Luisa Mateus

21:51 21st April 2008

Atlantic HQ is mighty comforting this strangely sunny day when we visit to interview Simple Plan. They have a short break in their busy touring schedule. Today, we gets to speak to the boys you all seem to idolise, if the response to the Gigwise Webchat last week is anything to go by.

I’m sat in the cosy interview room, when Pierre from the band comes in to say hi.  “I won’t touch you ‘cause I’m ill,” he says. He sits down in the corner and opens the latest issue of Zoo magazine. “I love the magazines here,” he says earnestly “We don’t get magazines like this where we’re from, except maybe for porn. It’s great!” I mutter something sarcastic in retort; he doesn’t bat an eyelid, as is lost within the not so glossy pages, which has a fair few pairs of naked breasts embossed on them. David and Jeff join us in the room. David is also ill. But Jeff’s not – so I get a nice handshake from him. David also likes the English magazines. He tells us, “I just spent a bunch of ‘quids’ on them!”

We’ve had an abundance of questions from fans here at Gigwise towers. Many fans even gushing adoration at these tasty morsels of manliness. We decide to arm ourselves with some ‘fan orientated’ questions, since you all seem so keen to find out the intimate details of their lives. We confide in the band that quite a lot of lady folk seem a wee bit interested in their relationship statuses. We ask what the ‘official line’ is on this. David hits the nail on the head, “It’s none of their fucking business!” Pierre is a bit more forgiving, telling us he doesn’t like to disclose his relationship status as to “keep my options open you know?” I ask him if this is in case he sees any Zoo girls walking down the street. To which he responds, “Exactly!” David continues, “Some of us are in relationships that are good, some of us are in relationships that are not so good, and some of us are not in relationships.” Pierre tells us to “Come to a show and find out! And whip ‘em out!” Slightly perplexed as to whether that is aimed at this teeny, geeky music writer, or the greater Gigwise female audience as a whole, I politely tell them even though I will be at the show tomorrow, I won’t be getting ‘them’ out (as lovely as that sounds- not)! David apologies, “We’re just excited cause last night this girl kept flashing us. It was kind of cool.” Yeah, we could be talking to two boobs really!

We progress onto the subject of tattoos and how the band feels about younger fans getting their bodies permanently emblazoned with the band’s logo. Jeff says, “I do have to say something about it. You need to understand that a tattoo is for life. Getting a tattoo of your favourite band is awesome but you need to pick them wisely, and specifically where you are going to have them.” Pierre confides that he has a tattoo of his favourite band. The letters SP are tattooed on his leg. The band speculates what this favourite band might be: Smashing Pumpkins, Sean Paul, Silversun Pickups? It’s pretty likely that Pierre’s favourite band is his own.

As well as being really famous and, in Pierre’s case, having future aspirations to make an ex-wife out of a Zoo girl, they do actually do some good things. As a marked example of this, the band have a ‘Simple Plan Foundation’ which, Pierre explains, gives money to charities involved with dealing with youth problems. He says, “We really wanted to give something back to support causes that we care about. We just feel the need to do something good because we feel we’re really lucky for what we have”. They have also been supporting indie record stores in the States. Pierre admits that “I think it’s important to support the little guy because that’s the only way you are ever going to be able to start your own company, and all not be owned by the same person”.

We politely ask if we can talk about the new record. Pierre enthusiastically responds, “We’d love to talk about the new record!” We ask why they have made such an obvious directional shift from their earlier work. Pierre explains. “We just wanted to make something a bit more interesting for ourselves as musicians, and maybe keep the best elements of what we have done and give it a different twist. Music evolves and it’s only natural for your sound to evolve as a musician.” Jeff adds, “We took this record to places we’d never been to in sonic production. I think because there’s more time between this record and the first two, so we’ve listened to more music. There’s more happening around you and the radio is changing.” We press him on the issue of influence, and whether they feel their sound is dominated by the radio and other artists that are popular. Jeff continues, “I think that when Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Green Day came out with their ambitious records, we weren’t necessarily inspired by them musically, but by their desire to push it further and make grand statements. We wanted to find our own way to do this, without copying what they are doing.”

We enquire as to why they chose this as their self-titled record, when they have two successful albums under their belts. Pierre admits, “It’s a record that marks a new era of what we are doing and we feel really strongly about the music.” We probe them on whether they think the record represents the fact that they are older now than they were, certainly when they wrote the first record, and therefore, do they have different priorities in terms of what they write about? Pierre nods, “But I don’t think we’ve ever lost the fun aspect of what we were doing and a mature record kind of rings that. We were in our early twenties when we wrote the first one and we barely knew how to make a record! And now things have changed a little bit. Well, hopefully it has, otherwise that would be a bit sad!”

It’s rare to come across a band that is ensnared in all the fame and fortune bullshit, yet still able to remain level-headed and down to earth. If you’re a big deal, chances are you’re probably an arsehole. Whilst Simple Plan may not be arseholes, they are obviously lads enjoying the advantages of money, fame and adoration from girls. You only have to take a quick peek at their myspace page to realise this is a daily occurrence (“OMG I luv u guyz! RU single? We’re  made for each other! Hugs and kisses!!!”)! They do seem to be a band genuinely passionate about their music. They even put their own money to ‘good causes’ when, let’s face it, many bands simply can’t be arsed. Maybe they haven’t quite matured, but perhaps that’s their appeal. Those screaming fifteen year old girls, waiting outside the Astoria until the early hours of Saturday morning for one glimpse of their idols, would certainly seem to think so!

The new album is out now. Simple Plan will be touring for the next year and a half. They will be back in the UK for Download festival and a UK tour will follow in December.

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.