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Thomas Nicholas Band - We’re Gonna Be Okay, Summer 2024

We’re Gonna Be Okay 

Thomas Nicholas is perhaps best known as a Hollywood actor and for his roles in films such as American Pie franchise and Rookie of the Year. However, what you may not be aware of is that he is actually a highly accomplished musician, with his incredible seventh album We’re Gonna Be Okay now hitting the shelves and streaming services. Very much steeped in the pop punk genre, Thomas’ latest album sees him collaborating with some of the most revered artists in the business. Less Than Jake, Ayron Jones, Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick and The Early November have all joined forces with Thomas to create with wholly outstanding record. We catch up with Thomas at his home in LA moments after he returned home from yet another UK tour. He just has time to catch his breath before he heads out again to Missouri and then Kansas to pick up the Punk Rock Factory tour for five dates. Dressed casually in a T-shirt and with wearing his SBÄM Records cap, Thomas is brimming with excitement. We grab a chair and our conversation begins…

Your 7th album Were Gonna Be Okay is due for release on 17th May, in just over a week’s time. What sort of thoughts are going through you mind at album release time?

Right now I’m just trying to remember where I’m supposed to be and when! (Laughs!) It’s one of those things where I’m still kind of a bit DIY in my booking and obviously I got excited about this album – I’m very proud of this album – and all of my friends have just been singing its praises since me sending them the early mixes from Taylor Carroll (producer – Ed), so I just kind of started going a little hog-wild when it came to booking and as it stands I’ve been kind of solidly on the road since March 5th doing 10 days then home for a few days then another 10 days. And when I say 10 days I mean like I live in LA and I’ve gone to Germany and then back to LA and then into the UK and then back to LA. I do that because I want to spend time with my kids as well – I try not to be on the road for any longer than two weeks – I try to keep it 10 days at the most. So in any case, all I’m really thinking about at this point is where I am supposed to be and how much have I overcommitted myself and how late I am! (Laughs!)

Before we talk about the album, let’s talk about Thomas Nicholas the musician. Most people will of course know you as Thomas Nicholas the actor, but with your 7th album due for release you are also a highly accomplished musician. When did you start playing guitar and how big a part of your life has music played?

Well, first of all, thank you for the kind words. I don’t feel very accomplished as a musician. I still feel like I’m just good enough to get by in comparison to some of the people I get to share the stage with and even some of the people like Billy Taylor who has been playing in my band for the European dates. I started playing guitar when I was 14 and the initial part of what music meant to me was that it was creative outlet. I started writing music even before I could properly get through chord changes without that big ‘beginner musician pause’, you know, where you’re playing this chord (nervously looking at the guitar neck to work out the next chord position) and then playing this chord. So I started writing music even before I could get past that moment, and during that time of adolescence I’d kind of forgotten just how difficult that time frame is for your headspace, but now that my son is 12 I’m sort of been reminded of those unexplainable things that I’ve long forgotten about. But music was that and now that my son’s been playing piano since he was 3 he has started doing some compositions. Me and my friends are super stoked that he’s starting to write some original stuff because that is the creative space and the outlet and where you go to take all that pent-up nonsense that’s in all of our heads and create something and push that energy out. That’s what it’s always been for me - it’s always been a safe escape from my other parts of my life, whatever that may be.

Well let’s talk about some of the tracks and I’d like to start with the album’s opener Tomorrow’s Gonna Hurt. To me this is the most wonderful track to kick things off because it’s one that recognises how tough life can be with work and bills but it’s all about that really empowering message that you’ve got to grab the good things in life, and I think it’s about really recognising that life is for living. To what extent is that a fair thing to say?

That’s a very fair thing to say, and it also exists in my biggest single to date which is My Generation which appeared on the American Reunion soundtrack, and I’ve noticed that some fans have been gravitating towards that line of the chorus which kind of sums up the same idea: ‘This is my life and I’m going to live it up’. Tomorrow’s Gonna Hurt has that same sentiment that is basically saying ‘despite whatever crap I have to deal with tomorrow, because I chose to be with my friends or enjoy myself tonight, it’s okay’.

That makes absolute sense to me and it’s interesting to hear you mention ‘escape’, because one of the things that really struck me about this record as a whole is that it’s something that gives the listener absolute escapism – it just took me to a whole other world. So when you mention that you have your music as something personal and separate that’s really quite profound. Was that element of escapism something you were consciously trying to achieve?

The first song I wrote for the album, technically, for me was two years ago with The Early November and it was the song Wrong Side. Prior to that I had released nine singles during lockdown that were keeping my sanity during that time frame, working with my friend Johnny Lucas. I remember when the ninth single came out and Ace Enders (The Early November) hit me up, and we’ve been friends since like 2015, and he said “I see where you’re going with the music and I’ve got an idea for you that’s going to help you get to the next phase where I can see you want to go - let’s write a song together”. So we wrote that in January 2021 and it was at that point I was just going to pre-package the nine songs and go ‘Cool – here’s the seventh album’. Ace was one of the first people to really implore me to open up and be more specifically honest in my song lyrics. There is a lot of honesty in my previous song lyrics but I did my best to generalise a lot of things so as to protect, I guess, my own inner thoughts. I was a little too nervous to share more. I always had a layer of protection in my previous material. Ace was the first person to say “No, we’ve got to dive in”. The first thing we did was just have a conversation about where our lives were at and what was going on and that’s kind of how the song developed. The same thing happened when Zac Burnett from American Authors walked in just to say hi to Taylor Carroll. Zac was like “Hey, check out this chorus!” and he played Better Than Home and Zac started humming a melody that became the melody for the verses. Then we started working on lyrics and it just became this organic songwriting moment. I remember dropping out a lyric and thinking ‘Oh no I can’t say that’, and Zac asked “Why not?’l and I just said “It’s a little too close to home I don’t want to share that part”, and then he said “Then you have to say it”. That sort of became the basis of the album. Jaret Reddick said the same thing to me when we wrote the title track and that was the summer of last year. It started with a conversation when we talked about what was going on and we started vamping these lyrics. He warned me to be careful what we talked about during the session because he would just unleash that in a lyric verbatim, and that if I didn’t want it in a lyric I’d better shut up! (Laughs!) So it’s not so much actually ‘escape’ but it’s about how I’ve been the most honest I’ve been and I think I’ve truly come to understand that that’s really the basis of art. It’s not so much like ‘Am I writing a song in this genre? Does it have to have these hooks? Am I doing all the right things?’. It’s simply about whether it’s honest and when it is that’s when it becomes something you can delve into. It’s like having an honest conversation with a friend. If someone’s not giving who they really are and they’re holding back, you’re not really connected in that moment and then it doesn’t grab you, you know what I mean?

Absolutely, and let’s talk about those things and focus firstly on the the new single Wrong Side. It’s wonderful to hear how that track was shaped and how that collaboration unfolded. For me this is one of the really rocking tracks on the album but it was always going to be given that it’s a collaboration with the fantastic band The Early November. I know they have a new album out in 14th June, will this song feature on their album too?

No, it won’t feature on theirs, and in fact I got really lucky with my target release date and how it’s sat between a couple of their single releases. But remember we wrote this song in January 2021, and then I knew that was going to be the sort of direction I wanted to go with the album. That made me want to write with all of my friends. That’s why I wrote that song 2 years ago with Ace and it took a year and a half just to be in the studio writing We’re Gonna Be Okay with Jaret, And then it wasn’t until another 2 years from the beginning of that what I was writing with Ayron Jones and with Matt Kennedy. So time is it’s just kind of all part of it, you know ‘best laid plans’! (Laughs!)

That whole collaborative journey is just amazing and let’s come back to Zac, especially when you talk about organic songwriting and being in the moment, because one of the most wonderful things about this album is how incredible it is from a storytelling perspective. One of my favourites is Better Than Home which to me is all about the importance of friendship and the love of music. How important is it for you that your music tells a story?

Stories are kind of the basis of my everything in entertainment because that’s film and television. As far as like a story per se, it’s not something I’ve go out of my way to do. A script for a film or a movie or a TV show has these act breaks and specific beats that you want to hit and I’ve never really approached a song in that same capacity. There are certain things that you try to do, like to get to the chorus before the 1 minute mark otherwise you’re gonna end up with Stairway To Heaven, but in the creation process it’s always just been about what kind of feels right in the moment and I got some nice compliments from Taylor Carroll. While we were working on this album I ended up top-lining a couple of songs for him and Chad Pepper which was the first time I’d ever written on a song that I wasn’t also performing on, and they were like “Wow, you’re such a cool, great songwriter!”. I was like “Really?! I don’t know…”. I always find that I want to collaborate with someone who is a great songwriter and they can rub a little bit off on me but it was nice to hear that compliment. Maybe enough has rubbed off from working with great people and that I’m at least great enough to get a compliment… or maybe they just like hanging with me! (Laughs!)

I think it’s simply because you are a great songwriter and your humility is very endearing! But let’s talk about the track Same Kids. It’s the most beautiful song with its acoustic intro, and it’s hugely powerful from a lyrical perspective. References to things such a mix tapes paint a wonderful picture of what it was truly like for so many of us growing up, but of course we do grow up and responsibilities get in the way. For me this is a great reminder that we need to hold on to the things that make us happy. Is that the essence of Same Kids, and also where did this inspiration for this song come from?

Well first of all, that song is one of my favourites and it just goes to show that having a song that I’ve created isn’t so much about what it achieves versus what it means. That’s what I’m learning. It’s more about creating things that are personally meaningful and then if other people enjoy that too that’s great. If they don’t, then I’m still going to have fun playing it every night. After we wrote Tomorrow’s Gonna Hurt, Taylor got signed on to produce the whole record. He called me up and said “Hey, I’ve got this idea: let’s do a song about how we are still like the same dumb kids that we always were?” and as we started to conceptualise that one I just thought about how we change but we don’t really change. It’s more or less this ultimate nostalgia thing, especially for my peers and people that are as old as me, especially when you have friends for so long and you’re going to see it in the music video. I’ve had friends since I was in elementary school or junior high that I’m still friends with to this day and we still feel the same. We get together and it’s like no time has passed and in each other’s eyes especially we are still the same person. It’s one of those weird things where you might feel like you’ve grown up and you’ve become responsible and you’re a whole new you, and then you see someone that you grew up with that you spent your whole childhood with and suddenly you feel like that kid again and that’s what this song is really about.

That makes absolute sense and separately what it reminds me of is that phrase that I occasionally hear: we all die young. The sense that life, work and responsibilities gets in the way and we leave behind those things that we are really passionate about. We have to stay connected to the things that really brings joy, and in my view that especially music and being a musician, but it can be anything.

I strongly suggest that people take up any musical instrument. I especially love guitar. I was actually just in an Uber ride when I was playing in Ireland last week and I ended up having a conversation with the driver as he took me to the airport. He talked about how he had the desire to play the guitar and he had bought one but he’s got two kids are not a lot of time. So I just said to him “Why don’t you just take 10 minutes a day to put some time into it – everybody’s got 10 minutes” and I explained to him that he’s going to spend a year to teach his hands the muscle memory. But I know if that guy actually follows my advice and does that 10 minutes a day, in a years time he’ll have it. He’ll be able to make those sounds and create that wave of energy that comes with playing guitar.

Thomas Nicholas

Thomas Nicholas

Let out those dark thoughts...

Thomas Nicholas & Billy Taylor

Thomas Nicholas & Billy Taylor

Never Enough is a really powerful song that has a real sadness in that it’s a person who reaches a point of acceptance that a relationship is over. For this track you collaborated with the incredible Ayron Jones who you mentioned a moment ago. How did this collaboration come about and how did Ayron influence the sound?

The collaboration came about in kind of two sorts of ways. The first is that we have a mutual friend, a guy named Wade, who lives in Arizona and he told me about Ayron 2 or 3 years ago. So back then I checked out his songs and I just thought they were awesome, and then Wade really wanted us to meet and we were both interested in hanging out with each other. Ayron was playing a festival in Vegas and he invited Wade and I to hang out. We had a great time and hit it off, and it turns out that Ayron is on the same management label as Taylor Carroll. So there was kind of a multitude of connections that I had with him. While we were there hanging out in Las Vegas after Ayron had played, I talked about the new album. I was like “Hey, I don’t know if you’re interested but I would love to write a song with you”. We made a plan around Thanksgiving where he flew down from Seattle to LA for the weekend and we just hung out and spent some time writing some ideas. That’s the through line between all of these collaborations. I had that with Zac, Jaret, Ace and Ayron where you’ve got to sing lyrics about things that you’re uncomfortable to talk about, and that’s one of the things that I never really did. But I’m doing more where there’s me sharing my dark thoughts. With people talking more about mental health and being more open, like ‘Hey, we all have these down moments, we’ve all experienced some form of depression one way or another’, and it’s through this song and the other collaborations where it is me letting out these dark thoughts and I feel like it’s an opportunity for me to kind of implore that people do the same because you can’t keep those things to yourself. I lost one of my best friends from kindergarten last year and I never really knew what he was going through. So that’s why I just think it’s so important to share those thoughts, and when you do share those thoughts, that idea in your mind where there is like this giant mountain that seems like so immeasurable to climb, that mountain get a little bit smaller, and when do you find someone that you can trust to share that with, that person can give you energy and it becomes this hill that you can climb. Hills are a lot easier to climb than mountains!

Can I also just pick up on the stunning artwork for the album. I love it when artist really invests in how their work is visually represented. Here we have a really interesting take on the game noughts and crosses (or tic tac toe) where, for me there we see various states of broken hearts next to crosses and what this says to me is that we may strike out, and we may have our hearts broken and bruised, but love will always conquer all, and for me it’s an amazing way of presenting that message of hope and positivity. To what extent is that the overall essence of We’re Gonna Be Okay and how did the concept for the artwork come together?

It was essentially the third go round. It was Stefan at SBÄM who designed the cover, I’m not sure if he did it himself personally, but he would send me these concepts. The first one he sent I kiboshed practically before it downloaded in the email! (Laughs!) The second one was essentially the same idea but it had emo sad faces winning out and everyone kind of agreed that unfortunately Blink 182 had sort of commandeered the happy face. So with the colours and the pop punk sort of vibe everyone just kept thinking of Blink 182 instead of me and I’m not trying to grab into their style though technically speaking, with American Pie being synonymous with pop punk music and meeting those guys before Enema Of The State had dropped, there is a connection to them but again I didn’t want to anyone to miss conceptualise that. When I heard that everyone thought of Blink 182 when they saw this, including Jaret, I went back to Stefan and said how I loved the tic-tac-toe thing and how it represents We’re Gonna Be Okay – that ‘winning despite hardship’ sentiment of the song – and then he came back with the hearts and I just thought it was perfect. I couldn’t think of a better thing and now I’m adopting the lower left heart of the cover to create some band merchandise like hats and T-shirts and stickers. So now I’ll have an artwork that doesn’t even have the band logo on or my name, but if Blink 182 can take over the smiley face, it’s my plan to take over the broken heart!

Let’s talk about the band in a live setting. Just like this We’re Gonna Be Okay sees you getting together with friends, a Thomas Nicholas Band live show is like being invited to a party where we see friends and sometimes fans joining you on stage for songs. It’s just a wonderful example of you bringing people together. How important it is for you that your shows are so inclusive?

For me, the live show is not about being perfect. It’s about having a good time. I guess years ago I started this sort of gambit of expanding out into playing in other countries, and I’m still in that kind of phase where I’m not selling out stadiums yet, and so I concocted this idea of using band members that are from friends’ bands or friends of friends that live in the city or the country where I’m going to be touring. So the idea of collaborating on the live setting started with that. And people would often ask me “Well, aren’t you going to have time to rehearse?” and I’d go “No, why do we need a rehearsal? We’ll just do that on stage.” Of course, everyone takes the time to learn the songs but I’ll always say to the guys right before we start “Hey, if anybody plays a wrong note tonight, nobody dies so it doesn’t matter! Just have a good time!”. And that’s what the inclusiveness is really all about: it’s about having a good time, and if a friend of mine hit me up and then asked to sing a song with me I’m always like “Yeah! Let’s go! Let’s have a good time!”.

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what an incredible album We’re Gonna Be Okay really is. This is pop punk at its finest, bringing together some incredible artists for some amazing collaborations. But the album goes beyond this. The songwriting is deep and meaningful, presenting moments of vulnerability that really provides an overall profound and immersive experience. To find out more head over to and in the meantime check out the video to Tomorrow’s Gonna Hurt below.

Rock Today
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