Frontman of the Canadian SUM 41 rock band Deryck Whibley performs on the main stage at the ‘Sziget’ Island Festival in the Hajogyar (Shipyard) Island of Budapest on August 14, 2016 during an eight-day long ‘Island Festival’. / AFP / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Fans love a good comeback story in entertainment. Look at Robert Downey Jr. In the mid-‘90s he was in and out of prison multiple times for incidents related to cocaine and alcohol addiction, most famously being arrested on Sunset Blvd. for racing his car while he was high and in possession of a 357 magnum. To his immense credit though, he’s been sober since 2003 and he is FORBES eighty-sixth highest-earning celebrity in 2016 with $33 million, one year after he topped the highest-paid actor with $80 million.
Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley can relate to the addiction part, arguably falling even lower then Downey Jr. In 2014, Whibley, only 34 at the time, was hospitalized with kidney and liver failure and put into a medically induced coma, all brought on by years of alcohol abuse.
More than two years later, Whibley will try to emulate the second part of Downey Jr.’s comeback, hitting the top of his field again with the 13 Voices album. A return to platinum status is certainly not out of the question for the band. Their first three albums went platinum, gold and gold respectively and with the resurgent interest that Green Day and Blink-182 have seen, as well as the nostalgia sweeping the emo scene, a kindred world to the pop/punk movement, Sum 41 are in great position for a successful comeback.
For Whibley, chart success is understandably secondary after coming so close to death and not knowing if he would walk again for a year. “People ask me, ‘It must be your best record?’” he says. “I don’t fu**ing know, that’s not really for me to decide. All I know is that I’m okay with it. To me, it’s great, I love it.”
He is speaking on the back of the bus in Pomona, California at Sum 41’s final date of six weeks of Warped. Buoyed by the strong crowd response and his own excitement over the new material, Whibley is already looking ahead to the 13 Voices tracks he cannot wait to play live.
“Yeah, there’s a song called ‘13 Voices,’ which is pretty fun, kind of fast aggressive, pretty ripping song I think will be pretty cool. We’ve been rehearsing it, it actually sounds really good, so I’m excited about that,” he says. “There’s a song called ‘Breaking The Chains,’ which I think is really cool. There’s a song called ‘Goddamn, I’m Dead Again,’ which I think is gonna be fun, it’s a fast one. I’m excited about the whole record really.”
Like almost every artist in music, whose favorite song is the last one they wrote, Whibley is more psyched about playing the 13 Voices tracks. For him, when he listens to old stuff, like the U.S. top ten album Chuck, it is associated with the crazier times in his life.
Continued from page 2
“I have good and bad [memories] of every record, but that record there’s a lot of darkness going on, it was more of business matters,” he says. “Our manager, who was also our producer at the time, was awful. He produced that record, but he was so mentally abusive while we were recording it, so I remember doing vocal takes and he was just beating me down as to how awful I was as a singer. But we fired him after that one.”
Written during his recovery, 13 Voices obviously focuses on Whibley’s difficult recovery, something that does make it tough for him to revisit the material. “I haven’t listened to this whole record since we finished it in January or February,” he says. “We immediately went on tour and I kind of stopped listening to it, but the record is definitely all about my whole journey of falling and rising. So I’m sure if I listened to it now it would probably hit me in a way where I’d remember a lot of stuff.”
This album marked the first one Whibley wrote sober, which was admittedly scary for him at times as it made him much more vulnerable. But it’s not just his own music that has changed for him now that he is sober. He hears other’s music in a new light, like the Aerosmith song “Amazing.”
“I always thought [it] was about love and all of a sudden when I was in recovery I realized it was a recovery song,” he says. “Thought it was about a relationship or something and then I thought, ‘Oh my god.’ Of course Steven Tyler’s been in recovery and it all made sense in a different way.”
That is kind of a mantra now for Whibley, who sees everything differently than he did before. For all the pain he went through though, he has no regrets. “I’m so glad I did it all,” he says. “Even though it was really difficult, dark and negative it was actually positive, uplifting and optimistic.”
Page 2 / 2
Comment on this story