If you think a national headlining tour with a multi-platinum band on the heels of the release of their second album means nothing but partying all night and sleeping all day, think again. For Canadian-bred, punk-pop rockers Simple Plan, this is not the case, and the group is eager to show fans and critics who they really are and that they are here to stay.
Best known for hits like “Addicted” and “I’ll Do Anything,” Simple Plan released their sophomore album, “Still Not Getting Any…” on Oct. 26 with backing from Lava Records. The band kicked off the first leg of a 15-city promotional tour sponsored by Verizon on Oct. 30 in Denver, Colo. and will bring their act to Hartford’s Webster Theater on Sunday.
The Chronicle recently caught up with Simple Plan’s guitarist, Jeff Stinco, while on a break from shooting promotional television spots in Toronto. In a telephone interview, Stinco explained his band’s evolution from their first record and what the touring lifestyle is really like for a band that spent their summer vacation in the recording studio.
Releasing the follow up to a multi-platinum debut often proves difficult for a group hoping for music industry longevity, but with a little luck and lots of hard work, this quintet makes it seem effortless. With their latest effort, Stinco and band mates Pierre Bouvier (vocals), Chuck Comeau (drums), David Desrosiers (bass, backing vocals) and Sebastien Lefebvre (guitar, backing vocals), offer a lyrically diverse record brimming with true-to-life songs about teen angst and typically taboo song subjects like broken families.
No stranger to radio airwaves, the band’s first single from the new record, “Welcome to My Life,” has long been a mainstay on local FM frequencies like Hamden’s WKCI 101.3. Describing teen angst and loneliness, Stinco says the single is one of the tracks on the new album that shows Simple Plan’s lyrical growth and personal maturity as a band.
“[When writing music], a lot of bands tend to talk about the [Hollywood] parties, the girls or whatever, but we decided that we were going to focus on stuff that really meant something to us,” said of the new single. “We read a lot of fan mail and talked to a lot of our fans while on the road and that sense of isolation, that sense of loneliness was very strong amongst our fans and we wanted to portray that in the song. That song is a thank you to all our fans. It’s a way of giving back and that’s why we wrote the song.”
Such maturity comes in part, Stinco says, from not being afraid to be unique and find a sound that best suits the group as a whole. Drawing influence from groups like U2 and No Doubt, Simple Plan appears to have finally come into their own musically, and like the groups they admire, desire to create a strong identity with their records. Already having one record under their belt was helpful this time around, as Stinco explains that the group was able to afford themselves more liberties when recording.
“I think we’re getting closer to finding what the Simple Plan sound is, instead of just being put in whatever category [the critics choose]. We’re not just a punk band or a pop band. I think we’re trying to get closer to just being Simple Plan. The liberties came from not wanting to censor ourselves like we did on the first record. On the first record, we were so conscious of being perceived a certain way that we didn’t allow ourselves to go in all the directions that we wanted to. With this record, anything went, as long as it served the song. The guitar solo, a string section, a piano song, those were all things we wanted to do on the first record, but I don’t think we had the chops to do it. Beyond that, I don’t think we had the guts to let loose and do those songs,” Stinco said.
Studio time to record “Still Not Getting Any…” was at a premium, Stinco said, adding that the album was recorded quickly during the summer in Montreal, Canada, to allow time for their headlining tour. Always consummate professionals, the guys in Simple Plan made sure to keep focused on nothing but their music during that time. Although he realizes that work always comes first, Stinco did admit that it was tough to break away from the parties and late nights typical of their lifestyle.
“When we’re in the studio, we’re really concentrating on getting the performances. We’re focused. You’ve got to go to bed sometimes, which we don’t do on the road….with this record, time was so limited that we had to get to the point really quickly. The partying was kept to a minimum. It’s very different [from time on the road],” Stinco said.
Everyone knows that all work and no play is never fun, so the band’s hard work recording will allow them to have fun while promoting the album, on a tour that Stinco says is “all about energy, having fun [and] throwing a party.”
While on the road, Stinco says he always enjoys performing in the Hartford area, and hinted that Sunday’s Webster Theater show will contain a lot of Simple Plan favorites mixed with some new tunes. Opening support for the tour will be provided by Mae and Plain White T’s.
“Whenever we come to Hartford, it’s a crazy-ass show. I don’t know what you guys drink,” Stinco said, laughing. “[Hartford is] always a cool place to be. We’re going to play some new songs. I think our sets are just going to be a little tougher, a little tighter. It’s a Simple Plan show but a little enhanced. It’s still about us performing, us having a good time, us throwing a party, but this time around the new songs will definitely make the set a lot more.”