Any band that continues playing while one of its members bleeds profusely has gotta be punk rock, regardless of how poppy its harmony-filled songs are.
Montreal’s Simple Plan did just that during a recent show in Detroit when a member of the crowd expressed his love by flinging a bottle of water at drummer Chuck Comeau’s head.
“I stopped playing for a minute and took a towel to wipe my face, and it was just covered in blood,” Comeau recalled. “But we had two songs left, so I kept going. Every break I would just stop and pull out the towel. It looked like a horror movie, but it was kind of funny. Afterwards, I went to the hospital and got four stitches.”
Lots of bands sing about heartbreak and disillusion, conveying personal distress with each distorted chord and strained vocal. Simple Plan are having too much fun to play music that sounds so pained, opting instead for euphoric punk-pop that blends the aggression of fellow Canadians Sum 41 with the commercial pep of Good Charlotte. But that doesn’t mean Simple Plan write joyous, frivolous songs.
Since they’re all in their early 20s, the bandmembers – Comeau, singer Pierre Bouvier, rhythm guitarist Sebastian Lefebvre, lead guitarist Jeff Stinco and bassist David Desrosiers – recall what it was like to be a teenager, and, without moping about it, sing about their troubles with girls and their frustrations with not fitting in
“Being a teenager can be really hard, and that’s why we talk about it,” Bouvier said. “Whenever something in my life bums me out, it makes me want to grab a guitar and start talking about it.”
“It’s what we know,” Comeau added. “It would be weird for us to have written about race cars and traveling the world, because we hadn’t experienced that yet. When we wrote this stuff, we were kids just out of high school trying to deal with all the problems in our lives.”
The second single from Simple Plan’s No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, “I’d Do Anything,” is getting strong airplay and plenty of “TRL” love. It was one of the first tunes written for the record, and it succinctly captures the group’s aesthetic.
“It’s about finding a girl when you’re in high school and later on being separated from her and realizing, ‘Damn, maybe that was the one I should have stayed with, because now I can’t forget about her,’ ” Bouvier said. “It’s one of the fastest, most energetic songs on the record, which is why we chose it for the single.”
The tune featured guest musicianship by bassist Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, one of Simple Plan’s favorite bands and one of the first groups they ever played with. In 1997 Bouvier and Comeau’s band Reset opened for Blink after the San Diego trio released their second album, Dude Ranch, and the two acts immediately bonded.
“We always kept contact and gave them our demos,” recalled Bouvier. “When we sent them a tape with ‘I’d Do Anything’ on it, Mark sent us an e-mail saying he really liked the song and he wanted to be in the video.”
Simple Plan filmed the “I’d Do Anything” video with directors Smith n’ Borin in Cleveland while the band was on the Pop Disaster tour with Green Day and Blink-182. Looking back, pretty much everyone involved is happy Hoppus was able to make the shoot – everyone, that is, except the prop coordinator. He decorated the set with a bunch of old appliances to make it resemble a junkyard. Before placing an antique television, he specifically urged Simple Plan not to touch it.
Then, when the band was sitting around between takes, Desrosiers turned to Hoppus and jokingly dared him to break the TV. Unfortunately the bassist hadn’t heard the prop manager’s earlier plea.
“He got up and took a big brick and totally smashed the TV,” recalled Desrosiers. “We filmed the prop guy’s reaction. His face totally fell.”
“He turned white,” added Comeau. “He said, ‘That TV’s been in my family for decades.’ It was this super old vintage thing worth like $6,000, and we were like, ‘Uh-oh.’ ”
Simple Plan are on tour with Good Charlotte and Autopilot Off through December 7.