Interview with Sum 41 – New album Order in Decline out on July 19th
Toronto, Ontario – Canadian rock band Sum 41 will be releasing their seventh studio album “Order in Decline” via Hopeless Records on July 19th, 2019.
Sum 41 consists of Deryck Whibley (lead vocalist, guitarist), Dave Brownsound (guitarist, backing vocalist), Tom Thacker (keyboardist, backing vocalist), Jason Cone (bassist, backing vocalist), and Frank Zummo (drummer).
The album cover art for “Order in Decline” depicts a puppet master holding the strings of a person at the mouth of a skull.
“It represents the strings being pulled, and we the people are on fire and have had enough, and the skull is below and waiting,” guitarist Dave Brownsound said.
Hopeless Records, which formed in 1993, is an independent American record label based out of California. The label has a rich history releasing music by Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, and many other noteworthy bands.
“We went to Hopeless and met up with Eric Tobin. That gave us the same kind of vibe we got when we were on Island Def Jam. As far as the bands that were on Hopeless in the late 90s and early 2000s – Avenged Sevenfold are an incredible band. Hopeless have been doing really well with what they have for years. I don’t know if the way we are now as a band if we as Sum 41 would survive the turn of the major label atmosphere right now. We are a band that has constantly done what we want, and I think you have more artistic breathing room when you’re on a label like Hopeless,” Dave Brownsound replied.
There are different mediums to listen to the new album – from digital streaming to owning physical copies of albums. Vinyl records have become very collectible, and now audio cassettes are becoming popular once again.
Sum 41’s new album “Order in Decline” is going to be available on red cassette via Rocksound Records and limited to just 500 copies. Fans who would like a cassette copy of the album should pre-order it immediately.
“Who knows if cassettes will be as collectible as vinyl, but it kind of seems like it’s going that way. For some reason, people are discovering cassettes again and liking them. It’s a physical thing to have. It seems people are enjoying life with streaming, and the ability to just look up a song and get it. However, the appreciation for a physical and actual thing you can hold, I guess the demand is still there. I don’t think it’s going to replace vinyl, I think vinyl is something we’re always going to listen to music on, but it looks like kids are rediscovering cassettes,” Dave Brownsound noted.
Whether fans stream it or buy a physical copy, “Order in Decline” is an album worthy of multiple listens.
Deryck Whibley’s lyrics on the new album demonstrate maturity, emotional growth, and sheer honesty in songs like “Never There” and “A Death in the Family”. The band has come a long way since their debut album in 2001.
“We all thought the same thing when we heard the record, it’s unbelievable. With every Sum 41 record, there has been growth lyrically. When we were kids and writing songs for “All Killer No Filler” all we really knew around us was our neighborhood. As we were exposed more to the world, the content got a little bit deeper, and I think on this record, in particular, I agree there is no doubt Deryck has reached a point where he is able to translate what he’s seeing in the world and what is affecting him into a lyrical form. To me, every record has almost been like a photograph of life for Sum 41 at a particular point,” Dave Brownsound went on.
Since Dave Brownsound returned to Sum 41 in 2015, his guitar work and metal solos have given the band a much fuller sound. For fans, this is reminiscent of Sum 41’s earlier work. This can be heard in songs like “A Death in the Family”.
“With Sum 41 I mainly write solos, and the odd hook if I’m ever asked. We won’t hear a lot of the songs until Deryck comes by with a demo that he’s proud of, so a lot of those rifts are already done, especially with this record. For example, the song “Out for Blood”, we were brought into pre-production, and there wasn’t a lot to do. The growth of Deryck as a songwriter has been incredible. We’re a band that usually agrees on what’s going on, there is not a lot of in-fighting. There is more fighting over steaks in the dressing room than there is over songwriting,” said Dave Brownsound with a smile.
Since Dave’s return to Sum 41, he has gained a new perspective.
“The main thing is that chemistry is something that can’t be replaced. I had different chemistry in Brown Brigade or Organ Thieves, which were bands that I played in at home to keep my music sharp and keep myself within the scene in Toronto. Nothing feels the same as like looking over and seeing Deryck, Dave, Cone, Tom, and Frank. Nothing feels like that at all. With no insult to anyone else in any of the other bands I’ve played in, that is where I feel the most comfortable, and the most strong as a guitar player,” Dave Brownsound explained.
Dave has also had the opportunity to work closely with Tom Thacker. Dave was a fan of Tom’s other band called Gob.
“Every time Gob came into Ajax, all of us, all the punk bands in Ajax were fighting to get on that show. We eventually got to play a couple of shows with them, right before the release of “Half Hour of Power”. Then we did some tours together. We were just fans of the band. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian fan of punk rock from our era that didn’t like Gob. Finding out that we were going to be playing together, Tom and I, I use to live out that fantasy when we were touring with Gob, that I could go on stage and play “Self Appointed Leader” with him. Now we actually get to jam together, sit in the dressing room, trade licks back and forth. In the studio we can layer so many more things, he has the gift of melody. Tom can even play the accordion! He can pick up any instrument and make it sound great. We just did a couple of videos for Livewire together, which were awesome because we have a love for music that connects us on a different level,” Dave Brownsound said.
The bond between the members of Sum 41 is like family. Family is a theme in the song “Never There” written by Deryck. The music video is dedicated to single parents. Regardless of whether a person comes from a single parent family, or nuclear family, or extended family, or foster family – a supportive and loving family is vital for every young person growing up. Of course, the concept of family is very important to Dave Brownsound too.
“The real reason I left back in the mid-2000s was my family. The way I wanted to protect them was the common jargon of saying I left because of musical differences. For me, the family was very important. My family, we all grew up right around each other within a five-minute bike ride of everybody. I had cousins that lived next door to each other just across the main divided highway. I was always around family, and didn’t necessarily need a lot of friends, because we were all so close,” Dave Brownsound disclosed.
It was on a trip to Florida with his parents that Dave Brownsound recalls getting his first guitar.
“The first guitar I ever got, we were on our way to a waterpark in Florida. My parents had taken us down, and I had saved a bunch of money and saw a Hamer Flying V on the wall, and my dad threw in some coin to be able to bring that home. I remember being at the waterpark, not even wanting to go down the water slides, thinking I just want to play that guitar,” Dave Brownsound reminisced.
Punk music had an influence on Dave when he was growing up. For example, on a few of the “Studio Sessions” videos shared on Sum 41’s Facebook page, Dave Brownsound can be seen wearing a Black Flag t-shirt. Greg Ginn of Black Flag was one of the guitarists who influenced Dave Broundsound during his formative years. However, Henry Rollins had an even more profound influence.
“On guitar, Greg Ginn would be an influence for sure, one hundred percent. It was Henry Rollins though that really affected me and shaped me with the choices I made, especially when substances and alcohol were put in front of me. I didn’t always make the best choices when I was younger, but there is a certain craft to Henry Rollins, and he’s definitely a good guy to look up to, that’s for sure,” Dave Brownsound stated.
After two decades, it has come full circle for Sum 41. There is a new generation of bands coming up that cite Sum 41 as an influence.
“When bands come up to us and tell us our influence on them, that’s hard to swallow. That’s because we fought a lot of adversity, and not so good reception from the critics at the beginning of our careers. I think us sticking to doing whatever we wanted to do, it was a huge part of us being able to have that ultimate compliment which is your band influenced my band. We know what that means because we had bands that influenced us. It came full circle, because I remember a time we were in Arizona, and we were playing a swimming pool for the “In Too Deep” video,” Dave Brownsound recalled.
The lead single off of “Order in Decline” is called “Out for Blood”. This is the first Sum 41 song to crack The US Mainstream Rock Top 20 since 2005. A few months ago the song charted at number 18, and it has been played on Youtube over 2.6 million times. The song has really connected with fans.
“We can’t believe how well this song is doing. It’s a beautiful thing, and it really means a lot to us. Each one of us, for each one of these songs, even though these songs were mainly written by Deryck, we were able to go in our own studios and put every ounce of ourselves into the performances on it. This record has a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. There are songs on this record where I spent two days perfecting a rift. I’m sure I nailed it within the first couple of hours but it didn’t give me that feeling. There are a lot of performances in these songs where there is that associated memory of being there and thinking this is exactly how I imagined this rift sounding for this record. To see how well it’s doing, it’s unbelievable. We couldn’t ask for more,” Dave Brownsound admitted.
The music video for “Out for Blood”, directed by Lee Levin, depicted people getting angry over trivial things in their lives. This anger over trivial things is something that is quite visible thanks to the internet.
“I think we’re able to see with the internet people getting angry at small things more than we were able to before. There is a climate that has brought more anger into crowds,” Dave Brownsound observed.
Sum 41 have sold over 30 million records worldwide. They are also a two time Juno Award-winning band. In 2003, they won the Juno for Group of the Year. In 2005, they won the Juno for Rock Album of The Year for the album “Chuck”. In 2011, Sum 41 was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song “Blood in My Eyes” getting edged out by the Foo Fighters.
“It’s really great to see. In the beginning, it was kind of rough on us. It was nice to see that the hard work paid off. In the end, our favorite thing to do is to be on stage. That is where the band thrives, and that’s where we are in our element. Award shows are great, and awards are complimentary, but an award doesn’t hold a candle to nailing a rift or looking over and seeing all your friends playing a song with you,” Dave Brownsound replied.
Since their first full-length release in 2001, almost 20 years later, Sum 41 has had numerous hit songs including “In Too Deep”, “The Hell Song”, “Fat Lip”, and “Blood In My Eyes”.
“It’s awesome because we’ll look into this crowd and see 13 and 14-year-olds singing this song that is about 20 years old. It’s unbelievable to us that our audience keeps on recycling. When we stepped on stage for Warped Tour Dallas in 2016, we really thought we’d be stepping out to old crusty punk rockers, and the rest would be on the side stage listening to the band we were competing against for audience at the same time of the day. When we went out to the crowd, it was the biggest crowd of the day, and it was unbelievable to us,” Dave Brownsound recalled.
On August 8th (not a reference to the Nofx song), Sum 41 are playing Echo Beach in Toronto, Ontario.
“Yes, Toronto does feel like a home gig, because that’s where we did most of our gigs. We all grew up in Ajax accept for Frank and Tom. Tom grew up out in B.C., and Frank is a Long Island cat. It feels like a home show for us, and it’s kind of where the band gets credit for being from internationally. Toronto feels like it’s going to be a home show, and it’s going to be amazing to get out there,” Dave Brownsound concluded.
Fans can pre-order a copy of the new Sum 41 album “Order in Decline” via Hopeless Records online.