Co-written by KC Longley and Ashley Mott
After 13 years in the dark, Plain White T’s returned to Fearless Records with the debut of their new sound, which is featured in their new album “Parallel Universe,” an effort released on Aug. 24 of this year.
Plain White T’s independently released their own album in 2015, titled “American Nights,” but after realizing that they weren’t getting as much traction as they have in the past, they made a return to Fearless Records after their departure from them 13 years ago. However, their return to the label did not mean a return to their original sound.
Wanting to break out of their musical typecast, Plain White T’s opted to make their new album something that they could be proud of, rather than working off a bottom-line that the label wanted to present to fans.
Lead singer and frontman Tom Higgenson said that he felt their band had so many sounds going on that they could never truly stick to one thing.
“Rather than just making music that was awesome and inspiring, it got to the point where [we were] just this one thing,” Higgenson said, speaking on how many styles of music they tried out over the years. “There were five different identities of the band.”
As Plain White T’s reintroduces themselves to the world with this new album, they showcase the sound they’ve finally landed on after all these years. “Parallel Universe” is a combination of raw and vulnerable emotion, blended together with upbeat tracks to form a dark tale with a happy twist.
From songs like “Sick of Love” and “Bury Me,” to “Light Up the Room” and “No Imitations,” it can be clearly seen that there is something for everyone to relate to.
“I think everybody goes through the same things,” Higgenson said. “I’m sure 99 percent of everybody has gone through [similar experiences].”
In addition to being excited to show the world their new sound, Higgenson said that they are most excited to be playing these songs live on tour.
“Every song feels so good and so exciting,” Higgenson said.
On their tour, they are making their way to the House of Blues in Cleveland, a venue that they are all very familiar with and enjoy returning to when given the chance.
“[It’s] one of the coolest House of Blues in the country,” Higgenson said.
Ready to rock the socks off Clevelanders everywhere, Plain White T’s will be playing in Cleveland, on Oct. 17. The excitement for the tour can be felt as Higgenson talked about his music and traveling to and from venues on the tour bus.
While everyone used to bring books and movies on past tours, now their must-have item is a smartphone, for when they want to go online or FaceTime friends and family back home.
“Where were we without smartphones?” Higgenson asked, commenting on the change in dynamic from being on tour now versus over 13 years ago.
Although band members plan excursions into the city, phone calls home and to enjoy some down time, none of it seems feasible as they gear up to practice for the shows.
“No matter what you bring, it’s like you never have time to do any of that stuff,” Higgenson said.
Despite their busy schedule, the band takes time to make sure they are all in one room prior to a show for at least half an hour to bond before going on stage.
Outside of the tour, Plain White T’s has another exciting opportunity in the works. Twelve years after its release, the iconic single that couples everywhere claimed as their own, “Hey There Delilah,” has the chance to get some screen time.
Higgenson was approached about the idea of basing a TV series off of the hit song after he sang for “The Spongebob Musical,” which made its Broadway debut in 2017.
According to Higgenson, the series is still in its pitch mode as they wait for a producer to pick up the idea and bring it to life. That being said, a TV series is something that Higgenson hopes fans everywhere will fall in love with, just like they did with the original song.
Speaking on TV series, there was a question that was begging to be asked, “What was it like to be on iCarly?” Higgenson was more than happy to answer this question.
What started out as another promotional event, scheduled by the label to promote the band and its music, became a phenomenon that young adults everywhere are still talking about in 2018.
According to Higgenson, the show hadn’t even made it on air when they were asked to guest star, but the band was excited to shoot with “School of Rock” actress Miranda Cosgrove. Known to most of the world for her role in the iconic show “Drake and Josh,” Cosgrove was known only to the band as Summer Hathaway, the over achiever on “School of Rock.”
“I’m glad we did [it], that was just one of those random things that ended up being way cooler than any of us ever knew it could be,” Higgenson said, commenting on the fact that fans still mention that episode 11 years after it aired.
Another serendipitous moment that Higgenson recalled was a moment during their promotional period where they performed for a Music Choice On Demand channel. After their performance, another artist was brought up to sing. Without knowing who she would become, Higgenson remembers a girl by the name of Rihanna.
Several years later, she has released multiple No. 1 singles and has become a household name.
“We could have easily bro-ed with her,” Higgenson said. “Goddamn it, we should have hung out with Rihanna.”
Looking back on moments like these causes the band to reflect on high school memories from when they first started out, from practicing in the garage to choosing their name.
Inspired by the classic looks from people like James Dean and characters from “Grease,” the band members aspired to achieve the cool crisp look that came from a plain white tee.