John Lovero – The Higgs

Photograph Robert M. Stewart

Well, our band name comes from way back before we were even calling ourselves the Higgs. We had a band previously that had slightly different members from the starting point of the Higgs and we called ourselves the Higgs Boson (the “God particle,” one of the fundamental elements of the universe) just because it was a cool idea. And originally it was thought to name the band that by Marcos Munoz, who was a member of the Higgs Boson, from way back in the day. Probably around 2010 2010, 2011. And yeah, I just think the concept of what the Higgs Boson particle is and how they go about discovering it or proving it with the insane machinery, just the whole idea of it is just wild. And yeah, I mean none of us are scientists or anything like that, but it’s just an interesting concept. 

How we got to Skull and Roses is a great story. Chris, the promoter, heard us play and liked it and invited us, even though we don’t do a bunch of Grateful Dead. It was our idea to do the one song. I don’t know if we ever mentioned we were going to do that beforehand. I think that was kind of a surprise. But I think the idea has been ever since that—that that will continue to be the thing that we do when we come back. We kind of set a precedent for what our performance is going to be like at Skull and Roses. And I think I think it was a good idea on our part. It enabled us to play a song that we cherish by the Grateful Dead, and also be able to throw in our own style for a large portion of the set and kind of wrap it all up into one package. 

We’re definitely a jam band—we’ve done shows with Spafford and Twiddle—but we made a conscious decision not to play a bunch of Dead.. And it can throw people off because we’re definitely all of our influences, everyone that plays in the band, and all of the previous members have all been heavily influenced by the Dead. Myself included, I am heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead, and have been for a long time, for decades. I never got to see the GD, but I did see many Dead reincarnations tributes. My first real experience with Grateful Dead music was in 2005 Vegas. And Phil Lesh and Friends was playing with Jimmy Herring on guitar and Jeff Sipe on drums, Barry Sless on guitar as well and Rob Barracon on keys. And it was just unbelievable. It was one of the greatest shows even to this day I have ever seen, and it won a Jammie for the like best live performance of the year back when they were doing the Jammies, and I just knew when I was seeing it there was something really special and really magical. And although it wasn’t the actual Grateful Dead, what I saw definitely  worked for me. It kicked off what I was about to do for the next few years. That’s for sure. 

But our not usually playing Dead tunes, I think it was just one of those ideas of like, we don’t want to be like everyone else. And I think that’s like you’re saying, like there’s a lot of people that do choose to do that. And I think that was just kind of something that set us apart. Although, we know where our roots are. And, you know, in the game plan that they set up for the way that they structure their shows and the way that they perform their music, we definitely live by that play book. 

So, I grew up in Orange County, California, then San Diego specifically when I was really young, and moved around from place to place in that’s area sorry about that. Started in Santa Ana and then moved my way around that area and started listening to music from my parents, obviously, that’s one of first influences that came to me. And that was everything from modern music to old school like Frank Sinatra kind of stuff and everything in between, a whole onslaught of music.

Then, growing up where I grew up there was a lot of punk rock that was a big influence to a lot of people in that area. So that kind of crept into what I listened to, like everyone at the time was listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182 and things like that. But that was kind of a short lived thing for me. That really didn’t last too long. And then I kind of moved right into classic rock. So before high school maybe 5th, 6th grade I was already kind of starting to creep in, by the time I go to high school I was pretty much full blown listening to classic rock so like Clapton, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, all those basics right there. But then in high school I was influenced by some other people, new friends, things like that. Started getting into things like String Cheese Incident, the Grateful Dead, Phish, the basics of the jam band scene. And then started to branch out from there. So I went through a lot of years, you know, through high school, listening to that style of music and trying to emulate those types of sounds on my guitar. Not necessarily trying to perform those songs but trying to have my take on it, so to speak. 

That was my beginning, and from there, my palate turned into things like jazz, jazz fusion, Latin music, Latin beats Afro Cuban rhythms, things like that. I listen to all types of music at this point. But that’s where I’m rooted. I was originally a drummer from when I was about—I want to say like 12 or so. I was probably a drummer and then by the time I was 14 I started playing guitar. I never took lessons. I’m all selftaught and primarily through the Internet. When I got out of high school, I worked on my music career. I immediately started performing as much as I could, trying to get out there and play as much as I could. Trying to start bands and got the Higgs things rolling in my 20s, mid to late 20s. 

That was 2011. I never really had any other career or anything like that. It’s just all been music driven. And yeah, basically when I got out of high school I started really focusing on guitar, deeper than I was looking at it before. Like looking way more into theory and just why music sounds the way it does, and how to put things together properly. And that was a whole beautiful experience, and I’m still on that journey, really. 

As a band, I’d say collectively we are like we all appreciate things like jazz. We’re not necessarily jazz musicians, but just the nature of how that music works and the improvisational aspect of jazz, I think is a big part you know, like Herbie Hancock, Chick Correa, those types of musicians? But also you know singer song writers, the guys like Ryan Adams and the guys like the Drive By Truckers and, you know, the Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter, lyricists, things like that, are very important to us also. So taking the influences of people who really take it out there and improvise and mixing it with the great song writers. I am not saying we are in any league of those people, but that’s kind of the ide—to try to merge those two things. 

Photograph Robert M. Stewart

We do some covers, like “Breathe” by Pink Floyd, we’ve done “Get Down Tonight”—so you know we like to get the dance party going, we do a few Ryan Adams covers, “Magnolia Mountain” being one of them. We try to mix them up and try to incorporate some that kind of last a long time in the repertoire, and maybe some that come in maybe for one show and you never see it again. So we are always trying to mix up the covers. 

The point is, we love to play and we’re truly grateful to get back to doing it. The pandemic hit us too, of course. We were at the Troubadour and we were playing a show that night and we were sharing the stage with Twiddle. And we were about to hit the road. We were about to go on a nice long, extensive tour, and I just remember speaking to some people that night and having a pretty distinct conversation with some friends, and realizing in that moment, wow, this is going to be weird going out on the road with the pandemic happening. And that tour was canceled very shortly thereafter. We got as far as like Las Vegas and that was it. 

And I mean it when I say I’m looking forward to Ventura. When we played in 2019, it was just fantastic to be around that type of fan base and those types of musicians and. I just remember mostly hanging out with really great people. That was my fondest memories of being in Ventura. Just really, really good times. The performances, like being able to see Circles Around the Sun, Neil Casals, and, yeah, I cherish moments like that.