Which song do you love performing live the most?
Jeff: Um, I’d Do Anything is pretty kick ass, it just gets the crowd going. We’ve been opening the show with that song and it actually really works, it’s one of those – you hear the first notes and you say ‘that’s Simple Plan right there’. It’s a great song, and it’s the song that probably got people’s attention first, Mark Hoppus [Blink 182] sang on it, so it’s a really important song for us.
What influenced you to write music and perform in the first place?
Jeff: The truth is always you want to express yourself and you want to be artistic, but at the same time for us, we just wanted to do all the bands that we loved and saw on the TV and heard on the radio. I remember seeing bands like Metallica playing Monsters of Rock and I was just like ‘maybe someday that’ll be us’, that was the goal. It’s always been about getting out there, touring, playing shows and I think as a musician you want to express yourself and do all that stuff but you also dream about being on those stages as well, and that was it.
What’s been the best part of playing Download?
Jeff: You know what, I’ve never played it, my bandmates have, I haven’t. I was having my second kid at the time so someone replaced me on that particular gig. I never played it but as I said it’s very symbolic for me because as I said, on TV I’ve seen bands that I really love and that I grew up with playing this festival or past versions of it, so it’s important for me because there’s amazing bands today and on the whole weekend, and it’s a celebration of music. I think now more so than ever it’s important that people are going to shows because of everything that’s going on. The kids are courageous, and the parents are even more couragous for letting their kids go to festivals, because there is a threat, you know, and I think what you’re saying by going and seeing your favourite bands is ‘fuck that, I’m not gonna bend over to that regime of fear, I’m gonna go out there and be with people with similar taste as me and I’m gonna celebrate life and celebrate music’. It sounds maybe like overly dramatic but I just saw Rock AM Ring being evacuated while we were playing a set and to be honest it got really real for me. I really felt like ‘oh shit, this is not something on the news anymore, it’s right next to me’. I think it’s serious. But yeah, it’s about music. It’s about loving music, it’s about great bands and it’s also a political statement nowadays.
Do you feel that you still relate to your music in the same way as when you wrote it, being older now?
Jeff: Being old? [Laugh]
Jeff: I don’t feel old so that probably has something to do with the fact that I’m still playing in a band and I’m still staying very active but um… nothing will beat the feeling that I had when I first heard the greatest bands, when I heard Nirvana for the first time, when I heard Pearl Jam for the first time, I can’t even describe those feelings. These bands said exactly what the fuck I was living, it seems so important my identity was everything I cared about, and I see it in kid’s eyes now, it’s the same for them now. I haven’t felt a connection to a band as strongly as I had in those years, I have to be very honest about it, but I have been blown away by certain bands over the years. I work out to Mastodon, it’s a very very strong exit and escape and I love that band. Biffy Clyro, you have to understand that for us in America, we had no fucking clue that these guys were so huge. They’re just an alternative band in America and they were kind of the band that I discovered and was like ‘I know this band and nobody knows about them and they’re fucking awesome!’ I feel like the first time that I heard Nirvana like I had their CD and I was like ‘shit, this is gold!’ and Biffy Clyro is the same. If anything, that was probably the band that made the biggest impression on me in the last ten years.
Was there a simple plan for Simple Plan?
Jeff: You know that name is probably the shittiest band name ever since Metallica, you know, but when you name a band… well in that particular case we were hoping to change the name. We had a show the next week and were like, ‘oh fuck it, we saw a movie called A Simple Plan, let’s call it Simple Plan‘ and then we’ll change the posters, and it just stuck, and now there’s an afterthought wanting to explain it but the reality of it is it’s just a name. But the afterthought is just to get out there, play shows, travel the world and make records. It sounds all very simple, but for some fucking reason it’s a lot harder than it seems!
[Laugh] So, do you have any particular career highlights?
Jeff, Oh, many! So many, the first time I landed in Japan and I felt like I was in the Backstreet Boys and all the kids were waiting for us, and that around 2003 so I was just a kid. The first time I played New Years Eve in Times Square when the ball dropped down and we were playing right in the middle of Times Square, Mark Hoppus singing on one of our songs, he’s one of our idols. Playing really big shows in Europe, like huge festivals, like Rock AM Park, Rock AM Ring, Prague, we were fucking huge in Praque and I don’t even know how! And playing your hometown arena, that’s pretty sick. Playing with Metallica, having James Hetfield sit at my table while I was drinking wine and just chatting with us like it was fucking normal. I’m like ‘dude, I learned how to play guitar with you’, it’s fucked up. The weirdest thing is when I see kids do that to me, and I’m like, I understand but it’s so fucking weird!
What’s next for Simple Plan?
Jeff: We’re gonna finish touring, we have this 15 year anniversary of No Pads [No Helmets… Just Balls], so we’re still playing shows around that, it was meant to be a couple of shows around it, the release date was 19th March and we’re getting into July and we’re still playing shows! We’re gonna do that probably until September, after that we’re gonna start making a record. We have some material but we feel that we have to keep writing a little bit and recording so, that’ll take us too long again, but we’re Simple Plan and that’s what we do, we nitpick and take too long in the studio.
That’s not a bad thing though!
Jeff: Well you know, when you’re searching for something you’ve gotta do it properly.
So what have you been listening to lately?
Jeff: As I mentioned, Mastodon and their new record.
Did you catch them yesterday?
Jeff: No, I wasn’t here, we were playing London.
Oh, they were good!
Jeff: Yeah I’m sure, they’re fucking awesome! I listen to a lot of Ryan Adams, Butch Walker, old blues, fuck a lot of things, I even listen to classical! Newer bands I would say that… what did I get recently? I got a bunch of CDs that I haven’t listened to yet, so that’s pretty much it!
You’ve done a lot of collaborations in Simple Plan, which one has been your favourite and why? Or who was your favourite artist? They’re kind of different questions I guess!
Jeff: We recorded a song with Butch Walker, he’s one of my favourite solo artists, he’s got sort of a cult following, he’s pretty big actually, he’s more known for working as a producer for Avril Lavigne. But oddly enough he’s got his own alternative career, we did a song for a Scooby Doo soundtrack and it was a fucking cool experience working with a guy that I respected so much. Mark Hoppus is a kick ass dude. Sean Paul was pretty cool too, shooting a video with him in Barbados and him just kind of being so chill about it, it just reminded me that it should be fun, it’s not always stressful to do something, he just sits in and does it like he’s the fucking king of the world, and really he is, the king of his world. It was very cool and he’s very humble too.
Keep your eyes peeled on Musicology for news about the upcoming record!