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Canadian Band Sum 41: We’ve been in it for life

Last year they celebrated 20 years since their debut record and at the beginning of the year they announced that they were working on a double album Heaven and Hell. The heavenly part of the record should be punk, the hellish part tends towards metal.

Do you like more to record songs for heaven or hell?

McCaslin: It’s a hard question. Some of the celestial songs are really funny, in a lighter pop punk vein. We haven’t recorded anything like this in a long time. But personally I also like heavier songs. The only certainty is that there will be great songs on both albums. Dave, you probably like the hell part better because you have more guitar solos, right?

Baksh: In Heaven, the guitars are a bit more in the background, which isn’t much fun, but both will definitely sound amazing live.

McCaslin: But don’t expect it to make that much difference. Our singer Deryck adds some ballads, strings and flutes to the celestial songs here and there, but basically it’s still us, a four piece band, playing drums, guitars, bass and vocals. The main thing is that our concert wild face is preserved.

So no big changes?

Baksh: We realized a long time ago that we are no longer exactly the darlings of the radio, if we talk about mainstream stations, where we were quite accepted in the beginning. But the concerts and their atmosphere have always been important to us. This is the most fun. That’s why when we record, we first think about how the songs will sound from the stage. We’ve had a consistent face for years.

Don’t feel like going against the radio a little bit, so to speak?

McCaslin: We are not a band that chases something. We will always play what we love and every now and then something takes hold. We have achieved our success in the clubs. we weren’t driven by success.

Baksh: Easily ride the wave of success. It is more difficult to maintain an identity in more difficult times. When you can get together even when you’re not doing so well, then only the band is worth anything.

What does it look like when you work on a record?

Baksh: Today we can do what we want, but the advantage is that most people can do it today, when it is not difficult to buy a home studio. Like others, we too have succumbed to the fact that we often exchange recordings. For example, I’ll record a lot of guitar solos, send them to Deryck and he’ll pick the one he likes best.

McCaslin: Also, we currently don’t have a contract with a publishing house, which has advantages and disadvantages. But the main advantage is that the registration is completely under our control. We’ve been doing this for a long time by recording the record ourselves and handing it over to an independent label when it’s finished.

Have you encountered different ideas from publishers in the past?

Baksh: Remember, when we released Does This Look Infected? to one of our former labels, their staff thought we were crazy. They asked us what the hell did we do? Why did we make a record that doesn’t sound like our All Killer No Filler debut at all? We insisted that this is how our band sounds now. The editors eventually put up with us and supported us, but the discussions on this subject were enormous. But when they heard those songs for the first time, they were, to put it mildly, sad.

McCaslin: But honestly, they never tried to change us by force. Maybe they knew it wouldn’t work. While they might have hoped for something else, they eventually realized that this is the case.

Baksh: The last time someone really tried to explain to us what we need to do and what we need to be like to be able to sign a contract. We could hear him saying something, but all we could focus on were the greasy cookie crumbs on the coach’s shirt. We didn’t talk about anything else.

How is your frontman Deryck Whibley, who struggled with addictions in the past and even came close to death in 2014, doing?

Baksh: Good! Feels better. He is healthy and sober. He returned to his teens with energy and fitness. He is definitely the fittest of the whole band right now.

What does the band mean to you today?

McCaslin: We have had it for more than half of our lives. We don’t know anything else. I don’t know what to do without her.

Baksh: After all, we tried during the pandemic. We had no idea what to do next. We’re definitely not the type to find that other things fill them up too. We understand that the band is everything to us. We have been in it for life.

McCaslin: We all have something else, but this is the most important thing.

Baksh: I can do anything, but when a message comes from the guys that something needs to be done for the band, I run away.

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