Whether they like it or not, the punks from Sum 41 are growing up.
The Canadian foursome of 20-somethings has crafted a more focused and melodic new album, “CHUCK,” with a much heavier sound than their obnoxious teenage boy anthem “Fat Lip.” They have all recently become homeowners. And — gasp! — lead singer Deryck Whibley says he’s sick of going to strip clubs and getting drunk all the time.
Guys: We know you pride yourselves on crazy antics, on and off stage — but this is not how immature people behave.
The band named the new album for a United Nations worker who saved their lives while they were shooting a documentary in the Republic of Congo.
Charity starts as a band
Whibley, guitarist Dave Baksh, bassist Jay McCaslin and drummer Steve Jocz traveled there in May for the nonprofit group War Child Canada.
The last day of shooting, a yearlong peace was broken and gunfire erupted around them. After the U.N. worker helped them out of the hotel, which was directly in the line of fire, they spent hours huddled in a U.N. compound before getting a flight out.
“Surprisingly, the whole thing didn’t do much to us. It was crazy and we survived it, but it didn’t make me appreciate life or anything more,” Whibley said via phone from London. “What it did was give me an understanding of how awful it really is down there.”
Whibley says it’s not strange for a rock group to do nonprofit work.
“I think people are surprised by some of the things we do, that they are good things,” he said. “We’re still the same people, it doesn’t matter if we’re on stage yelling or doing charity work.”
Small town angstWhibley and the others are from Ajax, Ontario, a tiny town where there’s not much else to do but be angry about being stuck in a tiny town.
“When you’re living in a big city, there’s so much to see and do,” he said. “But when you’re living in a (expletive) town in the middle of nowhere there’s nothing else to do but music.”
The four have known each other about 10 years. About five years ago the band put together a video of sorts, set to their music, showing them egging houses and causing all sorts of trouble in their little town. The video caused a buzz in the music industry and the band was able to take their pick of record labels, choosing Island/Def Jam.
Their first album, “All Killer No Filler,” sounds a little like old Beastie Boys stuff, and “Does This Look Infected?” is only about 32 minutes long.
Fans come of ageInitially, their shows drew a lot of young girls. “There’s no loyalty to bands when you’re that age,” Whibley said. “Your music taste changes every second. This time around we’ve gotten some guys and some older girls and we’re happier about it.”
He says the band still goes out every night in true rock star fashion, drinking and breaking things and frequenting nudie bars. But recently, when the band was shuttled to a posh London strip club to feast on steak and lobster and ogle the half-naked women serving drinks, Whibley just couldn’t get into it.
“I never thought I’d get to a point where I’m not that excited about seeing really hot, naked women,” he said. “I feel kind of spoiled saying it.”
He won’t say whether that has anything to do with his reported relationship with another angsty Canadian singer, Avril Lavigne. Whibley won’t talk about that at all, although he’s quick to correct a reporter who asks if Lavigne is 18 (“She’s 20.”)
Whibley changes the subject very fast, saying he’s always wanted to be more of a rock star than a musician.
“I didn’t want to be some guy playing a guitar in a bar,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to be musical or to experiment with new sounds. We don’t like repeating ourselves.”
Sounds like some pretty mature stuff.