Status: In a relationship
Neighborhood: “I live with my girlfriend [when I’m not living with] my parents in Lombard/Villa Park,” Higgenson says.
At this point, the story behind the Chicago band Plain White T’s 2007 breakout song “Hey There Delilah” is the stuff of local legend. I sat down with frontman Tom Higgenson—who was playing a mini acoustic set Friday night at a launch party for 24/7 Chicago, NBC-5’s new local entertainment show hosted by Catie Keogh, Jamie Blyth (from the first season of The Bachelorette), and Billy Dec—to get the real dirt on Delilah.
“I met a girl named Delilah in 2003 in Chicago,” Higgenson told me. “She went to school in New York City, so when she went back to school, I gave her a CD, and I joked with her that I had a song about her.” In reality, there was no such song—so when Delilah asked to hear it, Higgenson had to backtrack. “I actually [had] to write this song. So I starting writing it, and I got through the first few lines, and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is really good.’” Higgenson and Delilah ended up falling out of touch. “But I kept going with the song, thinking, if I was with this girl in this long-distance relationship, what would I want to say? That’s how I wrote the rest of this song.” Higgenson did end up bringing Delilah as his date to this year’s Grammy Awards (the band was nominated but didn’t win). “I had to bring her for that night,” he said.
1. What’s your drink of choice?
I like vodka drinks. Red Bull and vodka, cranberry vodka. [For the record, Higgenson drank Grey Goose and cranberry during our interview.]
2. Favorite person to drink with?
Angie, my girlfriend.
3. Favorite music venue?
4. Last book you read?
I’m reading Fight Club right now.
5. Last album you downloaded?
I just bought the new Panic at the Disco album. Not on iTunes; I bought it at a real store.
6. Favorite musician and why?
The Beatles, because they’re the best band and songwriters. Everything about music, they were the best at.
7. How did you end up working on the song “Little Miss Obsessive” from Ashlee Simpson’s new album?
I met her when we were on tour with Fall Out Boy last fall; she was pretty much out on the whole tour. People always think celebrities like that would be stuck up, but she was totally cool, totally smart, totally fun—normal. After I got off the tour, I got a text from Pete [Wentz, Fall Out Boy bassist and Simpson’s boyfriend] saying, “Ashlee wants you to sing on a track on her new album.” And I’m like, “Hell, yeah.”
8. Favorite Chicago restaurant?
Green Zebra is one of my favorites. I’m a vegetarian.
9. Where do you like to shop in Chicago?
I like Untitled [2707 N. Clark St. and 1941 W. North Ave.].
10. Pizza: Chicago- or New York-style?
Chicago, for sure. I like Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s and Aurelio’s. I love Aurelio’s[http://www.aureliospizza.com].
11. Favorite designer?
Band of Outsiders.
12. What was your first big purchase when you hit it big?
I haven’t really bought anything big yet. I bought a big TV for my bedroom, about 50 inches. That’s about it.
13. Have you ever dated or hooked up with a groupie?
Sure. One time these girls all threw their bras onstage, which is a rock ‘n’ roll thing to do. Then, after the show, they were outside, and they’re like, “Hey, we’re the girls who threw our bras onstage.” And we’re like, “Oh, cool.” And they’re like, “Can we have them back?” I couldn’t believe that.
14. Did you ever date Delilah, other than taking her to the Grammys?
No, never. She’s had a boyfriend pretty much the whole time since we’ve met.
15. Where is she now?
She’s actually going to be trying out for the Olympics this summer. She’s a steeplechase runner.
Photograph: Courtesy of Greg Zilioli