In this life, very few friendships withstand the test of time. Naturally, people go their separate ways and chase their own dreams. As rare as it may be for friendships to last a lifetime, it might be even rarer for a band to stick together for the long haul. For close to four decades, the members of Big Head Todd and The Monsters—Todd Park Mohr [vocals, guitar, keys, sax, harmonica], Brian Nevin [drums], Rob Squires [bass, vocals], and Jeremy Lawton [keyboards, lap pedal/steel guitar, vocals]—have continued to both throw down in the studio and light up stages worldwide. Rallying around a core vision, the platinum-selling Colorado quartet kick out the kind of blues-drenched rock ‘n’ roll bangers that make you want to rev the engine a little louder, sing along like no one’s looking, and live a little freer.

This holds true on their 12th full-length offering, Her Way Out.

“To me, my band means four people who listen to each other, work hard, and share a goal,” Todd observes. “The goal has to do with reaching out to people, catching their ears, and sharing a story we hope they relate to. Our fans have given us an incredible 40-year career, and we hope they’ve gotten great songs and performances in return.”

They’ve most definitely delivered on both fronts…

As the story goes, Todd, Brian, and Rob unlocked their musical partnership during high school when they started jamming in the early eighties. Fast forward to 1986, they adopted the moniker Big Head Todd and The Monsters. BHTM released 2 successful independent records on their own BIG Records, Another Mayberry (1989) and Midnight Radio (1990) before drawing the attention of music industry titans and signing with Irving Azoff, Chuck Morris, and Frank Barsalona in 1992. They broke nationally  with the platinum-certified staple Sister Sweetly (1993) which yielded four top 10 rock radio hits. They continued to progress with Strategem [1994] and Beautiful World [1997] which yielded several more rock radio hits including Boom Boom featuring John Lee Hooker. The band is continually touring and recording and has continued to put out albums that have received critical acclaim from both fans and press.

Among other milestones, their music literally reached the heavens when they played “Blue Sky” live at NASA Mission Control, delivering a celestial wakeup for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. They’ve toured and recorded with many rock and blues legends including B.B. King, Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, Hubert Sumlin, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Dave Matthews Band, The Eagles and their personal favorite Robert Plant. Not to mention, they attained hometown hero status by headlining Red Rocks Amphitheatre 35 times in addition to earning induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2023.

Her Way Out came to life organically. For two years, they hosted “Monster’s Music Monthly, serving up either a new song or a new version of a classic online.  Working out of Jeremy’s home studio, they parlayed this momentum into their latest LP.

“It had been almost seven years since our last album release, but we wanted to put the same energy of ‘Monster’s Music Monthly’ into a full-length,” Todd notes. “We have a very distinct personality as a band. I write to the sensibilities of each member, because they’re going to have to dig playing it. We’re a benevolent democracy. If one guy isn’t connecting with a certain song, that song is out. As an uncomplicated rock band, we like to do things that are ‘proper’—loud guitars, drums, big bass, and well-placed organ, keys, and lap steel. We road-tested every song on the record before recording a lick. All of that helped us dial in the arrangements, ditch tunes that didn’t work, and grow a strong sense of what our individual parts should be.”

In this respect, the single and title track “Her Way Out” packs a concentrated and catchy punch. Anchored by a steady beat, the rough and tumble riff kicks up dust as soulful vocals ignite an irresistible refrain, “She found her way out, her way out—and it was me.”

“It’s driven by the idea that relationships are frail,” he elaborates. “Sometimes, they are something one wants freedom from. A real-life circumstance drives this story. Something was said when a person had too much to drink. The relationship ended with words, but the drinker could never know what he said and the woman refused to tell him.”

Ass-kicking guitar surges through “Thunderbird” as strains of organ coat a raucous refrain with a lyrical tip-of-the-hat to the Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas classic American Graffiti.

He goes on, “‘Thunderbird’ is a collection of one-liners from the film knit together with a beat poet vibe. It has an AC/DC-like guitar riff and a cinematic-style vocal. It’s all about drag racing and love never caught.”

Elsewhere, Big Head Todd and The Monsters nod to Annie Oakley with “Don’t Kill Me Tonight.” Then, there’s “King Kong.” A hulking groove lumbers beneath the frontman’s bluesy intonation as a piano solo bleeds into a skyscraper-scaling guitar lead.

“It’s inspired by a large movie poster in my basement of King Kong on top of the Empire State Building,” Todd reveals. “I’m drawn to these iconic contemporary heroes who are also monsters. They are complicated because they destroy so much, yet are sympathetic to children and fall in love with human women. These ‘Titans’, as they are called, are often monsters of our own making. It’s exciting to perform live.”

In the end, the future looks as bright as ever for these longtime friends.

“We work very hard at being a great band,” Todd leaves off. “We’re also a group that cares for each other. We’ve been together for almost 40 years. Our audience has made it all possible, and we’re grateful and determined to keep playing.”

photo: Jason Siegel