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Profile: Plain White T’s Talk About Women Empowerment and Music Style

On November 8th, I had the opportunity to interview the Plain White T’s before their concert at The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. When I sat down with the band, I was able to ask them questions about their music and advice for college students and women. After the interview I got to see the band perform new songs from their album, Parallel Universe, and old hits including “Hey There Delilah,” “1,2,3,4,” and “Rhythm of Love.” Here is what the band had to say:

Her Campus: Where do you guys get your band name from?

Tom Higgenson: Well what year were you born?

HC: 1998

TH: Well the year before that we were just like getting out of high school and stuff and we had a list of really goofy, crappy band names and Plain White T’s was the best on the list believe it or not. So that was the one we were kinda leaning towards. And then we ended up seeing a bunch of picture of bands we love and there is always someone wearing a plain white tee. And our music kinda had that like 50’s, especially when the band started, it was more of an oldies sounding band, a lot of our stuff sounding more like 50s and 60s sounds. You think back to that era and you think of a plain white tee under like a letter jacket. The name just seemed to fit so we went with it.

HC: This one I have to ask. What inspired you to write “Hey There Delilah”

TH: That’s a great question. Well I met a girl named Delilah. That is all it took. Obviously a lot of our songs are about girls and about love and falling in and out of love. Literally I met Delilah, this girl, she was friend of a friend, we all went to a show together.

Dave Tirio: What was the show? Cause the rest of the story is pretty boring

TH: I feel like the show might have been a Lucky Boys show at the House of Blue in Chicago. And we went with like I said with friends, three of us and I was just like totally smitten. She was so pretty and I was goofy, flirting with her all night and I wrote the song.

HC: So where does the New York part come in?

TH: She went to school in New York. The next day she went back to school. Poetic right. I met this girl and then she had to leave the next day and then she had to go back with her boyfriend at the time. I was like what the hell.

HC: Are there any artists that influencer your style of music? Which ones from the past? Which ones from the present?

TH: Someone else answer…

Tim Lopez: I mean from the past it seems like Beatles trickles in, Tom Petty trickles in from time to time. You’re not gonna hear that too much on the new record.

TH: Michael Jackson

TL: Sure! Michael Jackson from the past might speak in the new record. Tom was citing The Weekend a little bit.

TH: Yea The Weekend, The Strokes

TL: Jon Bellion!

TH: Yea I love Jon Bellion! Yea that is some of the more modern stuff we love. Skrillex. Love him. If you mix The Beatles, Skrillex, and it’s like…

HC: How has your music style changed over time?

TH: Well we added Skrillex and the Weekend to our inspiration. You know it’s funny it’s like I think music in general has changed and I think we are changing along with it. I feel like the songs we are writing could have been the same songs we would have written 10 years ago but arranged and produced differently. Before we would have sat in Dave’s garage or my basement or something and just jammed through a song until it felt right. Now with laptops and new technology you can just sit in the studio and just mess with sounds until something sounds cool. You are not as limited to just guitars anymore.

HC: It is cool to still have the guitar vibe. I feel like that always sticks and always is what people like.

TH: Yea totally!

HC: Since Her Campus is geared more toward females, what does female empowerment meant to you?

TL: Well first off I feel like your publication is like kinda sexist. It isn’t geared towards me.

HC: You can read it still. It is still applicable but college women write everything.

TH: I feel like in my opinion women are always in power. They have the power and maybe we just don’t know it all the time. We like worship you guys.

HC: Good to know!

TL: Like if it wasn’t for a couple of bad egg men that make people scared it is like women are always in power. Men are constantly seeking the approval of women.

HC: Do you have any advice to college students pursuing careers in music?

DT: Drop out.

TH: I mean I would say after you graduate

TL: Unless you are at like Berkeley school of music or something where you are becoming a trained musician I would say drop out.

TH: Just give it your all that is all you can really do.

DT: Try to do it every day and also if you are inclined to perform live get out and do it. Don’t wait for an album to come out or a manager to tell you where to play or whatever just go play.

TH: Find opportunities, just get out there, and work as hard as you can. Do it as much as you can.

DT: Things tend to find you.

HC: Do you guys have any favorite venues in LA that you like to play?

TH: I don’t think we played here before have we?

DT: No, we’ve played here once. It was a private show.

TL: I remember having dinner down the street.

TH: Are you sure it wasn’t the 1OAK that used to be Key Club?

DT: No you’re thinking way back in the day. We used to have a lot of history at Troubadour and Viper Room. Those are both awesome! Small clubs…

TH: When we played Staples Center with Fall Out Boy that was awesome

DT: Yea we love that venue

TH: We are just naming every venue we have ever heard of.

HC: I think this is my last one. What is your guys favorite song to perform live?

TH: Well we have a new album called parallel universe out now and so on this tour it is called the Parallel Universe tour. Very creative. But, we are playing a lot of songs off the new album so I think just it is so fresh still so those are the most fun to play right now. Bonnie is pretty fun to play. Bonnie I Want You. Low is pretty fun to play.

DT: A lot of them are because they are fresh.

HC: I think that is it for my questions but thank you guys so much!




Alyssa is the Senior Editor of the UCLA Chapter of Her Campus. She is a 4th year Communication Studies major and Film, TV, and Media minor. In her free time, Alyssa loves working out, going to tons of concerts, and binging reality TV episodes. Contact Alyssa via email: alyssabonchick@me.com
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