2011, Features, Interviews — October 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Chuck Comeau of Simple Plan


“I think there’s just something about it that we still get excited, and if we didn’t I don’t think we’d be able to tour the way we tour because we tour so much, we’re pretty much gone the whole year just playing shows, so I think if you don’t enjoy it it’d be a really tough life, so we just have a good time and it’s fun.”

If there’s one thing I love about Simple Plan it’s that they make fun pop rock music you can enjoy.  Plain and simple.  They with songs you can laugh along with, can rock with and most importantly at times relate to, some a lot more than others, read on to see what I mean. Over their twelve years together and with four albums under their belt, their newest being ‘Get Your Heart On!’ there is no sign of them slowing down and let’s hope they don’t.

In Australia currently on tour playing sold out shows, after a small delay at the hotel courtesy of a malfunctioning elevator we were able to sit down with Simple Plan drummer Chuck Comeau to talk about the band, the new album, touring, as well as how their music has helped people and what they have done to acknowledge that plus plenty more.  He was a pleasure to talk to and if you’ve never really checked out Simple Plan before, maybe give this a read and Get Your Heart On!

I saw the show on Saturday night and the energy of you guys is just awesome.  What is it about performing live that you enjoy so much?
About playing live? Well I think everything about it, seeing that our music has travelled so much, so far and that so many people love it and respond to it and we’ve got fans all over the world, and you take a plane for twenty hours and you get off in Australia and you’ve got a sold out theatre that wants to see you and is excited and singing every word and there to have a good time with you.  So it’s hard not to like that and I think on that level, I think just on the pure, for us we grew up playing music, we’ve been playing since we were 12 or 13 so if we didn’t like it we wouldn’t still be doing it you know what I mean?  So I think there’s just something about it that we still get excited, and if we didn’t I don’t think we’d be able to tour the way we tour because we tour so much, we’re pretty much gone the whole year just playing shows, so I think if you don’t enjoy it it’d be a really tough life, so we just have a good time and it’s fun.

How do you feel almost 10 years on still playing a song called ‘I’m Just A Kid?’
You know, it’s funny I was reading something about that from a different artist who was talking and it’s weird because we’re not really just kids anymore but at the same time I kinda feel like I still am because of the job that I have, I don’t have to go to an office, I don’t have to do anything, it’s pretty sweet, we’re pretty privileged in that sense that we can still act like young kids and have a blast but at the same time that song is like part of our history, it’s kind of like the quote unquote legacy of the band and what we’ve built and people love that song and every time we play it people go crazy.  That’s what I love about. I hate bands that are like ‘Oh yeah we don’t play that one any more’ well people want to hear it and I don’t think you should be too cool or too good to play what people love.  Every night I still enjoy playing it, so nah I think it’s funny, it keeps me young.  I’m just like it keeps you young to play that because you can’t be looking like you’re 40 when you play that song.

There was mention made of the band returning to Australia in 2012, anything you can tell us about or was Pierre just playing to the crowd?
No I think we’re already planning that, we want to come back and tour here so I think the Spring well the Fall for you guys would be a good ideal time, I’m not sure if that’s going to happen and it’s not set in stone yet but with this record we’re really proud of it and we want to come back and play everywhere and play bigger shows and this is just a little warm up so definitely Australia is one of the places that we love and we love everywhere but we’ve always felt special here, really welcome, really at home and we just really enjoy the country.  I could see it’s one of the places that we could all kind of see ourselves moving here and loving it.  There’s just a cool vibe, we’re close to our fans here, but even if you take out the band thing, the vibes of the cities are so rad and people are really mellow and cool and its like a tropical paradise but at the same time it’s urban so there’s tonnes of stuff happening and the girls are really good looking, so not a bad place to be.

Do you have a favourite memory from coming to Australia?
Yeah I think the first time we came here, you know for us being from Canada, Australia is the other side of the planet, it’s about as far as you can go pretty much and when you travel so that first time we actually got here and we went and you know, I think it was in Brisbane to pat Koalas and Kangaroos and all the typical stuff that you may look at as ‘That’s lame’ but for us it was really really special to do that, you know we climbed the Bridge, the Harbour Bridge and went to the Opera House and got to see all that.  You know, it’s hard to beat your first time somewhere just because it’s so… and I remember we were playing a big festival and we were the first band on out of like fifteen bands and we were really unknown but we went on and every night or every afternoon just killed and just stole a lot of the crowd and everything and there was a feeling of ‘wow’ we can accomplish anything here. Sure enough six months later the album was blowing up and we had four singles that did amazing but back then it was just nothing it was a dream to do well and it turned out amazing so that was really great.  I think coming back and we’ve done a lot of cool stuff we did a tour with Greenday which was amazing playing all these big arenas and then we came back and actually headlined the same room, the exact same room that they played we did ourselves so that was with The All American Rejects and that was in 2005 or 2004 I think and that was like one of the best tours ever, playing Rod Laver Arena or the Hordern Pavilion for two nights and stuff, that to me was one of the most epic tours we ever did, it was amazing.  It was awesome, I loved it.

How much longer are you out on the road in support of this album?
Oh, a long time, probably another year. Well that’s what we’re hoping if things go the way we want it and go well and people want to see us, I mean right now we’ve got shows booked until the Spring but the Summer is going to start getting busy and in the Summer we’re always touring with lots of festivals and stuff so we’re hoping that this time next year we’re still playing shows.  It’s good though, we made a record we’re all really proud of and it’s going to be the tenth year since our first record came out so to still be around and still be relevant and still have people care about the band and show up like that at shows it’s all you can ask for you know?

Now I saw a camera man roaming around, are you guys working on a DVD or documentary you can fill us in on?
Yeah well we always film a lot of stuff and we might be going with a different single here than the rest of the world for Australia because Summer’s coming, so we’re kinda filming a little something that might be a special Australian video so we’ll see.

With the album now out for a few months, how has the reaction been to this one compared to your previous releases?
Great, actually pretty amazing, its funny, a lot of people are going, wow they’re still here, they’re still going and it’s impressive for some people because most bands don’t make it past an album or two and we’re on our fourth one, twelve years together as a band so I think that on the album is a little bit of us going back to our roots and doing a little bit of a throwback to the pop punk style that made us who we are as a band. I think people are really enjoying that, especially the fans that were there from day one who really love those kinds of songs and we love playing them and it was fun to write stuff in that vain, it was a really good time and we love playing it live too so that’s been really good and I just feel that people are like, well the last record was a little different for us a bit of a different direction, but I just think this one, I man we’re still really proud of the last one and I think a lot of the hardcore fans that’s their favourite and that will always stay but this one’s a little more up tempo, a little more happier, a little more upbeat and a little more of a crowd pleaser so people seem to be really stoked and the shows have been great and everyone’s saying it’s our best one yet.

Do you find that as you continue to grow as a band that you mature as songwriters?
Yeah I think so, I think that’s kind of the point or at least a goal.  I don’t think we would’ve been able to write songs like ‘Astronaut’ or even songs like ‘Summer Paradise’ or ‘Gone Too Soon’ if we were like 20 or 21 on the first record.  On the first album we just had a one track mind and just wanted to play as fast as possible and play pop punk and then we kind of expanded a little bit, our minds and listened to different things and took more risks you know.  I think that with every record you try to be better and if you don’t, with this one we wrote over seventy songs for it so we really pushed ourselves in getting the best out of us as songwriters so I think the result, I couldn’t be happier, I wouldn’t change a note, I wouldn’t change a word on it.  I’m really proud of it and I think it’s our most musically diverse record that we’ve made so far, so that’s fun, and I think every record we really try and even though people may not see it because they kind of say ‘oh Simple Plan, the same thing’ but when they actually listen to the album there are some super cool ballads on there that are a little deeper and more topical like that and then you’ve got a song like ‘Astronaut’ that I think is the best song that we ever wrote in terms of song writing.  Then you’ve got a song like ‘Summer Paradise’ which is a reggae vibe with K’Naan on it that we never ever came close to doing, but for some reason it all works together and Pierre’s voice ties it all together and it sounds like us you know?

A song like ‘Jet Lag’ which has been stuck in my head for the last four months is probably the catchiest song of the year, when this one came together did you know you were sitting on gold?
Sorry about that ha ha.  You know, it’s funny, I think you always have a good feeling about a song, like you kind of know, like after we wrote ‘Jet Lag’ you know it’s funny, I came up with it, we were going to write that day and I came up with the idea of using Jet Lag as a title, I was in the shower right before the session, we were about to start writing, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it work, you know, the heart is Jet Lagged and we were jamming and Pierre came up with the melody and everything and I remember, Pierre liked it and was like ‘I don’t know, we’ll see’ and I was like ‘I think it’s really fucking good.’ And when we actually made the demo and heard it, it was like ‘uh oh’ that’s when it hits you and it was like yeah.  I mean you get those feelings, like when we wrote ‘Welcome To My Life’ on the second record we kinda knew we had something.  One song we did, that we wrote for the first album ‘Addicted’ we were like ‘yeah we’ve got something’, but you never know, you kind of hope, you get the butterflies, like ‘oh man that could be a special song’ but the thing is with this record is that we had it a bunch of times with a bunch of different songs so it becomes hard to choose you know…

You of course recorded the song with Natasha Bedingfield but also a French version with Marie Mai. What was the reasoning behind the French version, just to keep that side of the band out there?
Because you know, we’re all French Canadian, we all grew up speaking French, it’s our first language and our fans have been asking us for a long time to do a French version of our songs or just a French song in general.  Before we just didn’t feel comfortable doing it and we were like, I don’t know if we can really pull it off, but this time we felt after four albums, everybody knows we sing in English and it’s established so why not try it.  I think we were a little self conscious about how Pierre was going to sound in French but having a duet was the perfect way to try and do it and it turned out to be our biggest song we ever had.  Biggest song in France, biggest song in Quebec, where we’re from and people are kind of embracing it, loving it so our insecurities were not really justified, I guess we did it the right way, we took our time and didn’t do it if it wasn’t perfect so I think it’s just cool and it gives fans a different version and the funny thing is that people from Australia have discovered it and people from South America a lot of the time will say, man that’s my favourite version, you know the French version because it’s exotic and all that.

Not to mention two of the hottest women singing the parts…
Well there you go, it’s like a blonde and a brunette we had to have both you know ha ha

When you get to a place like Australia where you actually do get Jet Lag does the song take on a different meaning to you?
Well it’s funny, I thought people would ask us more in interviews ‘So… are you jet lagged?’ and whatever so every time I hear that word now I cant think of anything else other than our song and how I can’t even say I’m jet lagged without feeling like I’m trying to make a stupid pun or something.  The funny thing is that I don’t get jet lag, I’m really lucky, knock on wood, but I really don’t feel that much and the guys always make fun of me ‘Oh you like a robot or something’ but I think I’ve mastered a way to never really have it, so yeah…

What was the inspiration behind your newest single Astronaut?  Great video by the way.
I think it’s just kind of about trying to find your place in the world, a lot of the time people feel a little lost and feel a little bit disconnected and they don’t feel like they can relate to other people or that they have someone in their life that truly gets them you know?  And I think we all felt like that some point in our life, whether you’re a teenager or later on in life when they’re older and all that, just kind of a little bit of disconnect. I feel like it’s kind of funny now as I think it’s kind of ironic as there’s so many ways to be connected, with Twitter and Facebook and on line and emails and phones and cell phones, you can basically be reached 24/7 non stop. At the same time, ironically, I don’t think so many people have never felt so alone because they have all these ways to connect but no one really to connect with you know?  So that’s kind of what the song is about for me.

The video we just wanted to do a cool metaphor, you know when you have a song called astronaut it’s kind of like, do we do the astronaut thing where you’re on the moon or whatever?  So we wanted to kind of, we thought it was a cool visual just to have someone in the astronaut suit and really play on the metaphor but at the same time throw it in a different context, not necessarily be the guy up in the space shuttle that’s lonely but kinda like bring it down to Earth and see how some people, even though they’re surrounded by everyone they kind of feel like they’re on their own you know so that was the idea behind the video.

Now, I’ve got a friend called Aimee who wanted to me to tell you that basically without you guys, she wouldn’t be around and that you’ve saved her life and she can’t thank you enough.  Obviously on the new album you have a song called ‘This Song Saved My Life’ now if you had to pick a song that saved your life, what would it be?
Yeah well that’s kind of where the song came from, people like your friend Aimee told us stuff like that and we get so much, it’s actually a little scary but as a band it’s amazing to hear that but at the same time it’s a kind of sad that so many people feel that way you know?  I’m not sure in my life if I have a specific song that did that for me but I know I had specific albums or bands that kinda really helped me out and I think everyone goes through tough times, whether it’s a break up or its like just family shit or whatever you know?  Friend stuff, and I think we all have that and for me recently, Coldplay ‘Fix You’ which is kinda like a little clichéd but just an amazing song and every time you hear it, it takes you somewhere else and makes you feel better you know, it kind of takes away whatever you’re going through for a minute and I think that’s the kind of feeling you want from a song, when you’re in that moment you know?  I’m trying to think of what else… there’s a lot… luckily I haven’t felt bummed out for a while, when you break up with a girl or whatever, there’s always like a song that’s like ‘Fuck!’ like it almost expresses everything you’re feeling.  Maybe ‘Hey There Dellilah’ by The Plain White T’s there for a while, that was a good song, that helped me out.

Well that’s why I have this (I show Chuck my Butch Walker – ‘Ships In A Bottle’ tattoo)
Oh nice!
And incidentally you worked with Butch Walker before who is a hero of ours.  Any chance of working with him again soon?
We’d love to, I think he’s a great guy, we haven’t had a chance on this record but down the road again, he produced a song that we did for a soundtrack and he was awesome, he’s a really talented guy and I love his solo stuff and I loved him in Marvelous 3 and it was amazing, big fan and would love to.

Tell us how The Simple Plan Foundation came about and for those that may not know what it is, can you give us a bit of a synopsis?
It kinda came about from getting so many letters and fan mail and fan emails and going through tough times and kids having a tough time trying to find their place and going through depression and suicide thoughts and all that and also we do a lot of Make A Wish and hospital visits and stuff like that and see a lot of sick kids.  We just wanted to do something a little less abstract than just writing songs for them but actually doing something that can help them directly, so we started a foundation in 2005 and its all about helping young kids that are going through those tough teenage problems and that are sick and using music as a way to promote a better life and finding a passion in life so that’s what happened with us with music and it helped us a lot so hopefully we can do that with different kids that are going through tough times and so far we’ve given over $700,000 with the foundation and it’s something that we’re really proud of and we had a big event two weeks ago or last week in Montreal, we played with the Montreal Symphony, we raised over $300,000 for charity in one night and it was amazing and something we’re all really proud of.  It’s just our small way of trying to help out and trying to make a difference you know?

Lastly, what does the next 10 years hold for Simple Plan?
I’m hoping a lot of touring and a lot of albums and songs and who knows if there will be albums any more or just songs or whatever but my goal is that we’re still a band in ten years and we can sit down and you still want to talk to us.  So that’s the plan and hopefully we can come back and play bigger shows and play new places we haven’t played before and just keep going, you know this is great.  We’re lucky.


Essential Information

From: Montreal, Quebec

Band Members: Pierre Bouvier – vocals, Chuck Comeau – drums, backing vocals, David Desrosiers – bass, backing vocals, Sebastien Lefebvre – guitar, backing vocals, Jeff Stinco – lead guitar

Websites: http://www.simpleplan.com and http://simpleplanfoundation.com

Latest Release: Get Your Heart On (2011 – Warner Music Australia)

Read our review of ‘Get Your Heart On!’ here…

Read our review of the Sydney Simple Plan concert on October 1 here…