Most of you probably know Thomas Ian Nicholas best for his roles in Rookie of the Year (1993), A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995), and, of course, the American Pie series, of which he appeared in the first three. He has also appeared in many other films, sitcoms, prime-time dramas and talk shows. But did you know he is also a talented and established singer/songwriter? I didn’t know, either, until I stumbled upon his MySpace page, and the music made me stop in my tracks.
Nicholas previous band, the T.I.N.Men, released an album entitled ‘Something More’ in 1998. Since then, he has had opportunities to work with such greats as Chris Chancy of Jane’s Addiction, Bruce Kulick of KISS and Dan Lavery of Tonic. Nicholas has been playing acoustic shows throughout the U.S., and recently performed at the Double Door, where he opened for local favorites Swizzle Tree and Shock Stars. Nicholas took the time to answer a few questions for the Clubline:
Clubline Chicago: What inspired you to focus on music so much?
Thomas Ian Nicholas: I started about 12 years ago when I was 14 and did an album when I was 17. Started with my two best friends and, actually, was all Christian rock. I’m not really doing the Christian rock thing anymore, but you know, I still like to try and put out positive messages through my music. And I’ve been writing songs since I could play like three chords. So it’s something I’ve always been into but it’s just now starting to gain momentum. So I’m now trying to focus more on it because it seems to really work for me at this time in my life. I am finally really happy with the songs and I seem to get a lot more attention or reactions actually from people and they tell me how much they like it. And while that feels good to hear, but most importantly I am happy with that I have written. So, I guess that is what it’s about when you finally feel good about something you can do, and then others will react to that positivity. And, you know, I am the type of person that keeps a really good disc in the front seat of my car and listents to it over and over. I really hope that my music will make people want to listen to it over and over and maybe even get a different feeling about it each time.
CC: Is there a story you are telling with your music?
TIN: I write what I know. I am not trying to preach to anyone. Just basically want people to feel good listening to it.
CC: I know we said we wouldn’t talk about any of your movies, but do any of the characters you have played affect or influence anything you have written?
TIN: Hmm, no. Well, the way I differentiate the two is, with acting, I am performing what someone else has already written and take direction. And with my music, it’s like I am the director. I made it. I write, compose, and perform it in the way I feel it should be. And I am not fitting into someone else’s mold of how they think it should be expressed. And my songs are usually about whatever strikes me in the moment. Plus, that way I am in control. Oh, great. Now I sound like a control freak!
CC: Not at all! It completely makes sense. Where would you like to see your music go or what direction are you taking with it?
TIN: Well, I am definitely not about trying to be a huge rock star or anything and I just really want to find someone that truly appreciates the way I love to write and not change me. Let me be who I am and continue to hopefully make others feel good listening to it. I really just enjoy something I just created and being able to focus and play it well. I am very fortunate to have that ability and there is nothing that feels better than when someone tells you how inspired they are after you sing for them. It doesn’t even have to be singing. A good performer truly loves what they do.
CC: What do you have to say to people that say, ‘Oh, great. Another actor-turned-singer using his ‘status’ to promote his music?’
TIN: Um, I don’t think so much for me but there is a negative connotation about it. Some have not been very successful at it, and that is why for me, right now, I am doing an acoustic tour and really putting it out there. It’s just me and my guitar. I am not hiding behind anything, and if someone wants to think that I suck, then so be it. But of course, I would hope they think I’m good. I mean, right now I am getting really great responses and people are asking me back to a lot of places and it feels really good to be asked to come back.
CC: Well, for us here in Chicago, we would definitely love to have you back for another show!
TIN: Well, thank you! You know my wife, Colette, is a resident DJ at Smart Bar here. So that in itself is pretty cool because I love to visit Chicago. And I definitely play to come back again for more shows. In the meantime, I’m finishing up a couple movies due out next year and just keep on making new music.