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Sum 41: Sumthing Good.

11 February 2002 | 1:59 am | Shane Cooper
Originally Appeared In

Killers On The Loose.

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Sum 41 play the Palladium at Surfers Paradise on February 14 and the Arena on February 15.


Young punks will be, well, young punks. The sound of partying in the background doesn't require a great deal of explanation: Sum41 are on the road - nothing unusual in that - and it's backstage post gig somewhere close to the US/Canada border.

Sum41 are most notable for being the first Canadian act - in this genre - to score major chart success outside their own country. Their debut album All Killer, No Filler is comfortably placed in the Billboard Top 100 and has sold well over one million copies Stateside. In Australia it shows similar signs of breaking out.

Slightly rockier than some of its contemporaries but still showing all the trademark signs of baby punk - catchy songs, traditional riffs, big hooks - All Killer, No Filler does step out slightly further than some of its kind with a dash of hip-hop and metal brought into the mix to offer contrast to the more traditional material.

And Sum41 are very young; still in their teens. So there's a lot of growing up to do. Not that singer and guitarist Deryck Whibley seems too worried by much at all - except perhaps what he's missing out on at the party.

"There's a bunch of bands that can write catchy songs," he says. " There's nothing new in that. You need an edge and for us - at the moment - that is age. We've toured with a lot of bands such as Blink 182, Social Distortion, Offspring, Face To Face, and we've done well. Obviously, we're still growing as a band but so far so good. We're making music for this generation and our lyrics deal with stuff that a lot of kids are feeling or thinking or going through, so they relate to the songs."

 And in this case success is surprising:

"We're just four guys from a small town outside Toronto. We didn't expect to have a hit in Canada yet alone the US and elsewhere."

Whibley grew up in Scarborough, Canada where he earned an early reputation as a champion recess fighter in elementary school. That all ceased when he retired from the WRFA (world recess fighting ass) at the tender age of 11 and moved on to lead a simpler life in the small farming town of Keane, filled with fishing, Rod Stewart albums and barnyard orgies. Realising he may be missing out on the substance of youthful development, Whibley and his mum moved to Ajax. Soon after Deryck bought a guitar. Then it started: a veritable flood of song ideas and bands; The latter included Powerful Young Hustlers, Eternal Death, Chemical Head, Door's of Draven, Keane's Unbeatable Teens, Kaspir and Final Notice. Finally in the summer of 1996, Whibley formed Sum41 with fellow band member Stevo32.

"We all met in high school, and we went through high school together as friends and at the end of it we formed a band," he says. "Before that we were all in different bands, rival bands. The name came from the fact we started the band 41 days into summer."

And you wanted to attract young ladies, right?

"Yeah, well that was the idea," he laughs. By the sounds in the background that equation seems to have been successful. He laughs again, refuses to comment.

It isn't hard to find out what life on the road with Sum 41 is like.

“We ended the tour in New York, opening for the Offspring and MXPX, which was so badass we had to celebrate with a stripper backstage for some post show entertainment. Well, in complete Sum41 style, our 'dancer' ended the night by having way to much to drink and then puking all over herself. Making the evening about as arousing as your grandma's underpants and about as funny as grandpa's diapers. Sin city."

Whibley chuckles and says something about you never know what's going to happen next - but it's fun.

Frankly, there's no great intellectual debate here, no pretension to be anything more than their music makes them out to be: Sum41 are young, growing up, working it out as they do, having the time of their lives and seemingly getting quite rich in the process. They probably aren't the next big thing but they will be around long enough to make a mark on the charts and on music history. And that is all they're asking for. In the meantime there's more touring to do, more songs to write, the next record to think about, and just maybe, "A career in rock'n' roll. That would be nice," Whibley says.