Plain White T's Talk Tour, "Body Parts", Stage Production, and "Wonders of the Younger"
Mon, 03 Oct 2011 07:07:16
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On a recent trip to Korea, guitarist Tim Lopez had the chance to witness his band's international impact firsthand while headlining the side stage of one festival.
"We didn't know how much our band had permeated their culture," he smiles. "Right before we played, the PA shut off because it had been raining all day. The audience had to wait for about an hour, but they started chanting and screaming. When we finally played, they just went ape shit, and it was incredible. A lot of people could get turned off by having standing out there in the mud for an hour but they were one of the best crowds we've played for in a long time."
The reaction will undoubtedly be the same in the States as the band kicks off their current tour in support of Wonders of the Younger this week. On stage, Plain White T's hypnotize every audience with infectious instrumental fireworks and timeless harmonies. It's everything that a rock 'n' roll show should be.
In this exclusive interview, Plain White T's guitarist Tim Lopez discusses the band's latest tour, "Body Parts", Wonders of the Younger, and so much more...
Does this U.S. tour pick up where the last jaunt left off? Are you delving deeper into Wonders of the Younger?
Yeah, we are! We're playing some deep cuts [Laughs]. We're playing "Body Parts", which is another song of mine. We're also playing a song that Dave [Trio, guitar] and Tom [Higgenson, vocals] wrote together. That exposes a different side of the band. The first time we went out behind Wonders of the Younger, we came out slamming and played a lot of the bigger songs. We're going to try to focus on opening people up to the other stuff we do. It's going to be interesting. We've got De'Mar [Hamilton, drums] on an electric drum kit for part of it. We're going to still bring out Wonders of the Younger but show a more intimate and personal side of who we are as a band.
Do you feel like everybody gets his space to shine musically on Wonders of the Younger and the recent tours?
I do feel that way. There's a moment for each guy to shine, like you said. Mike is mixing up instruments and demonstrating his ability to play just about anything. On this tour, we're also playing tracks that Dave helped write. Drumming-wise, we're going to bring De'Mar out to the front of the stage. I've always liked when you see bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, or U2 and they bring out hand drums or electric drums. I've got this DVD of U2 playing at Slane Castle near where they're from. They had Larry Mullen, Jr. out at the front of the stage slamming on this big floor drum. That's kind of the vibe we're going for with De'Mar on this tour. I'd like to open it up so everyone can see how talented each individual is.
Even though songs have different writers and even vocals in some cases, everything still fits within the framework of The Plain White T's.
Definitely! All five guys are singing on certain tracks. Listening back, we were able to record the rehearsal we did yesterday. I don't think that's a sound you get very often with all five members singing and harmonizing. I went to Austin City Limits this year, and I saw Fleet Foxes play. They did these big Beach Boys-style harmonies, and it sounded amazing. I'm hoping to bring that sort of element to the show this time around too.
What's the story behind "Body Parts"?
That one is extremely personal to me. I always like to setup songs when we play them live, so who knows what will come out of me when it's time to talk about the song before we play it [Laughs]. That one's about my ex-wife. It's about how when you're missing someone, every part of you is missing that person. You just ache. Lyrically, it's basically about each part of your body discussing what it misses most about a girl with the rest, whether it's your hands, your eyes, or your heart. It's about as real as I get when it comes to a song, so we'll see how people react. Live, we played it for the first time ever recently, and it was flawless. I'm excited to get out there and let that song shine.
Have you been working on new material yet? Has the past year inspired any writing?
Yeah, it has. It's been inspiring, but I do have some anxiety. I've picked up the guitar only recently to start writing for what will be our next record. I know Tom is doing the same. There's that question, "Do I need to write something that I believe will be Plain White T's material?" or "Do I write what comes out and hope that it works for Plain White T's?" In the back of your head you wonder, "Is this going to work and how will it survive on the radio?" You have all of these questions. I really think I need to just sit down, let stuff pour out, see what comes, and hope that it survives in all aspects of what we do.
There's an honesty to what you do and the music comes naturally.
I think that's what I need to focus on. I can't question it at all; I need to let it come. Our band has always just put out what we thought is good. Sometimes, it doesn't always seem like the same band at first, but once everyone gets their hands involved, it tends to come out sound like The Plain White T's. I'm not going for any specific type of song. Once Tom is singing on it and Mike is playing bass on it, it's naturally starts to come together and sound like what we do. We are evolving a little bit, and we want our band to grow sonically and that means starting a song out either on guitar or piano and letting everybody work it.
How do you come up with the stage production?
Tom has kind of steered the ship with that. We all brainstorm on how to make it real, but with Wonders of the Younger, the theme made it actually kind of easy because we have this interesting record cover with the dilapidated theme park. We really wanted to bring that to life with the stage setup. This time around, there will be some similarities to the last run, but with bringing new songs out, I think we're going to try to incorporate some themes out of those particular tracks.
Will you be seeing Plain White T's live?
Watch our video interview with Tim and Tom here!