BACK IN the spring of 2020, right before the world shut down, one of the last acts to grace the Jinx’s stage was Nordista Freeze—and he did so without pants on.
The rowdy frontman, who you may also call Tommy Freeze, won the affection of the crowd by stripping off his clothes and running around the crowd in his skivvies. It was Freeze’s grand introduction to Savannah—well, aside from a self-proclaimed dud of a Monday show at El Rocko the year before.
Now well-acquainted with the city, Freeze is set to return for his second Stopover appearance. We caught up with him last week to talk about his Savannah experience, how he put together his touring band, and what he puts in his daily smoothie.
You played Stopover in 2020, and you’re coming back for your second appearance. What can fans expect from the show this time? What’s changed between now and then?
Well, yes (laughs) a lot has changed. I don’t even know where to start. So first off, my band on that tour I met through Instagram and Facebook weeks before the tour. I had met some of them touring, but [I didn’t know them] very well. That tour we were embarking on, it was similar to this one. It was going to be about two months, coast to coast, and start by working our way down to Savannah and then going to SXSW. It ended in Houston; the day before South By was the day we officially called it because of COVID. And so this exact same tour route in a lot of ways is very similar.
The project is just under my name; it’s technically a solo project, although we operate more like a rock outfit, I guess you could call it. So I’m always finding different members. I’ve had 56 different band members since 2016, some more consistent than others. But because the tour was so long last time, none of my crew could really make it except one. I just posted on my Instagram, “Who’s gonna be in my band?” I had auditions and applications, and I found the sweetest group of people.
So at that Savannah show, it was only our sixth or seventh show that we’d played together as a band. That was a very new and crazy experience. This time, I’m coming around with a band, we’ve been working really hard and practicing. We’ve got new music and we are tighter than we’ve ever been. It’ll be like our 625th show. We are primed and ready to play—it’s gonna be wild.
Since then even, we’ve played Savannah like three times through COVID.
I remember you'd linked up with Dog Days booking; how did you get together with them?
To put it short, when I was booking my own tour in September 2019, it was my first time trying to get to Savannah to play El Rocko. I think [Kyle Brown] was the talent buyer there at the time. So Kyle was basically like, “Yo, it’s a Monday night, nobody’s gonna come to your show. I’ll give it to you, but it’s gonna be a dud.” I was like, that’s fine, I just want to prove myself. So we played and no one showed up—there were three bands and eight people in the crowd. I played the best show I could possibly play, and afterwards the sound guy was like, “Hey, we really appreciate you coming down, we really enjoyed this.” Sure enough, they were like, “We’re gonna get you a gig.” And sure enough, it was Stopover. And that’s when I played with Reverend Bro Diddley and the Hips. Stopover, in a lot of ways, was my introduction to Savannah. I met a lot of people at that show who now come to every single show. COVID happened, and once COVID left we played a wedding venue—what’s it called with the mezzanine?
Yeah, we played Victory North and then we played that Live Nation weird venue down by the river [at Plant Riverside].
We came back last month and we were like, “Let’s do El Rocko, let’s go back to where we started.” It was the craziest show, so much fun. Easily the best show we’ve played in Savannah so far.
That definitely beats eight people in the crowd.
Yes! This time it was packed out. It was very special to be like, “Wow, we went from that to that.” It’s very obvious, you could see it. It was tangible.
Something I want to talk about with you—that got a lot of people talking at your last show—is your stage presence. Have you always been that energetic on stage, or did you have to hone that?
Ooh! Well, you know, I think if I had to pick a choice, I’d say I’ve always been that way. I’ve changed and grown, but when I was in high school I played a standup snare drum and floor tom in a folk band. I would take my snare and run around the venue. I’ve always had that excitement on stage. I love that stuff, man. I love showmanship, I love being on stage. I always want to be on stage. I love touring—that’s why I play so much. When I’m up there, I feel like I’m at home. I feel great, and it’s getting better and better. A couple weeks ago I just unlocked a deeper version of it. I’ve always had that energy and I’m gonna bring it at Stopover, like guaranteed. Without a doubt gonna go wild.
It just makes for such an exciting show when you have a frontman with stage presence. It’s like karaoke: if you sing a song perfectly, but you’re boring, nobody will be excited, but if you’re up there having a great time, you could miss half the words and people would still be into it.
People come up to me and are like, “Hey, are you gonna take your pants off tonight on stage?” Or they point at something and say, “Are you going to climb on that thing?” And the answer is always, I have no idea. You can practice and be perfect, and we definitely do practice the things we want to nail, but spontaneity is so much of it. You gotta be able to improvise.
I don’t observe venues very much. I don’t think about it, I don’t plan things through, and even if you saw me twice and I do a similar thing, I’m thinking through it on stage. I’m just up there being like, “What am I gonna do?” I have no game plan. The relationship with the band and the crowd and where we all get to. It’s a collaborative thing. I think leaving it to that definitely makes it more exciting and also allows you to create a set that is more … We as a band and a performance have a relationship with the crowd that can form, if it’s going well. That’s when it’s chaotic good. I guess it can turn chaotic evil, and then maybe we do what the crowd or venue does not wish that we do. But we’re sweeties; we would never actually hurt anyone or disrespect anyone.
I think it’s funny you say people are like, “What are you gonna climb on?” I imagine someone walking into a venue and being like, “Ah, yes, that’s the light fixture I’m going to swing from.”
How did you find the band you’re with this time?
Well, it’s a really special thing when people stick around, because no one’s in it for the money, at this level even. The people that have chosen to be a part of this tour are my good friends, and we’re all really close, actually. This is a really special tour.
My drummer, Grant, we met playing Little League baseball in fourth grade. He was a teacher this year, and he’s leaving school two months early to come on tour. He quit his job in the middle of the year, they had to find a new teacher, he’s done. Which I never thought he would do!
Sam, my guitar player, we met playing soccer in fourth grade. We all three went to middle and high school together, so it’s just really special.
I’ve got a guitar player named Bryce who’s been playing with me for a couple years. He recorded my album—he was the engineer of my album and tracked it to tape at his house. I got Trevor, who I met in college. I went to a small college in Nashville and when I went there, there was pretty much two bands: a folk band and an indie rock band. He had the indie rock band, and I thought he was the coolest guy. He was a wicked bass player. His band broke up and I asked him to join my band and he said, “No thanks, I’m good.” I kept asking and eventually he joined, and now we’re really good friends and we’ve been touring together for years.
It’s a really good group; it’s just very special. We’re a motley crew for sure. We all have different energy, but it comes together for a pretty fun experience. We’re pushing the set on all fronts; everything we do, we’re doing to the tens now. It’s going to be a poppier set than we’ve ever played, and it’s also going to be a harder set than we’ve ever played.
Now, my last question is kind of a funky one—
Let’s do it.
I originally wanted to do a story where I tag along with a band for a day, and ideally it would have been you, but I realized that our issue comes out before the touring bands actually get here. So, what’s a day in the life like for you?
Well, you know, a third of my life every year is on tour, since I play at least 120 shows a year. So the days I’m here, let’s see. I normally wake up pretty late, like 11 a.m., because my day is a crescendo. You know what I’m saying? I gain energy and then by the time it’s 1 a.m., I’m frothing with energy. Just like, let’s do it! I’m writing a song or something. I stay up until I pass out at like 3 or 3:30. I gotta get eight hours of sleep, always, so I get up probably at 11. I’ll make some coffee, I’ll make a smoothie. I love making smoothies—I make a smoothie every single day.
What’s in it?
Pea protein powder, some almond butter. Almond butter if I’m rich and livin’ bougie, but lately it’s been peanut butter. I’ll do frozen kale, a banana, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. A big berry smoothie is typically what I do. So all the good stuff and some coffee. Let’s get to work. Being an independent artist, I will say there’s a massive amount of work. Every single day I spend hours doing things that no one even knows I’m doing, just back end stuff. You might just get caught in hours of a loophole of how to insert your Spotify onto your website and you’re like, how do I code this? I don’t know how to code.
There’s a lot of that all day, but I love going on walks. I live across the street from a park. I do try to get some fresh air. I try to create, I try to be creative. I’ve been writing a lot lately; I write in my room on my laptop, which is new for me. I might get coffee with someone, I’m always trying to stay friendly with the people I love. And my family lives in town, too, so I see them at least once a week. I love swimming, so I might go for a swim. Those are the things I’m into right now; that’s what I do most of the day.
Is there anything else you want to make sure we talked about?
I want everyone reading this to know, if they’re coming to Stopover, look out for me. Find me on Instagram, see what I look like, and if you see me, say hey. I’m incredibly friendly and a down to earth dude. I’d love to make some new friends, I’d love to see some new bands, I’d love to discover some new music. If anyone says I should check out a band or go to this or that show, I’m there. I want to be a part oft. It’s cool to be a human on this earth and support each other. And come to the show—we’re gonna have a really fun time and everyone’s welcome.
Nordista Freeze plays the Paint Shop Stage on Sat., Mar. 12 at 7 p.m.