"I don’t think this is a political record, it’s a personal record..." - Sum 41's Deryck Whibley takes new album Order In Decline
When they announced themselves back in 2000, Sum 41 were the quintessential pop-punk band. Their debut album All Killer, No Filler, was a LP full of buzzsaw guitars, sing-a-long choruses and puerile jokes. That album sold handsomely and the schtick sat easily with the foursome, who were all barely out of their teens.
Naturally, over time, bands evolve and the Sum 41 of 2019 is a very, very different proposition from that outfit. For their new LP Order In Decline, the seventh of the band’s career, the jokes are long gone; instead, we’ve got a fiery record inspired by the world’s volatile political situation.
The glossy production is gone too. Frontman Deryck Whibley has taken charge of the whole process, producing, engineering and mixing the whole record.
With the album out in shops today, we spoke to Whibley about the album and why he didn’t want to make a political record, but he couldn’t help it…
When did you start putting together the songs for this album?
“I was writing the whole time we were touring 13 Voices, whether that was in hotels or on the tour bus or on days off. Most of that ended up as small ideas, just a way of getting things down. When I finally got home I went through everything I had and started seeing what I could do with it. From that, they developed into songs and we started on the album.”
You produced, engineered and mixed this album by yourself, when did you decide that you wanted to take all those different roles?
“It wasn’t a case of wanting no outside perspective, it just happened that way. I fully expected we’d work with someone down the line, I was just getting the songs ready. Once we started playing the songs to people and asking who they thought we should work with, everyone just kept saying that it already sounded finished. It just worked out that way.”
Have you grown to enjoy the more technical aspects of making music?
“I do really enjoy it. I’ve learned from so many great producers, engineers and mixers during my career. I’m friends with a lot of guys who I haven’t even worked with, I’m lucky to have a network with friends who I can play songs for and get honest reactions.”
You’ve written a few tracks with Mike Green, who has worked with, what did he bring to the record?
“We wrote on two songs together. We’re great friends and we work so well together. We don’t approach it like we’re going to work. One of the songs we wrote together is ‘Out For Blood’ and I was just going over to his place to catch up. I started playing him a riff and he had a few ideas and suddenly there was a song being written. It’s always a very natural process.”
You’ve described this record as the “heaviest and most aggressive” you’ve ever done, was that just how the songs came out? Or did you want to go in that direction?
“I never really think about anything when it comes to writing and we never talk about it as a band. When I put a lot of these ideas together it was really quick, it took me three weeks to get all the songs together. Because it was done in such a concentrated period of time, I think that gave the songs a real edge.”
You said you were keen not to write a political record, but you’ve ended up doing just that…
“I feel like I’ve written about how I feel about the things that are going on in the world, rather than just writing about them directly. I don’t think this is a political record, it’s a personal record. But I think politics touches everyone. The songs are there to be interpreted and to mean different things to different people.”
When did you decide on Order In Decline for the album title?
“That was a song title originally, but as the record progressed it really stood up to me as a title that summed up the whole record, rather than just one song.”
You’ve been a four-piece for most of your career, but you’re now a fivesome, is that working well?
“We started being a five-piece at the end of making the last record and we didn’t know how to function in that way. But being on the road for three years for 13 Voices has definitely changed that. Now we know how to work, we know what our strengths are, we know who does what best and what we’re not good at. It really helped me with my writing and it made life in the studio a lot easier.”
I know you’ve just left the UK after touring, but are you planning your return already?
“We don’t have them ironed out, but we are planning the new year right now. We’re going to be in North America for the rest of this year, but 2020 will be the rest of the world. We don’t know when, but we’ll be back for sure…”
Sum 41’s new album Order In Decline is out now in hmv stores.