Tom Higgenson, the lead singer of The Plain White T’s, is a multitalented musician whose heartfelt lyrics have touched fans across the globe.
The pop-punk band started out as a group of teenagers who played music together after school in the suburbs of Chicago. Years after their first record deal, The Plain White T’s are still touring with fresh music for nostalgic ears.
“Our music is honest and timeless,” Higgenson said. “For a band to make it 16 years strong, with the same guys, it is pretty amazing. I think we’re like a bunch of brothers.”
The Plain White T’s are best known for their 2007 single “Hey There Delilah,” which carved its own space into eternity. The paramount song received two Grammy nominations in 2008 — for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Other notable singles, “1234” and “Rhythm of Love,” went platinum in 2008 and 2011.
The momentum hasn’t stopped since the sparks first began to fly in their after-school band practice. In 2018, the band released its latest album, “Parallel Universe,” that has received more than 1 million streams on Spotify.
“’Let’s Lay Low’ seems to really be connecting,” Higgenson said. “The fans are really loving it. The first week there were over 100,000 streams. It will make its way into the set list (in Big Bear) for sure.”
The Plain White T’s return to The Cave in Big Bear for their second time on stage on Saturday, Sept. 14. “We can’t wait to get back (to Big Bear),” Higgenson said. “We didn’t know what to expect (two years ago), and it was a crazy amazing show.”
Big Bear gets a preview of the band’s full U.S. tour this November. “We will play a good mix of old and new music,” Higgneson said. “Between The Plain White T’s, writing and producing, music if my life. We are going to start writing new music this tour, a sort of an exclamation mark to this album.”
Get to Know Tom Higgenson
When did you first begin playing/writing music?
I performed an original rap song in my eighth grade talent show with my friend Tom. We were T and T. People liked it so much they asked us to perform at the eighth grade dance. It kind of never stopped from there.
How did The Plain White T’s get started?
The late ’90s you had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Weezer just killing it and that is what we loved. After school a bunch of friends would come over and play music. I started writing my own music, my own songs and moved out of my basement to do come local shows, park district shows ... battle of the bands. We built up a following around Chicago the first few years. When we were selling out venues in the city we started moving out to Midwest shows. Then we ended up getting a record deal with a small indie record company.
How did you come up with the name The Plain White T’s?
We were influenced by the early pop-punk which was a throwback to ’50s, ’60s music, like the Ramones. We were always inspired by the ’50s, ’60s music and culture. You think of James Dean in a plain white tee and leather jacket. The classic uniform of the ’50s. It was a cool idea to let our name harken back to something from that era.
Where is your favorite music venue to play?
The Metro in Chicago. The first concert I ever went to, in the city, was Weezer at The Metro. We used to play there all the time before we started touring.
Which of your songs has the biggest impact on your fans?
“Hey There Delilah,” a lot of fans make it really big. I think it’s one of the best songs I wrote, and I still enjoy playing it. It’s our biggest song that connected most with the fans.
When we play it live, you know that they are wanting to hear it. To be able to play a song that you wrote in our mom’s apartment for 1,000 people and it’s going to have some sort of connection to their life and their love life. It’s a pretty amazing thing. I enjoy all of the songs. The fact that we had luck with those hits it’s pretty awesome.