"It's all about pushing the boundaries of our creativity and musical imagination combined with a dose of nostalgia," notes Plain White T's frontman Tom Higgenson of the Chicago band's forthcoming Hollywood Records release, Wonders of the Younger, due out this October. Higgenson calls the disc, now in the finishing stages of recording and produced by Ian Kirkpatrick, a collection of songs designed to evoke the feeling of awe and the yearning for adventure remembered from youth.
Higgenson says of the album, "It's still very much a Plain White T's album. The songs are sincere and melodic, no matter what the subject matter. We want to create an experience that takes our fans to an unexpected place while still giving them songs to sing along to."
As Higgenson points out, the band is in a different place than the one that prompted hits like the twice Grammy nominated "Hey There Delilah" and "1-2-3-4"– and though there's still plenty of room in their world for romantic pop, among them is the album's summery first single, "Rhythm of Love" penned by guitarist Tim Lopez (the brightly melodic tune was inspired by a bittersweet romance) they're also branching into some adventurous new territory. It was during a performance of Cirque du Soleil's "O" he caught during a Vegas visit that the idea for the new set first took shape. "It just woke something up in me – this wonder," the singer/guitarist/songwriter recalls. "It was dark yet nostalgic. I thought, I want to make an album that gives people this feeling."
Fast becoming the band's next big hit, the T's will perform "Rhythm of Love" on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno August 5 followed by a performance on Good Morning America August 19. The video clip for "Rhythm of Love," directed by the band's long time videographer Mike Venezia (1,2,3,4) was shot on the beach in Ventura, CA and will premiere exclusively on VH1.com August 10 and will make its television premiere on VH1 August 14. The single will be available digitally everywhere August 10.
Fans who've heard "Welcome to Mystery," the band's contribution to the Almost Alice compilation that accompanied Tim Burton's 3D blockbuster Alice in Wonderland, will have an inkling of where the T's are headed. The track's playfully mysterious vibe, sonic grandeur and expansive sense of possibility, Higgenson says, are the essence of the new set's approach. It will appear on Wonders… as well. "We've been fans of Tim Burton's since Beetlejuice, so just being associated with the movie was amazing," he elaborates. "It also offered us the opportunity to give people a taste of what we're doing now."
"Welcome to Mystery" was produced by Kirkpatrick, with whom Higgenson had collaborated on various projects over the years. "Ian is just getting established and we had the creative freedom to choose a producer," Higgenson says. "After hearing 'Mystery,' the label really got it and agreed it was a good fit. He has a unique way of manipulating sounds and has become an ideal collaborator for this album."
The album's concept has exerted such force that Higgenson built and decorated the recording studio in the basement of his Chicago home with Wonders of the Younger entirely in mind. "I don't know if this has ever been done," he muses. "The studio looks like a haunted mansion – gold chandeliers, red wallpaper with a gaudy fleur-de-lys pattern, a brown couch that looks like something out of Sherlock Holmes." The overall design of the space, he explains, has helped cultivate an atmosphere of creative exploration.
"We're focused on writing great songs that resonate with what the band has become. If you listen to it in your car or on headphones, we want it to feel like a big, flowing rollercoaster ride – where you never quite know what's coming next."