After Jeff’s mention of SimplePlan.cz in the interview for the most popular commercial radio station in the Czech Republic, Evropa 2, last week, another interview with Simple Plan’s lead guitarist was posted today on one of the largest Czech news servers, in which he once again says some very sweet things about this website.
Since the whole interview on Novinky.cz had some very good questions and Jeff gave very interesting answers, I decided to translate the whole interview back to English for you. Here it is:
What memories does the 15th anniversary of your debut album bring back to you?
There is a lot of memories, starting with the early beginnings of the band. It was just us five young boys, practising in out drummer’s basement. We used to travel to our concerts in a former ambulance van. We recorded the first record in Toronto, which was pretty far from home. We have worked on it for almost a year. We lived together in a small room with no windows. Back then we had no idea how the band’s gonna do and that because of it our lives will completely turn around. Our story is a fairytale of five friends, who decided to live their dream, and create and travel together. And the fact that it has all worked out is something amazing and we are really glad that it’s still the same five original members.
Back in Toronto – was it the first time you were not at home for such a long period of time?
Our drummer Chuck and singer Pierre have had some experience with their band Reset and were used to travelling. For me it was a new experience. I have already been living alone in my own appartment but it was the first time we left Montreal for work. It was pretty intense. Now when we play those old songs it reminds me of all the passion we had when we started out. It was pretty crazy. We wanted to make every little detail perfect for our first album.
Did your debut album bring you quick fame?
Not at all. When it came out, it was a bit of a let-down at first. It took us a while before people started noticing us. I remember we released the record on March 19th 2002. I remember waiting to see it everywhere and that our posters would be hanging everywhere because our record label would have our backs. But the truth was it wasn’t like that at all. It took a long time before the album started to even appear in record shops. I have a feeling that it all happened almost two years later. Until then we have toured so much we didn’t even have time to do anything else. The upside was that we were able to make our performances a lot better before anything major started happening.
What were the biggest obstacles that you had to go through?
We came right after The Offspring and Green Day. People at that time had a feeling that that kind of sound was already gone before they started paying us attention. The critics weren’t very good to us. Our records were not hip enough. Music lovers were looking for something else. They were interested in a much darker music.
Have you ever tried to be more trendy and make the critics like you?
No, because we’ve always known exaclty what we wanted – that we wanted to make music similar to the one that has shaped us and that we love. But of course we also tried to grow. For example on our third album we wanted to change new things, the music scene was changing a lot at that time, so we wanted to try some new elements. Not because we wanted the critics to like us but because of us. But I have a feeling we might have overdone it that time a little bit. We added too many electronic sounds to our music and it wasn’t good for who we were and the kind of music we play. But it’s normal to look for who you are. Today we know what our legacy is and what the DNA of our sound consists of.
Either way you still had some troubles finishing your last record Taking One for the Team. What happened?
It was our usually inner pressure to make the best record we possibly could. We have tried many things but not all of them were good enough. This time we had too much of material. We spent a lot of time in the studio and we forgot that we didn’t have to change everything here and there and reinvent ourselves. Eventually we realized that we just wanted to focus on the things we’re good at. And then we recorded most of the album in a very short time. Then we took some time to see the album from more of a distance. And then we realized it didn’t sound enough like Simple Plan. So we went back to the studio to fix it.
You mentioned that ever since the beginning it’s always been the same 5 members. That is not very common in the music industry. Has it been difficult to keep the band together over the years?
It’s always a challenge. So it’s important to find ways how to fix the cracks. Even though we are best friends, it’s natural that we sometimes have different ideas about where we should be heading. Sometimes it’s a bit hard, so it’s important to communicate well. It took us a while to get mature enough and listen to each other. At first we used to fight because of completely silly things.
Today most of the band members have children. How does it influence the band?
I had my children first so I’m happy to see that the rest of the guys now understand what I had to go through. We try to cram the tour together as much as we can to that we can then spend as much time with our families as possible. We are more effective now and we choose more carefully when and where we tour. I’m glad that I can spend some more time with my kids. Only our bassplayer David is still single, so he’d like to tour more. He has the advantage that he can do anything and live anywhere. But he respects our situation.
In Prague you will be performing at the Aerodrome festival alongside Linkin Park, Enter Shikari, Royal Republic or Mallory Knox. Which one of the bands is closest to you?
We grew up listening to Linkin Park. I wouldn’t dare to call them my friends but we know each other and I’m always happy to see them. We respect each other a lot. I also have to mention that I’m really excited to come back to Prague, we have incredible fans in the Czech Republic. I think we mostly owe it to a girl called Dominika who runs a fansite about our band so well that even I go and check it out when I need to know what’s happening with the band. Dominika knows about Simple Plan more than I do. I really think she is very much responsible for how well we are doing in the Czech Republic. She is a very passionate music fan and I believe in passion.
Another passion of yours is food, isn’t it?
Yes, and not just that. I think I’m a very passionate person. I love skiing. I love food. I have always wanted to own my own restaurant. And five years ago I opened up a small pizzeria in Montreal, which is very successful. It’s always filled with people, which I’m very happy about. I also love playing classical music on the guitar. But Simple Plan are the most important thing for me. Apart from family. That is even more important.