Grammy-nominated pop rock band Plain White T’s will make a local stop Sunday for a free performance at Jefferson Pointe to promote their upcoming album.
The band’s front man, Tom Higgenson, has penned the band’s most swoon-worthy songs, Hey There Delilah and 1, 2, 3, 4. He says the band’s new album deals with life and love – approaching lyrics with honesty and a capacity to relate to modern-day relationships.
I don’t have good cheese gauge. I just kind of go for it. I let other people tell me if it’s cheesy. The band is always calling me out on stuff, Higgenson says by phone from his basement in Elmhurst, Ill.
The Plain White T’s were born in the suburban basement of Higgenson’s childhood home in the late ’90s, thrashing out Green Day and Weezer covers on his father’s drum set and some old amps.
The fact is that I’m really a romantic guy at heart. I believe every word. That’s what sets it apart. I’m not being cheesy. I’m trying to be sweet, romantic, or just trying to get the girl, he says.
Higgenson says a near-fatal car crash in 1999 spurred his honest storytelling. Only a couple years into the band, Higgenson swerved the group’s van to avoid a collision with a car that cut him off on a highway. He says the van rolled multiple times, throwing him out of the vehicle. He broke several vertebrae in his back and suffered internal injuries.
That was definitely the moment where I realized that I should have died, but I didn’t. I told myself, I’m going to start writing these songs and put myself into them. I’m really going to try to tell my story and use my songs as a little diary of things I went through.’ From that point on, people started to connect to the music.
The band released the Should’ve Gone to Bed EP in April, featuring four songs that will be on the band’s upcoming fourth album on Hollywood Records this fall. The band reveals in its EP the same yearning for love and yet, a new outlook on life.
The EP’s title song and first single, Should’ve Gone to Bed, tells the new-age story of what happens after too many drinks, a smartphone and loneliness brings the narrator a humiliating blow. With a three-year stretch from the last album, Wonders of the Younger, Higgenson says he approached this album with a clearer head.
Breaking up with my crazy ex helped. It is definitely a mind-clouding experience when you’re in a relationship where you love this person and although there was a lot of right in it, a lot of it wasn’t. It’s really confusing, Higgenson says. Whenever you go through a breakup there’s that cloudy period where you go, Shoot, What do I do now? Who am I? I am so used to being with this person, who am I on my own?’ There was a lot of time spent remembering the things that I love and the life I wanted to live and the person that I always wanted to be. Getting back to that wasn’t easy, but I think I’m doing good.
The upcoming album will feature a more prominent songwriting appearance from guitarist Tim Lopez that Higgenson says brings a new dimension to the band’s music. Unlike Wonders of the Younger, in which the concept album presented a big, theatric production, Higgenson says the new album scales back for a more simple sound, reminiscent of the days in a basement.
We’re writing more personal songs about life experiences, he says. The guitars feel live, they feel exciting. They feel like we’re in the room with you. That’s the vibe we wanted to capture on this album, strip it down, play hard and make it sound good.