Hollywood Records' John Nicholson Knows How To Make Pyrotechnics Out of Tomato Juice Cans and Gunpowder
Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we get to know the people behind the scenes in Dallas/Fort Worth music.
Lima, Peru, native John Nicholson has helped out a lot of DFW musicians over the years. His early gigs included Sound Warehouse, Bill's Records and label promotion for Polygram, A&M and Virgin. There's The Phuss' Joshua Fleming, to whom he's been lending a hand since Fleming was 16 and playing in a ska band. More recently, there's Jonathan Tyler, whose new record he promoted for his employer of 10 years, Disney's Hollywood records. Beyond local music, Nicholson has also recently tackled label promotion for artists like Austin's Alpha Rev, The Jonas Brothers, and The Plain White T's.
I enjoyed your Facebook pics of all the promotion surrounding Jonathan Tyler, like checking in from the Jimmy Kimmel show.
The Kimmel appearance was truly amazing. Camping out at Bonnaroo was an experience I'll never forget. The Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kid Rock Tour was both incredible and grueling. Opening for AC/DC in El Paso was a blast. But the best is the first show I booked for JTNL. It was an opening slot for Heart at Nokia... sold-out show and the guys got a standing ovation and sold close to 200 CDs and signed autographs for an hour.
So you got your schooling in Lima, Peru?
I was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to Peru when I was a year old. My older brother and sisters got me into Queen, Deep Purple, Sweet and all things '70s. He deejayed high school parties, so he balanced the taste in music with early rap, new wave and dance. My love of the music business started when I moved to Venezuela as a teenager. I got a guitar for my 14th birthday and quickly realized I would not be the next Eddie Van Halen. I decided to be behind the scenes. I let my buddies use my amp and guitar and started making flyers and helping with the stage shows, making pyro out of tomato juice cans with gunpowder and using dry ice for dramatic effect. We got kicked out of a couple of clubs because of it!
When I think of DFW artists you've put hard work into, the first that springs to mind is Jonathan Tyler, but who else is on that list?
I spent four years with JTNL along with the hardest-working man I know, Jacob Herron. I worked with Supercell and Miser alongside the great Travis Hill, and early on, I helped out Paul Bassman on Drowning Pool and Flickerstick. I have followed and helped out Josh from The Phuss since he was 16 and in a ska band called the Goners. A handful of other bands fizzled out for one reason or another.
What about your time before Hollywood Records? You were at Virgin.
Before Hollywood, yes, I spent some time at Virgin Records. That was an adventure: Gorillaz, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Placebo. Lots of great music. My very first promotion gig was at A&M Records, working with Sheryl Crow, Sting, Soundgarden, Jonny Lang and Monster Magnet.
Aside from your label gig, you have your own locally based promo operation, a tie to John Solis' Method Entertainment?
John Solis from Method is who MADE me stay for a JTNL show at Dada many years ago. Thanks a lot, John! Nothing official at this time, just helping out when friends call.
What about in your youth? You had some pretty cool gigs as a youngster too, yes?
I started out working retail at Sound Warehouse and at Bill's Records. While I attended UNT, besides working retail and booking bands, I started as an intern for Chrysalis Records and then became a college marketing rep for Capitol Records. From there, I went to work for Polygram in the mail room and finally got my first real gig in Austin as a field marketing rep for Polygram.
Who do you love locally right now that has strong potential to break out?
The Phuss just released a great, raw record produced by Vaden Todd Lewis. My favorite Dallas singer is Josh Weathers, he is one of the most talented guys out there. Larry Gee's soulful stage presence and energy is a joy to watch. He has amazing vocals. I am always looking forward to hearing and seeing some new bands, always!