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Tuesday, December 12th
Plain White T's
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Plain White T's
Plain White T's

An exclusive interview with Musiqtone
Plain White T's
The Plain White T’s are now on the Nintendo Fusion Tour with Hawthorne Heights, Relient K and more! I recently sat down with lead guitarist, Dave Tirio, at the NYC stop of the tour to chat about the new album “Every Second Counts” and along with the craziness of touring.

Erica: Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us what you play?

Dave: I’m Dave, I play guitar and we’re sitting in the back lounge on the bus.

Erica: How did you get the name the Plain White Ts?

Dave: Well, we started the band a long long time ago. Myself and Tom were original members and we had a bunch of names that were pretty bad. We sat on the name the Plain White Ts and thought about the image it represents and what it has represented over the past 50, 60 years of pop culture. Anything from a young Marlon Brando, Elvis and James Dean to there continued popularity decades later. We thought it was a cool icon that hasn’t gone out of style and it would be nice if out band could kind of emulate that.

Erica: For someone who hasn’t heard the Plain White T’s before, how would you describe your music to them?

Dave: Basically, we have very melodic music, kind of pop/ rock. We loved bands when we started like the Smoking Popes, and Smashing Pumpkins and stuff around Chicago to look up too. They always had good pop songs even though they had their different things going on. We’ve always been a fan of the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, a lot of the classic old rock. Bands that have incredible melodies and a comfortable great feel to them. We try to incorporate all of that I suppose.

Erica: Was music something you always wanted to pursue?

Dave: eh, It kind of came out of nowhere. I had been playing music for a long time just goofing around and actually I have an Uncle whose here in New York, who’s a musician; he’s kind of my only musical connection in the family, he bought me a keyboard in the 80s and I started playing Trumpet in Junior High. When I went to High School, I met Tom, our singer, freshman year and we had each been playing music. I had just picked up guitar, that’s what I asked for my 8th grade graduation, an acoustic guitar. And he had been playing a little bit of drums and starting to pick up guitar. So all throughout high school we would just kind of jam in his basement and just put together cover songs. By the time high school ended we screwed around on 4-track machines so much that we just put a band together, and Tom just started writing songs and we got another one of our friends to play bass. We started playing around small things in Chicago.

Erica: You already started to cover this a little bit, but who are you biggest influences?

Dave: All those bands I named we all like and we can all kind of agree on, but we all have weird little bands that we individually like. A couple really special bands to me were Pavement, Blur and I liked a lot of the Brit Pop in the 90s and the indie rock. Tom has a really broad base of stuff he’ll listen to. He has a really good attitude that a good song is a good song so he doesn’t really have a genre he pays attention to. He likes Michael Jackson, which we all can agree upon, of course. He’ll listen to a lot of weird stuff, well not weird stuff, but he’ll put on Kelly Clarkson and then go listen to Death Cab. Tim is into kind of the hard rock of say Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC and stuff like that. De’Mar can go anywhere from old soul stuff, old R&B like Earth, Wind & Fire to Coldplay. Mike, our bass player, he’s probably got the strangest most ecliptic taste, which throws a nice little wrench in everything. He’ll listen to classical, stuff like Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. Mike will bring some interesting stuff to the point where your like, “What are we listening to?”. But its great, it’s like an added personality!

Erica: If you weren’t in the band, what would you be doing right now?

Dave: I don’t know. I dropped out of college for this, but when I was in college I was in the Art Program. So I don’t know if I would be doing something involving art as a profession cause I don’t know what kind of job I could get. Maybe I could have done graphic designing, but I doubt I could have succeeded in that. I was always good at math and stuff so I could definitely do a numbers job, but I’d probably want to shoot myself! But if I had a dream job I would probably do something with sports. If I had to do numbers than maybe I could do something with the stats. That would keep me happy..

Erica: So what’s your favorite sport then?

Dave: I can’t name one. We’ll were from Chicago with the exception of Tim and Chicago has been the greatest sports town since, well, forever, so when you grow up as a kid in Chicago very often you get hooked by all the classic teams. I’m a big Cubs fan. I’m also a Sox fan. When we grew up at that very impressionable age, the Bulls and Michael Jordan were all over the place so you really got roped into that. And the Bears, the Bears are doing awesome. As a kid, even at a very young age I remember the 85 Bears, and my dad sitting me down in front of the TV and being like “Watch this”. I guess baseball, football, and basketball are my favorites if I had to pick three, but I also like tennis and golf and all that crazy stuff.

Erica: How do you think the bands evolved since the last CD?

Dave: We’ll we tried to keep with the same thing as the last record. I know a lot of bands have tried to change their styles from trend to trend in a way. We’ve known bands who have kind of jumped on to the dancy thing but have done really well with it or the screamy thing. You know, we’ve seen bands change and very drastically and that’s fine but I think there’s something to be said for consistency as well. And I think maybe a band like Yellowcard, for example. There first major label record was incredible. It had the violin and everything and had really great pop songs, it sold like crazy and they were massive. There new record they did more of an artists direction for them, but it ended up being very different from their first one. It was still good, it was just more like a Foo Fighters type thing but I think they probably alienated some of those kids that originally there. We never want to do that. We just hope to be bringing the kids with us and adding more. The evolution was just trying to write bigger and better songs. The way it was produced this time was on a bigger budget so hopefully it was able to come out bigger and more viable for the masses.

Erica: Yeah, I was definitely glad you guys still sounded like, well, The Plain White Ts!

Dave: Yeah were not going to change that much. Were going to hopefully evolve and do things better, but it’s got to be the same. You’ve got to keep that kind of core mentality.

Erica: How did you go about picking the first single, “Hate(I Really Don’t Like You)”?

Dave: That was probably the easiest decision of the whole process, actually. The second single’s going to be a lot harder. As we were recording, even when we were demoing that was the song we all really really liked and as we were recording it, even more so, we saw it coming out really kind of heavy for us. And well, you know our music, it’s not necessarily heavy or dark and that song ended up coming out with a real great mix of heavy enough for kind of modern rock radio and still kind of tongue and cheek and almost funny in a way. And everyone in the label and everyone involved in the band were like yeah were happy with “Hate” , lets push that one. Its got of little edge to it.

Erica: Do you have any plans for a second single?

Dave: We have plans for it. Hopefully “Hate” will go as far as we can take it. Everyone’s hoping that if it does go far as we expect it to go, it could go through the holidays and release another one in the spring. There are a couple songs in the running for sure. One’s called “Our Time Now”, it’s the first song on the CD. We all like that one. One’s called “Friends Don’t Let Friends Dial Drunk” and that one has been getting the most title recognition, so that’s helped. It’s a great song, but even interviewers will be like, “So you have a song called ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Dial Drunk’”. It’s starting to come up more and more. There’s one called “So Damn Clever”. That’s kind of worthy I would say. And “Come Back to Me” is pretty worthy. But I think “Our Time Now” is probably the front running right now.

Erica: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Dave: Kind of. We kind of all do a little pow wow, you know, at the side of the stage and put our hands in a circle, but as far as pre-show, we all kind of do our own thing. Like a night like tonight, I don’t know how it’s going to be but usually in shows in New York, or Chicago or LA when there’s a lot of the line. I get real nervous and feel like I’m going to throw up and stuff. So any pre-show ritual would involve not throwing up and then when I used to get really nervous I would jump up and down a billion times, just to get the blood pumping. The only thing that really takes away fear is adrenalin. The other guys though, usually just keep to themselves or just keep it real chill in the bus, cause we’re lucky enough to have a bus now, and just play their movies or sit back and maybe have a beer, but no hardcore pre-show rituals.

Erica: What do you guys do for fun on tour?

Dave: Well, this tour has been most fun because of this bus. This is only the second time we’ve had a bus and the first time we have a bus by ourselves, so we actually have space to hang out. We can just pop in DVDs and you can have this lounge to hang out and that’s something we’ve never really had before. A space to just relax and sleep. The other bands on this tour are really really cool. Usually you’ll find good people on tour, but this tour has lived up to it very well. Just play a game in someone’s bus or go see a movie. I mean, we’re in New York tonight and there’s plenty to do around here so I’m sure it will be a fun night!

Erica: What’s the worst thing about being on tour? Or have you had any bad experiences?

Dave: Well yeah, we turned in a van for five years. It was pretty crazy. That was like 200+ shows a year, most of those years and we were just killing it all around the country over and over again. And it was brutal, you can’t really sugar coat it. It was fun and everything turned out well and it was completely necessary and worth it, but there were times where we wanted to kill each other. There were awful breakdowns, just vans crapping out on us and costing us to go further in debt, getting stuck in blizzards. A couple times swerving on ice and thinking you’re going to die. There’s lots of crazy crap that happens when touring grass routes on the road. That had to be the worst part of it. Sleeping on top of each other, not sleeping, sleeping in the van over night and feeling like shit the whole next day. Its hard, its not easy to have to tour that way. It’s better than any job I’ve had and that’s why you do it and why you have a passion for the music cause you know we’ve had people leave the band cause they didn’t want to do that kind of touring. It can rough, you miss home and you miss a normal life cause you don’t really get to have one until you get home and take a break.

Erica: What has been your favorite part of the Nintendo Fusion Tour?

Dave: Well, we did get to try the new Nintendo systems. We got to play the new Nintendo Wiis. They gave us Nintendo DS which are like the little gameboys on steroids now; they’re like super good gameboys. So that’s been awesome cause we’ve all been really big Nintendo fans since we were kids and seeing the new systems has been really exciting. More than that, we’ve gotten to play some really good rooms that we’ve never played before. We’ve never played Roseland, here tonight, and with all these bands who are super cool. Like last night for example. We were in Pittsburg and it was a daytime show, so we were all down by like 4 or 5. And we got this massive group to go out to dinner together and that’s a nice thing. We had three out of the five bands represented all at a dinner table. That’s a nice thing to be able to do only a week into the tour and we’re going to be real tight by the end of it.

Erica: What’s next?

Dave: This ends middle of November. After that we’re going to go home for a bit until Thanksgiving. But if stuff comes up, we’re kind of like a doctor, we’re on call. So if something comes up then we’ll definitely go do it. I think in November and a little bit of December there are going to be some radio shows, some like festival type things. I know I heard a couple of them or at least one of them is with Taking Back Sunday and we’re going to do a couple of those and then a little after Christmas or maybe after New Year’s, we might even go over seas for the first time ever. We’ll go to Europe and maybe Australia and Japan will be in the works, but we’ve never done that so that’s extremely exciting.

Favorites

Favorite City/Venue: Favorite city Chicago, I can’t diss my hometown. I love it, I love it to death and I don’t think I’ll ever leave it. The Metro, in Chicago, is kind of our second home. When we started the band, we said ok within a year we’re playing the Metro and we ended up reaching that goal just barely by a couple weeks. Since then we’ve built a relationship with them and we’ve played there probably fifteen times over the years. We love it there.

Song off the new album: There’s a couple I really like, but I think the last track, “Let Me Take You There” is probably my favorite. I had to kind of fight for it to get on the record. And once we started recording it everyone thought it was awesome and it exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Favorite Story from the Nintendo Fusion Tour: hmm I don’t know. It’s early but one of the nice things that happened at the beginning of the tour when we didn’t have time to really hang out with the other bands. Hawthorne went out and bought a bunch of burgers and hot dogs and stuff. JT, their singer, set up a table outside, and he grilled for everyone. We had a little barbecue. So JT’s playing Dad flipping burgers and stuff and were all sitting around playing basketball and stuff.

Favorite Food on Tour: I’ll take anything that’s not Taco Bell or McDonalds. We used to eat that all the time and it kills you. When we have to find places on tour we always go to the Panera’s and Jimmy Johns, places that are reliable and you know how good food. But if I had my choice, I love sushi so if I could find a good sushi place and be able to afford it, that would be awesome.

Favorite Band other than..yourself: oh god, I would never put ourselves in a favorite band category. We get enough of ourselves everyday for a half hour on stage! And then we have to talk about ourselves in interview, its like enough already! Hmm favorite band, I think favorite band right now that’s putting out a record would be The Killers. And their new record just came out and I really want to hear it. We have it in the bus, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and give it a hard listen yet. But they’re a band that I really like their first record so I’m really excited about the new one. Also, the Lemonheads have a record that just came out and I really want to hear that cause they’re one of the bands that I would say we started because. There are probably five or six bands that if they hadn’t existed, neither would we and they’re one of them.

Favorite color: Blue!

Favorite movie: Kind of, I have a favorite director, Martin Scorsese and he has a new movie out that I’ve been dying to see. A couple favorite movies are “Good Fellas” and “Raging Bulls”, both Scorsese movies. “Citizen Kane”, “Casablanca”, “Singing in the Rain”. Comedies-I lobe Will Farrell, anything he does. Elf is one of the best holiday movies of all time. It’s a new holiday classic.

Favorite kind of car: I’m not a car guy but I do have a 1990 Acura Integra and it just died on me and it was my baby. It was my old beater. I don’t have to have a nice car. I think for me its like an old of shoes. If it’s roughed up, I like it better. I don’t know if I could see myself in like a Mercedes or something.

Favorite Thing to Do off Tour: I love watching Sports. I get really into that. I get pretty obsessed with it. I have my list of shows that I watch everyday, you know, everything from your ESPN to your Seinfeld. But when I’m home, you kind of have to value the time when you’re at home as much as possible What I try to do when I’m home is eat dinner with my parents as much as possible and then go out with my friends. And if I can do that then it’s very well time spent at home.

Erica: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

Dave: Not really, BUTTTTT if you see us on the Nintendo Fusion Tour, we hang out every night by our merch after our set so hopefully we’ll be meeting you soon. And if we don’t see you then hopefully, we’ll be seeing you soon cause we’re going to be touring like crazy for the next year or so with this record. We’ll be going non stop and hopefully sometime soon you’ll be able to vote for us on MTV or something crazy like that and keep our band alive!

Thanks to Dave for taking the time out of his busy day in NYC to do this interview and thanks Karri from Total Assault and Craig for setting the interview up!


Erica HahnErica Hahn is the chief head of indie music at Musiqtone. You can reach her at ericahahn@musiqtone.com.



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