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THOMAS IAN NICHOLAS!

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There are three sure-fire phrases that will make any rock and roll fan wrinkle up his nose: “High School Musical,” “boy band” and “actor-turned-musician.” The last phrase in particular is among the ugliest terms in music journalism, and for good reason. Just look at the recent track record: From Russell Crowe to Lindsey Lohan ... well, let’s just say it hasn’t been a very pretty sight. Thanks to those people and others (We’re looking at you, Kevin Bacon), any actor who wants an honest shot at a career in music has a long, dark road ahead of him. Fortunately for all of us, “actor-turned-musician” Thomas Ian Nicholas has two weapons in his corner. First, he’s been playing music for over half his life and can write a pop song like nobody’s business. And second, that long road we were talking about? Doesn’t bother him one bit. Thom has been, is, and to some degree will always be known as Kevin from the “American Pie” movies. That’s right, he was that nice kid, that wholesome kid ... that kid who got to make out with Tara Reid. Whereas to most young men the idea of living with that identity is not such a bad proposition, Nicholas has the desire, not to mention the talent, to be so much more. Musically, Thom draws from a solid crop of influences – from Switchfoot to Springsteen – that have helped him learn the art of writing a pop song while keeping a foot in rock and roll. His music is polished enough to swagger right onto the radio, but raw enough to sound honest – and, it’s worth mentioning, is much more rock and roll than you’d ever expect from someone who’s had the dubious honor of being tagged Seventeen Magazine’s “It Boy.” For Nicholas, this time in his life isn’t about red carpets. He’s not worried about dating the “right girl” or answering questions about “who he’s wearing” at the Oscars. It’s more about connecting with fans – no, with people – at all costs!

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