Pop-punk’s not dead! Genre veterans Sum 41 are aiming for a Top 20 chart position this week, with new album Order In Decline (Hopeless) shifting 1,758 copies by Monday to midweek at No.14, according to the Official Charts Company.
It’s the seventh album of an up-and-down career that has seen the band enjoy major label stardom and frontman Deryck Whibley endure a struggle with alcoholism. The band, however, has continued to thrive, playing some of its biggest gigs ever on the world tour for previous album, 13 Voices.
With Order In Decline a return to the band’s heavier roots, and the Canadian band on the road Stateside on the Rockstar Energy Disrupt Festival, Whibley sat down with Music Week to talk about their new-found veteran status, Brexit and why President Trump probably won’t be a fan of the new record…
How does it feel to make it to album number seven?
“We’ve been around, so maybe seven is not enough. It feels like we’ve been slacking off a little bit! But the reason why there’s been space between records is we do so much touring. We’re much more of a touring band than a recording band.”
You’ve been recording the new album though, what was the inspiration for that?
“I was travelling around on the last record and everywhere we went, every country, every place had its own full-on chaos, confusion, division. It seems like order is in decline everywhere we look. Everywhere we seemed to go there was some war or something where norms are being broken. There’s a lot of chaos everywhere. Look at Brexit. I was in London when all the votes came in and it was crazy. No one saw it coming.”
Presumably the song 45 refers to the architect of some of that US chaos…
“Yeah! But that song is not saying, ‘We need to impeach the president’, it’s just saying he’s not my kind of guy. I really don’t like him, anything he stands for, does or says and that’s what the song’s about. It’s not about, ‘We need to get him out, everybody come together and blah blah blah, let’s impeach him’. It’s not taking that route, it’s more my feelings. I didn’t want to write a political album. I just let words come out and I just pour out the words and that subject kept coming up. It’s hard to not have an opinion about what’s going on. But it’s more of a personal record if anything.”
Will President Trump hear the song?
“If it was any other president I’d say absolutely not, it’s impossible. But you never know. It would be amazing if he went on a Twitter rant about us. I would love that. He’s so predictable, it would be ‘Total loser band from Canada…’”
At the other end of the spectrum is the song Never There…
“That was a weird song. I didn’t think it would actually go on the record. It was written at the piano, I wasn’t trying to write a song when I first starting playing around for fun, but this song just started coming out of me. A few lines into the song I realised what I was writing and it was something I didn’t even care about or want to talk about, which was about how I never met my father. He was gone before I was born and I never met him or knew anything about him. It’s never really been an issue to me, I never really cared about it, mostly because my Mom is so amazing. I never felt like I needed a father, my Mom filled that void. So I was like, I don’t want to write about this, I don’t even care about it. But then it was like, these lyrics are coming from a subconscious place. If anything, he might feel way worse than I do. He’s an adult and he’s lived his entire adult life without me, his son. So when I was first thinking about that, I was like, ‘It’s kind of strange that there’s this guy out there and I’m his son and the only thing we share or have in common is that we don’t know each other’. Once I thought that, I was like, ‘Well, OK, now I can write songs’ and I allowed myself to write it. I still didn’t think it was going to go on the record but I played it to our manager and he just said, ‘That’s a great song, why don’t we put it on the record?’ I was like, ‘Why would I, the record is a heavier vibe’. He said, ‘This is just as heavy as anything on the record, just in a completely different way’.”
Generally, this record does have a heavier sound. How come?
“Probably because we’d just got off the road from the three-year tour for the last record! That tour was really inspiring because of seeing the reaction from the fans on stage every night, to the new songs and the old songs, I just wanted to get back out there and play exciting music. I was so excited when I picked up the guitar, those riffs came out and I went where they took me.”
That whole campaign seemed to reinvigorate the band…
“Definitely. It was the first time we were a five piece, because Dave Baksh, our old guitar player, came back after 10 years. We had to figure out how we were going to exist as a five-piece. We didn’t do a lot of rehearsing, we just jumped out on the road and thought we’d figure it out the best way we can, which was on stage in front of a lot of people!”
Do you feel like pop-punk elder statesmen now?
“I have to remind myself that we’re not the young, new band anymore! It goes so fast that it feels like yesterday that we just put out our first record. We were the young kids for so long, or at least we were treated like that for so long, that it’s hard to get out of that thinking!”