Plain White T’s the band that gave the world the huge smash hit song “Hey There Delilah” are back. The band have just released their eighth studio album Parallel Universe full of catchy new songs with a sonic edge. We were lucky enough to catch up with the bands vocalist and songwriter Tom Higgenson to learn more about the new album and find out if a return visit to Australia is likely.

SCENEzine
How’s 2018 been for you so far?

Tom Higgenson
Dude it’s insane that 2018 is almost over. I was just thinking about that, it’s almost October. We started doing pre-production on the new album in October of last year. So the fact that the album just came out and it’s already almost October blows my mind. This year has gone by so fast. But it’s been a kick ass year the albums out and we released some cool music videos, planning tours and everything seems to be going really well. Definitely can’t complain I just wish it would slow down a little bit.

SCENEzine
The new album Parallel Universe turned out awesome you must be stoked to finally have it out in the world?

Tom Higgenson
Thank you, yeah it feels good. Obviously we’ve had a few haters, people who love to talk crap about everything but aside from them I feel like the Plain White T’s community and fans are really digging it. So we couldn’t be happier. We love it. I don’t think we’ve made an album this good ever. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done. So we are just stoked to have it out and that people seem to be liking it.

SCENEzine
How was working with Matt Squire on the album?

Tom Higgenson
Dude it was unbelievable. We’ve known Matt for years. We toured with Panic At The Disco a little bit on their first album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. That’s the album they did with Matt Squire the album that put Matt on the map. So we’ve known him forever I’ve always been a fan of his because I love that album and I love some of the other stuff that he’s done. But for some reason we’ve never worked together and this time around we were talking about producers and it was actually Bob the head of Fearless who said what about Matt Squire? We were all like how have we never worked with Matt so we got on the phone with him and from that conversation on we knew this was perfect he’s the guy.

It was the most incredible flow in the studio, he’s so positive, he’s so quick and talented. Dialling up cool things and thinking outside the box it was a real pleasure working with him. By the end of the recording process we were already talking about recording the next album with him.

SCENEzine
Is it cool to be back on Fearless Records?

Tom Higgenson
Oh my god that feels so good too yeah. We did the major label thing for a while which was awesome. It was great for us obviously we can’t really complain because we had some really great success. But where we are at right now with the music that we want to make going back to Fearless with them being the first label to believe in us and give us our start makes sense. I know because of our success we helped Fearless grow a little bit so now coming back it’s like a big happy family again. They owe us, we owe them so we got back together to make something kick ass.

SCENEzine
Being that this is your eighth album how do you go into a new album with that new song writing excitement?

Tom Higgenson
By literally not worrying one bit about anything. Kind of like anything we’ve done up until this point is totally kick ass and we are proud of it and love it. But this time around we don’t really care what people think the Plain White T’s are. We are just going to go into the studio as this band and make the best album that we can possibly make. It doesn’t matter if there’s some acoustic love song like “Hey There Delilah” it doesn’t matter if anything that people would expect is there or not. We just worked on it one song at a time to make a kick ass album. So that’s what we did and was our way of feeling super proud of it. It’s our eighth album and feels like the most fresh record we have made ever. We’ve never made an album that everybody across the board is hell yes about. This album is that album that everybody is like dude we did it, we killed it on this one. That alone speaks volumes.

SCENEzine
Our favourite track from the album is the super catchy “Bonnie I Want You”. Did that one come together easily?

Tom Higgenson
So that one I wrote pretty quick. There was this girl that right out of high school our group of friends would hang out with. Our group of friends was kind of a mixture of three different little groups from different high schools. This girl Bonnie we would run into her every couple of weeks. Everybody thought she was so cute, she was such a babe. She was this alternative chick with a shaved head and a super gorgeous face. She was kind of dark, was she on drugs I don’t know. I heard she was living in a funeral home, no one really knew who this girl was. She was just this really cool rocker chick. We went out on a date and for a second there and one of my buddies totally freaked me out saying we don’t know anything about this girl. Saying she could be crazy and he totally got in my head.

We were talking just recently and he was telling that story getting a huge kick out of it that he ruined my chances with Bonnie back in the day. We hadn’t thought about this girl in forever. So that night I went home and grabbed the guitar and just channelled that time in your life right out of high school before you’ve got a job. When you’re not a kid anymore but you’re not really an adult. Where we would stay up at Denny’s twenty four hour diner drinking bottomless cups of coffee staying up all night with our friends being idiots. It was that weird time of life where everything was just kind of on hold. Like a lost youth moment.

So I wrote the song channelling that and literally wrote it in probably twenty minutes. That one really came together in the studio with Matt Squire. It was actually an acoustic demo that I had that everybody in the band really liked. So we knew we wanted to work on it for the album but we didn’t really know how it was going to turn out. What Matt Squire actually did with that one is really cool the reggae style guitar is actually the acoustic guitar from my demo playing straight chords. He chopped it up and put it through some syncopation thing until it felt cool. Once we got that dude I was like Oh dude this is sick then we just built the rest of the song around it. The vocal take is actually from my original acoustic demo too.

SCENEzine
Was the video for “Bonnie I Want You” fun to make?

Tom Higgenson
Yeah that was super fun. The three videos that are out we shot all three of those videos in two days. We did “Light Up The Room” the first day and the second day we shot “Your Body” all day. Then at midnight I met up with some friends and rented out this little arcade in LA. From midnight until 3AM we shot the “Bonnie I Want You” video. So the “Your Body” and “Bonnie I Want You” videos were shot the same day, it’s pretty wild because they are pretty different videos. My friend Amanda is this amazing make up artist, dancer and bad ass. I was talking to her I gave her the album early and “Bonnie I Want You” was her favourite song. So I was like dude let’s do a video, we came up with this concept of a throwback arcade and I’m just playing an arcade game while she is dancing around. Then we came up with the twist to be like what if throughout the video we see these little hints that something is off here. Then at the end reveal that Bonnie is some kind of supernatural crazy chick that for whatever reason murdered everybody in the bar, she’s my badass girl and we walk out together. It’s just another Friday night with Bonnie.
 

 
SCENEzine
Was the song “Your Body” inspired by one particular girl?

Tom Higgenson
Yeah there’s a girl that I’ve had an on again off again relationship with for years. There’s just a chemistry there that neither of us can deny. It’s like when you click with somebody that well you know them more than they know themselves almost and vice versa. So with that song I was thinking about her and the times that we’ve gone through. I came up with that lyric “nobody like I know your body” I thought that was an interesting play on words. So I took that and ran with it through the song.
 

 
SCENEzine
Lastly have you guys been talking about returning to Australia one day, hopefully for this album?

Tom Higgenson
We have a band call tomorrow with management and booking agents. So it’ll be about ok what is the six month plan, what is the one year plan. Australia has to be the number one checklist on my list that I’m going to bring up because we’ve only been there once. It was one of the coolest tours we ever did and obviously it’s one of the most amazing places on the planet. So the fact that we haven’t gone back is a tragedy. Definitely 2019 knock on wood we will get our asses back to Australia.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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