Sum 41 is a band whose sound defined a generation. With their unique, pop-punk sound, they planted an ear worm in everyone's brain that made them a household name. Their ability to alter their sound with each album and grow alongside their fans is what makes Sum 41 such an incredible band. They are incredible musicians, as well as people, as they raised awareness of serious matters happening in other parts of the world. They are, by far, one of the most incredible groups of people to date and we were fortunate enough to talk to Cone who gave us a little inside perspective on Sum 41, then and now. They are also in the process of developing a new album, one we could not be more excited for!
"Fat Lip" is your most popular song to date, why do you think that particular song resonated with fans so well?
At that time I don't think anyone was doing anything quite like that, The rap verses with the punk-pop chorus. We were doing the rap thing, metal thing and punk thing years before "Fat Lip" even came out. The video was also a pretty fun video to watch and we were a really young, energetic band that a lot people could probably relate to. The stars aligned.
You've toured with a large number of great acts like The Offspring, Blink 182, and Good Charlotte; which band did you enjoy touring with the most?
We've done a ton of great tours over the years. The first big tour in the U.S. we ever did was with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and that was great cause they kinda took us under their wing and taught us what it took to be a successful touring band early in our career. They also put out our first EP Half Hour Of Power on their label too. Other than the bands you mentioned in your question, some other great fun tours I can remember were Motley Crue, No Use For A Name, No Warning, Billy Talent etc.
Sum41 is popular all over the world, but particularly in the US, UK, and Canada, where do you think you guys have the largest fan base?
That's a tough question 'cause we get messages from fans from all over the world. The countries you mentioned have always been awesome to us and Japan and Asia in general has also been really great to us over the years. Some of our biggest shows on the last tour cycle were in Europe, Eastern Europe, and in some places we'd never been before. We are also told that we have a big following in Central and South America. We've never been, but that will be something we want to do on this album. We play Columbia for the first time in a few weeks.
In 2004, Sum41 travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with the organization War Child Canada to document the civil war there, can you describe some of the things you saw that might not have made it onto "Rocked: Sum41 in Congo?" What drove you guys to travel to such a dangerous place to document the events? Do you think it's almost an obligation of bands/musicians to raise awareness of events occurring globally?
That was a really crazy time and from what I remember of it (11 years ago), most of what you saw on that video is what we did. Talking to the ex-child soldiers was particularly disturbing 'cause some of them would go into detail about what they did and what they were forced to do. Some of these kids were 8-12 years old……….. Fighting in a war, being drugged…….. It seems like a crazy thing now for a band to go to a war zone that had just come into a cease fire, but at the time we had researched a lot on the Congo and really wanted to bring light to the situation over there. The war was happening, and is still happening, over minerals that us westerners use everyday. We didn't know anything about that and we knew most people didn't either, so we wanted to go and bring light to that situation. I don't necessarily think it's an obligation for bands to do that kind of thing but I think if you have a voice that can be heard by thousands and thousands of people you should definitely consider it; if you are passionate about something, that can help on a big or even small level.
Where do you think you'd be if you weren't doing music? Were you on another track in life before music became your number one job or has music been primarily your only pursuit?
Well when I joined Sum 41 in 1998, that same year I also applied for college in TV and Radio Production. Luckily for me I was rejected by all 5 schools I applied for. I would have dropped out eventually anyway once we started touring and got signed, but it just saved my parents some money to have to put me into something I wasn't gonna finish anyway.
You guys just launched a Pledgemusic campaign for your comeback album, which appears to be going well, why did you decide to crowdfund for your latest album?
We have always been really close to our fans and done a lot of online videos to show them insight into our band, in the studio, and our tour etc. We did that kind of stuff even before Youtube. We used to hand out VHS tapes of us on tour (haha). So this is just another great way fans get see what we're up to and also get some cool stuff along the way.
You guys have altered your sound for nearly every album, how will this new album sound in reflection of the times?
This one will be pretty aggressive, hard rocking and in your face. Awesome riffs, catchy melodies, and fast beats. It's Sum 41.
Any sneak peeks you can give us on album or song names to give your fans an idea of what it's going to be about?
We're kinda at the stage where Deryck just has working titles for the songs right now. The 5 or 6 songs I've recorded on bass so far have names but I'm not sure they will be the names that stick or not. There's songs like "Nightmare" and "Goddamn I'm Dead Again". I like those titles, but totally not sure they will be the final titles yet.