The Montreal band Simple Plan were formed six years ago and quickly gained a loyal following with their pop-punk sound.
Their debut album was a cult success and they’ve just released their sophomore effort, Still Not Getting Any.
musicOMH caught up with the guys at a London hotel ahead of their current tour and chewed over early influences, accusations of selling out – and appreciation of some surprising British music…
It’s only 11am and Canadian band Simple Plan are already full of energy, all of them speaking at, towards and over each other. Singer Pierre Bouvier apologies for eating his breakfast, while guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre and drummer Chuck Comeau are already poised to speak. Lead guitarist Jeff Stinco enters the room while David Desrosiers is sprawled over a bed, the bassist being clad head to toe in black and sporting a brave, yet somewhat fetching, pair of leggings.
They’ve already argued over how many times the band have been to the UK and the commotion starts again upon being asked whether their current tour is their first headliner.
Once again the commotion starts upon being asked whether their tour that recently saw them headline London Astoria is the first of which they have headlined in the UK. After much argument about the Electric Ballroom, Chuck and Jeff at last take charge of the conversation.
“It’ll be our third headlining set in London,” Chuck reveals. “It’s pretty cool to come back and do it at the Astoria – it’s a pretty big place”. Jeff chips in that, while they may not be as widely recognised in this country, the hardcore faithful still go out of their way to travel to see the band. Chuck agrees: “It’s kinda cool to be not necessarily be on the radio as much, but have that real fan base without mainstream exposure – it’s great”.
– Simple Plan reflect on their cult following.
The idea of that hardcore following going as far as inking tattoos on their skin leaves the band slightly nonplussed however: “You know what, I think its cool that someone goes so far as to put something on their body that’s permanent” Jeff insists. “I was really passionate about music myself when I was a teenager. I didn’t go as far as to tattoo myself with a bands name but I loved music, it was part of my life, my identity. I think if that’s what people need to do to express themselves, I think it’s great.”
That passion for music during Jeff’s teenage years took in many bands – Pearl Jam, Guns N Roses, Green Day, while the other band members mention influences such as Rage Against The Machine and NoFx. “Music was my way of letting negative energy out in a certain way – I was so angry at the world and so frustrated, and music was a great outlet to let all of those things out”, says Jeff. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say it saved my life, but it definitely came close”.
Like most bands, Simple Plan’s credibility is very important to them, but some fans accused them of selling out when they toured with Avril Lavigne last year. Chuck resents that suggestion though: “Obviously we were aware that some people would be bummed out, but it was a chance to play in front of tonnes of new people and play our songs to an audience that doesn’t know us at all. We’ll play with Rancid one day and Avril the next”. Jeff agrees that charges of a sell-out are wide of the mark: “I don’t see what the big deal is. We play with bands we respect “
– Simple Plan drummer Chuck Comeau defends the band after the tour with Avril Lavigne.
The boys are also big fans of British music, although they’re surprised to discover that Worthing quartet The Ordinary Boys aren’t from their side of the Atlantic (“they’re from here? Aaah, now it makes sense”). Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness, Coldplay and Oasis all receive approving nods while David has an apparently darker secret: “I love Robbie Williams but everyone laughs at me when I say it” he shyly admits.
Our time is soon up and it’s time for the band to promote themselves. When asked what to expect from a Simple Plan gig, the band are in general agreement that a “big party atmosphere” is to be expected where “people just leave their egos and problems at the door”. Pierre looks at his fellow band members and, tongue planted firmly in cheek, asks: “so what the hell are you doing here?”.
Uproar arises again as Simple Plan continue to revel in enjoyable, friendly banter. Despite residing in a five star hotel, the boys are still very much down to earth. Contrary to what album titles such as No Pads No Helmets Just Balls and the current Still Not Getting Any may suggest, Simple Plan are a knowledgeable and respectable band, as credible as they are in tune with what their intended audience expects from them. Hopefully, they’ll gain all the success they deserve in the near future.