You can love them or you can hate them, but you can’t say Simple Plan hasn’t left a mark in the pop/punk scene over the years. 2012 marks their debut album’s 10th anniversary and in today’s generation of instant popularity and often, consequently, instant downfall, a band deserves a pat on the back when they can say they’ve stuck together through all the years and are still up there making music. There has been no hiatus or fake breakups, no member changes and no sudden silent period where people started to wonder what’s happened to them or even started to forget them completely. No, Simple Plan have been consistently releasing music over the years and have managed to build and maintain their ever-growing fanbase. Their latest work, “Get You Heart On”, was released last summer and I had the chance to discuss that album with Sebastien when it came out. (You can read that article here) When I was told that I was going to interview Chuck this year at the balloons festival, I wanted to make things more interesting and I decided to look into Simple Plan’s albums and base my questions off of each album era.
We started it off with “No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls”. Like I mentioned earlier, this album was released 10 years ago in March and it was the band’s second big milestone, if you count their debut single “I’m Just A Kid” that was released a month before the record. Placing ourselves in that time period when the snowball effect on the band started, I wondered when the guys realized that they were headed somewhere with Simple Plan.
“I think the moment we got signed, we felt confident that good things were going to happen. The moment we were done with the record, we felt like we had something special and we believed in ourselves. We felt like we had good songs and we were a good band and we wanted to see what was going to happen. That’s when you realize that you’re only at the starting line. Things are not as easy as maybe you would imagine.” He continued by telling me how they felt like it could turn into something when they played their first few shows and people were singing along and there were actual fans there. Then, there’s the moment you hear your song on the radio, see your video on TV and headline your shows. “It’s all of that. From there, it just keeps on building. For us, it wasn’t one moment. It was kind of like a lot of small stepping stones. I think that’s probably the best way for a band because if you blow up in 5 seconds, maybe you won’t appreciate it much. For us, it was very gradual.”
I’ve always thought that it’s easier for bands to be humble and not let it get to their heads when they’ve gradually gotten to the top and what Chuck said kind of reinforced that thought even more. Since we were still in that first album era, I asked Chuck what he would tell himself if he could go back 10 years. As he was talking, I realized this could be very good advice for any aspiring musician as well, or even just anyone in general.
“I think I’d just say to enjoy the ride and to just enjoy as much as you can because you never know how long it’s going to last,” he said, adding that this whole experience has lasted longer than any of them expected it to. “Try to appreciate every moment because a lot of bands don’t make it through and don’t get to enjoy everything that we got to enjoy. Even though it’s important to work hard, at the same time, try to appreciate what you have.”
We then moved onto the “Still Not Getting Any…” era. I remembered that some versions of the album had the guys dressed up as old men on the cover. Since we had just gone 10 years into the past, I asked what he would like to have accomplished 10 or 20 years from now. He told me he hoped that they would still be around, be relevant and still have fans that care about their music. He then added something on a more personal note, hoping he would have a family by then. But in the end, it all came down to the music.
“Obviously, your life changes and there’s different kinds of priorities and all that but I feel like for us, we still enjoy it so if there’s a way that we can still be onstage and still be playing, maybe have a little more time off once in a while but overall, just kind of keep going and see how long and how far we can take this thing. It’s already been pretty amazing to have been around here for 12 years and 4 albums but maybe we can do 5, 6, 7 albums! We’ll see!”
Only time will tell if they will get there, but I am sure all Simple Plan fans are also hoping they will stick around for a while. Still in the spirit of their second album, we discussed what a perfect world would imply for Chuck since “Perfect World” is my favorite track off the album.
“If you ask me just for myself, on a selfish level, I think it would be to keep doing what we love to do. We are very blessed and privileged that we found a career where going to work doesn’t feel like going to work. It feels like we’re still enjoying it, we’re still having fun. Some days are a little harder than others but overall, it’s something that we still really enjoy and appreciate so I think that’s great.”
If you put that together with what he wants to be doing in the future, I think it’s safe to say that Chuck won’t suddenly vanish from the music scene. He also added that in his perfect world, he would have the people he loves around as long as possible; that is something really important to him as well. “That’s the big thing I think; have people you love around you and do something you love.”
Looking at the bigger picture though, this is what he had to say: “Obviously, I don’t want to get all corny but I wish that people were a little nicer to each other and there was not so much unfair things happening.”
Moving onto the era of their self-titled third album, we discussed the band’s experimentation with different sounds, since this album was the one where they really started incorporating new things into their music. When he thought about it, he said that every album was diverse and had songs with different influences, but they were still very pop/punk-orientated.
“With the 3rd one, like you said, we definitely tried different things and new things. Even with this new one, if you look at “Summer Paradise” for example, that’s something that we’ve absolutely never tried before. It’s something that’s completely new for us, which is exciting! I think that’s what keeps making music exciting, when you try new things.” He continued by saying that he wasn’t sure what they were going to feel like doing when the time comes for the next album; it will depend on where their heads are and what they want to accomplish by then. “I think we’ll write and at some point, we might decide to try something new. At the same time, we don’t necessarily want to stray too much from who we are as well.”
With their latest work, it was important for them to go back to their roots a little because they didn’t want to become something that they’re not. What was essential for them was to strike that balance between experimenting, trying new things, and at the same time, staying true to themselves.
This brought us into the latest Simple Plan era, which is the one associated to “Get Your Heart On!”. On this album, the guys did a lot of collaborations, which made me wonder who they had learned the most from over the years, seeing as they have worked with quite a number of influential people in the industry since their beginnings.
“I think that you learn from everyone that you come in contact with, whether you tour with them or you just meet or you actually do something in the studio with them or you write with them. It was awesome to write with Rivers from Weezer because it was cool to see how a legend, someone that we grew up being a big fan of, how he writes and how he approaches music and everything. It gave us a lot of perspective on everything.” He went on to tell me about working with K’naan and Sean Paul and how interesting that was for them since those artists come from complete different musical worlds.
One person that really seemed to have left an impact though was Mark from Blink-182 because they got to work with him on the first album, and then they went on the road with his band. Since that was still at the beginning of their career, Blink kind of showed them the ropes and it allowed them to see how a big band operated. Of course, they also learned a lot from their producers.
“All of them had ideas and ways to look at music that make you learn. I think we try to be sponges and whoever we’re around, we try to absorb their knowledge and what they know and use it down the road.”
That’s a great way to go forward and it has definitely worked for them all these years. And with all the amazing people they’ve come into contact with- whether it be for songwriting, producing or even for a feature in a song- who haven’t they collaborated with that Chuck would really like to work with?
“I would love to work with someone like Pink. I think she’s awesome, she has a great voice, she’s badass, she has a lot of edge and everything so I think she’s cool.” Is this possibly a future collaboration for the next album? With her 6th album coming out soon and plans for a world tour, maybe she can squeeze in some time to work with Simple Plan, who knows?
With that, I had finished my era-inspired questions but I had one last question of my own to ask, which was to draw something that represents himself. After telling me he doesn’t have any drawing skills, he explained his drawing. “Just me playing drums! That’s what I do every day! I’m always happy to be on the drums so that’s why I got a big smile. It’s a Simple Plan drum kit and I’m a horrible “draw-er” so that’s the best I could do. Stick figures, you can’t go wrong with them!”
As my time ran out, I asked him one fan question that I had received through Twitter from Gaby Izurieta (@simpleplanera) who comes from Ecuador. She wanted to know what expectations they had for the upcoming Latin American tour.
“I think it’s going to be awesome! We’re going to a bunch of new places that we’ve never been to before so that’s exciting for us. We’re psyched about that. Fans are crazy over there, they are so intense! It’s always some of the most fun shows we have from all over the world so it’s going to be really fun, I’m excited! I’m excited to check out new countries I haven’t been to before and I’m excited to see how many people show up and how much fun the shows are going to be.”
As we parted ways so he could get ready for his next interview, I thanked him for his time and his drawing, and when I left the trailer to explore the festival grounds, in my mind, it was still kind of unbelievable that I got to interview my favorite band for the second time.
To learn more about Simple Plan, check out the links below: