Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley: “There Are Still Political Divisions Everywhere We Go”
Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley isn’t likely to forget this year in a hurry, having released a new album, toured the world and received some life-changing personal news…
Hey Deryck, how was your 2019?
“Really good. We wrapped up our record [Order In Decline] by February, and then we pretty much went straight out on the road. We’ve been around the world, from Japan to Australia, Europe and North America. It’s been a busy year for us.”
Does starting out with a new album ready to go give you an optimistic launchpad for the rest of the year?
“Yes and no (laughs). There are always so many unknowns when you finish a record. You have no idea if anyone’s going to like it. You have no idea if you even like it, because you’ve been so close to it and listened to it for a thousand hours. You’re just like, ‘Okay, we’re done,’ and you head off on tour. You never know what’s going to happen. But luckily the reaction’s been really good, and from what we hear the fans love it.”
The album contained a lot of political anxiety. Do you think things have gotten better or worse this year?
“Much the same. I don’t think it’s going to quickly change for better or worse just yet. There are still divisions everywhere we go. I’m an optimistic person, though, and I think everything goes in cycles. It will eventually change to a more positive cycle, I’m sure.”
Is touring a different experience now from the old days, in terms of your lifestyle, habits and partying?
“Quite a bit, yeah (laughs). And not just me, but for the whole band. We all used to be pretty bad. There’s only two guys in the band that really drink now, where it used to be all of us doing everything possible.”
How has your health been this year? You look a lot more like your old self these days…
“Thank you. I feel good. I feel better and better each year, to be honest. I try to live as healthily as I can these days.”
You’ve been revisiting the Chuck album on recent shows to mark its 15th anniversary. Was that a lot of fun?
“Yeah. We’d actually forgotten about some of those songs, so it’s almost like they’re brand new songs again. I remember them when I hear them, but you have to relearn all the words, to really go back and study it all and figure out the guitar parts. And then we had all these actual new songs that we had to learn how to play live as well, so it was a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well.”
Was it inspired by the anniversary tour you did for Does This Look Infected?
“No. Both of those anniversaries presented themselves because fans started talking about them. I don’t even know when these things are coming up. I don’t really think about it until people start asking about them on social media. They’ll say, ‘I love this album, please do something for the anniversary,’ and it’s like, ‘Okay, sure, maybe we’ll do that.’”
Is there a balance to strike with a new album out, as well?
“Yeah, but I think we found a way to do that. We weren’t playing the whole record, we were playing two or three songs from Chuck that we wouldn’t normally play, and changing those songs around every night. I think that was a good way to do it.”
Did you ever think you’d have the sort of longevity that would lead to things like anniversary tours in the first place?
“I definitely didn’t think about it. I didn’t think that we wouldn’t, but I didn’t think that we would. When you’re doing this job, you’re focussed on what you’re doing in the moment. You don’t really look backwards or forward, there’s just so much work and things happening today.”
Looking ahead, however, you’ve got the small matter of headlining Slam Dunk coming up next spring…
“Oh yeah, we’re very excited about that one. The offer to play Slam Dunk has come up a few times, but we weren’t able to make it work because of scheduling. But we’ve always wanted to play it. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the festival.”
Is that all the Sum 41 we’re likely to see in the UK next year?
“We’re working on it. We don’t have the whole of 2020 mapped out yet, but we do plan on doing more, and hopefully we’ll be back in the UK at some point. We just don’t know when or where that will be.”
What’s the best place you visited this year?
“We toured with The Offspring across Canada and we played this show outside Montreal. It was such a great crowd. That’s my most recent favourite show, and it was good to be back, because we haven’t done a full Canadian tour for a while. Every night was great, but that one really sticks out as being particularly mental.”
What’s the weirdest thing to happen to you this year?
“I would say – in a very good way – finding out that my wife is pregnant!”
Congratulations! Do you think that will make touring and the whole band lifestyle trickier?
“I don’t know, this is our first. It’s all new territory, but there are lots of things that are difficult about being in a band when it comes to home life and relationships. This is just another thing, but we’ll make it work.”
Sum 41 are playing next year’s Slam Dunk festival in Leeds and Hatfield on May 23 and 24 respectively. Get your tickets here.
Slam Dunk has been forced to change its line-up again, but the festival will continue.
Hear State Champs’ absolutely wicked cover of Fall Out Boy’s Take This To Your Grave track.