A couple of months ago I did a phone interview with Simple Plan’s guitarist. I was surprised at how laid back and honest he was. Not my best interview (I stumbled more than I`d wish), I must say, but one I meant to share for quite a while.
Would you ever record an album, bury it somewhere and be satisfied if no one else would ever hear it?
I think so. Some might argue that we did that because we wrote 70 songs and only 11 songs ended up on the album. But I think we definitely made the right choice and picked the best songs. I think we’re the kind of band that always wants to put out the best album we ever did, so there would be no point for us to release a song that we don’t love, you know? Because we don’t think that the fans would love it either and we want to put out quality material, so if we do something we don’t really like it, we’re not going to release it, we’re going to keep working until we love it.
The band made some bold choices on several songs on Get your heart on! Can you talk a little bit about that?
It’s always been a plan of Simple Plan to obviously stay true to who we are. We come from a scene that, we used to listen to a lot of punk rock growing up, so there’s gotta be guitars and drums, and that’s a part of who we are, but we write very catchy, melodic songs as well and you always want to grow with the band, so you want to try new things. Sometimes, because you know where you come from, you might be a little bit scared of where you want to go, but you have to embrace that and you have to try… you’ll never know unless you try, so for us a song like Summer Paradise, which is a total beachy-kind-of-reggae-Jack Johnson type song. It’s very different, something we had never done before. Honestly, when we started the band we never thought we would do something like that and… we said let’s do it, and to see the success that it has had around the world it obviously was a right choice. We’re just very happy that we took that crazy decision, to put one of those songs on the album.
How important have Blink-182, Good Charlotte and the Vans Warped Tour have been to your style and growth as a band?
Having Mark Hoppus on our first album was a huge push for us: we were nobodies; we were a new band on their first album. We didn’t have a reputation or anything, we were just starting out, but for him to his faith in us was a big deal and I think it helped us tremendously in trying to legitimize this band. Good Charlotte as well, Joel [Madden] as well. He took a chance with us. It was the first album, we had seen them play with MSDX in Montreal (we got friends with them), so it’s always a risk, it’s kind of like putting your stamp of approval on a band that nobody knows. For Good Charlotte, they were pretty much telling their fans: “Simple Plan is cool, you should listen to them”. For anybody to do that, out of the blue, is a big deal. And then we ended touring with Good Charlotte a bunch of times after that and we became great friends. Playing on the Warped Tour is just something you have to do: it’s fun, it’s a lot of cool bands, you can see a lot of fans everyday, make a name for yourself and give a kick ass show everyday for 30 minutes and it’s something we love to do.
How do you feel about the several MTV generations that have grown up with music videos?
I’m glad they still exist, because it seems that videos now is just YouTube… they don’t necessarily have to be in relation with the song. For us it’s still important to make a video, we feel like we can tell a story beyond the song, how can I say… it sort of gives a new life to the song, a new meaning, and sometimes the videos are just fun, just cool images to watch. Like a video like Astronaut it’s just in-depth of introspection, and a video like Summer Paradise is just about beautiful women, good times… I think it’s still relevant, even though it’s not on tv and it’s mostly on the internet now, it’s still something that’s important for a song and for a band that cares to make a good video.
What have you heard about Guatemala and how do you think your fans here will experience the show?
Well, to tell you that all of the Latin parts of the world, and South and Central America, starting from Mexico down on is just a lot of crazy people that love music and like to have a good time. So, I expect nothing less from Guatemala. We want to show up, we want to meet the fans, we wanna get on stage and feel the energy and feel the power. Someone once told me that people from Guatemala are always smiling, always happy, kind of like Irish people that love to drink and have a good time. I’m looking forward to see that first hand.
As a musician, is there a particular song of yours that you feel closer to or most proud of. If so, why?
Definitely. I think that song changes every day, depending on the mood I’m in. I feel like Astronaut is a very special song, it’s got a deep meaning, the way the songwriting is done on it is very special and original. That’s always going to remain one of my favorite songs, but at the same time, right now, touring this part of the world, Summer Paradise is a great example of how I feel: we’re just here having a good time, it fits, it works.
How do you feel about purists, people who are not too particular about blending punk with pop? The Ramones is a stretch, for example, as opposed to the really hardcore angry punk. How do you feel Simple Plan’s approach to this type of music falls with the 70s punk?
Those are all bands that we respect and admire and idolized growing up, they’re definitely the type of bands that got us into what we do today, but I think that labels, the styles, and the “what you should and should not do” is all falling apart, as it should. It’s music, it’s about creating a feeling, creating an emotion, it’s not about… being punk to begin with was about not following any rules, so to put rules on punk music never really made sense to me. We just love to do what we do, and we’re definitely influenced by those bands, you can tell when you listen to the music. There’s a lot of pop to what we do, there’s a lot of melody as well, because that’s the type of music that we like to listen to. We just do what we do, people can call it what they want, it’s cool by us as long as they come to the show and have a good time.
Are you comfortable with the songs that you’ve put out, or do you feel like every album is better than the last?
We do feel like that. We respect and love what we’ve done, it’s got us to where we are, but we always try to put out the best album we ever did. If we don’t feel the songs are better, then we’re just going to keep writing until they are before getting in the studio. We’re that type of band. Obviously, fans will have different favorite albums (the first one, the latest one) and that’s fine. I think that lyrically and musically we always approach it sort of the same way, even though it’s evolved through the years, we want it to be the best possible, the lyrics to be honest, to talk about things that happen to us or our friends or our fans, people around us, things that we know. That way we can talk about it with honesty and realness. That’s sort of always been the Simple Plan approach, with every album we try to do that, but better.