Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley talks ‘Order in Decline,’ anniversary shows and upcoming tour
The Canadian punk rock band is best known for a number of early 2000s anthems, including Fat Lip, In Too Deep and Pieces.
Sum 41 was founded in 1996 and saw the band playing to dozens of people in their hometown of Ajax, Ont. with the odd club show or battle of the bands competition in the “big city” — Toronto.
Fast-forward 23 years and they’ve earned themselves two Juno Awards, six critically-acclaimed records — four of which are platinum-selling — and one of the most loyal fanbases across the board.
With Order in Decline, that brings the Sum 41 discography to seven records.
Ahead of its release, founding member and frontman Deryck Whibley took the time to chat with Global News about Order in Decline and all things Sum 41.
The 39-year-old detailed the process of creating the record, having longtime guitarist Dave Baksh back in the band after 10 years, and what it was like for them adjusting together as a five-piece.
The singer wasn’t afraid to reminisce on being hospitalized back in 2014, either, when his liver failed and one of his kidneys collapsed as a result of alcoholism. He credited a stronger-than-ever passion for making music to the the near-fatal incident and his successful recovery.
Furthermore, Whibley toyed with the idea of a potential Chuck anniversary tour. He also promised that they’ll be back in the near future for a full Canadian tour.
Global News: So you’re back on the road with a brand new single and you’re only a few months away from putting out the seventh album. You guys must be in a pretty good place right now.
Deryck Whibley: Yeah, definitely. Life’s good! We’re just having fun playing music and doing what we love, as always.
Did you ever think Sum 41 would bring you this far?
[Laughs] I think in the early, early days, I probably believed that this was all possible, because I was young and naïve, y’know? I was at that age when you just think that you can do anything and that it would never really be that hard. But once you get older and you get into it, you sort of realize how difficult it actually is. That’s when you start to think, “How long can it really last?”
In the early days my biggest fear — especially on the very first record, after we had Fat Lip — was that I didn’t want to be one of those one-hit wonder bands, that you always hear about on TV specials, like the “Tonight! One-hit wonders from the…” whatever era. [Laughs] But then we had In Too Deep and I thought, “OK, great, well we’ve had two, but now we’ve gotta do another album…”
Having said that, is the passion to create music still strong inside you?
Well, we don’t do it for that kind of reason. We don’t want to lose it because we love it so much. There’s really nothing else I want to do. I’m not bored doing this over and over again to be honest. To keep doing this is really the most exciting thing in my life.
And it definitely shows with Out for Blood. Somehow, you really weren’t messing around on this one, eh? It’s much heavier than the last album, too. Is this an accurate taste of what’s to come?
[Laughs] I think it’s a good representation of the album as a whole — not to say that every song sounds like Out for Blood. It’s a heavier rock album with different variations within that genre, I’d say. The record has dynamics… I mean, there are a couple of slower songs on the record, too, but to me, they’re heavy in a different kind of way. It’s definitely not a pop album, I can tell you that for sure. [Laughs]
Is there an underlying theme that inspired this album?
For me, it’s really kind of personal. When you’re travelling around the world and you’re very aware of what’s going on, it’s really hard to not have your opinion seep into your writing. I didn’t want to make a political record or a social commentary or anything, but I feel like my feelings just naturally come out about certain things. There’s anger in there, some confusion and plenty more. With all that emotion, it pretty much encapsulates exactly what the world is right now.
WATCH: Sum 41 return to heavy roots with pummeling new single, ‘Out for Blood’
So you produced and mastered the album. Where did you find the time for this between the last album and touring? Or was it a long time coming?
Not necessarily. I remember the day I got home off of the 13 Voices touring cycle — which was about two and a half years long — I felt so inspired by what we had accomplished that I immediately started writing again. The reaction from the fans every single night was incredible: from new songs, to the old songs, and just the whole thing in general made me want to jump right back into writing and put out a new record so we could get back on the road again.
Writing really didn’t that that long… it was about three weeks and I had the bulk of the record ready to go. I needed some time to figure out specific production elements first, but then we ended up on the road again. We toured a lot through 2018, so the last of the writing and the record got put on the backburner for most of the year.
By the time we got home again, we immediately went back to the studio to record drums. We started on Sept. 19 and were finished mixing by Dec. 20, so it was three months and a day to be exact. [Laughs]
It seems there’s been a reinvention of Sum 41. Not only because of the music, though. Ever since the 13 Voices era, you’ve have been on top of your game. Your live shows really shine an intensely positive atmosphere in general. It’s very reminiscent of the early days. Do you feel that’s true?
I definitely feel like there’s been a reinvention in a lot of ways. I mean, Dave came back to the band and he was gone for 10 years. But we also had Tom — who filled in for Dave — and instead of leaving, he stayed on, which was amazing, and we became a five-piece. So during the 13 Voices touring cycle, every night was new for us, because we were gradually getting better together as a five-piece. We were learning what we could and couldn’t do, what our strengths and weaknesses were, trying different things and figuring out where we all really fit in as a five-piece band.
We jumped right into making the 13 Voices album, too. It was all so quick, but now with this record, we know ourselves a lot better as a single unit. I think that really shows in the music, too. I’m really looking forward to people being able to hear it.
Do you think that resurgence correlated with your recovery a few years back? Was there ever any threat in your mind that you might not be able to play again?
Oh absolutely, yeah. For a long period, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do this again. That was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life to be honest, especially since it was something that I had caused. That feeling of losing something… the only thing that has ever been that important to me. It’s incomparable. It was all really difficult. It’s probably one of the big reasons why I love it even more now. I don’t know if that just comes with age or experience, but I love being onstage and making music more now than I ever have before.
Things seem great with you right now, Deryck, but I imagine that your recovery really took a toll on you mentally. Is that part of your life something you ever look back on?
Everything’s been great since then. It’s like that was just a part of my life and now I don’t really think about it too often. I’m on a new chapter now. But I know everyone is different with these kinds of things. Some people need to take it day-by-day and some people go to meetings — it’s really such a personal thing. For me, as of today, it’s something that happened a few years ago and I don’t really look back on it anymore. I don’t know if that’ll last forever… I mean, who really knows? But I’m happy where I am right now.
Sum 41 has always notorious for its extensive tours and I know you’re already coming home to Toronto this summer, but is there any chance we can expect a full Canadian tour in the near future?
Yeah! We’re very excited to come back! We’re actually working on some stuff right now. I don’t know when or what exactly it’s going to be, but I know it’s in the works and it’s definitely part of the plan. Again, I just can’t say when [Laughs].
I see that while you guys are currently on tour you’ve already been playing some new stuff. Out for Blood and The People Vs… Can we expect to hear a lot of new material upon your Canadian return?
I don’t know exactly what we’re going to be playing yet. This tour will be different. Right now, we’re on this really intimate club tour and we’ve been playing a lot of stuff from way back. Even some things that we’ve never played before.
It’s been a really fun and special little tour. To play these really tiny places and play some of our really old songs definitely takes us back. It feels like we’re back in the days when we’d go and play clubs around Toronto [Laughs]. They’re like the size of the Horseshoe Tavern!
READ MORE: The best moments in Canadian music of 2018
I feel like you guys are a band that doesn’t care too much to look in the past, but after the success of the Does this Look Infected? anniversary shows, do you think you’ll go out and do any more? Chuck turns 15 this year too and then All Killer, No Filler’s 20 in 2021.
Hmm, I don’t really know. These things sort of just come up. The Does This Look Infected? anniversary tour came out of nowhere… We were off and I was actually writing for Order in Decline at that point. It was made aware to us that it was the 15th anniversary and even though we had just gotten off the road after two and a half years, we decided to talk among ourselves about it. By the time we decided we’d already been off for a few months, so we just said… [Sighs], “Do we go do this?” and everyone thought, “Yeah! Why not? We’ve been off for three months,” and all of a sudden, [Laughs] we all felt really well rested and agreed to do it. So we put recording on hold and headed out for the road again.
This time around though, we have a new record coming out, so the 15th anniversary of Chuck… Not gonna happen. We’ll probably play some stuff from that album that we never usually play. We might do something like that, but… well, maybe we’ll try to do something with both. [Laughs]
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]
As of this writing, Sum 41 have not yet revealed any additional Canadian shows.
Tickets are now on sale for Sum 41’s performance at Echo Beach on Aug. 8.
Additional details can be found through the official Sum 41 website.
‘Order In Decline’ tracklisting
1. Turning Away
2. Out for Blood
3. The New Sensation
4. A Death in the Family
5. Heads Will Roll
6. 45 (A Matter of Time)
7. Never There
8. Eat You Alive
9. The People Vs…
10. Catching Fire
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