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 they hadn't come up with such sweetly simple metaphors for their own gals.
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, making one of the first stops headlining WRMF's Party in the Park at Mizner Park Amphitheatre Saturday, June 8, Higgenson sat down with us for a few minutes to talk about the inspiration behind the single (hint: ever heard of drunk sexting?), the band's fresh direction since guitarist Tim Lopez has taken a more active role writing and singing, and what his career path might've been had the whole rock star thing not panned out.
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's more of a nightly ritual for me [laughs]. Yeah, 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]. But yeah. You just text somebody random from the past and, you know, it's whatever. You get a little bit of a flirt maybe, or sometimes they don't even respond. Half these girls, maybe they have boyfriends now, who knows what the deal is? But that's the place I'm at. 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.
And is all of this just loneliness-induced, or is it you know, you have some help from your friend alcohol?
Alcohol usually fuels the fire, for sure. But, yeah, that's the worst. Then the texts get -- that's when you say the embarrassing things. You go a little too far when there's alcohol involved.
Well, we've all been there.
That's the good thing, huh? I'm not alone. I like to hear that.
Maybe you should go on that Ready for Love show next.
Yeah, you know what? It's not so bad, huh? Full of hand-picked girls by world-famous matchmakers? I'll take it. Sounds good to me, sign me up!
I have to confess, I've seen some of it, and it's actually not that bad. But, I don't know, do you think shows like that or The Bachelor really work? Can you actually find love like that?
Well, you know, writing songs for girls doesn't seem to be working, so I think if a reality show works for ya', hey, whatever it takes. I think nowadays, with the internet and with online dating and Facebook -- with all the outlets for meeting people and talking to people now, it's kind of like the Wild West. Like, whatever works works. There's no rules anymore for how you get to meet somebody, or how you stay in touch, or what kind of relationship to have. So, you know, it worked for Tim. He's still with the girl that he met on the show, so. He was really ready for love. It seems to be going strong for him so far, so, we'll see what happens.
Well, he does came off as super sincere on the show, so that's really nice.
Yeah, totally. I was nervous, because, you know, they can edit it any way they want to, to make him look like a total asshole or something. But he came across as just really being Tim. He's a really good guy, and that's what you got on the show.
On the note dating being like a wild frontier, my mom actually just sent me an article from the New York Times about other moms out there pretending to be their daughters on online dating websites.
Oh, my God, that's crazy. What if you fell in love with the mom and then the daughter was just like, you know, you didn't click with the daughter, but you really loved the mom? That's weird.
[Laughs] Yeah, I don't know.
That's like a movie script. We need to write that, I think.