Arts Article: Plain White T’s

Plain White Tim – From Bright Life to White Hot
June 8, 2007 8:59 AM

Followers of Santa Barbara’s rock scene may remember a band called Bright Life from a few years back. Signed to Capitol Records, they released one record, went on tour and even inspired a song by Sugarcult.

Tim Lopez remembers Bright Life well, because he played guitar for them. Now he returns to the area as guitarist for Chicago-based pop-rockers Plain White T’s, who play this week’s KJEE Seaside Beach Ball. How did a Santa Barbara native find his way to the Windy City?

“I was caught between projects,” says Lopez, who has been with the band nearly four years, “and they needed a guitarist. I got offered the position the first day (of auditions).” After the release of the band’s 2002 album, “Stop” (some of which was recorded in Santa Barbara before Lopez joined the band), the Plain White T’s lineup solidified. Fans took to Lopez quickly, and he took to the band.

“When you tour in a van, it’s not long until you feel part of the group,” he says. “I knew I had been accepted when fans stopped asking where (the previous guitarist) was.”

So far, 2007 is turning out to be a good year for the Plain White T’s. Their single “Hey There Delilah,” written by lead vocalist Tom Higgenson, climbed to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot Modern Rock charts and to 27 on the Hot 100.

“The band has a traditional, Midwest, hardworking attitude,” Lopez says. “They definitely think Chicago is the best place in the country.”

But Lopez still counts Santa Barbara home, since his parents live here. He only wishes his successful band could get a chance to play Santa Barbara.

“We nearly did,” he says. “We were scheduled to open for a band at the Bowl. My parents even bought tickets in advance, but in the end the scheduling didn’t work.”

For now, Lopez and the Plain White T’s will have to stick to Ventura, and hope friends and family will make the drive, along with hundreds of fans, new and old. n

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