The members of Sum 41 were afraid the band was headed for a deep six not too long ago.
After coming off the road from their “Chuck” world tour in 2005, the Canadian rockers quietly began dismantling their operation. Their manager — who was also their record producer — went. So did lawyers, accountants, “everybody that was ever associated with us,” according to frontman Deryck Whibley.
Guitarist Dave Brownsound also left, leaving Sum 41 a trio — if it was still a band at all.
“We weren’t sure what we were gonna do,” says Whibley, 27, who’s married to fellow Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne. “A lot of people thought it was over for us; there was no way we could make a record, and if it did, it would probably suck.
“That’s when we decided, ‘Y’know what? Let’s (show) everybody. Let’s go make the best ... record that we know how to make.’ ”
Time will tell whether “Underclass Hero,” Sum 41’s fourth album, is indeed its best. But so far it’s having one of the group’s best showings, debuting at a career-high No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart in June and coming in at No. 1 in Japan and, not surprisingly, Canada.
It’s unquestionably Sum 41’s most ambitious outing, too, with more sophisticated song arrangements that bolster Sum 41’s punk roots with references to Queen, Weezer and Linkin Park, among others.
There are strings on the album-closing “So Long Goodbye,” a farewell paean to Brownsound, while tracks such as “March of the Dogs” — which declares “Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States is dead” — “The Jester” and “Confusion and Frustration in Modern Times” mark the most pointed political statements Whibley has ever penned.
“People say to me, ‘Who are you? You’re from ... Canada. Why should you even say anything? Go back to your own country,’ “ notes Whibley, who resides with Lavigne Los Angeles.
“That’s not a point for an argument, y’know? I think everyone has a right to say something about everything. You can’t just take the easy way out and say, ‘Oh, you can’t say anything to anybody who’s not from the United States.’
“With the president of the United States, he makes decisions that affect the entire world, so the entire world has a right to have an opinion. And I do.”
Sum 41, Amber Pacific, Monty Are I and Schoolyeard Heroes perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 26th) at St. Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are $20. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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