Tom Higgenson from the Plain White T’s
invited BreatheHeavy.com backstage to chat before his show in Las Vegas alongside the Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry. I walked up onto their tour bus expecting a scene from a movie: panties flung about, trash and paper everywhere, a cloud of smoke… but to my surprise, the band made up of Tom, Tim Lopez, Dave Tirio, Mike Retondo and De’Mar Hamilton were collected in the bus (sans panties, paper and smoke) before their 30-minute set.
“We’ve been touring for…” Tom pauses a moment to count in his head… “Shit I don’t know, 12 years at this point. We have fun, but we’re veterans. We know how to do it now. I don’t think we get too crazy to where we’re hurting the next day. We know when to say when. Sometimes! Most of the time…”
The T’s, who are performing nearly every day this month around the country, have to be on their A-game to keep up.
“I hope everyone that comes to see the tour falls in love with the Plain White T’s. While we’re on stage, we just try and make a connection with the crowd as best we can, hopefully put a smile on peoples’ faces and give them a time that they remember.”
I mentioned seeing their rigorous schedule, but for Tom it’s just another day at the office.
“We’re out here doing what we love doing. We get to play music in front of thousands of people every night. It’s the most fun job in the world,” adding the only grueling part is being away from his home, family and friends.
In today’s digital age, selling albums isn’t important when defining what makes a band successful. Years ago, signing with a label meant (almost) guaranteed success, but today it’s not the case; it’s about connecting the artist to the fan.
“Everything’s changing so much. Album sales – they’re a fraction of what they were even just a few years ago. A number one record right now can be 40,000 copies.” He recalls the days when the Backstreet Boys sold a million records opening week. “I don’t think record sales really matter as much, especially with social media. I feel like social media is almost taking over the label’s job. The whole industry is changing. Labels are less and less important and the band connecting with the fans, connecting with their audience and continuing to put out great music, that’s what’s important and what will lead to success. I don’t think success is about numbers – it’s about having fans loving your songs, coming to your shows and singing along.”
Though numbers aren’t important, the T’s “Hey There Delilah” is one of several platinum selling records from the group.
When Tom’s not touring with the T’s, he’s playing for another band he belongs to, That Lying Bitch
. He and T’s band member, Dave Tirio, started the band with a couple buddies they played with in high school.
The T’s frontman explains the band’s name came about after a girl cheated on his buddy. “He just went through a crazy breakup. His girlfriend of five years, who was in a band with him, totally fucked him over and broke his heart. He went off to his uncle’s condo in Florida and wrote 20 punk rock breakup songs.” He asked Tom and Dave to record with him. “The songs were so badass that we just became a band. We were having so much fun recording them that we wanted to play them live.”
He takes credit for coining the band’s name because his fragile friend “wouldn’t put it out there like that.”
This lead me to ask Tom if he’s in love.
“I am in love, but, I don’t know with who yet,” Tom said rather innocently. “I’m in love with everybody.”
One relationship Tom’s sure to cozy up with are his fans.
“The only thing I can say is thank you. If it wasn’t for people liking and supporting our music we wouldn’t still be doing this.”
Their fans won’t have to wait long for new music. Tom confirms the T’s have already fully-recorded an album with an official announcement on its way.
“The fact that the T’s are still going since 1997 is all because there’s people out there that give a shit and support. So thank you.”
- Jordan Miller, BreatheHeavy.com