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Pierre Bouvier for Rolling Stone about the importance of Warped Tour for Simple Plan’s career

Many alternative music fans were shocked to learn recently that the summer of 2018 with be the last ever edition of Warped Tour. Warped Tour, the biggest alternative traveling music festival, has been a safe haven for the fans of pop punk, punk rock and other alternative music genres ever since 1995 when Kevin Lyman founded it. The tour brought tons of acts across United States and Canada and made thousands of fans fall in love with them. With this week’s announcement of the 2018 Warped tourdates however, Kevin Lyman confirmed with mixed feelings that it will be the final year of Warped.

Simple Plan have been tied to Warped Tour almost since its beginnings. Before they became a band, Reset was a part of Warped for a couple years and Simple Plan were a part of its lineup for many summers, most recently in 2015 and they also took part in the 2017 Warped Rewind At Sea cruise – a “nautical” spinoff of the popular traveling tour.

Pierre Bouvier from Simple Plan talked to Rolling Stone a few days ago and discussed the importance of Warped Tour in Simple Plan’s beginnings and shared his thoughts on what might happen next now that Warped will be no longer.

We definitely recommend reading through the whole article, which will give you lots of insights on the behind the scenes of the music business and Warped Tour in particular:

When we first played Warped Tour with Simple Plan, I already had a lot of experience with Warped Tour on my own, just attending and being part of it with other bands. I remember playing the Toronto show, and our way of doing it was super DIY. We went around the entire crowd all day along with a couple Walkmans to play our five-song demo. We’d walk up to people and say “Hey do you want to hear some music? We’re playing at 1 o’clock at whatever-stage-we’re playing-at.” We would go out and recruit fans one-on-one. It was this one time a year where all us like-minded punk rock and pop-punk fans would get to see each other, meet each other and be around people who were similar to us outside our friends and bandmates. We would realize in each city that there were so many people who enjoy Blink-182 and Green Day and Face to Face and Offspring and Pennywise and all these cool bands you don’t see on MTV or hear on the radio.

Of course, this was a time before social media exploded. Being able to tap into something like that was a lot harder. It wasn’t like we could press a button on our phone and find each other. You had to find these alternative music stores or go to Warped Tour and get a glimpse of who these bands were and what this culture was like. It was a really special time of year when these bands came around.

Either the year before or after we played for the first time as Simple Plan, Chuck and I attended Warped as fans. Because of our experiences with our previous band, we had a relationship with some of the guys from Blink-182 since we had played some shows together. I know that Chuck had hung out with Mark [Hoppus] quite a bit. I think it was at the Toronto Warped Tour we basically waited outside their tour bus for them to emerge so we can possibly intercept them and play them our newest demo we had recorded in Montreal. That was how you did it back then: you would find bands you liked and play them your song.

I have a vivid memory of being outside Blink’s tour bus, hoping they would come out so we could say hi. I remember feeling so stupid and thinking “Man, what are we doing here? They don’t want to talk to us!” Chuck was like “No, man! I know Mark, and he’ll be happy to see me!” So we waited for hours, and they finally come out and we pass along the demo. That demo had an early version of the song “I’d Do Anything,” which ended up being our second single off our first album. Mark really loved the demo and started corresponding with Chuck. Then we thought it would be the coolest thing as little pop-punk boys from Montreal to ask Mark if he would sing on the song, which he ended up doing. Basically the Warped Tour is a huge factor in how the band got some notoriety and excitement and hype around it. It ended up being a big hit for us.

That vibe was really important. Everyone is the same on Warped. All the tour buses are parked together. Everybody eats the same catering. It allows people to hopefully catch a glimpse of their musical heroes.

I think for a lot of our fans and fellow bands, we’ve always been considered on the poppier side of Warped Tour. We’ve had a lot of mainstream success and radio support, and there are a lot of people who may not be hardcore Warped Tour fans who may know our band that heard our songs. But it was always important for us to remain part of that scene and not just be an MTV pop-punk band. This tour is where our music started, and where we as fans started. It’s important for us to keep being part of it.

We’ve always made a conscious effort to go, even though there were some years it financially didn’t make much sense to do Warped Tour; because there’s so many bands, it’s not a huge moneymaker for anybody. We could’ve taken more lucrative offers somewhere else, but it was important for us to go play – and possibly lose some money but to connect with our fans. [Playing] the Warped Tour as a band is an experience like no other. It’s like going to summer camp.

Kevin Lyman [Warped Tour’s founder] and his team really handpicked bands that are part of a style. If you like Green Day, Blink-182, Simple Plan or Good Charlotte and so many other bands, you’re probably going to like the band playing on any stage. That’s what’s cool – it gives an opportunity to bands in this style … they could expose their music to a potential crowd that already kind of likes the style that they’re doing.

Also, it didn’t always work the way Kevin envisioned it, but it kept bands humble. If you went on Warped Tour and thought you were cool but acted like a dick or above everyone else, there’s a chance you might get kicked off the tour. There was even a year that I believe Alien Ant Farm had a bit of an attitude when their Michael Jackson cover was blowing up and got kicked off the tour because of it. It’s humbling, and at the time could’ve been frustrating.

For us, we played Warped in 2002 and it was right when No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls came out and we started blowing up. Our pay on that tour was peanuts — maybe $200, $300 a day — and we were playing a small stage that could barely accommodate the crowds coming to see us. At the end of the tour, Kevin asked us to do it the following year and we agreed to a $500 a day contract for 2003. As that year progressed, we became so huge with a platinum record and everything blowing up. We came back to Kevin and said we needed more money, and he said “Nope! We agreed on a handshake for $500.” At the time it was so frustrating. We were one of the biggest bands on the bill and were getting paid shit. Looking back, it’s part of the mentality.

That’s what is cool about it. You can go see someone who is on the verge like Katy Perry, Sugar Ray or even Eminem. You can see them on a small stage at a random time, and it’ll be chaos and mayhem. That was part of the magic. We’re all the same, and now that we know Kevin a little better, I do think that’s what he was trying to achieve: not to create a bunch of asshole rock stars. I think some people took it the wrong way, but I get it.

But Warped Tour was part of a generation. Over the last five years, it’s not as tightknit and genre-specific as it used to be. Back in 2000, all the bands on Warped had a similar sound, where now, and because it’s only normal that music is evolving and changing, there’s a lot more things. From electronic music to people like Machine Gun Kelly and Twenty One Pilots. It’s no longer just bands playing guitars and drums and rocking out. It wasn’t sustainable as it once was anymore.

It’s going to have to be replaced by something, one way or another. I think it’s a shame that something like that can’t keep going and exist and be a place for people to exist and discover new things outside of their phone or social media or Spotify. Then again, that’s where the future is going. That’s evolution and how our parents feel about us and how we’re gonna feel about our kids.

It’s a shame that that this style and culture can’t sustain itself as it used to. There will always be alternative styles and music and cultures. By the time my kids are in high school, I’m sure there will be things they love that will make me go “What the hell is this?” For them, that will be their Warped Tour.

Even the style of music that Vans Warped Tour represented at the beginning and even halfway through, I don’t know that that style of music will get a lot of new pioneers. I don’t know if there will be another Blink-182. There will be other people who are alternative and different, but all the pop-punk pioneers are doing things that are nothing like what they used to do. Is it because they got bored of it? Have all those bases been covered? Have all those songs been written? I don’t know.

– Pierre Bouvier [Rolling Stone article] –

Simple Plan among AP’s TOP 10 most influential pop punk bands

In their latest article, Alternative Press, one of the most respected music magazines of the alternative music scene, named the TOP 10 most influential pop punk bands, which shaped today’s pop punk other other styles of music. It surely was very hard to narrow down all the incredible pop punk acts into a list of only 10, but still, the writers of Alternative Press couldn’t forget to include Simple Plan, who have been one of the most persistent bands on this scene for over 17 years (14 years, if we could from the year of their debut album’s release).

Check out Alternative Press’ reasoning for including Simple Plan in the list that also features Sum 41, MXPX, Blink 182, Green Day, Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, Yellowcard and Fall Out Boy:

Simple Plan

“These Canadian natives hit the scene hard with their debut, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. While the album titles have gotten a tad more mature, their music still sounds made for every summer vacation. And now, 14 years into their career, they’re collabing with…Nelly? Yeah, you read that right. Just goes to show Simple Plan aren’t afraid to take risks and still keep coming out with awesome pop-influence albums.”

Pierre about a concert experience that changed his life

According to SPB, a short piece written by Pierre Bouvier from Simple Plan was featured in the Kerrang magazine recently. In this article, Pierre reminisces about the first concert that influenced his following career and made him truly want to be in a band.

Check out Pierre’s memories on the NOFX / Face To Face / Ten Foot Pole / Trigger Happy show that took place in Montreal in 1994 below:

NOFX, Face to Face, Ten Foot Pole, Trigger Happy
The Spectrum – Montreal (November, 15 1994)

This was the first show I ever saw that had a real impact on me. I was 15 years old and I knew how to play guitar a sing a little, but I had never seen a true rock show. I’d just started a band with Chuck Comeau about a year before, and both of us were obsessed with the SoCal punk scene, which was huge in Montreal at the time.

The show was sold-out, and as soon as the first note was played by the opening band, Trigger Happy, the crowd went insane. It was like a gigantic steam room in there, with people moshing and stage-diving nonstop for hours – it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I spent some time in the mosh-pit getting smashed around, but I soon realised that what I really wanted was to be up on that stage. The music the bands were playing was amazing, and the energy coming off these guys onstage was palpable! I knew right then and there that this was what I wanted to do more than anything. I watched and listened to all the bands attentively and studied their moves and banter.

It felt like I had finally found where I belonged. I remember whe the show was finally over, I bought an oversized, mustard yellow Ten Foot Pole t-shirt and a few CDs. From there on out, all I wanted to do was listen to music, play in our band and somehow find a way to do this for a living.

Pierre Bouvier on streaming services vs royalties

A very interesting article by David Friend at The Canadian Press was released today at CTV news. The post deals with the hardships that current musicians, who are not at the very top of the success ladder, experience when it comes to not being able to receive any significant income from the popular streaming services, such as Spotify or Apple Music. The article mentions even Juno-nominated artists sometimes receive checks for just “3 cents” for being played hthousands of times on Spotify. However pulling own music from such services (as artists such as Taylor Swift have previously done) would only mean such musician would completely distance himself and mostly his music from new possible audiences.

Pierre Bouvier from Simple Plan has been quoted in this article numerous times, explaining why a band like Simple Plan can feel helpless when it comes to music streaming services, even if they have millions of digital plays on their account.

“Bands like us are standing on the sidelines. We don’t really have the power to change anything. There is not a whole lot of money to be made unless you’re the top one per cent … streaming a billion … then you’re just swimming in it. But if you’re streaming a million … or 10 million that’s not really going to pay you anything.”

According to the post that is “one reason [Pierre Bouvier feels] less optimistic about the next generation of musicians hoping to make a living off recorded music.”

“I feel like if my kids told me right now [they wanted to get into music] I’d be like, ‘Forget about it.”‘

David in new interview: “I was supposed to be at the Eagles of Death Metal concert..”

During their rehearsals a couple weeks ago, the members of Simple Plan let a reporter from Radio Canada join them in their rehearsal space and talk to them about their new album, the changes that the music industry went through in the last decade and more. A very interesting part of the interview was when the reporter brought up the topic of the terrorist attack at the Bataclan venue in Paris, France that took place last November.

You may recall that Simple Plan were supposed to play in Paris just a couple days after the tragedy and were in fact supposed to be leaving the day after it happened, but canceled their plans after the security situation in France didn’t allow them to safely get there.

But according to this new Radio-Canada interview, David actually initially planned to get to Paris earlier and to attend the Eagles Of Death Metal concert at Bataclan on the tragic night. However, the members of SP had to attend the Simple Plan Foundation dinner with the auction winners that night, so he could not leave to Paris earlier. “It’s strange… life didn’t want me to be there,” said David (big thanks to Raph for the translation).

Below, you can watch the full French interview that is available on Radio-Canada along with some other quotes from the band members that appeared in the accompanying article.

L'entrevue avec Simple Plan

Après avoir vendu plus de 10 millions d'albums en carrière, Simple Plan fait le bilan d'un parcours bien rempli. –>

Zveřejnil(a) Radio-Canada Arts et divertissement dne 12. únor 2016

“The band comes first. We all have to make small sacrifices here and there, and Taking One For The Team is a really symbolic thing in the sports terminology, where the important thing is that in the end, everything is done for the team to win.” – Seb Lefebvre

“Finding out who we want to be in 2016, after 17 years of career, having experienced different styles, with the musical context that is evolving and new artists doing new things, it took a long time.” – Chuck Comeau

“Fatherhood inspires me to be just right. It is an aspiration, I do not want to disappoint [my children], I do not want to stumble.” – Jeff Stinco

“It is sure that if you sell 3 million albums, it helps, but it has never been the biggest thing for us. Our shows are our trademark, and albums have often been our business cards.” – Pierre Bouvier

“We had many difficult times together, personally or professionally. I would say that these moments, because we got through them by supporting each other, make our relationship much deeper and more solid now. So we’re going to have fun doing it and people will have fun listening to us and come see us live, and we will continue for as long as possible.” – Chuck Comeau