Blues - Boston Boston MA

Friday, October 1 Town Ballroom Buffalo NY

Saturday, October 2 Park West Chicago IL

Friday, April 15 - Saturday, April 16 Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center St. Cloud MN


BIOBig Head Todd and The Monsters' ninth studio album Rocksteady– due July 20 on the group's Big Records imprint, distributedby Warner Music Group's Independent Label Group –finds the veteran Colorado band returning to their DIY rootsand forging into surprising musical territory.Funky, lilting, and melodic, the new collection features foundingmembers Todd Park Mohr (lead vocals and guitars), RobSquires (bass), and Brian Nevin (drums),with keyboardist, steel guitarist, and backupvocalist Jeremy Lawton, who joined TheMonsters in January 2004. Lawton producedand mixed the album.Rocksteady cuts across a broad swath of stylisticterrain. "Beautiful," the set's first single,offers a sunny Caribbean vibe, as doesthe band's cover of the Rolling Stones'"Beast of Burden," long a concert staple."Back to the Garden" and the homage" Muhammad Ali" pulse with a roots rockgroove, while the set's title track is based inthe like-named, revved-up Jamaican style that preceded reggae'sarrival in the late '60s. "I Hate It When You're Gone,"dressed with a full horn section, is blazing old-school R&B,while a version of Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" isburning Chicago blues in a Monsters pocket."It's a soul/Caribbean record that rocks," Mohr says. "We almostwent out of our way to take all the rock out of it, but it reallyrocks. It's the very first album we've ever done that's thiscohesive and focused. That's what makes it shine and stand outfrom our other albums."Rocksteady is the latest chapter in a rock 'n' roll career thatstretches back nearly 25 years. Founded in 1986 by Mohr,Squires, and Nevin, then University of Colorado students, BigHead Todd and The Monsters became one of the region's mostpopular acts through constant touring. After issuing two popularindependent releases on their Big imprint, the band hookedup with Irving Azoff's Giant Records for the platinum albumSister Sweetly (1993). The Monsters issued four chart albumson Giant and Warner Bros.Their formidable reputation rests on their stage performances;Big Head Todd and The Monsters Live was recorded on the fabledH.O.R.D.E. tour. Over the years, the group has developeda close relationship with their fans: Their last album, All theLove You Need, was released as a free download, and wassnapped up by half a million of The Monsters' followers.Rocksteady can be seen as Act One of a two-act Big HeadTodd spectacular, since the band cut enough tracks to fill twoCDs. A projected future release will include the sessions' morehard-edged material.• BIOGRAPHYMohr says, "We went into the studio and recorded over thirtysongs. We've always been a versatile group with a widerange of influences and so our albums tend to be an eclecticmix of different genres of music. Somewhere along the linewe realized we had a group of songs that fit together reallywell as a soul/R&B/Carribian kind of thing. So we set asidesome of the harder rock stuff in order to focus on a soulful,danceable sound."Lawton adds, "We were noticing we hadthese two different directions in songs. BigHead Todd albums are always like a buffet– there's always a rocker, and then there arecouple of mood songs, and then there aresome R&B/soul songs. We said, 'Let's tryto concentrate on one of the branches of thetree.' We went towards this fun, happyR&B kind of sound."Mohr attributes some of the funk in theRocksteady sound to the influence of thelate Nigerian Afrobeat titan Fela AnikulapoKuti and his son Femi Kuti, whose work he had been listeningto deeply, and to his ongoing fascination with reggae and its intersectionwith punk rock.While Big Head Todd and The Monsters have worked with suchwell-known producers as David Bianco, Jerry Harrison, andDavid Z, the band found their sound refreshed by working essentiallyon their own with Lawton at the helm in his home studio,recording on their own schedule."Obviously, I have high regard for producers," Mohr says. "Inthis case, I didn't think anybody else was going to put the timeinto it – into following each strand. And being able to decide inthe middle of something that you have two albums instead ofone isn't something you normally can do in a producer scenario.There is just too much pressure and not enough time. For meit's all about being able to have the time and the resources to dothings your way, and the right way. It's only when you do ityourself that you have that luxury."As ever, the hard-touring Monsters will go out to meet the fansthis summer. "The quality of the relationship between the bandand the fan is the most important aspect of our career," saysMohr. "We've always realized that. That's why we do cruiseswith fans, and we sign autographs after shows. We still try toplay every request. We listen to our audience and do whateverwe can to acknowledge that relationship."# # #

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun