They were probably partly responsible for your high school soundtrack and they may even still be responsible for the soundtrack of high schoolers today. Simple Plan have been around for fourteen years with four albums and the same line-up the entire time. Heading our way soon for the Warped tour, Killyourstereo.com caught up with drummer Chuck Comeau to talk about the band’s longevity and future plans.
What’s happening in the world of Simple Plan at the moment?
Well we just wrapped up almost two years of touring for our last album ‘Get Your Heart On’ and we are basically a few days away from starting to write our next album. So we’re trying to create new songs and get into the studio soon and put out a new record, so that’s what’s happening.
The last album has been out for a while now, upon reflection is it what you wanted it to be?
The last album, the last tour, these songs were so big for the band I would say it was almost like a revival, going back to our roots. The album before it was a lot darker, lyrically and musically and it had to do with what we were going through at the time, but with this last album we thought that when bands get to a certain level of success they feel like they need to change things up otherwise they are just treading water, or will get criticised if they don’t, and they get into this mind-set where they have to re-invent the sound. Sometimes that’s great, but I think four us going back to our roots and doing what we love, which is catchy, up-tempo, very melodic music, that’s us, so let’s just do that and have fun. We’re lucky that we get to do what we do and be in a band and travel the world and stuff like that so let’s just enjoy it. We kind of recaptured that with the last album and it made the tours more fun. The fans loved it, we had the biggest songs of our career and it was really special and made us fall in love with being in a band again. We hope we can do that again for the next record, put it in a little bottle and capture it.
Having said all of that, what will you take from that into this next record? Will anything actually change or will you stick to the same formula based on the success of this previous album?
It’s always hard when you haven’t started because you can have all the biggest plans in the world and the most precise vision and at the end of the day you sit down and start writing and you just don’t know. For us, the direction of the last record was a combination of fun, silly songs like ‘Can’t Keep My Hands Off You‘ that were fast and catchy and that was mixed in with the more emotional songs like ‘This Song Saved My Life’, and that’s the perfect blend for us, that’s what our fans love, that’s what we love, our records are diverse and it’s OK to go back to that and try new things. Look at ‘Summer Paradise’, if you had told me in 2002 that we would have done a song like that I would have said you are out of your mind, but we did it and we loved it and were scared our fans might not, but it turned out to be the biggest song we’d had in years and people embraced it and loved it. So the lesson there is go with your heart, go with what you’ve got and if you like something take some chances, so long as it comes from the heart.
You guys have been around for awhile now so who exactly are your fans? Is it older audiences now who grew up listening to you or are you still attracting younger punters?
It’s a mix of both, we have die-hard fans who grew up with the band and are still listening to us twelve years down the road, some of them even left us and found other bands, or maybe music isn’t as important to them anymore, but then you get this whole generation of people who never heard of the first album so they go back and get the first albums and become fans of that stuff too. I guess it’s a good sign, I would have been worried if the crowd just kept getting older and nobody new joined, that’s when you become a nostalgic act where people just want you to play the hits from the first and second record and when you play a new song everybody goes and gets a beer. I feel like the last record is my favourite and the hardcore fans are still there so it’s a sign that you are still valid and makes you feel alive as a band and songwriters, it’s good for the next record because I don’t feel like we have written our best songs yet, the next one could be the best one we ever write and that is exciting for us.
I remember being at a Green Day show once and there were people there who were Green Day fans, and had their kids along with them who were also fans in their own right because the band have spanned these generations, you guys are sort of in a position where you could do something similar.
It’s funny, we do have a few fans who have kids now, but they are only three or four so maybe don’t have opinions of their own, but in a few records absolutely you’re right, this could happen, and it’s exciting. But we get the opposite, we get kids who bring their parents in, and they actually enjoy it so that’s cool. It’s always cool for us to reach more people, we’re not the type of band who gets snobby about who listens to us, quite the opposite, we welcome everyone, we’re not elitist, we’re a band of the people and if you want to like one or two songs or a whole album, you are welcome to come hang out with us.
So you guys are coming down for Warped tour, do you think Warped can mirror what it is in America, here, considering we already have Soundwave?
I certainly hope so. For us, it has been a big part of our career, there’s something great for music fans because the value is unbelievable, you get to see a lot more bands for a lot less money. There is something very democratic about it between the bands, there is a whole "don’t pull any rockstar crap," everybody is the same, I don’t care if you are the first band or the last band we all get along. There is a reason why it has been around for almost twenty years, it’s a cool formula and the bands buy into it and if you try to pull any crap you get told really fast as it’s not what it’s about. There is a respect for the fans as well, every time we do Warped tour we are out at the merch desk after the show for a couple of hours signing, most tours you can’t do that but Warped, that’s what we do, it’s just part of our experience with the festival. So it’s unique and I hope it stays for as long as possible. You guys have very healthy, awesome festivals that are doing well over there, so hopefully there is room for one more.
Can fans expect anything different from your live show this time round?
Depending on where we are at with the new record we might try to slip in some new ones, we’re also working on releasing an EP with a bunch of b-sides from the last album so it will be cool to play songs from that. As far as everything else, on Warped tour there isn’t a lot of big production, it’s about the energy, because there is so many great bands it makes you want to play harder, it’s not like it’s a competition between bands, you just want to go out and play hard, so it’s exciting.
Would it really be a bad thing if there was a little competition, you are all friends but surely you want to push each other a little bit?
I think so. For me, when you see a band getting a crazy reaction you want to get on stage and do better, all bands want to steal the show and be the highlight, it’s not that you want the other bands to be bad, you just want to be better. With a festival, people may not be your fans, if it’s your own show you would assume that 95% of the people there are your fans, on festivals people might not even know who we are so you want them to buy in and become fans, so it makes you try harder than normally.
Simple Plan play Warped Tour 2013. Dates and details here.