Picture your next-door neighbor, noticeably talented, quietly charming and extraordinarily friendly. You watch him growing up in the home beside your own, fostering a deep love of music, learning to play the guitar, encouraged by his father to pursue an exploration of these sonic landscapes and claim them for his own. Years pass and one day you look out the window and realize the little boy next-door has become a full-fledged musician- and the members of your small town aren’t the only ones who know it.
That is the story of Nick Thomas, the singer, guitarist and mastermind behind The Spill Canvas. While growing up in Sioux Falls, SD, Thomas recorded his first songs at age 15, funded by his father, who strongly encouraged his son’s evident musical talent. Although Thomas admits that results of those studio sessions were “atrocious,” the fledgling singer-songwriter honed his largely acoustic-based style playing solo shows in and around his hometown. After playing with a few local bands, Thomas returned to his solo music with conviction, dubbing it “The Spill Canvas.” After sending demo after demo to label around the county, the music caught the attention One Eleven Records owner Brad Fischetti. The result of that record deal was the raw and emotive Sunsets and Car Crashes, which began to amass Thomas eager fans around the country. After officially transitioning from solo act to full-fledged rock band, The Spill Canvas recorded their dynamic debut full-length, One Fell Swoop, with producer Ed Rose (The Get-Up Kids), releasing it on One Eleven in May of 2005 to great acclaim, eventually selling over 50,000 copies.
While on tour in support of One Fell Swoop, The Spill Canvas caught the eye of Sire Records President Michael Goldstone at New Jersey’s “The Bamboozle Festival” in 2006. Ready to take the next step forward, The Spill Canvas formed a partnership with Sire, which Thomas believes will provide the band with the promise of career longevity. With a new five-song EP, Denial Feels So Good, out on May 1 and 30-something songs to be refined in an album with producer Neal Avron (Fall Out Boy, The Wallflowers, Yellowcard) this spring. “It was such an easy choice to pick Neal Avron to produce our new record because he's consistently produced so many great records over the years,” says Beck.
The self-produced Denial Feels So Good boasts three originals, (one of which is a remix of the beloved “Staplegunned” by Chris Lord-Alge, who has re-mixed Green Day and Jewel, the rest of the EP was mixed by Brad Smith and Christopher Thorne of Blind Melon fame) and features a double-dose of cover tracks, both of which have significant meaning for the band. Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” reflects Thomas’ appreciation for older music (“There’s so much good music from that era that we’re huge fans of,” he explains). Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” meanwhile, was suggested specifically for the band by Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, something Thomas says was an obvious choice once he heard the song.
The Spill Canvas, who has toured with bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Straylight Run, Mae and The Plain White T’s, has graced the stages of Austin’s annual music festival SXSW, New Jersey’s The Bamboozle and the Vans Warped Tour in both 2006 and 2007 (“We love Warped Tour, says Ludeman. “What could possibly be better than an event that caters to such a wide variety of music lovers?”) and was named one of Alternative Press’ “Bands To Watch in 2007,” may not exactly be living next-door anymore, but have preserved the sensibility of their humble beginnings. Notorious for their personal relationships with their fans, The Spill Canvas may spend most of the year on the road, but their hearts have never left Sioux Falls. And Thomas, although recognizing the good fortune gained from his hard work, can barely believe how far he has come.