Nick Thompson (Thief Club / Hit The Lights) - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Nick Thompson of Thief Club and Hit The Lights. We discussed the writing and recording process for new song, “Holy City”, lyrical inspiration, how his approach to writing has changed over the years, the possibility of future vinyl pressings, what happened to some unreleased Hit The Lights songs and the chance of new music, his advice to new bands, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

You’re very welcome!

You recently released your new song, “Holy City”. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for the song?

“Holy City” was a song that arose from just spending time messing around with little riffs and ideas until ultimately I realized I could actually make a song out of it. I’ve been writing music since 2000, so finding inspiration for lyrics can be difficult for me in recent years just because there’s so much I’ve already done, so I’m always gravitating towards that next “new” thing for myself. “Holy City” turned into an opportunity to write a song to these southern cities such as Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA that I’ve come to love, while exploring the darker themes of what those cities were built on, as well as my fascination with the unknown or paranormal. Somehow I was able to smash all those together into one song for myself.

Has your approach to writing songs and lyrics changed over the years? If so, how? What’s stayed the same?

Of course! I think we all change as people over time in anything we do. I’ve grown to look at songs in different ways, and a lot of that depends on what you’re trying to actually accomplish with the song. Is this an artsy song that you want to get weird to? Is it a song that you want a lot of people to enjoy? Are you trying to get the most amount of streaming plays or cater to a pop audience? All those different factors take into account different techniques and I’ve been lucky enough in my career to work with many songwriters and get their inside input into how they write. I can then put that towards my music or the music I produce. 

There are certain steps and boxes you need to check when doing a particular type of song, and that doesn’t change. What changes is my ability and willingness to go outside my own mental boxes to create a product that I couldn’t have created before. I have an open willingness to try and look for different angles that might take me out of my comfort zone.  Sometimes it leads to wonderful things, sometimes it was good just to go down that road and see if something works, even though it doesn’t. It’s always worth checking out.

Thief Club seems like it has been a good outlet for you to explore sounds and styles. What’s been your favorite part of the project?

Basically just the total control of a vision and direction of a song is a nice, therapeutic option to have. As a songwriter, you always want to grow and be inspired and that’s not always the easiest thing to do. With Thief Club I don’t have to worry about anything except making art that I want to make, and it’s a very freeing option to have.

You released a vinyl pressing for ‘Skip School Start Fights’. Is there any chance that we’ll see a vinyl pressing for ‘This Is A Stickup...’?

There is! It’s coming soon enough, I’m way ahead of you.  No date yet, but I’ve been assured it’s happening.

How does it feel to know that Hit The Lights have multiple albums that people consider pop/punk classics? Is there any chance for new music?

I’m very grateful to be a part of something that has made a connection with as many people as it has. There’s nothing more beautiful or wonderful to me than making connections with people through music I helped create. That’s what it’s all about. And yes, there is certainly a chance for more music in the future. We’re not done, just hibernating.

I have to ask, because I’ve always wondered, is there any chance that fans will ever hear any unreleased songs that Hit The Lights worked on for what would have been your major label album? Did you have a favorite song from those sessions?

I’d never say never but a lot of those songs didn’t make it on any albums for a good reason. They just weren’t right or that good in our opinion. We tried a lot of different vibes and styles trying to make our way to that major label record, so there were maybe 3 or 4 songs I think we could release and I wouldn’t hate. The stuff that I thought was worth while from my end just ended up on the first Thief Club releases anyway.

What is the biggest piece of advice or something that you’ve learned about the music industry that you would tell new bands?

Honestly, the landscape of the business has changed SO much since we started, I’m not really sure I could give the best advice when starting a band in this age. Regardless of social media presence and making sure you’re always putting out “content” I’d just say it all comes down to the songs. Make sure you’re writing good songs and you’re getting quality recordings of those songs and then try to plan a unique music video around them. That is baseline what you should be doing.

What plans do you have for the rest of the year?

Writing, producing and trying to get outside as much as possible! I have SO much more music to come from myself and my collective projects, so follow me and stay tuned!

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

I’m good, thanks for the questions and giving a shit about TC and HTL, that means the world!

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