SUM 41

If you’ve seen a Sum 41 video over the past few years you’d know that you weren’t going to get a serious conversation, but when Designer Magazine met Sum 41’s Steve Jocz, music was the last thing on his mind. A band borne out of the punk pop scene with classic singles “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip” the band recently released their 3rd album “Chuck”, named after a Canadian soldier who saved them from an ambush in the Congo.

In the middle of a headline tour, the biggest challenge of their life was ahead of them and that was keeping up the drinking games with debauched rock’n’rollers Motley Crue. As well as talking about the drinking games on tour, Saki Bombs in Japan an Guinness in Ireland, Alex McCann also found out how 2006 could see the band launch several side projects including a metal band, as well as Derrick and Steve’s hangover country album.

Q: We’re meeting you here in the middle of your tour. How’s it going?
A: The last tour we were on was 9 weeks long so towards the end of it we were just partying to get through it. The last two weeks have been a pretty mad rush to work out, get in shape and look good. The first day back home we went to the Canadian Music Award Shows and NOFX were playing so we just ended up partying on with them. It was wrong. I go home to have a rest and I end up partying even harder than when I’m on tour. Now it’s like I'm a Rock star so my suits on it’s way and I'm gonna walk on by with some Asian woman in 6 inch stilettos

Q: Rock n roll all the way. And from that it’s straight onto tour with Motley Crue?
A: Yeah, we’re just gonna walk on right into the middle of that. I just broke up with my girlfriend, so to blow off some steam I flew over to LA to hang out with Derek. We got bored after 2 days so it was like lets fly to Vegas and we get there and find out that Motley Crue are playing. We ended up getting into the show and hanging out with Tommy Lee afterwards. If that was any foreshadow of what the tour’s going to be like then it’s gonna be hard to keep up with him…because Tommy Lee is still Tommy Lee and he sure knows how to party.

Q: So your own tour was the warm up to the Mighty Crue?
A: We say we’ve been warming up to this tour for the past 5 years. The last time we were in Vegas I think we did pretty well? We had some friends of the family, normal people, because people who are outside of the music industry (even writers and anyone involved in music knows how to drink) just can’t drink. My mum makes me bring people to shows and there was this one guy who came back and had one beer and was literally falling over. We were at the bar in Las Vegas in the VIP section next to Vinny Paul from Pantera and all these f**king basketball players and this guy that my mum knew fell into all of them. I actually have family coming to tonight’s show and they’re the only family I get on with…and I think it’s because they can drink and have a good time

Q: I had this image before I met you that your wild days were behind you and you were going to go mature on us, but you’re still as manic as ever?
A: We may be maturing, like our faces are getting older and uglier, but we’re killing anyone or anything that’s gonna get in our way and tell us we can’t drink more beer. Destroy yourself with alcohol – that’s our tip for the kids!!

Q: The kids are still there with you as well…despite the fact you’ve been around for nigh on 6 years in the public eye your crowd seems to stay ever youthful?
A: It’s different in different places. Here in the States there are older guys and you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to get in a moshpit with them. There’s no way I would survive in there because for all the drinking I’m still a big wet pussy. But the kids are still here with us and every show we do sells out right away.

Q: Haven’t you got this weird thing going on where the Japanese absolutely love you…how do you cope without the drinking culture over there?
A: F**k. I’ve never been as f**ked up as I was in Japan. The shows are so cushy because we play Arena’s and you just roll in when you feel like it. There probably wasn’t a drinking culture until we got there, but there’s this game where you take these big jugs of beer and Saki bomb where you drop a glass of Saki straight to the bottom and you have to chug it. We got into some crazy shit with fire extinguishers, mushrooms and running over the tops of cars over there.

Q: It’s the Chuck tour you’re in the middle of. Fill our readers about Sum 41 in 2006 because people still have this image of Sum 41 as the band we met 5 years ago, Derrick with blonde hair and the “All Killer, No Filler” album that spurned the classic “Fat Lip” and “In Too Deep” singles.
A: Derrick has dark hair now…but I still have orange hair because you can’t hide it when you’re ginger. Everybody knows. It’s like who am I trying to impress – you’re ginger!!!

This record’s a little harder I guess. It’s also got slow songs on it, but when we wrote a bunch of songs these ones were the best songs. We named the album after this Canadian soldier called Chuck Pelletier who ended up saving us from the Congo, but that’s a whole different tale, if the guy who would have saved us was called Bob then the album would have been called Bob. Fortunately it was a quality name.

Q: The album does cover something for everyone and it’s about as far from the punk pop template as possible. There are the acoustic tracks, but then there are mammoth Iron Maiden metal riffs?
A: That was Dave who really wanted to show off his chops, because over the past few years he’s just been (makes noodling guitar noise) on the tour bus and not really putting it down on record. On this album there are some tracks that are Oasis like because we love Oasis and the Beatles. We listen to so many different types of music.

I don’t even listen to punk rock or heavy metal anymore so that’s why we’ve moved away from pop punk. I ended up breaking my IPOD and I gave up on music totally, but if I still had it the last thing that would be on there is punk because I’m not 15 anymore. Metal I can appreciate because of the good musicianship, but a lot of music just happens to pass because it happens to fit in with whatever is cool at the time.

What I’ve noticed over the past 12 months is that all the classic bands are coming back though – Maiden, Motley Crue, Metallica, Judas Priest.

Q: Derrick’s engaged to Avril Lavigne, would you ever do a joint tour with her?
A: Nah, Avril’s a nice girl, but we’d never go on tour with her because our fans and her fans are not the same sort of people. Simple Plan went on tour with Avril, but if we did that there would be certain songs where the kids and the parents would just be stood there blank

Q: So what is the future for Sum 41?
A: The one thing that we did with this album is go straight from touring, into the studio and back out on the road and I don’t think that’s the best formula to write a record so we’re going to take a break after this tour. I'm really excited for the next record because we’re going to have at least a year off and then go in and record the record so I think you’re going to see a different Sum 41 after the break.

We keep saying we want to try other stuff and do stuff individually outside the group, but I don’t have anything yet so I’ve been on this mad mission to find something. It will be nice to just hang out at home and live a regular life where you don’t have to live in a little bunk on a tour bus with 3 other guys

Dave and Cone have side project bands that they’re working on at the moment for fun. Dave’s doing the metal shit with his cousins and me and Derrick will probably just sit by the pool drinking margaritas for a year. Derrick and me might end up doing a country album together where we sing about the blues and the downside of it all – our hangover album

Words: Alex McCann

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