Simple Plan

author PP date 01/04/08

It\'s crazy to arrive at the entrance of Store Vega in Copenhagen around quarter past two in the afternoon and notice a hundred or so fans already queuing up for the doors that open up around 19:00. It\'s safe to say Simple Plan have made it, they\'ve become real modern day rock stars. As the Warner press representative leads me towards the band on the backstage area, one of the band members is being prepped to the impending MTV Nordic video interview by a make-up artist. And there are probably more people around the backstage area than I\'ve seen with all the other bands combined that I\'ve interviewed in the same facilities. But despite this the band comes across as one of the humblest, friendliest bands I\'ve had the pleasure of meeting. It says a lot that they remembered who I was even though I was only briefly introduced to them three years ago during the Silverstein interview. As the interview was conducted straight after the MTV video shoot in the lobby, we just sat down at the cozy sofas out there, exposed to all the queuing fans outside the entrance doors, which of course resulted into plentiful screaming and the band waving, smiling, blowing kisses and the like towards their fans throughout the whole interview. Nonetheless I was able to extract a fun, interesting interview out of the band\'s singer Pierre, lead guitarist Jeff and bassist David. Hi! Thanks for doing this interview. First of all if you could introduce yourselves to the readers?
All: Thank you! No problem!

Pierre: So I\'m Pierre, the singer of the band.

Jeff: Hey what\'s up, I\'m Jeff, I play guitar in the band.

David: I\'m David, I play bass and sing back vocals, and we are Simple Plan! So what\'s new in Simple Plan at the moment?
Pierre: Right now, big European tour. We just started a few days ago in Finland, we did Sweden yesterday. We\'re doing that for the next month and a half. Basically our album just came out like two weeks ago, and we\'ll be touring for the next two years. That\'s pretty much what\'s new and what\'s coming up.

Jeff: Well, we shot a new video too for the song \"Your Love Is A Lie\". It\'s coming out very, very soon, because we actually saw the last cut of it a few days ago, so...very very very happy about this video, I think it\'s a cool video.

David: Me too! You are on the European tour right now, so how\'s that going and what are your expectations for the rest of it?
Pierre: It\'s been great. Actually the first two shows have been sold out and they\'ve been some of the best shows we\'ve ever had I think.

Jeff: We kind of started on a very high note, I gotta say with Finland.. the bar was raised very high. It was an amazing crowd, a very cool rock crowd, so we had a blast doing it. Sweden was great too, and now here, I remember I have fond memories of this place.

David: Yeah, we just arrived a few hours ago and we\'re gonna play this show tonight. We played the same venue last time we met you. We\'re driving to Amsterdam tonight, unfortunately we\'re not going to stay. We\'re not gonna have time to ride bicycles, but next time! [laughs]

Jeff: Christiana right? Yeah! Christiania yeah, it\'s a very famous place. You\'ve now been a band for about nine years now. What\'s it like being in Simple Plan, and how has that changed through the years?
Pierre: It\'s pretty awesome I gotta say! I mean it\'s been great, you know, we\'ve been together for so long, we\'ve been friends forever. I think for us it\'s kind of like that dream story. When you start a band and you\'re in high school, you always hope that\'s gonna happen, what\'s kind of happened to us. We\'ve been friends for a long time, playing together, lucky enough to have success around the world. We\'re still making albums, we\'re still making music, people still care about us, people still show up to shows.. so it\'s kind of like the dream band story.

Jeff: It kind of changed a lot obviously since we started, because before we couldn\'t even get arrested if we tried to in most countries and..

Pierre: Now we get arrested all the time!

Jeff: All the time. Yeah, I go to jail very often! I mean all around the world right now we have a fanbase, you know, so I think we can play everywhere as Pierre said. It\'s pretty amazing. So that\'s what has changed.. and I can pay my phone bills too now, which is kind of cool! Your first two albums had quite a high tempo and were almost purely pop punk so to say, whereas this new one is a bit more commercial, more production, some slower songs, well slower than you\'ve done before anyway. So that makes me wonder, how do you feel about your first two albums today?
Jeff: I feel great about those two records. When you\'re making a record, you\'re.. and I think in this band we are perfectionists, and when we made those records, it was the best efforts we could make at the time, and we put our hearts into it. I mean I think we made sure that we would be proud enough of the songs that we could tour behind them forever, you know. Obviously as you mature, you have different things you wanna talk about, and those records kind of like show that progression. But obviously this new record kind of brings different elements of other genres of music, there\'s more experimentation into it, there\'s more diversity.. I think it\'s just a record that we wanted to make now. It doesn\'t necessarily mean that we\'re looking back and we\'re not liking our first records. There\'s an energy on the first record that we\'re never gonna be able to capture again, because it was our first record, it was something intangible that was there. It was very naive, you know. I think now we know a little bit more about what we are doing and it kind of showcases it. It\'s two different areas, you know. There\'s an analogy that\'s a bit overused, but when you make an album it\'s kind of like a picture of you in time. When I was 14 and I had long hair and I wore bad leather jackets, that was me then. I don\'t look back necessarily thinking that I was, you know, disgusting or ugly. It was just me then.

Pierre: Back then it was cool!

Jeff: It was awesome. Those flannel shirts man, they were in, they\'re coming back, should\'ve kept them [laughs]. Those two first albums sold a combined total of over 7 million copies worldwide. So would it be safe to say you guys have \"made it\" as a band?
Pierre: I think so. I think definitely, you know, when we are older, 50 and 60 and have kids and maybe grand kids, we\'ll definitely be able to say that we had a band that was successful, we have multiple placks at home, which is also a great memory and souvenir.

David: Proof!

Pierre: Yeah, proof! When you have platinum records at home, then it\'s pretty good. But you know I think we\'ve been really lucky to have all this success, we\'ve worked really hard, we really enjoy what we do, and we put our hearts into it. I think we\'ve definitely made it.

Jeff: We\'re not the type of band that takes things for granted.

Pierre: There\'s always more!

Jeff: There\'s always more, and I think we feel that we always need to prove ourselves.

Pierre: And you wanna keep what you have too, you know, you want all the fans that have bought the previous records, you want them to follow you. That\'s always the goal, it\'s to have those fans come back.

David: Truth of the story is like it\'s our first year being on tour, you know. We gotta win new fans over and keep the old fans. You\'ve decided to call your new album just self-titled. Usually when bands do that, that\'s perceived as the defining part of a band\'s career - is that how you feel about the new record in general, is that the defining point of your career, then?
David: We wanted to have the cover all black and call it the black album, but we heard Metallica has already done it.

Pierre: I think we just wanted to... I mean for us, we\'ve worked so hard on this album, and it just felt right, you know. We wanted to make a separation between the first two albums and this one, becuase it\'s a little bit different, a lot more experimenting. Being that the first two albums had these funny, quirky kind of lines, we wanted to just be able to say \"okay, obviously this is a record that is a little bit different\". But I think it does define the band, because we\'ve taken everything that we\'ve done before, and pushed it to the extreme. The fast pop punk songs, they\'re on there but they\'re pushed to the extreme. There\'s the slow ballads, 80s rock, pushed to the extreme. There\'s all kinds of stuff so I think it definitely does define the band. Can you also tell me a bit about how the record came together?
Pierre: A lot of work, lot of experimenting.

David: A long process

Pierre: We spent over a year writing, demoing, and trying different ideas, so that was the main difference between that one and the ones before. There was so much time.. we spent a lot more time thinking and a lot more time trying to figure out what we wanted to do than actually recording. There was a lot of time spent doing absolutely nothing, just sitting in a room and just thinking about what the hell can we do that\'ll be interesting that\'ll keep ourselves excited about the music and keep the fans excited, and to challange ourselves too as writers.

Jeff: The actual process of making the record in the studio, recording it, was actually very enjoyable. For me, I gotta say it was definitely my favorite record to make. We worked with a guy called Fortman, Dave Fortman. He\'s done records for Evanescence, for Mudvayne. Kind of heavy records, but he understood the mix of the electronic element and the rock thing, blend it together. He really understood that. And truthfully he\'s a great human being, this fun kid.

David: He\'s also been in a band called Ugly Kid Joe years ago. They were very successful.

Jeff: I think he kept the young in him, and it shows in everything that he does, you know. As meticulous and serious he is about making music, he just has a way of spinning it and making it fun every time. And that makes for an awesome atmosphere. We also recorded the album at home, which was a luxury that I really enjoye. You mentioned this already a bit. The new album has lots of elements and influences that we haven\'t really heard from Simple Plan before - for example the R&B overtones, hip-hop beats and things like that. So what were your influences for the record?
David: Everything, you know, we...

Jeff: Very diverse, for sure.

David: I guess all of us listen to all kinds of music all the time, and even some of the influences that we went to see.. Justin Timberlake\'s concert and stuff. We kept hearing about Danger that was the secret weapon for Timbaland, you know, and truthfully I think he is doing good on his own now, doing Madonna and Duran Duran and stuff like that. But that was something really fresh that brought some of those new tones, like you said.

Pierre: I think now as musicians, when we try to write a song, or try to get an album going, I think we don\'t think about it as like what, or is it going to be one influence. We take everything we ever listened to in our entire lives and take that as.. you know, what we pick from every part of what we enjoy, and make something that we think is good, you know. It could be anything from 80s music to more current stuff to No Doubt to Weezer, Green Day, U2, you know, Pearl Jam, Bad Religion, Face To Face, all that.. it\'s all a part of who we are, you know, it\'s all a part of our music background, and it comes out in different parts of songs. Considering how both of your last records were really successful, I mean considering 7 million albums sold.. what made you guys decide that \"okay guys lets write something more than just pop punk\"?
Jeff: Truthfully, I think the reason is very simple. We just wanted to stay excited about music, keep it fresh...

Pierre: I think we\'ve always tried to do that, even on the last record, there was the song \"Untitled\" that was the single, it was a straight up piano, vocals, strings the entire song, which is very different for us, you know. So we\'ve always been that band that wants to kind of push the envelope and I don\'t think we were even in the first two albums that we were straight up, just pop punk. In the first album even, there was the song \"Perfect\", which was like a slow ballad. And there was also a song called \"Meet You There\", that was kind of U2-ish. We\'ve always wanted to stretch that envelope and be a little more experimental about it. Your new song \"Your Love Is A Lie\". It starts off with a very similar vocal/riff dynamic is Green Day\'s \"Boulevard Of Broken Dreams\". When I listened to it actually myself I could see it too. Are you guys just really big fans of \"American Idiot\", because I think the whole album sounds similarly extravagant and huge?
Pierre: Yeah. I think that in songs, pop songs, you can always find something that sounds like it. To me, that song sounds also like Oasis, and also sort of like Madonna. Pop music, chord structures, they\'re all taken. They\'re already used, you\'re not making anything new. So don\'t even try.

David: There\'s already a track of \"Boulevard Of Broken Dreams\" with the Oasis track blended in. Yeah I\'ve heard that one too.

Pierre: Yeah so it\'s all similar, and you can always find similarities. I remember there was a Sum 41 song that to me sounded exactly the same as Nickelback and Linkin Park. Because that\'s what pop music is!

David: System Of A Down

Pierre: Ever since The Beatles, people have been just doing the same thing with a different twist, and that\'s the way it goes.

David: You can\'t re-invent the wheel, but you can make a hell of a good wheel.

Pierre: But it wasn\'t something that was intentional, I think it was a melody that came around like that, and the chord progression is a classic chord progression that will be used forever.

Jeff: I do feel that bands have made very ambitious records in the past two years. You think about Fall Out Boy, you think about Green Day, you think about...

David: My Chem!

Jeff: My Chemical Romance. Those are records that kind of like.. brought a new level of ambition into rock and roll. I think in the 70s you had records by Pink Floyd, by.. whatever, you know, the big bands of the years, that kind of raised the level for everybody else. I think these guys did the same thing here. They got really ambitious, conceptual, they brought different things into their music. And we wanted to make a record that was ambitious too. Without being totally influenced musically by those guys, they had their own little thing. We wanted to find our own niche, we wanted to find our identity as a band, and we wanted to make things bigger, and just larger than life. So yeah, this is our ambitious record, and in that sense I think that Green Day, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance might have influenced us, in a more abstract, conceptual way. You guys have never been really the press favorites, so to say. If we look at the reviews across the net, the ones that I found anyway, also of the new album. So are the reviewers just deaf?
Pierre: You know, I think that there\'s definitely something about journalists and reviewers that they like to hate stuff that sounds just.. good. It\'s not.. I mean look at bands like, okay, what was that band that came out? Polar something... or twist something..

Jeff: Oh the English band?

Pierre: Arctic Monkeys! Oh that fucking band was the best thing since life spread, wasn\'t it, from all the reviews. Where are they now? What are they doing? I mean the people.. reviewers like to find something that people will not.. you know, there\'s like this different.. \"oh, they fucking hit a fucking stick on that and they recorded it, wow they are fucking genious\". We just write pop music with a rock energy. A lot of times reviewers don\'t like that.

Jeff: I was just gonna say, I\'m a big fan of rock biographies, and I\'ve read biographies by The Police, by Guns \'N Roses, by...

Pierre: Even Green Day was hated.

Jeff: Dude you should read the reviews that these bands were getting. \"Appetite For Destruction\" got nailed. Led Zeppelin\'s \"IV\" got killed!

Pierre: It\'s almost a good thing to have a bad review. You have a great review, a lot of the times it\'s not a good thing.

Jeff: Yeah there\'s something about journalists.. I think it\'s important for journalists to make headlines, and a good review just sounds sappy in a newspaper.

Pierre: And it\'s not original for a reviewer to say \"the Simple Plan record is awesome\". They\'d much rather say \"Radiohead record is amazing\", it\'s just the nature of the beast.

David: Maybe they would write a different review if we were a brand new band with a different name.

Pierre: That\'s what I think makes a big difference too. If we had come up with this album and it wouldn\'t be Simple Plan, it would be.. whatever, The Post, maybe it would be something different. I think that a lot of people have preconceptions about who we are. What I like is that there\'s a big magazines in the US called Alternative Press, which is a big alternative magazine in the US, they usually would hate bands like us, they usually would talk shit about bands like us. The guy was hired, a reviewer was hired from that magazine to review the record, gave us four out of five, and said we\'re the most consistent band in our genre. And that I believe, I don\'t wanna boast but that\'s a little more accurate. I think that you can like our band or you can hate our band. But the one thing I can say is that I think that we have good songs, and we have songs that people connect with. They may not connect with a reviewer, but you can\'t say that there\'s not some good in there. I think it\'s a good album! So how does that response affect you as a band?
David: I\'m pretty happy with playing sold out shows, to be honest with you.

Pierre: Yeah, it would suck if we had bad reviews and no fans. But we\'ve got a lot of fans and truthfully, I think that.. of course it would be dumb to say that we wouldn\'t like to have a great review. I think whenever you have a great review, it\'s always a nice little compliment, makes you feel good about yourself. But the main thing from this band from day one and still today is the fans. And if they like the album, and if we have people lined up outside like right now to come to the show, and we\'re selling out in Europe.. it\'s fucking perfect. That\'s what we care about!

Jeff: I\'m happy that reviews in music are not as important as in the movie industry. Cause movies get killed all the time with bad reviews.

Pierre: You know what those movie reviews I think are a lot more accurate. I usually agree with movie critics. Music critics, I rarely agree. If I go listen to a critic and I hear like \"this band is awfuly, sounds like bla bla bla\", I\'m gonna go listen to it!

David: Or buy the record!

Jeff: There\'s a lack of desire to be descriptive in music journalism. It\'s all about creating hype, creating and following trends. And yeah, I\'m offended a bit by some of the reviews that I\'ve read in the past, because I just don\'t feel that they are a good representation of what we are doing. And I wish that people who are reading those reviews could be exposed to some kind of truth, you know?

Pierre: You know what would be good? Reviews, they should be reviewed by five journalists. Not one, why is it one person? Music journalists a lot of times are these bitter people that started a band when they were younger, didn\'t make it, and now they\'re like \"fuck you, you made it, you sold millions of records, fuck you, I\'m gonna bash it\" [all laugh]

Jeff: It was funny, I read a newspaper in Montreal and at Christmas time the journalists were asked to name their top 10 record of all times and top 10 records of 2007. And truthfully, an epiphany happened. I read that article, and I\'m like \"wow you got such shitty bad taste, I cannot belive that you\'re reviewing records!\". In my opinion, two out of the three journalists lost all credibility altogether.

Pierre: No offense, we\'re kind of bashing your people [laughs] [laughs] No no it\'s fine

Jeff: No no, I\'m not bashing people, I\'m talking about a certain kind of journalist. But it was funny, one of the guys was still listening to strictly 70s music. Strictly. And it\'s like.. well, why are you reviewing current music? Just be in a music shop and sell vinyls, and leave us alone! So if we\'re moving on from the record and the reviews...
Pierre: Moving on. That was a bit bitter [laughs] Well, I\'m personally a big fan of the Canadian music scene, because a large portion of my favorite bands come from the Ontario/Quebec area. What are some of your favorite Canadian bands and what\'s currently the best Canadian band that nobody knows about?

Pierre: Silverstein\'s good, still.

Jeff: I think the most unknown is definitely The Stills.

David: Yeah The Stills, but I think Billy Talent is one of the best bands that has ever come out of Canada as far as being original goes. They\'re very different.

Pierre: What else is good in Canada? GOB?

David: GOB is amazing. I went to bed last night at about 4:30 in the morning cause I listened to one of my favorite records of all time, Our Lady Peace.

Pierre: Yeah they\'re a good band.

David: \"Happiness Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch\" is an amazing record.

Jeff: The one band that I kind of don\'t mind the hype, because I think it\'s valued, is The Arcade Fire. I like that band a lot.

David: There\'s amazing bands even from the Montreal area...

Pierre: Celine Dion, whooh, awesome! I saw the other day that you announced you\'re playing Download Festival this summer, have you got plans of doing the whole festival circuit as well?
David: We are doing the festival circuit in June. We\'re gonna do a lot of festivals in June. We\'re doing a big festival in Sweden, we\'re gonna play Vienna.. it\'s a festival too, right? I think that\'s just a show. It\'s been announced already.

David: You know more than I do.

Jeff: We\'re doing festivals in Swizerland, Germany, I think there\'s one in France, definitely the UK.. there\'s gonna be tonnes of them. You are not coming to Roskilde Festival or?

Jeff: There\'s talks about it.

Pierre: Not sure. We\'re still booking stuff so, maybe.

Jeff: It\'s getting kind of like booked as we are speaking right now.

David: We\'re trying to do as much as we can in the possible sort of routing, you know. That\'s it from me. Thanks for doing the interview - if you could say just one thing to all Simple Plan fans to end the interview, what would it be?
Pierre: Thanks for the support. We\'ve been gone, we\'ve been making this album for a long time, it\'s great to see that we\'re back here and people still care, that people haven\'t forgotten about us, so thanks for all the fans out there.

David: And we\'ll keep coming back as long as you guys keep coming back.

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