There is something extra special about bands that have made music together for a long time. Big Head Todd and the Monsters (BHTM) are among those special entities, and Rob Squires has laid down the bottom for that band for the last thirty-four years.
Inspired by his brother to play guitar, Rob and a pal signed up for a guitar class in their junior high school. When they couldn’t find a bass player, Rob took up the instrument. Fast forward to high school and a call to drummer Brian Nevin. That meeting resulted in a fun musical jam and Neven was added to the band. Brian had a friend named Todd Park Mohr from the high school jazz band, and he was added to the ensemble, playing piano and sax. They gigged for a few years, then headed off to college.
Rob, Todd and Brian attended the same college in Boulder, Colorado, and began playing together. By that time, Todd had developed as a strong vocalist and an excellent guitarist – and that was the actual beginning of BHTM in 1986.
Playing bars and parties in the college town, they built up a strong following, and took their show on the road—first stop, Chicago, then Minneapolis, San Francisco, Austin, the Mountain States, and beyond. The band built its following by playing continuously on the road and in Colorado.
In 1989 the band started its own label, and released its first LP entitled, Another Mayberry, followed the next year by Midnight Radio, which featured the artwork of Chris Mars from The Replacements.
The band’s large following attracted the attention of manager, Chuck Morris, Irv Azoff of Giant records, as well as Frank Barsalona from Premier Talent Agency. Having joined forces, with Morris, Azoff and Barsalona in the early 90’s, the band’s Sister Sweetly LP went platinum, and the band took off from there; releasing eleven records, and playing large shows and festivals. The band still tours and continues to release music today. BHTM’s three-piece line-up remained the same until 2004, when Jeremy Lawton was added on keys.
Rob’s bass playing philosophy is geared toward the band’s overall sound–figuring out how the bass fits into the band’s uniqueness, and helps move the songs forward. Among the bassists Rob admires include Gary Tallent (E Street Band), Howie Epstein and Ron Blair (Tom Petty) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).
Rob’s bass arsenal includes three Warwick Thumb Basses, MusicMan StingRay basses, a 60’s Sears Silvertone bass, a 5-string Modulus with a graphite neck, and a Fender Light Precision bass. The Modulus and Fender are his go-to basses live, and he runs them through a rig he has been using for thirty years—an SWR 800 amp, on top of SWR 4×10 and 1×18 cabinets.
The band’s music is diverse, which requires flexibility in Rob’s approach to the bass. In addition to their original music, which is a mix of rock, pop, soul and funk, the band traditionally adds covers to their live sets, and has
recorded two significant blues albums. The first entitled 100 Years of Robert Johnson, had the band playing with blues luminaries, including B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Hubert Sumlin and Dave “Honeyboy” Edwards.
More recently, the band released the LP Way Down Inside – Songs of Willie Dixon wherein they were joined by Chicago blues legends, Mud Morganfield, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Billy Branch. These two records were recorded under the name “Big Head Blues Club.”
You can catch Rob on tour with BHTM, and check out his playing on…
“Throughout the Years” https://youtu.be/H-qcRZrkA0g
“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” feat. John Popper – https://youtu.be/OshNg-N3w6Y
BHTM Live at the Mission Ballroom – “Sunshine of Your Love” with David Hidalgo https://youtu.be/uwvOulgF8nc