Chicago natives Plain White T's have been making the ladies swoon since their 2007 number-one hit, "Hey There Delilah," went platinum and lead singer Tom Higgenson made every guy feel dumb he hadn't come up with such sweetly simple metaphors.
Two Grammy nominations and two more platinum singles later, the sentimental pop-punk rockers have proved that their intimate, infectious tunes have real staying power. On the eve of a summer tour in support of their latest release, Should've Gone to Bed, they will be headlining at Mizner Park Amphitheater on Saturday. Higgenson told us about the inspiration behind the first single (hint: ever heard of drunk sexting?) and memories of summers past.
New Times: Where in the world are you right now, and what have you been up to since your last project, the release of your new EP in April?
Tom Higgenson: Well, it seems like it was yesterday. It's only been about a few weeks now, a month, I guess. But since then, we've been busy promoting it. We've done the Tonight Show With Jay Leno, we did a lot of press in New York, we did VH1's Morning Buzz, all promoting the new single, which is "Should've Gone to Bed," which is also the name of the EP. And right now, I'm actually at home, taking a little bit of a breather in Chicago before we start hitting the road and playing a bunch of shows through the summer.
What was the inspiration behind the single off the new EP? Was there any one incident that was particularly embarrassing or...
It sucks being single right now, because, even after writing the song, I still remain guilty. It's so easy when you're alone at night to just be like, "Man, I just need some kind of companionship," whether it's even a stupid text message to a girl or from a girl, you know, it's... I don't know. It's where I'm at in my life right now; it's kind of pathetic [laughs].... You always think, "Man, what's my problem? Why can't I just move on and get out there and meet somebody new?" That's where "Should've Gone to Bed" came from.
So you're actually as sensitive as your songs make out?
[laughs] I guess you could say that, yeah. I don't know if "sensitive" is the right word, but we're definitely hopeless romantics, for better or for worse.
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You've been together since 1997. Where do you keep drawing the inspiration?
Ever since the band started, the first song I ever wrote was a song for a girl or a song about my life or a girl that I liked or, you know, just where I was in life. And that was back in high school. And I think that nothing has really changed, you know? I still write songs from the heart about things going on in my life. There's a song on this EP, one of my favorites, called "You Belong," and the chorus is, "You belong inside the songs I sing." It's just a song about seeing the girl, and before you even talk, you know, just being that sort of love-at-first-sight kind of a connection.
You're headlining the Party in the Park right around when school gets out for the summer. What's one of your favorite memories from summer breaks?
I was the guy who actually loved high school. Like, when we were in school, just realizing, like man, I get to see my friends every day, there're girls that I like that I can talk to every day and sit next to in class. Plus you get summers off. I just knew back then that this was cool and that — I think that's why I probably joined a band.