If I had to choose to play 8000 people in Budapest or have a gold album on my wall, I would do the gig– interview with Cone, bassist and backing vocalist of Sum 41.
Sum 41 is one of the first-generation bands that started their career in the transforming music industry. How was this whole process from the inside?
It was crazy, we started playing when Napster launched. When we released our first album, Napster was creeping it, but it wasn’t a thing. We didn’t freak out as much as record companies, because they were losing a lot of money. We could still go and play gigs, make a living, but it was a transitional time, it still is, so many changes going out. Certain things that I really like, for example, YouTube. It’s amazing, when we started, we were basically making YouTube videos but we didn’t have a place to put them, so we just had the VHS tapes and handed out during shows. Now you just make a video and upload it and it’s great. There was a lot of bad stuff like Napster, but the system is slowly coming together.
Are you okay with the system then?
I have to be. I am on Spotify, I buy albums from iTunes and although I don’t buy CDs, I still buy Vinyl.
Your new album is coming in a month, why do you still feel that you need to do albums? There are many bands which are just putting out Singles, and they are fine. You also already have two music videos from the new LP, then what is the reason behind it?
We are kind of old school: I still buy albums and songs on iTunes. I think we are just stuck in this old fashioned thing. We toyed with the fact of making EPs, but then we liked ten songs, not just three. So we should do an album. Who knows in the future maybe we will release Singles, but now we are still an ‘album band’ I think. And it seems like our fans like it, appreciate it, that we have albums.
► Pre-order the new album ‘Order In Decline’ : http://smarturl.it/Sum41Merch ► Pre-save the album on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/OrderInDecline/spotify ► Pre-save the album on Apple Music: http://smarturl.it/OrderInDecline/AppleMusic ► Catch Sum 41 on tour! http://sum41.com — The official music video for Sum 41’s new single “A Death In The Family,” off their new album ‘Order In Decline’ out July 19th on Hopeless Records.
What does this mean in numbers? Is it comparable to the tickets sold at live shows?
Not so much as a live show. I don’t necessarily look at how many albums we sold. With the last album, it was gold in Europe and we were like okay, that’s cool, we were glad. But then shows like this, 8k people come, and for me, this means more than having a trophy on my wall. If I had to choose to play 8k people in Budapest or have a gold album I would do the gig.
Your band has been active for 23 years and you didn’t have a huge change in your music. Are people still open for this kinda music?
It seems like they are open. We have actually changed especially if you listen to our first album and now. But we just have a different way and didn’t turn to pop music, which a lot of bands in our genre did. We just stayed true what we want to do. Some bands just started to do pop music because it’s big now. Maybe rock isn’t as huge as it was 20 years ago, but it’s huge enough, you can look at both sides. If you can go play in festivals in front of 60 thousand people then rock music is huge, how can anyone say rock is dead? It wasn’t a conscious thing that we didn’t want to do pop anyway, we just don’t like it.
How’s the new album gonna be different?
It’s probably the heaviest, the most aggressive one that we have. There are some fast songs, some heavy ones. I mean it’s not screaming, but it’s heavy sounding, and even though there are two slow tracks, for the most part, it’s pretty intense. It’s fun though, it’s catchy and it’s still us, it’s a heavy Sum 41 album.
This genre is mainly about being rebellious. How can you be still rebels after that many years? Do you feel that you need to be?
I don’t feel like we have to be and we didn’t feel like we have to be back then. The genre wasn’t our choice. It’s the media that needs to say ‘they sound like pop punk, punk’. We were f…ckin’ crazy back then, we did crazy things, but we didn’t feel like we have to do it. We did it already in high school, then we started to filmed it, and people thought it was funny and watched it. You can still do rebellious things if you are doing political stuff, but it’s a different kind of rebellious life. I am not gonna smash everything in this dressing room any more, which would be fun. There are just other ways to be a rebel. On the new record, there are some political undertones. That kind of rebellion when you talk about presidents. It is not gonna be super political, but there are bits where we stick it to them a little bit.
Is there more to talk about then back when you started?
I would rather say that under Obama, there were 8 years of relaxation. When our first album came out, George W. Bush was in office, so there was a lot to talk about. Now we just f…ckin’ hit the peak of the crazy bat-shit insanity, so there is a lot to talk about. But it’s not just America, there is so much crap going all over the world. I just watch the news and my mind just gets blown all the time: the Brexit thing, North Korea, Venezuela, Russia, and everywhere. So it’s not just American politics, it’s everywhere. There is a lot of weird shit going on so there is a lot to talk about if you wanna talk about that kind of stuff.
And this means that you’d want to talk about these things? Is this a job for you to do?
Live, we don’t talk. If you listen there are messages in the songs, but we not gonna stand up in front of 8k people and preach. We have never been a preachy band. We always did things how we felt, and we don’t catch anyone and say like ‘yeah, you think that, but we believe that you should think this’. For us, it’s more about reflecting on something. Take an issue and have an opinion, say something about it, not just shut your mouth and let it be there. If you have an opinion, you should probably say it. We have an opinion about things and we say it through our music, but we don’t try to preach to people, telling them that what we think is what they should think. If a person has an opinion about something and if I think it’s ridiculous, I think that, that he or she is a fucking idiot, but I am not gonna say that. We just have our own opinion and we say it, and we don’t want people to follow us in it, but we want them to at least have an opinion on things. Everyone should.
► Pre-order the new album ‘Order In Decline’ : http://smarturl.it/Sum41Merch ► Pre-save the album on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/OrderInDecline/spotify ► Pre…
Back to the music, what do you think of the upcoming bands in your genre? Is it good that you are still on the top? Or does this mean that there are no new bands coming?
It helps, I think. The fact that our style of music is still popular for some people, helps. And the fact that bands are coming up, helps us as well. Bands just comin’ up, they have younger friends, they are 14 and they are like what is Sum 41? Is that something my grandfather is listening to? These young bands listen to our music and their fans are gonna listen to us because if that’s their favorites, they’ll listen. And this is how we got 14-year-old fans, who were not even close to being alive when our first album came out. So it’s good. And if we can bring bands no-one heard of to our established fan base then the whole thing comes around. New bands are coming up, it can go forever.
Do you have a lot of young fans? What is the average age at a concert?
It’s strange, we get fans our age, and then you just see these 14-15-year-olds, and I wonder how they know about our band. I think it has to do something with Spotify and YouTube. A kid can go deep on YouTube. If it wasn’t around maybe they would never know about In Too Deep or any of the stuff. But the fact that Youtube is around you can go back and watch it. So it’s great. I think we have every kind of fan from 14 to 40. The parents are bringing their kids to the show, that’s the best.
You had many things going on with the band, so you had a break. How is it different to restart a band than starting it in the first place?
Quite a bit different, because of the different scenarios. When we started in high school it was just fun. We smoked weed, drank beer, and then broke stuff in our parents’ basements. The next thing was that maybe we should stop drinking a little bit, and focus on music. Derrick went to rehab, it was a crazy time when alcohol was just too much for all of us. But obviously, Derrick has bigger issues. We just needed to figure out how we gonna be friends again, establish our relationship again, then start again the band. It felt different, it was a different situation. Now we just moved ahead, focused on the new album. We got along, alcohol is lower on the importance list, it used to be the main thing we cared about. We still drink and stuff but just being more reasonable, not like high school.
If you have to name one main difference between ’96 and today in the music market, what would it be?
The number of bands that are accessible right now. The way you find out about bands in the ’90s: radio, music channels, basically MTV, fanzines or magazines. Or you can go to a show and see a band opening for another band and those were the major ways of finding a band. But now there are so many ways to find a band. People come and ask if I heard that band and you can just go type it in and decide, ‘yeah they are cool or terrible’. So that’s the biggest difference. The accessibility to be able to find bands is way different than in the ’90s. And it’s almost easier to promote your band because you got Facebook pages, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Back in the ’90s I even forget how we did it. We had to put VHS tapes and hand them out during the gigs, or go around the town an put up flyers. Now it’s so much easier. The thing is, I think in the ’90s there were tons of bands, you just never heard about them. Because there was no internet, no Facebook. How would you ever find out about them? You can just start a band now, have a page and you can have 1000 likes by next week. Back then it was a question how do you get noticed, how do you promote your band, it was so much harder.