Sum 41 still going strong

BMS talks with lead singer/guitarist Deryck Whibley

, Staff Writer

Hailing from Ontario, pop-punk rockers Sum 41 have enjoyed continued success for the past decade. Starting with “Fat Lip” back in 2001, the band has steadily released wildly successful albums that more often than not go platinum. Currently on tour with The Offspring, with a show at the Tsongas Arena on Friday, we caught up with lead singer/guitarist Deryck Whibley to discuss all things Sum 41.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): Thanks for taking the time to talk. How’s it going?

Deryck Whibley (DW): It’s going really great, thanks. We’re just hanging out in New York right now – chilling by the pool, drinking some Jack Daniels. Things are going well right now, life is pretty great. We just did the first show of the tour last night, which is always fun. There was some first show rustiness that we need to work out, but it went pretty well.

BMS: What’s it like touring with The Offspring?

DW: Honestly, I don’t really think much about who we’re touring with. I mean, there are bands that we’ve had fun touring with in the past, but as far as performance goes, whoever we’re with doesn’t make much of a difference. They’re cool guys, though. We’re having fun.

BMS: Sum 41 has toured extensively in the past (300+ shows a year at times). Is it tough keeping such a rigorous schedule?

DW: It’s not too bad, really. It can get tiring at times, but we love what we’re doing, and to be able to do it every night is great. We’re not touring as much now, since we all have other things in our lives now. You know, ten years ago, all we had was the music, so we played as much as we could. But now we’ve got wives and other things in our lives that are also wonderful.

BMS: Do you change up setlists much, given how often you play shows?

DW: Not really, no. There are bands who like to change things up pretty frequently, but when we get something that works, we like to keep it as it is. If you change things up, you know, you might get a series of like five songs in the middle that just don’t work, and we’d rather stick with something that sounds good the whole way through. Sometimes we’ll add some sections into our songs that weren’t on the record, though.

BMS: Are there any fans that follow Sum 41 around on the road?

DW: It’s funny you should ask about that – just last night, there was this guy who came all the way from the Czech Republic to see us – he runs like the top European website for Sum 41. So we ended up meeting him, and I brought him up on stage and he watched the concert off to the side.

BMS: That’s pretty great – you guys have gone international.

DW: Yeah, it’s cool. We can go anywhere in the world and play a show, and there’ll be fans there. We did a show in Tokyo once, and it was great. It’s nice especially because we don’t have to worry as much about how an album does in the States, since we’ve got so many other fans all around the world.

BMS: Does the international scene bring out different crowds at all?

DW: People generally seem to respond to our music the same way no matter where they are, so it’s not too different based on the location.

BMS: There’s a sort of “maturation” that has taken place in between “Fat Lip” and “Walking Disaster”. Was this intentional?

DW: I think it’s just the result of our getting older. All of the songs that I write are based on my life – as I get older and experience more things, I’m going to write songs that come out differently. “Walking Disaster” is about my own teenage years – I left home when I was 17, and I eventually realized that the things my parents were saying to me weren’t to make me feel stupid, that I didn’t know anything, just that they knew better.

BMS: Is there a specific direction your newer material is headed?

DW: It’s definitely got some direction to it, yeah. We had started originally writing an EP, six or seven songs, but when I played the material for people they would say “You’ve almost got a full album, here, and this is really good. You should keep going, it’s just five more songs.” So I kept writing songs, and now all of the original songs on the EP have been outdone. I’m just going to keep going until I’m stop topping myself.

BMS: Is it difficult creating material that is so personal?

DW: It’s definitely tough, yeah. The highs are really high, but the lows can be pretty shitty. You know, you put something out there for the world to love or hate, and it’s tough because you’ve got that personal investment in it. If I was just putting out twelve songs, it would be easy to deal with, but it gets harder when you have more of yourself in it.

Sum 41 perform at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell with The Offspring on Friday, July 10. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.

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