April 28, 2012
American Reunion Star Thomas Nicholas Plays Real Life Musician
Best known for his role as “Kevin Myers” in American Pie and the just released American Reunion, the band that bears Thomas Ian Nicholas’ name, is not just another one of those actor vanity projects. With a following built off the sweat and toil of hundreds of live shows, and three full length records, the Thomas Nicholas Band (TNB) is “the real deal!”
Before heading to tonight’s show at The Viper Room, catch up with this true blue actor/rock n’ roller as he candidly discusses his new flick, getting tossed out of bars, and why his band doesn’t suck.
So you got a lot going on right now with the band, the movie (American Reunion) and everything else; you’re just all over the place?
Pretty much yes! There's no lying that I'm too busy for my own good. That, and I'm a new dad. My son is like six months old so...
So are you relating a little bit to the plot of American Reunion with everyone being at a more grownup stage of their lives?
Yeah, I mean I'm definitely relating to it because, you know it's one of those things where as you get older, you try to act younger, and so that's definitely what we all did on set.
How long have you been playing music? Did you start as a kid or...
I started playing when I was 14... I was listening to “grunge” at the time, and I probably picked up guitar right around the time that Nirvana ended. Right around the time when I started playing music, Kurt Cobain died... but I was still influenced by the mainstream part of the scene. You know, Nirvana, and Weezer and Green Day.... and then I've been in bands since I've been doing all the American Pie movies.
But it's only in the last five years that I've been touring. I’d say in the last five years, I've probably played... I don't know, something like somewhere close to 400 shows, and I've recorded three albums, and still maintain the acting career by doing a lot of independent films. So I've probably, over the last five years, shot like a dozen films, and somehow my wife didn't leave me, and we were able to make a baby [laughter].
Which is sort of more of your passion?
They both are.... I'm passionate about both for different reasons you know. Acting, for me is about my ability to take direction, and create characters that are layered, and you know, bring this character to life, and then make it believable. Whereas music is just me—it's my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences, there's no.... like I try to breakdown all barriers when I'm on stage. It's not an act, it's just like here I am getting to do something else that I love.
And you have a song "My Generation" on the new soundtrack?
Well yeah, it’s kind of a funny story... What basically happened is, I’ve tried to get a song on the soundtrack of every American Pie film since, like I said, my first band was around during the time of the first movie, and they’ve never said "yes." So much so, that when I did this film, I literally like tried to negotiate it into my contract, and business affairs were just like "Hahaha... No!"
So, despite what any person might think, I definitely wasn't handed this on a silver platter. What happened is I earned it with a live show. I played the wrap party for the cast and the crew, and Jon (Hurwitz) and Hayden (Schlossberg), the writers and directors of American Reunion, knew about my band; they knew about my music, they liked it… but when I played the wrap party, they came up to me literally, as I go to the bar to order a drink, and they're like, "Dude we have to have a song to use on the soundtrack!"
So what I did, I covered "Laid" by the James band, thinking, okay I know this one is going to be in there somewhere, maybe they'll like my cover. And then, I also was inspired by the story line of Stifler, and a little bit of Kevin, just about you know, the class of '99, and like that generation being kind of like the "misunderstood" generation… cause we kind of are in the middle of shit. You know what i mean? Like what's even our nickname?
We should be called “the in-betweeners” cause we're just in between two generations. We saw all the technology boom while we were going through our adolescence, so the generation before us didn't have it, and then the generation after us grew up with it, so we're totally in-between!
So the song is kind of about stating this is who I am, this is where I am, and this is what I'm gonna do and you don't understand.
You guys just played at Universal CityWalk right?
Yeah, just a couple of days ago, on Saturday night. I sort of planned it out to play the opening weekend of American Reunion.
I did a special thing because it was the start of “The Music Spotlight Series,” and we are the only band that has played Citywalk five years in a row! So this year they let us be the opener of the series, and I ran a campaign where people could bring their ticket stubs, and get free stuff and discounts on our new album.
So I actually like bombed a couple of theaters, like I went in, they gave me a mic, and after the previews ended, I was like "Hey what's up guys? Thanks for coming to see my movie! Come see my band play after!”
The look on their faces was priceless! On one hand, you're like, "Who the hell is this person interrupting my movie going experience?" And on the other, you're like "Wait a second, that's Kevin!"
Do you get recognized walking around in your day-to-day life?
It's presentation right? It's how you carry yourself. So if I'm playing a show with my band, it's pretty easy to put two and two together; but if I'm doing normal everyday stuff, then people really don't pay too much attention to me.
The best example I have of this is after we did the first film, and we were like blowing up the box office at the time... I had just bought my brother's 1972 Volkswagen bug that badly needed a paint job. So I remember stopping at a light, and the car next at me looked over at me, then looked forward, and then kind of looked back like, "Wait is that..?" and then they kind of looked at the car, and they're like "Naw, it couldn't be [laughter]!” So that's the best example of, "if you're in the right place at the right time…" then yes; if I'm doing normal stuff, then no.
Why are actor turned musicians sort of bands notoriously so terrible? Present company excluded of course!
Sure, sure of course [laughter]. It's funny you say that, because I remember when friends came to see me, friends that are actors, specifically Chris Owen who plays Chuck Owens in the American Pie movie… He came to a show once, and he literally said to me afterwards, "Why didn't tell me you that you didn't suck? I would've come to a show sooner!" And I remember thinking, that should be my ad campaign, you know, "Come see TNB at the
Viper Room on April 28. We don't suck!"
So I have no idea why they're notoriously bad. I think, you know, the grass is always greener, and people often want to do something else. I mean look, for whatever reason, it's more acceptable for a musician to become an actor, but not all of them are that great either. But the difference is you don't get to know that they're not that great until they're already on like a hit show or a hit movie, and by then, there's more behind them. Whereas, you know, pretty much anyone can book a live show; well not a Saturday at The Viper Room! I've
earned my Saturday [laughter]. No seriously... I've plaaayed at the Viper Room.
Like four times a year, for like the last four years, so I've played 16 shows before they would let me have a Saturday!
What is it about The Viper Room... or what keeps you coming back here and this sort of being like your home turf?
I dig the Viper Room for a couple of reasons: there are only two clubs in L.A. that have “the curtain thing,” the curtain effect; and the other one is a little bit bigger. So this is more of an intimate rock show, and the sound… the sound is amazing at the Viper Room!
So I love the curtain, I love that they do the opening and closing of the curtain. I know it sounds dumb but it's fucking cool! And I feel like I could turn my amp up to 11 and I can still see everyone's face in the place
This interview being for TheSunsetStrip.com, what is your sort of craziest, most memorable night out, most embarrassing incident, wildest story that you can legally share?
Umm... Yikes! Can't do that one... a few things might still be under investigation!
There's just too many illegal things that come to mind for me to share these stories
with you [laughter]...
You have to understand something about me, even though I play this nice guy, I've been thrown out of clubs, at least one club in about 12 different cities across the country. So when you ask me to share one story. I get this flood of information, and I can't really discern anything.
On that note... any parting remarks?
If you guys have any special requests for the evening drop me a tweet (@TINband)!
The Thomas Nicholas Band plays tonight (Apr. 28) with 28 North at The Viper Room on The Sunset Strip. Doors open 8:30 p.m. www.viperroom.com
-- Brent X Mendoza, @brentXmendoza
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