Even with the overwhelming success of the acoustic ballad “Hey There, Delilah” last year – which earned the band two Grammy nominations – Plain White T’s lead singer Tom Higgenson says he’s been writing songs for the band’s next record since they finished their last one. Today, the Chicago-based quintet headed into a Malibu recording studio to begin work on their second major label album, the band’s fourth overall, which is expected to hit stores September 24th.
While the band isn’t consciously trying to create a “Delilah Part II” (Higgenson points out all of the band’s albums have had slower tracks), the next T’s album will have songs “in that vein.” “There’s a song which should be called ‘1, 2, 3, 4â€² – but we may have to change that name because of the Feist song,” Higgenson laughs. “There’s an almost Elliott Smith-style backup vocal that goes ‘1, 2, 3, 4â€² but as that goes on, I’m singing ‘There’s only one thing to do three words for you.’ Tim [Lopez, the band’s guitarist] actually said “‘Delilah’ is your best song, but I think this might be better.”
Higgenson says the T’s are hoping to record the record live after the success of “Delilah” showed the band they didn’t have to give every song a modern feel. Thanks to the year-and-a-half long relationship he’s been in, Higgenson finds himself writing with more of a self-proclaimed duality. “On the past records I’ve put the blame on the girl, and I think with this record I’m turning a lot more to myself. The song ‘Serious Mistake’ goes ‘I’ve made a serious mistake, I hope it’s not too late to fix the heart I’m breaking.’ The song’s a rocker, and it’s one of the band’s favorites.”
“We were working on a song last night called ‘I Get Screwed,’ which might still make the album because we changed it around a lot. The chorus has almost a Weezer Pinkerton vibe,” Higgenson shares. “I thought my first version of it was clever, but it was actually kind of douchey so we worked out a compromise. It was ‘I get screwed by my job, I get screwed by my bills, I get screwed by traffic – everything people hate – but the only thing that gets me through is when I get home I get screwed by you,’ and the band hated it. Now it’s ‘I get screwed by my job, I’m so sick of my car, I can’t win with my bills, the only thing I can’t stand to lose is you.’ ”
While Higgenson says the band hasn’t confirmed any guest stars for the album, he’s currently lending his vocals to Ashlee Simpson’s “Little Miss Obsessive” – a gig he snagged after hanging out with Simpson when the T’s toured with her fiancÃ©e’s band, Fall Out Boy, last fall. “After the tour ended, I got a text from Pete [Wentz] that said ‘Ashlee wants you to sing on her album.’ I was like ‘Hell yeah, man’ and I tried to bribe him by asking if he could have Brendon [Urie, of Panic at the Disco] sing on our next record because I’m a huge Panic fan,” Higgenson says. “I don’t know if that’s actually going to happen, though.”