If the name Thomas Nicholas rings a bell, no, you’re not mistaken. The Thomas Nicholas Band is fronted by the actor of Rookie of the Year and American Pie fame. Katie got a chance to speak to the multi-talented Nicholas about the writing, touring and recording he does in his musical career. — Maddie Rehayem
Smile Politely: How did the band form?
Thomas Nicholas: If my answer was a Facebook status, I’d have to say, “It’s complicated.” I’ve been recording music and touring for the last 8 years. Currently, the only permanent member of the band is Matthew Kennedy. He’s been playing lead guitar and singing harmonies in the Thomas Nicholas Band since 2012. We met at a concert that we both played in Chicago at The Metro back in 2008. I was playing solo acoustic and he was playing with his band, The Graduate. The rest of the band members vary depending on where we’re on tour.
SP: Where have you toured so far?
Nicholas: We’ve played in the US, Canada, UK, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Japan and we’re planning our first tour in Australia in 2015.
SP: That will take some organizing! Where do you love to play?
Nicholas: We play mainly in the Midwest and we’ve done three UK tours since 2012. We’re gearing up for three more tours in England for 2015. So I guess you could say that we really love playing there.
SP: Any little spots there you love more than most?
Nicholas: Recently, we played a venue in North Wales called the Mountain Ash Inn. The owners of the venue we’re so gracious and the people that came to the show were so excited to see us play that it just made the night a very memorable experience.
SP: Any horrifying or funny stories from the road?
Nicholas: I have so many funny stories from the road I could write a book. Here’s part of one for ya: in 2010, on a tour from Los Angeles to Chicago and back, we lost our kick drum in a suburb of Chicago, and we didn’t realize it until we were loading in for a gig in Oklahoma.
SP: Oh no. What did you do?
Nicholas: Well, for the rest of the tour we used Facebook and twitter to find drummers that would let us borrow their kick drum in each city left on the tour.
SP: Smart! What’s your collaborative process? Who does what to make a song come together?
Nicholas: I really like writing with other people. It always challenges me and makes the song better. On my last release, the Security EP, I flew to Portland and wrote 10 songs in three days with Caleb Turman (Forever the Sickest Kids and TEAM). On my next release I got to write with John Popper (Blues Traveler).
SP: John Popper! Nice guy.
Nicholas: As far as the process goes, I usually like to start with a cool guitar riff. The melody is always hidden inside it. When you find it, then it sort of leads the way to finishing the song. And whatever mood we’re in usually depicts what the lyrics will be about.
SP: Tell me something about your permanent band mate.
Nicholas: [Matthew Kennedy and I] produced our last EP together. He’s been playing lead guitar and singing harmonies in the band since 2012. He’s become one of my best friends, which is a good thing since we spend a lot of time on the road touring.
SP: Can’t be on the road with someone who makes you nuts!
Catch Thomas Nicholas Band at Mike ‘N Molly’s this Sunday with We The Animals and Fast Astronaut.