Since the breakout success of their singles “Hey There Delilah” and “1, 2, 3, 4” in the early 2000s, Lombard, Illinois-based pop-rock band Plain White T’s have continued to blaze their trail to superstardom. On the eve of the band’s return to Las Vegas—they play Foxtail at the SLS on September 12, as part of the Road to Life Is Beautiful concert series—we chatted with lead guitarist and co-vocalist Tim Lopez about his new marriage, the ups and downs of the music industry and his favorite Vegas spots.
You tied the knot with Jenna Reeves, whom you met on reality television show Ready for Love, in July. How’s the married life?
It’s been good! We actually got married in the middle of this current tour, on the Fourth of July. So far, our marriage has been on the road. It’s not the most ideal, but she knew what she was marrying into. We’ve been talking a lot about picking up a dog, and every text message she sends me is about a puppy.
It’s been nearly a decade since “Hey There Delilah” brought you into the spotlight. How has the industry changed over the years?
It’s changed a ton. It doesn’t seem like there’s very many rock bands doing anything at this time, as far as radio goes. (When it comes to) indie bands, there’s still a really great, solid market for touring and promoting. Spotify is helping them do that, and it’s awesome. It’s a great time for music and bands, and it’s not hard to find yourself as a rock band or pop rock band. Labels are continuing to struggle, and we’ll see what happens next.
The band self-released its latest album, American Nights, earlier this year. Tell me the about your process of recording and promoting the record yourselves.
That record was written, recorded and ready to release on Hollywood Records. We loved being on (that label), but they dragged their feet a lot when it came to putting the album out. We pushed a few songs, and the release date got pushed back.
So we amicably got our album back, stripped half of it off, got back in the studio and recorded a new batch of songs. Self-releasing stuff and self-promoting gives you all the control in terms of radio, social media, which song you push, and how to do it … We thought it was a good time in our career to try this out. We realized that if things don’t go well, it’s entirely on us, and we were up for the challenge. We’re about to start the campaign for the second single, and we’ve leaving it up to our fans, which is awesome. This doesn’t mean we’ll never go the major label route again, but it’s been interesting.
You’ve played everything from arenas to basements. Which one do you prefer, and why?
On this tour (with Rob Thomas), we’ve been playing some one-off shows. With Rob, we play in theaters and outdoor sheds, which is 2,000-5,000 people. There’s something really liberating about connecting with an entire crowd of five grand. With the one-offs, we play to 500 people in sweaty nightclubs, and it’s really fun, too. I can’t pick one; they’re extremely different. The gritty stuff is really fun because we bring back the rock ’n’ roll vibe. With big shows, I’m always thinking, “I need to execute this song.” It feels more professional.
What can we expect at Foxtail Pool on Sept. 12?
We actually played Vegas earlier this year. We played the One Drop fundraiser at The Mirage and the pool area was all decked out. It was a crazy scene with a bunch of Cirque du Soleil dancers doing water ballet, and we saw a bunch of familiar faces. At Foxtail, we’ll be playing mostly the hits, and I’m sure we’ll bring it. We’re gonna play tracks off the new record, and of course, you’ll get your “Delilahs,” your “1, 2, 3, 4s,” your “Rhythm of Loves.” It’ll be a fun night at the pool.
You’ve been to Vegas a few times before. What’s your favorite part of the city, and what do you like doing here when you’re not working?
I’ve got a friend who has a condo where my wife and me relax every time we’re there. We have a different way of doing Las Vegas since neither of us are big gamblers. We’ve done it all: awards shows, a lot of venues and even the VMAs where we lost to Rihanna. Back in the day, when we were younger, those kinds of events were always so wild, and it was a new experience for us.
What advice can you give the smaller names and bands in the industry?
When we were coming up, the industry was different. At the time, we basically spent 300-plus days out of the year living in a van and playing as many shows as we could for as many people as we could. Something could be said about that work ethic. But you don’t have to do it that way anymore. As long as you own your brand through the Internet/social media, and have a solid live performance, you can make it. The good can beat out everything. If you have a good song, people will find it.
Get free tickets to the Plain White T’s concert at Foxtail Pool at SLS Las Vegas on September 12 at SPYONVegas.com.