November 30th, 2012
In a world of one hit wonders and celebrity marriages that last 72 days, it’s no small feat when a group reaches their ten year anniversary. For Montreal rockers Simple Plan, the band decided that the best way to celebrate ten years, 205 million views on YouTube, 52 countries, 1,047 shows and four albums was with a biographic photo book.
With their original line up still intact after all these years, Simple Plan are a band that seem to be untouched by the road. Their drummer Chuck Comeau, who acted as the band’s manager and agent in the early days, is still the driving force behind the band’s projects, like their work with the Simple Plan Foundation and the making of their first book, Simple Plan: The Untold Story. But everything Simple Plan does is a group effort, including taking on the monumental task of detailing a decade full of world tours and award show performances. “It was a lot of work. I think more than we ever expected,” Comeau says about the making of the book. Throwing around the idea of making the book since 2006, with no real deadline in mind the project was pushed aside to make way for albums and tours. But when journalist Kathleen Lavoie told the band she wanted to write a biography on them, their approaching ten year anniversary suddenly seemed like the perfect due date they needed to get the task accomplished.
The band’s long-time friend and unofficial sixth member, Patrick Langlois, has been with Simple Plan since their first tour, documenting the five musician’s rise to fame with photographs and videos. “At the time we had no idea it would turn into a book,” Comeau remembers. “But we had an intuition that something good would happen with the band. It would be worth it to capture all the moments, even though at the time they weren’t the most glamorous, we thought it was something we should archive and document.”
Even the most die-hard Simple Plan members may be surprised to read the band’s backstory, long before the days when the band burst onto the scene with 2002’s No Pads, No Helmet…Just Balls, Chuck and lead singer Pierre Bouvier were in successful punk band Reset in their hometown of Montreal. “When we sat down we thought it was really important to tell that back story. A lot of times people have misconceptions about how we got together. I felt it was important for us to put it in perspective. We played with all these bands…the punk rock scene. We’ve been doing it for a long time,” explains Comeau. “I think it was cool for us to show that to our fans. Things don’t happen overnight.”
Reset broke up, but when it came time for Chuck’s new band to find a singer, which included David Desrosiers, Sebastien Lefebvre and Jeff Stinco, Comeau knew there was only one name that could fit into the line-up. “No one to me came even close to how good Pierre is as a singer and songwriter and even how he is in a band,” Chuck explains. “A lot of lead singers are not the nicest people…we have a guy that never wants to be in the middle of the picture. He always wants everyone else to shine…I think it’s part of the reason why we’re still together. Everyone kept their ego in check.”
In addition to helping put together the roster and sound of Simple Plan, their time together in Reset also helped prepare the band for their rise to fame. “When you get success and when good things start to happen I think you’re a little more prepared and you take it in a more humbling way. You know what it’s like to play to 12 people or to make your demo by yourself and have no one give a shit about it. I think that’s part of our story,” Comeau says.
In addition to launching Simple Plan’s career, the album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls included a surprising collaboration from Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, whose band was riding a huge wave of success in the early 2000’s. In their book Simple Plan: The Official Story, Lavoie chronicles the band’s relationship with Hoppus, which began in their Reset days and not only impacted their music, but how Simple Plan interacts with their fans to this day. “Mark was probably the biggest example (of how bands should treat fans). I look back now that we’re in a similar position, a lot of young bands will come up to us and ask them us to help them out…you try to pay forward in some ways and try to help out, because I think you see yourself in those people.”
And today, ten years into their career, Simple Plan are still putting their fans first, hoping that the new book will resonate worldwide. Says Comeau, “The fans that pick up the book I think are going to love the band even more after they read it. It was hard, but it was probably one of the coolest experiences we’ve taken on.”
Fans will be able to meet Simple Plan during their book signing at Chapters John and Richmond (142 John Street) on Sunday, December 2 at 3 p.m. Simple Plan will then be heading to the ACC to play This Big Jingle, along with Austin Mahone, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cody Simpson, Sky Blu, Shawn Desman and The Wanted. Click here for info on tickets and don’t miss The Big Jingle broadcast special on Wednesday, December 12 at 9E/6P.
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