An Interview with: Simple Plan
It seems like Simple Plan broke into the pop-punk scene ages ago. Oh wait, they did.
They started out in 1999, alongside the likes of pop-punk mainstays Sum 41, Blink 182, and Good Charlotte, and hit the charts with their debut album, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, the French-Canadian group have solidified their name in the Canadian music scene with their anthemic pop tunes and fun-loving nature. With their new album, Get Your Heart On, the Juno Award winning band collaborates with artists Natasha Bedingfield and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo for a different sound.
It’s not uncommon for a musical act to go through line-up changes, or drastic changes to their sound, but for Pierre Bouvier, Sebastien Lefebvre, Jeff Stinco, David Desrosiers and Chuck Comeau, the group have maintained their good-humoured music, and original line-up, successfully bringing along some of their original fans on their new musical journey.
The Weal speaks with rhythm guitarist Sebastien Lefabvre about the band’s successful run for over the past decade.
Weal: How do you think you’ve grown as a band?
SL: Musically, I hope we’re better songwriters now. I think the fact that we’ve been the same guys since the start shows that we’re good at working together and solving our problems, and just seeing the big picture really. It’s kind of sad when you see a band and one guy leaves or they break up, and you can’t help but think that they probably could have done something to stay together. That’s something that we’re proud of in the way we’ve grown as a band, just that we’ve managed to stay together.
Weal: You guys have been a band since 1999, do you see new and old fans at your shows?
SL: It’s kind of crazy. We always ask, “Who’s seen us before?” And then people raise their hands and we’re always surprised by the number. And then, “Who’s never seen us before?” and then again, we’re like, “Holy shit, that many people have never seen us and they decided to come.” There’s definitely a mix of the old and new. I mean, obviously there might be a little bit more around 14-20 year olds because I think that’s the people that go to shows. But there’s younger, there’s older, there are people our age. It’s a good mix; we have a bit of everything.
Weal: It’s common for a band to release a self-titled album as their debut. You did this for your third record, what was the reasoning behind that?
SL: It was just the place we were at at the time. Obviously that album was, and still is, a little bit different for us, in the sense that we definitely evolved throughout every album – but that one just it was very introspective, lyrically – pretty deep, you know there are songs about break ups, and that’s where we were at the time. We thought self-titling that album, at that moment, represented who the band was at that moment.
Weal: What advice would you give to new bands coming into the industry?
SL: You’ve got to make sure you’re good as a band; you’ve got to make sure you write good songs. Because that’s what it always comes down to, it’s always about the songs, it’s always about the music. But I would also say it’s important to start a band with friends. Don’t make sure you have the best drummer that can do the crazy things. It’s pointless if you don’t get along because you spend every day together. It’s better to have someone you get along with, than someone who’s just awesome for the sake of being awesome. And just work hard. A lot of people are going to tell you that you suck, and that it’s pointless. You probably do suck when you start but keep working hard, it’s important.
Weal: What’s next for Simple Plan?
SL: We’re pretty much going to tour until the end of this year before we start thinking about the next album. We’ve been blessed; sometimes it can feel like a curse with deadlines and timing. But we’ve been blessed with a lot of success around the world. So whenever we put out a record, we have at least 18 months of solid touring so we can go see everyone, sometimes twice.
Simple Plan plays the Stampede Corral Feb. 13 with Marianas Trench, All Time Low, and These Kids Wear Crowns.