5 questions with the Plain White T’s; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE – Five guys from Chicago, known to the music world as the Plain White T’s, will bring their Midwest punk-pop sound to the Dixie Sunbowl in St. George Thursday night. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the gate.

St. George News met up with the band, composed of lead singer Tom Higgenson, guitarist Dave Tirio, guitarist Tim Lopez, drummer De’Mar Hamilton and bassist Mike Retondo, and talked with this group of guys that first swept America with their hit song “Hey There Delilah” back in 2006.

Dishing on topics from the most memorable places they’ve toured to the difficulty of keeping relationships together where you’re traveling all over the globe – and even discussing the possibility of settling down in Southern Utah – this is what the T’s had to say to St. George News.

Five questions with the Plain White T’s

Touring around, settling down

Question 1: What are some favorite cities you’ve visited on tour?

Of the many, many places the Plain White T’s have visited on tour over the years, a few stand out in memory for the band members.

Some of the band members have settled down in places that struck a chord while they were traveling through. Lopez said he felt a special spark when the T’s performed in Austin, Texas, and decided to buy a home and put down roots there.

Retondo said he felt a special something while traveling into Southern Utah Thursday and was asking questions about the local real estate market during the interview.

“I kind of got that feeling today driving through,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I could live here.’”

Tirio said Honolulu, Hawaii, and Seattle, Washington, have topped the list for him when he thinks back over the many miles the T’s have toured together. Honolulu is the “best place I’ve ever been,” he said.

In addition to Seattle’s famous music scene, that city also stands out to him for sentimental reasons.

“My fiancé and I had our first date up there,” Tirio said.

Higgenson said visiting Japan was a standout for him. A recent European trip was also a highlight – although he said the band didn’t have a chance to explore places like Paris and London and be tourists while they were there.

For Hamilton, performing close to his Los Angeles home is a gig of choice.

“We have great crowds in Southern California,” he said, “and I also get to sleep in my own bed next to my wife, so that’s good, too.”

Concert craziness

Question 2: What is the craziest experience you’ve ever had during a live concert?

Though the Plain White T’s have performed all over the world, some concerts are harder to forget than others.

One show that was memorable in a bad way was the band’s experience one year at the annual Reading Festival in Reading, England.

“We all had a crazy experience when we got booked on the wrong day at the Reading Festival,” Tirio said.

The festival featured a day of melodic pop bands and a day of hard rock and heavy metal groups, he said – and the Plain White T’s ended up being mistakenly scheduled on the heavy metal lineup.

“We happened to be on the day with Metallica and all these other bands, and it was like, ‘What are we doing here?’” Tirio said.

One heavily anticipated band cancelled that day, and the singer of another band was sick so that group cut its performance time, and the fans weren’t happy.

British concertgoers are known for throwing things onstage while bands play, Tirio said, and the T’s were treated to that tradition while playing for the Reading Festival crowd.

“One of the things that they love to do to all bands is throw things onstage. Like, they fill up bottles of mud and stuff and they throw it,” Tirio said. “It’s just what the U.K. does. It’s really stupid and I hate it, but it’s what they do. And so we had to dodge bottles for like 45 minutes, and it really sucked.”

The one saving grace that day was when the crowd formed a massive mosh pit as the band performed its signature “Hey There Delilah.”

Some other performances that have stood out in a bad way were when Hamilton fell off the stage during a gig in Washington, D.C., and when one of the band members had his laptop stolen at a concert in London. Another downer was being booked for a concert during the Canadian winter – and finding out the show would be outdoors.

“We played a show, an outdoor show, in Brandon, Manitoba, in Canada, in the middle of winter,” Retondo said, “and it was, what, negative 45 degrees. … We were talking to the people there, and they were like, ‘Yeah, we did it last year. You know, it was pretty good. A couple people lost a couple of toes, but, y’know.’ They were insane.”

Lopez said it was so cold that it was physically painful and “stung every inch of your skin.”

In contrast to that performance, he said, the chance of wind at Thursday night’s outdoor concert in St. George won’t even pose a challenge.

Four-legged loves

Question 3: Do you guys have pets?

It can be hard to maintain interpersonal relationships with a busy schedule of recording, publicity and touring – but some of the T’s have managed to form ties with canine sweethearts.

Retondo said he has a soft-coated wheaten terrier named Zelda.

Tirio inherited a Yorkshire terrier when he moved in with his fiancé, and that dog captured a place his heart right next to his lady love.

“It’s not a very manly dog to have, right?” he said. “But it’s, like, a great, great dog, and now I realize how awesome Yorkies are.”

Some of the band members have lost pets during breakups – and they regret losing the dog more than losing the woman.

Higgenson said he once had a puggle, which is a cross between a pug and a beagle.

“My ex sold it,” he said.

“So, one of the reasons why we’re not together anymore,” he joked.

“I had two dogs that I lost in a relationship,” Lopez said. “It seems to be the thing when you’re in a band and you’re constantly gone, and relationships come and go and so do your pets.”

Milk and cereal (cereal and milk)

Question 4: What cereal do you pour into your bowl in the morning?

Busy touring schedules don’t always allow for sit-down meals. When it comes to breakfast on the go, the Plain White T’s each favor the following breakfast cereals when they have to eat and run:

Tirio: Cap’n Crunch

Hamilton: Golden Grahams

Higgenson: Reese’s Puffs

Lopez: Honey Bunches of Oats

Retondo: Frosted Mini-Wheats

They’re called the Plain White T’s – but do they wear plain white tees?

Question 5: If you had no clean plain white tees in your closet, which color of T-shirt would you pull out to wear?

Ironically, none of the Plain White T members were wearing white T-shirts during the interview. The band members said they have plenty of plain white T-shirts in their wardrobes, though.

When asked what color shirt they would opt for if they had no clean white T-shirts available, the T’s unanimously said black would be their color of choice.

“We play against type,” Higgenson joked.

Concert details

  • What: The Plain White T’s in concert
  • When: Thursday, April 16 | Gates open and preshow starts at 6 p.m.; Plain White T’s take the stage at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Dixie Sunbowl, 150 S. 400 East in St. George
  • Tickets: Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the gate before the concert | $15 general admission; $10 each for a family four-pack
  • Details: St. George Concerts website

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