Simple Plan’s Chuck Comeau on the band’s special relationship with Australia & their upcoming September tour

Fourteen years ago, some fresh faced French Canadian upstarts from Montreal burst onto the offensively popular pop-punk scene in the US. Their first album, No Pads, No Helmets, Just Balls peaked at number 35 on the US Billboard 200. In time, it would spark a life-long love affair with Australia for Simple Plan. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for SP and the land down under.

“The only place it didn’t really do well was Australia. And we were kinda bummed out about that,” laments Chuck Comeau. “Then “Perfect” came out and it just shot to the top of the charts in Australia. That then helped the album sales and then we did “Addicted” and then the album sorta became a real smash in Australia. So for me, that was awesome, because I always wanted to travel to and tour in Australia.”

Following the success of No Pads and their second album Still Not Getting Any, Simple Plan got the gig supporting Green Day on the Australian leg of their American Idiot world tour. “For me, that was one of the most special times for the band because things weren’t really going anywhere for us in Australia and then all of a sudden, boom! It just exploded,” reflects Comeau.

Of course, all bands go through their valleys. For Comeau, this coincided with the released of their third self-titled album. This album met with mixed reviews from both critics and fans. It carried a much darker heavy rock skin. In retrospect, it was solid song writing. But, it was rock, not pop-punk, and the world just wasn’t ready for Simple Plan to change. Of that time Comeau says, “…We had been going strong for eight or nine years non-stop. No breaks, no vacation and I think we didn’t really know what direction we should take creatively. And the reaction to that album was great from some fans but not so great from a lot of fans. And it was a tough album to tour, you know?”

After that, Comeau says the band had a good hard look and asked the hard questions. Like, “do we still really want to do this?” Thankfully, the answer was ‘yes’, but all members of the band agreed to a return to their pop punk roots. “We forgot that it was meant to be about having fun. So then Get Your Heart On! was a huge success and we saw fans just reconnecting with the band. So that whole period was a low point, but I feel like we turned it into a positive and we learned from it.”

2011’s Get Your Heart On! earned the band an ARIA chart number 4 with “Summer Paradise” (which is actually about Australia) and the single Jet Lag performed better in Australia than anywhere else in the world, peaking at number 8.

This September, Simple Plan bring the shiny new sounds of Taking One For The Team to Australia for the first time. The album is a pop song writing triumph. It’s taken 14 years, but Simple Plan appear to have found where they belong. The first three singles demonstrate the breadth of SP’s new sound. It’s equal parts pop and punk, rather than a combination. In Comeau’s own words, “I think the key for us was to write fun, catchy music that has a lot of heart and that has a lot of emotional release; music that means something. It might not be the best poetry that you’ll hear in your life, but for us it’s genuine, heartfelt and meaningful. I think it’s meaningful to our fans too.”

Some of that emotional release can be felt on the track “I Don’t Wanna Be Sad”, which Comeau reveals is an alternative take on the topic of teenage depression. “We were so saddened by how many kids are dealing with depression. We’ve written a lot of songs about that subject, but this time we wanted to write about it from a different perspective. So now it’s more like, “I’m sick of feeling like this, I wanna be happier.” There’s an element of inspiration from the Bleachers’ song “I Wanna Get Better”. I suppose it’s about empowerment. Instead of complaining, the song encourages kids to be done with the sad.”

One thing is for sure, Simple Plan will bring their trademark energy and pop-punk irreverence to their shows in September. And for all those peasant Australians that don’t live in the chosen states, Chuck has a promise for you, “We really wanted to do a little bit more. But we’ll be back. We’ll do a slightly larger tour sometime in the future hopefully. Just bear with us, we’ll be back and we’ll do more shows!”

Read the full interview below….

I’ll start here. I was addicted to No Pads, No Helmets, Just Balls. I was a raging pop punker in those days. 14 years since then. What’s the highest and lowest point the band has been at during those 14 years? 

You know what, there’s been a lot of high points. It’s been crazy. I mean as teenagers, we had the dream to put out an album and tour the world and do all the things bands do. Nowadays, I think we can definitely scratch a lot off our list. After that first album came out, it did really well in the US and Canada and all over the world. The only place it didn’t really do well was Australia and we were kinda bummed out about that. Then “Perfect” came out and it just shot to the top of the charts in Australia. That then helped the album sales, and then we did “Addicted” and then the album sorta became a real smash in Australia. So for me, that was awesome, because I always wanted to travel to and tour in Australia. Then after that, we came back and did some huge dates with Green Day, supporting them on their American Idiot tour. For me that was one of the most special times for the band, because things weren’t really going anywhere for us in Australia and then all of a sudden, boom! It just exploded.

As far as our tough moments, there have been a few. When it came to the third album (self-titled), we had been going strong for eight or nine years non-stop. No breaks, no vacation and I think we didn’t really know what direction we should take creatively. The reaction to that album was great from some fans, but not so great from a lot of fans. It was a tough album to tour, you know? So we sat down after that and kinda asked, “Do we still wanna do this?”. The answer was ‘Yeah, but let’s just get back to our roots and back to having fun.’ We forgot that it was meant to be about having fun. Get Your Heart On! was a huge success and we saw fans just reconnecting with the band. That whole period was a low point, but I feel like we turned it into a positive and we learned from it.

Taking One For The Team is just such a romping good time. You actually re-tweeted my review of it a few months back. I’m assuming you were aiming for something really positive and uplifting? 

Oh, 100%. Actually, I remember your review well. The whole idea of this record is what Simple Plan is all about. Trying to find the right balance of all our sounds and all our influences and what fans love about this band. We tried to make a record that encompasses all that. That would make us happy, make the fans happy, but also challenge us and them at the same time. I think the key for us is to write fun, catchy music that has a lot of heart and that has a lot of emotional release, that means something. It might not be the best poetry that you’ll hear in your life, but for us it’s genuine, heartfelt and meaningful. I think it’s meaningful to our fans too.

I think the fans got it. So the cool thing now is that when we play show, we often have fans telling us to play the new songs, which is cool, and rare. Quite often at our stage in a career, people just want to hear the early hits.

So many great tracks. I think “Singing In The Rain” is my favourite. Is there a story behind “I Don’t Wanna Be Sad”? ‘Cause there feels like there might be…

The idea behind that song is that we have a lot of fans that write us and pull up by a concert and tell us how much our music has helped them. It’s crazy to see how many people seem to be struggling. Music can sometimes be the only lifeline for them. It becomes like their faith, what they use to keep going and I think that inspired us as a band.

We were so saddened by how many kids are dealing with depression and we’ve written a lot of songs about that subject, but this time we wanted to write about it from a different perspective. So now it’s more like, “I’m sick of feeling like this, I wanna be happier.” There’s an element of inspiration from the Bleachers’ song “I Wanna Get Better”. I suppose it’s about empowerment. Instead of complaining, the song encourages kids to be done with the sad.

So you’re coming down under in September. You guys have a good relationship with Australia, as you mentioned before. We’re assuming the live show this time around will include all of the trademark energy… 

Yeah man, that’s what we do. That what SP is all about. We wanna make sure everyone has a good time. After we get off stage, we like feeling like we’re still in our first pop punk bands. We go as hard as we can. Yes, we want people to take how we play and our songs seriously, but having a good time laughing at ourselves is really important to us. It’s a party really.

I’m in Adelaide. So I’ll politely ask for a please explain… 

I’m sorry man. Some of it is a little bit out of our control. We get invited certain places etcetera… We really wanted to do a little bit more. But we’ll be back. We’ll do a slightly larger tour sometime in the future hopefully. Just bear with us, we’ll be back and we’ll do more shows!

I’m a drummer myself. So I like to ask drummers, what do you listen to when you’re not slaying the skins on stage?

Man, that’s a good question. Funnily enough, a lot of pop punk! I still really dig that kinda music and get really excited about new bands coming up and old bands releasing new stuff. That will always be part of what I love. I love going back to the records that I listened to as a kid. But I listen to all kinds of stuff too, like hip hop and reggae. I really have a very open minded perspective on music. Usually I’m always breaking down other people’s songs to figure out why they did what they did, so I try to just really enjoy music when I can.

 

SIMPLE PLAN AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
with special guests Forever Ends Here

Tickets on sale 10am local, July 20th.

September 10th | Enmore Theatre, Sydney | All Ages
Ticketek | 132 849

September 11th | The Triffid, Brisbane | 18+
Oztix | 1300 762 545

September 13th | Prince Bandroom, Melbourne | 18+
Oztix | 1300 762 545