A lot of musicians would tell you that playing the guitar without using a pick is kind of like playing baseball without wearing a glove. That’s why the vast majority of guitarists use a one—that crucial, teardrop-shaped piece of plastic that prevents your fingertips from being ripped to shreds as you yourself attempt to shred on your guitar.
But Jared James Nichols is no ordinary guitarist. In a world of singer-songwriters who prefer to strum moody, acoustic tracks, or cater to some other niche genre like alternative or bluegrass, Nichols harkens back to the likes of Steely Dan or Supertramp—the giants of classic rock.
Now, classic rock has become a bit of a dirty phrase in music. If you’re sitting in a car and someone asks, if they can put on the classic rock station, odds are your response will rank somewhere between an eye roll and swerving into oncoming traffic.
Nichols is aware of this stigma, but he rejects it outright. “Just because those songs are 40 years old doesn’t mean they can’t be relevant today,” he says, as he prepares a glamorous rock star meal of ramen noodles. “I want to play new classic rock for the people who want to hear it.” And let’s be honest: Those people are out there. After all, it wasn’t dubbed “classic” for nothing.
And as for Nichols himself, he is anything but stale. In fact, his style of play is a throwback to a time when the spoils of modern technology weren’t available to musicians—no autotune, no 500 different pedals to distort and reshape your sound mechanically. For Nichols, it’s just him, his guitar, and an amp. He’s sort of the poster boy for the bare-bones DIY craze that has swept other facets of American culture in recent years.
So why can’t that mindset apply to rock 'n' roll? And why not Jared James Nichols to lead the way, armed with his girlfriend, trusty pup, and numerous finger calluses? No matter your feelings on what classic rock does or should mean, one thing is certain: Based on Jared’s sheer talent and insane dedication, we definitely wouldn’t count him out.
For more on Jared James Nichols and his quest to create new classic rock, be sure to check out the newest episode of Uncharted in the video above, brought to you by Honda.