The Legend of Todd Biggins
Todd Biggins was a bit of a jerk until you got to know him. Todd Biggins was a musical legend whose demo tapes an notebooks have kept his bandmates producing music, even three years after his death. Todd Biggins is a figment of the imagination of four bandmates who thought the name sounded pretty funny.
Okay — only that last one is true, admits Duncan Pelletier, the keyboardist and lead singer for The Todd Biggins Band, a Boston-based Soul Rock group.
Pelletier is joined by bandmate Chris Reilly on bass, Chris Franzen on drums and Nate Staub on guitar. Peterborough native Pelletier and Reilly are perhaps best known around the area as half of Welcome to Florida, once a fixture on the New Hampshire rock scene before the group broke up when several members married or moved away. Pelletier and Reilly, roommates since their boarding school days, stuck together, playing in a variety of projects in Boston, linking up with Staub along the way. Once they started jamming with original drummer Ryan Dryburgh, the chemistry was instant, and a band was born. (Dryburgh left the band in 2012 after developing carpal tunnel syndrome that made drumming a painful experience, and Franzen stepped in behind the kit to fill his stool.) The next step was to name the band. On the list of suggestions was “The Todd Biggins Band.” Who was Todd Biggins? No one.
“The name comes from...a fake guy that we made up,” said Pelletier with a laugh. However, the fictional state of Todd Biggins has not stopped the band from creating a detailed backstory for the man — crediting him with the band’s original songs (really written by Pelletier and Staub), holding moments of silence in his memory during shows and attributing quotes and opinions to him on their website and Twitter account. “We just thought it would be funny, even if it was only funny to us,” Pelletier added.
The inside joke has been played on many unwitting audience members, promoters and interviewers over the years, perhaps most notably last spring, when it was unleashed on a crowd of hundreds at the Hatch Shell in Boston. The group won a battle of the bands for the right to play at Earth Fest, an annual music festival, and Pelletier and the rest of the band had no qualms about fondly “remembering” Todd when interviewed on the big screen, shedding a crocodile tear or two as they pulled one over on the radio host interviewing them.
Even thought band members purport that Todd died in 2011, all of the band’s new material is attributed to him — supposedly through access to his demo tapes and notebooks, Pelletier explains — and the band has slowly been building up enough songs to put together an original album. They are now at that point, said Pelletier, and expect to be able to release their first album this spring. The group has been recording as many songs as possible in preparation for constructing an album. Which is not as easy as it seems, said Pelletier, since The Todd Biggins Band has a wide range of tone, from the silly to the sad to the serious.
Many of the songs that Pelletier — or, rather “Todd,” — writes are driven by imparting advice or life lessons, which may end up playing into the overall theme of the record, Pelletier said. The band has yet to decide whether the album will be disseminated strictly in digital format through their website, and other online music sources such as iTunes or SoundCloud, or whether it will be a physical pressing.
The Todd Biggins Band will be in Peterborough on Saturday to play a special show at Harlow’s Pub. The band will be playing a selection of “Todd” originals for the crowd in the first set; in the second, they will be paying tribute to the music of the 1990s. The band members all grew up in that era, explained Pelletier, and have always had a desire to put together a ’90s show. After their last Harlow’s show concluded with a spirited cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give It Away” that was well-received by the audience, they knew the time was right.
“We’re all ’90s kids. They say the music you listen to when you go through puberty is the stuff that sticks with you,” explained Pelletier. “Instead of doing that same old show we decided to pay tribute to that.”
The band learned 15 new ’90s songs, narrowed down from a long list of favorites, resulting in an eclectic set. “It’s been really fun, because a lot are just genres that we don’t get to play. There are so many genres within genres with ’90s music,” said Pelletier. “It’s fun to let loose an experiment like that. We have everything from Alice in Chains to TLC. I think people will be surprised at some of the songs that we picked.”
The Todd Biggins Band will be playing live at Harlow’s Pub in Peterborough on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8. This show is 21-plus. Concert-goers are encouraged to dress in ’90s-era clothes for the show.