Reality TV Star Tom Sandoval Talks 'Vanderpump Rules' And New Music Duo

By Cara Wegener
In Culture

Tom Sandoval, star of reality TV show “Vanderpump Rules” (Mondays on Bravo 9/8c), traveled home to St. Louis this past week. Between visiting with family, karaoke with friends at Double D’s and hosting a party tonight at Home Nightclub, Sandoval made time to meet with me at Picasso’s Coffee Shop on Main St. in St. Charles.

Isaac Kappy and Tom Sandoval. Photo courtesy of The Garage PR

Isaac Kappy and Tom Sandoval. Photo courtesy of The Garage PR

Last time we caught up with Sandoval, the STL native talked about the relatively new reality show, which has been on air for four seasons now. Since the success of the show, relationships have changed (as viewers know) and so has Sandoval’s career in music. This time around, we got the inside scoop on his latest project, Charles McMansion—a fun, energetic duo with pal Isaac Kappy—and of course we talked #PumpRules drama, working at SUR and life in LA.

What was your fondest memory growing up in St. Louis?
When I come back here, one thing I notice right away is the smell of fresh-cut lawns. I grew up in Florissant/Hazelwood and I feel like it was really just sort of normal. I used to like exploring stuff, nature, abandoned buildings, manholes—I was always the adventurous type.

Is that what led you to get out of St. Louis?
Growing up, I always wanted to be an actor. I’ve always loved music—I grew up playing trumpet; I took piano for a little bit; I was in marching band. I used to love pretending I was Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Commando” was my jam.

How often to you come back to St. Louis?
I love St. Louis. I feel like it’s one of the best places to come from. Cardinals fans are the best fans and the whole vibe Downtown is great. I come back four or five times a year.

How would you compare St. Louis and Los Angeles?
LA versus St. Louis, and even like New York or Miami, I would say in LA, it’s harder to see your friends all the time. It’s spread out … traffic, you know everything takes a long time. I hate going to the grocery store, going to the gym; it’s all kind of a project. But yeah, there’s a lot of cool people. Everyone’s out there doing their thing.

Last time we talked, you said you and Kristen were “working on things.” Where do you and Kristen stand today?
I don’t want to be around an ex in general, but with a breakup that was that crazy, it’s even more so. I just try to stay away from her as much as possible.

Photo courtesy of The Garage PR

Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval. Photo courtesy of The Garage PR

What about you and Ariana? Are you guys thinking about marriage at all?
We get asked that all the time. We have so many things we want to do. We’ve definitely been adulting for sure, but just the idea of planning a wedding, we don’t feel like we need it. But that could definitely change.

How long do you see yourself working at SUR?
Unless it’s to the point that I can’t do it anymore, I’ll still do it.

Being a bartender, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
Dealing with drunk egos. People get wasted and they can become liabilities.

Does your family watch the show?
Yeah. My grandma told me yesterday though that she wouldn’t watch it because all of the F-bombs.

Let’s talk about your new band.
We’re a duo. Isaac Kappy is the other part of Charles McMansion; he’s a really cool guy from Albuquerque. He’s really good at coming up with the melody and I’m really good at coming up with lyrics. We work really well together.

How did Charles McMansion get started?
I have always been a big fan of the Blues Brothers, plus I love that idea of taking yourself so seriously that it’s kind of funny. The whole “we’ve got a full tank of gas, a half pack of cigarettes”—I love that vibe. That’s kind of our vibe. We’re sort of like a modern-day Blues Brothers.

You were working on a solo project last time we spoke with you.
I think I was working with James, actually. Yeah, we were working on music together and when me and Kristen broke up, they started hooking up pretty much right after that, and obviously it fell through.

Do you like working as a duo better?
Mhmm. I’ve always loved duos, like Outkast. I love Chromeo. Even from the singing aspect, it’s really good because a lot of singers have to stack their vocals, but we don’t really have to do that. It sounds much more full when we sing together. I just like the idea of having two front men that sort of take over the audience in a way.

How do you compare it to being in a full band—like your previous bands, Pierce the Arrow or InVictory?
With a band like that, you have to play places that have a backline; you have to carry all this equipment around. You have to call everyone and promote it. With this new group, we can do live instrumentation or we can just do a track at a club, where sometimes they’re selling tables for $10,000 so they have much more money to pay their acts. It’s much more lucrative. I host parties here in the US and in Australia, so with this music it will be really easy to incorporate into the appearances I already do. It’s definitely the best project I’ve been involved in.

How did you come up with the name Charles McMansion?
It’s a comment towards the gentrification of Los Angeles … plus Metallica was taken.

How do you guys come up with songs, like “T.I.P.”?
Isaac came up with the hook. He just hit me up and started singing it. So I went over to his house and we came up with the concept of the song, which was if you’re having an amazing day, you’re on this amazing high and you go to a coffee shop or wherever—the coffee tastes better, the music sounds better—and you notice that someone else is on your same vibe and you connect with them, and then the two of you, your energy becomes sort of contagious. Soon the whole room feels it.

What about the music video?
We worked with a great director, Gille Klabin. He’s done a lot of Steve Aoki’s videos. Really creative guy, he’s kind of like a mad scientist. We knew we wanted a library, we knew we wanted a mind control thing, and it just kind of all came together. (Watch the video here!)

Are you going to play festivals?
I would love to do festivals. Coachella would be awesome.

Any last words for your hometown?
I love St. Louis. I’ll continue to come back as much as I can. I’m proud to be from St. Louis.

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