Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 Talks "Screaming Bloody Murder" and More
Mon, 07 Feb 2011 07:36:24
It's been over three years since we've heard from Canada's Sum 41, musically speaking. The band, which began as a pop punk outfit, has grown up and made the darkest, most aggressive rock record of its career since then. Singer/guitarist Deryck Whibley, who became more famous for being married to (and subsequently divorced from) pop punk princess Avril Lavigne than for his musical output in the interim, is ready for Sum 41 to come back to the forefront. With thousands of fans still turning up at Sum 41 shows and an overall "Fuck You" attitude implicit (and explicit) in Screaming Bloody Murder and Whibley now divorced from Lavigne, Sum 41 have positioned themselves for a comeback, if you want to call it that.
ARTISTdirect.com news editor Amy Sciarretto spoke to Whibley about his post-divorce production work with Lavigne; the unorthodox way he wrote music for Screaming Bloody Murder; the overarching "Fuck You" attitude that defines the album; and how the album is a guitar-driven album. Sum 41 have grown up. So have their fans. That doesn't stop them from making viable music.
You did a lot of production work on your ex-wife Avril Lavigne's new album. Was that awkward? Are you still friends?
I did my best. That's all I can say. I didn't write anything. She wrote the songs and gave them to me produce and I did whatever I thought they needed. It's different, but also the same. I approached it the same way I do my own stuff. I have a studio in the house. She would have a song and I would jump in the studio and record it quick, but the difference was that I don't have the final say on the song. That was different than how I do it with my own band. The way I record it was the same way I do my own stuff.
So you have the final say with your own band only?
Yes, for my own thing. When I produce her stuff, it is up to her, since it's her music.
Did you produce the whole thing?
There are eight songs I did that made the record, but I don't have the final record yet.
Okay, enough questions about your producer role with your ex-wife. What's new with Sum 41? The band grew out of the pop punk sound, but that's always such a youthful tag! Where are you now, musically speaking? Growing up?
I don't think it's very youthful anymore. It's sort of... we're not really that young anymore. It's a natural evolution, I guess. Topic-wise, it's not youthful. Energy-wise, it's aggressive, dark and heavy. I don't think it's youthful, but it's not that it can't appeal to younger people. It is representative of where I am in my life now, which is a different place than I was 10 years ago.
That makes total sense and it's a fair musical evolution. So, where are you now?
I don't know where these songs came from. I don't even remember writing them. I heard them and don't remember where they came from or writing them. The whole record felt like a gift and I don't feel like I had anything to do with it, but I did, since I wrote everything. Every song I wrote came within 10 minutes and it took 10-15 minutes to get it out. I didn't spend more time on them, but the album took a long time, three years. I never sat down and said, 'I am going to write a song.' I'd be in the middle of a conversation and be like 'Fuck, 'Incoming! I have an idea.' I would throw down the idea, go back to the conversation and then go through my tapes.
Did you end up stock piling a lot of ideas?
Yes, that would happen once a month. I had a great time, enjoying living and every now and then, 10 minutes out of a month, I'd write a song.
Where the fans wondering where you were, since it was a few years between records?
Possibly, yeah. I never cared what radio or press or anybody thinks. We're doing our thing. Thousands of people still show up to our shows and that gave me the freedom to not care.
That's a good "problem" to have!
Totally. For the first time in my career, everything is awesome. The shows are awesome and the fans are awesome and that's all I care about.
Overall, how was the process for Screaming Bloody Murder?
It's been a weird record. It was never really like we were making a record. It's not like were going to put something out just to put something out. We were always accumulating music and knew we would put something out. But a timeline? No. We felt like it's almost done many times and then we kept going.
Sum 41... the Energizer bunnies! For this album to be darker and more aggressive, did you use darker tones or lyrics or was there more screaming and heavier riffs?
It's a guitar record. There's lots of guitar riffs and solos. It's very guitar based. There are darker keys and lyric, too. I wrote a lot of songs in dark period, when I was going through a divorce and had an overall painful period. A lot of it tends to be darker.
How are you now?
If I wrote a song today, it'd be the happiest song you ever heard. I didn't care about radio or pander to anything. I realized what do I love the most? I love rock music, so we made a rock record, a hard rock record. It is sort of like there is no theme, but it is a 'Fuck' You record. We don't care. Fuck you, here it is.
How does your label feel? Fuck them, right?
They were on my ass the whole fucking time, freaking out, like, 'What is he doing? He is taking so long, he doesn't seem to care. What are they doing?' I kept saying, 'We'll give it to you when it's done."
Why are there thousands of kids showing up to Sum 41 shows still? What's the secret?
You can never pinpoint it. At the end of the day, the body of work is the music. They say they like it or they don't. To a 15-year-old kid, a song from 10 years ago, they don't know if it was reviewed in Rolling Stone or if it charted. They think, 'Do I like it or do I not like it? Those who comes to our shows? They say 'I like it.' They make their choice on what they like and fortunately for us, they've liked us continuously.
Do you plan to do more producing?
I hate producing. I hate working with other bands [laughs] The only reason I did it with Avril is because she was my wife. The only other band I do it for is Sum 41.
What would you like to say to your fans now?
It is hard to explain something that you have to hear. People will hear it. It'll get out there, and people will find it on the Internet and download it for free, somehow. People will hear it when they need to hear it. I think it's great.
Are there any Def Jam guest stars, like Rihanna or Justin Bieber?
No! It's a straight up 'Fuck you' rock record. We sound like a band playing. We didn't do a lot of overproduction. We went in and played rock music and had best time of our lives.
Do you dig Sum 41?