Thomas Nicholas is best known for his role as Kevin in the American Pie movies, but has been performing his original music for over 16 years. His lyrics give you insight to who he is outside of his film characters. The energy that he brings to every onstage performance is undeniable.
Thomas Nicholas has got a lot to say on his second album, Heroes Are Human. In fact, Thomas pens songs about all kinds of revolutions—from personal and emotional revelations to perspectives changing on a mass scale. However, the riff is just as mighty as the word for Thomas, and there's no shortage of infectious, soulful rock on the new album. "Bitter Sweet" seesaws from an undeniable hook to heartfelt verses, while "Wake Up" pulsates with palpable sonic energy. This album stands out as a declaration for the Thomas Nicholas Band, so listen up…
After 2008's Without Warning and 2009's Without Warning Acoustic, Thomas wanted to craft a record that incorporated his influences while further developing his own style. Those influences cascade together to create something vibrant and alive. Thomas describes his sound best. "I think of it as John Mayer writing the melody, Bruce Springsteen singing and The Foo Fighters backing it all up. The new material definitely feels that way. It's a little heavier, but it still has that pop influence."
That pop sensibility makes tracks such as "Bitter Sweet" unforgettable. The song has the kind of chorus that listeners can crank in the car or delve into on headphones. Thomas delves into it saying, "It's one of the catchiest things we've ever written. It focuses on love lost and love found again at the wrong time, lending itself to the lighter side of the new material. We've all experienced the push-and-pull of relationships and the timing. It's ambiguous enough that you can relate it to any failed relationship, and the vibe of the music matches the lyrics perfectly. There are some moments that are really sweet and some moments that are really bitter."
The new record definitely juxtaposes emotions in a seamless fashion. Thomas allows fans deeper into his world as well. From starring in everything from Rookie of the Year to the American Pie series, he's been a part of the pop culture zeitgeist since he was a kid, and his new music reflects his experience. "On the new record, we want to show that soul we have on stage. I feel like the first record was mixed to be 'radio-ready' in some ways. This is raw. People don't feel like they can typically interact with an actor, but I'm doing this 100 percent myself. There's a pre-conceived notion that actors are untouchable, but I'm running all of my sites and answering all of my MySpace messages. I'm not going to have someone pretend that they are me. There's a big difference between how music speaks to your soul and how movies interact with you. You don't drive down the road and suddenly have a memory of your favorite movie. You get a song that plays in your head and you have a visceral connection to the moment."
Thomas' band helps foster that connection on the new songs. Bassist Thai Long Ly lays down solid melodic grooves while locking in with Shay Godwin's energetic drumming. Rob Leifer adds explosively creative guitar playing that truly compliments Thomas' compelling vocals and crunchy rhythm guitar. Plus, they write all their own songs while Thai engineers and produces, making this outfit wholly indie and self-sufficient. "We've been writing all of the songs together. For Without Warning, I collaborated with people like Chris Chaney and Bruce Kulick, but they weren't going to tour with me. Thai, Shay and myself wrote most of the new songs. Similar to Pink Floyd and we tried them out on the road and got reactions from fans to see how the songs would ebb and flow. The fans have helped create this new album to a degree! It's been a much more organic process."
That process yielded songs like the fiery, "Turn Me Off." It's got a pounding anthemic rhythm that's ready for the stage. "This song has a really heavy dance beat chorus. It always gets everyone moving. The song discusses consumerism and how we can't stop. I'm totally guilty of it too—being a consumer that doesn't need it, but wants it and will buy it. It's about the desire of wanting to turn that switch off, but I can't."
The revolution theme is pervasive because of Thomas' latest screen stint as Abbie Hoffman in The Chicago 8. It shows just how connected the creative processes of performing on screen and playing on stage are for Thomas. "I got very inspired by playing Abby Hoffman, so there are some songs that abide by the perspective of being a revolutionary. One of our personal favorites is 'Color Outside the Lines.' It's about living outside of the box and thinking outside the box. That's what I try to do, and I hope others do as well. In reality, we're only in awe of those who take risks. 'Revolution Now' is all about the counterculture revolution in the 60s directly inspired by my role as Abbie. You play a character like that and he gets inside of your head a little bit."
Ultimately, Thomas has been prepared for this revolution for a long time. "I really took my time with this album, and I want to give fans something. I'm just trying to tell interesting stories. Some people are going to love it and some aren't, but I'm not afraid to put myself on the chopping block."
What true revolutionary wouldn't feel the same way? - Rick Florino (www.bookofdolor.com)
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