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Thomas Nicholas Band returns to Bloomington

The Thomas Nicholas Band plays Nightshop in Bloomington Thursday night
Aaron Richter/Contour by Getty Images for Pizza Hut
Thomas Ian Nicholas returns to Bloomington on Thursday night.

Whaddya do when acting and producing aren't enough to keep your already busy calendar filled?

Well, Thomas Ian Nicholas of "American Pie" and "Rookie of the Year" fame will draw from his six albums and a handful of recent singles (not to mention select choice covers) when his band performs at Nightshop in Bloomington on Thursday night.

Nicholas told WGLT that he is busy, but he has more time than one think. This was especially true early in his acting career.

“When you're on set and you're working, you're waiting a lot. Shoot for 10 minutes, and then go wait for an hour … hour and a half while they set up the next shot. So, it started with that. And then in between jobs, music and songwriting was an opportunity for me to express myself since the majority of my career at that point was playing what other people had written. So, music and songwriting was a chance for me to write my own story. Granted I've started producing in the last 10 years or so more frequently, even still, those stories are written by my business partner. So, music is still how I get to express my creativity and my storytelling,” explained Nicholas.

That seemed to answer the follow up question: What do you get from music that you maybe you don't get from your Hollywood stuff?

“The other part of it that I love probably the most is the live show. Performing on set is one thing, you get to do multiple takes, and they are edited together to make it perfect. But the live (music) show is imperfect. And I love that."

Nicholas’ latest single from August is the latest of a fist full he has released since just before the pandemic began.

“So, I can either write the 10th one and release an album or I write some more and woodshed them. I'm definitely working on album number seven,” said Nicholas.

Those singles follow his 2017 “Frat Party” album. He recorded at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 with that famous Neve soundboard Grohl brought up from the Sound City Studios in LA. Nicholas conceded he needed connections to record there, that break came from Blues Traveler guitarist Chan Kinchla, who had recorded overdub guitar parts at Studio 606.

“So, I went there with him to kind of work on the song as he was tracking. And that's how I got introduced to all the folks at 606 When I did ‘Frat Party,” Dave Grohl was on vacation with his family. So, I have yet to meet Dave in person, but I did use one of his guitars on the entire record,” said Nicholas, who has a passing resemblance to Grohl.

Has the actor considered playing the Nirvana and Foo Fighters founder in a biopic? Nicholas shot down that idea.

“I don't think I'm tall enough to play Dave Grohl. You know, height is a massive issue. That's one of the main reasons why I didn't play the oldest version of my son's character and old because Alex Wolf is six feet tall. So I think I've got a better chance of portraying Bruce Springsteen, Bruce, I guess inadvertently, without saying ‘no’, gave me his blessing in 2006. When he played at Dodger Stadium, I said my dream to portray him in a movie one day. And with his blessing, he put his arm around me, looked at his manager, Jon Landau, he goes, ‘What do you think you think … we look like?’ And Landau was speechless as he looked back and forth between the two of us,” recalled Nicholas.

Despite music being the focus of his return to Bloomington (Nicholas pointed out that he has played many Twin Cities haunts over the past two decades, including Daddios, Fat Jacks, and The Castle Theater in Bloomington, and the short lived NV Ultra Lounge in uptown Normal), not chatting about his latest film seemed to like a missed opportunity.

“Adverse” was released earlier this year and is now available via streaming. Nicholas stars with an interesting cast that includes Lou Diamond Phillips and legendary character actor Mickey Rourke, who fleshes out a great villain in this film. Rourke's "legendary" moniker extends to his reputation as being difficult talent to work with. Nicholas said he came away if not star-struck, at least mightily impressed. It appears Rourke was as well.

“Mickey was amazing. He is such a talented character actor and just dives so deep into his character. I've often said that every part of his being is in character, including his ears,” he laughed.

“He's so intense. And it's like a flip of a switch. He was very standoffish at first, and I remember, we did the first take. He went off book, I stayed with him. And after I heard ‘cut,’ he looked at me and tilted his head back and he introduced himself. He goes, ‘Hey, I'm Mickey.’ And I realized at that moment, he didn't care to know anything about me until we like danced on camera. And I kept up with him, at least to the best of my ability, and then he kind of gave me the time of day. So, I would hope to say that I maybe earned an iota of his respect in that moment,” said Nicholas.

The Thomas Nicholas Band plays Nightshop in Bloomington on Thursday night.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.
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