Canadian pop punk outfit Simple Plan released their sixth full-length album, Harder Than It Looks on May 6th and even twenty years on from their debut on the scene, the boys are showing everyone in 2022 they’re still got it in them to take their music to all corners of the world and back. Drummer Chuck Comeau is in absolute awe at how they’ve nailed their super band-to-fan connection as well as their previous records have:
“Honestly, it’s been exactly the response that we were hoping for, from the fans. We had this confidence about the record that we knew that when fans would hear it, it was what they were hoping for. Every post that I’ve seen, every comment I’ve seen online really confirms that fans are super happy and excited about the music. They feel this is one of our best albums that we’ve done, the songs really resonate and hit home both musically and lyrically. The theme seemed to really land really well with people and they seem to be able to relate to the music and the lyrics.”
“It’s been a relief knowing that we still have a good understanding of what our fans were hoping for. Our goal for this record was to create a classic Simple Plan album, of quintessential Simple Plan songs, and we showed that we were able to accomplish that.”
You could say that again. From the youthful, vibrant essence of No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, to the ambitious stadium-rock sounds of Still Not Getting Any right through to their step into contemporary pop/rock avenues with Get Your Heart On! and Taking One For the Team, Chuck, Pierre Bouvier, Jeff Stinco and Sebastien Lefebvre have effortlessly turned each release on its head and pulled out some of their biggest hits in their career.
Take ‘Summer Paradise‘, for example. Released back in 2012, this summery pop number continues to be one of Simple Plan’s most successful mainstream tracks, and that inline resonates strongly with fans at their live shows. Hits like these shows the band’s desire to keep their fresh and modern – being experimental is as much a part of their musical DNA as their pop punkier origins:
“We really tried to take all the best elements of our five previous albums. Whether it’s the sort of fun and youthful-like energy and exuberance of No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, I feel like that’s there. You want the big, anthemic and big arena rock feel of Still Not Getting Any, and as far as the third album goes, there was some experimentation with different sounds and a more modern kind of feel on ‘When I’m Gone’, ‘Generation’ and ‘The End’, we thought it would be cool to have a bit of that. So that is on songs like ‘Iconic’ and ‘Anxiety’ a bit. We’ve always wanted to try and take some risks, challenge ourselves and the listeners as well.”
“Sure, you can give the fans exactly what they want, but then that becomes a bit boring or becomes a little predictable. It was cool to revisit the horns and have a kind of different feel. We really wanted this album to have the element of fun that Get Your Heart On! had. It’s a return to form, not taking ourselves seriously and just having a good time playing music together. I think you can really hear that on many of the songs on Harder Than It Looks.”
Blending all their staple elements from over the years can’t be easy, even for a band that’s deep-rooted their success in a twenty-year strong career. You could say it’s… harder than it looks, and Chuck couldn’t agree more with this notion, as he reflects on the challenges involved with not only satisfying the fans that have stuck by them since No Pads, but also challenging the band’s desire to keep their music exciting, modern and fresh:
“It’s easier said than done. Musically, it is harder than it looks to create an album that will satisfy your old school fans, but that will also feel modern, exciting and fresh. It’s harder than it looks to revisit your past and not repeat yourself. Instead being inspired by what you’ve done before, without making the mistake of just copying what you’ve done. It’s putting a new twist on things, and I think that was really the goal with this record. When I listen back to it, I feel like that’s what we were able to accomplish. And it’s a good feeling.”
It’s an even better feeling knowing that Simple Plan can finally give this album what it deserves. With a sense of normality returning to our lives this year, taking the songs to the fans out on the road is on the cards next. The guys have just wrapped up their first tour in two years, playing a huge pop punk arena effort alongside their Canadian counterparts Sum 41 on the Blame Canada tour. To say their return to live touring has been welcomed with open arms is an understatement:
“It’s been so great to be back on stage after so long, due to the pandemic. To be able to be in front of the fans again, to be able to do what we love to do, what we’re good at, which is being on stage and playing together. It’s been a relief, a joy and a real treat. The shows have been so big and every one of them has been selling out. There’s so many people that care and love this scene. There’s so many tours on right now that are happening, so to see our shows do so well, it’s such an amazing feeling. It’s made this whole return to the stage even sweeter and better for us. It’s been great to play with Sum 41 too. As a fan of the show, I think you’d get such an awesome package of bands. There’s a lot of hits and big songs and many amazing moments. It feels good to be a part of it.”
Of course, thrown amidst Sum 41 and Simple Plan’s most iconic tracks of the early 2000s, is a collaboration that has long been hoped for with pop punk fans alike. ‘Ruin My Life‘ saw the Simple Plan boys team up with Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley for what is an empowering emotional anthem for overcoming life’s problems and coming out even better on the other side. We wondered if being on tour together has inspired the two to put their heads together again for future projects, namely the yet-to-be-announced Sum 41 record (their follow-up to 2019’s Order in Decline). Alas, it seems they’re all just taking things slow, living in the moment and focusing on the live shows for now:
“I think everybody’s just trying to get their bearings and getting back into playing shows again. I know Deryck is definitely super focused on the live shows at the moment. He had a bit of trouble earlier on with singing and everything. So for now, he’s just focused on giving his best performance every night. But we’d love to do some more stuff with them. We’re taking the tour to Europe together later this year, so that’s gonna be amazing. We love playing with them. We love Sum 41, so if they invite us we’d love to return the favor.”
While the USA have already got their dose of the Blame Canada tour and Europe is secured for this September, we wanted to suss what the chances were of this tour package becoming a world tour entity. Of course, that’s going to come with a lot of discussions about timings and logistics, especially when everyone is still anticipating the reschedule of The Offspring’s 2020 Australian tour with Sum 41 (that entirely sold out and the pandemic ripped that out from under us):
“We’re in discussions in trying to bring this tour right around the world. We think that we have a winner here, and we’d love to take it to as many countries as we can. Obviously, it depends on scheduling and all that. We’re in talks and trying to figure out something. I know that Sum 41 had a previous tour with The Offspring, so I think they’re trying to work that out still.”
In saying that though, Australia is home to one of Simple Plan’s biggest fan communities and the love is mutual. With their last appearance being at 2019’s edition of Good Things Festival, the boys are absolutely stoked to return to our shores as soon as they possibly can and we managed to have Chuck give us a little teaser of when we can expect our favourite Canadians to return:
“Our 2022 is pretty jampacked right now, but 2023 is definitely when we want to come back to Australia and we want to bring something special. We’re trying to put together a special tour package, something fun for everyone that we’re not quite able to announce yet. But as soon as we can, we’ll let you guys know.”
Simple Plan have brought some epic tour packages to us over the years. While 2005’s tour saw the likes of Kisschasy and All-American Rejects, later tours have also seen some of the country’s biggest prospects in alternative/punk join the Canadian powerhouse — The Getaway Plan, Short Stack and Tonight Alive. Which kinda shows the guys adore Australian music and what we have to show the rest of the world. Could some of our personal picks in Australian pop punk right now — Yours Truly, Drastic Park, Paperweight — be next?
“Yeah, we always try to see what’s happening and see what new bands are popping up whether they’re from Australia or London. I think it’s always exciting to have a chance to hear how newer bands are being influenced by the scene and how they’re reworking their own version of pop punk, and it’s always so inspiring. Whenever we go to Australia, we always make an effort to find awesome bands that are local. We’ll definitely look up those bands and try to listen and maybe do some shows with them. We’ve had a lot of fun playing with amazing Australian bands throughout our career. There’s an amazing scene over there.”
Well, whatever the boys are planning in 2023, I don’t doubt that it will be a special time for everyone involved. I think I speak for most Aussie fans when I say that Simple Plan will forever and always remain close in our hearts, and they never let us down. The optimism Chuck has for the band’s future feels pretty mutual at this point:
“The band is in the best place that we’ve ever been in so long. We’re extremely proud of our past, what we’ve done and it’s been amazing to see that people still love and care about No Pads, Still Not Getting Any, twenty years on. At the same time, we’ve never been more excited about the new music, and what lies ahead. It’s the perfect position to be in because we’re really motivated and excited and we can’t wait to come down and see you guys in Australia.”
Ending this heart-to-heart catch up on a lighter note, I got a bit cheeky here and asked the question — whose tour rider is cooler in 2022, Simple Plan or Sum 41?
“I think theirs is a bit more extensive if I’m being honest. We’re pretty — I wouldn’t say cheap, but we’re not very extravagant, so I think they win. I think they have cooler stuff than we do. Unfortunately. We should step up!”
Interview by Tamara May @citylightstam
Simple Plan’s new album, Harder Than It Looks is out now.
Grab it here
Simple Plan – Harder Than It Looks tracklisting:
1. Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over)
2. Ruin My Life (feat. Deryck Whibley)
3. The Antidote
4. Million Pictures Of You
8. Best Day of My Life
9. Slow Motion
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