There are hundreds, probably thousands of pop-punk bands around. However, while many popular bands are afflicted with break-ups and hiatuses and line-up changes, Simple Plan has remained stable since 1999. Now on their fourth album, ten years after debuting with No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, Simple Plan are planning on releasing a book, but not on quitting music any time soon.
Their music has changed a lot in a decade. No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls was “pure pop-punk”, with lyrics perfect for angsty adolescents. Drummer and primary lyricist Chuck Comeau credits their earlier lyrics with the band members’ youthful experiences,“we were trying to make it as a band, so I dropped out of law school, and almost everyone in the band had to drop out of school [too]. There was definitely a bit of a clash going on, and our families weren’t too stoked. I think a lot of the first record was influenced by that.”
However, their newer music moves somewhat away from the tragedies of teenage life. “We always wrote about life and about what happened to us, ” says Comeau, “with every album we tried to keep it that way and write about our lives. Obviously, things change and evolve, we’re not 15 anymore. But when you really break it down, at least for us, what makes a song interesting and special is all the human interaction; whether it’s with a girlfriend, family or friends or just all the stuff that happens.”
Whereas plenty of other bands have had their fifteen seconds of fame before falling into mediocrity, Simple Plan have kept a strong following throughout the years, especially in Australia and the UK.
Comeau attributes their longevity to their friendship. Four of them went to the same high school, and they all grew up together and played in bands before Simple Plan was formed. “We’re so proud of that,” says the drummer prouldy, “I think that makes a big difference, we come from the same place, we have the same kind of values, we have the same kind of outlook on life and we cherish this thing that we’ve built together; and we don’t wanna fuck it up.”
“We want to keep it going for as long as possible, to keep enjoying it,” he continues, “we still have fun. I think that’s the key too, a lot of bands, it becomes their job. I’m not saying it’s not hard work sometimes when you have to be away from your loved ones for a long time and travel and all that. There’re moments where it’s hard, but at the same time I think the key for us is … yeah it’s a job but it doesn’t feel like one.”
Has the dynamic changed within the band over such a long time together? “The vibe is changing,” replies Comeau. “When you’re 21, you go out and it’ll be like the craziest party in the world. So although we still go out and still have fun, we’re older now, so we look at it in a different way.” Before adding, “but for me, we could keep doing this for another ten years… who knows? We’ll see what happens, as long as people show up I think it’ll be hard to stop.”
Simple Plan has expressed their love for us down under several times before, most notably with their Australian tour video of ‘Summer Paradise’, appropriately released last summer; “because you guys are so backwards with your seasons,” jokes Comeau, “and we really wanted to have a song come out for summer. So we said, ‘You know what, let’s do something special,’ let’s film all over the country.”
“It was such a great tour and we just love it in Australia,” continues the drummer, “and we made this really cool video, maybe not a big, high-budget, crazy video, but it just has a very cool charm to it. With us being ourselves and hanging out with our fans and kinda goofing around backstage and it came out really great,” says Comeau. “It’s your version that we made for Australia, and I think people really liked it. They felt like they had something special and the song became one of the biggest songs we ever had in your country.”
This will be the second time in two years Simple Plan have come down under. Comeau is diplomatic about his favourite city, “well, we’ve really enjoyed every place we’ve been to. Obviously there’s something special about Sydney, there are so many sights and everything, but Melbourne is badass too, it’s more like the ‘rock’ city.” They’re also heading to several new locations, including some smaller dates, as this is will be their longest stay in Australia – three weeks.
When asked about his favourite Australian band to tour with, Comeau recalls one of the first bands they played with, Bodyjar, and more recently, Tonight Alive. “It’s always cool to just kinda welcome new young bands on our tours,” says Comeau, “and see how well they’re gonna keep going after that…. it’s just really exciting.”
Finally, there’s their upcoming book to discuss. “It’s kinda crazy to even think about it. We’re basically doing the history of the band from our first band ever, when Pierre [Bouvier, singer/guitarist] and I were 13-years-old, probably up until this summer. So we’re going through like, 30,000 pictures that we took.”
Comeau notes that the Québecian outfit are fervid cataloguers too. “We’ve kept everything, from tickets to contracts to lyrics, it’s going to be this really cool history of the band, with a lot of other stuff that people have never seen before that we’ve kept in our archives.”
“It’s kinda like a biography mixed in with a photobook, and it’s something I’m basically making it because I wanna give it to my kids when I’m like, 50, and say, ‘Look, I wasn’t such a tool, I swear!’ It’s pretty cool,” jokes Comeau.
Due for release in November, the Simple Plan tome is keeping the band busy when they’re not touring their favourite countries, “we’re working” says Comeau “it’s keeping my sleep schedule very short, but we’re trying our best to get it out on time!”
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