By the end of 2004, Montreal band Simple Plan had rightly established themselves as one of contemporary pop-punk's biggest selling acts. Sharing the spotlight on MTV with fellow counterparts like Yellow-card, Blink-182, and Good Charlotte, Simple Plan gained a devoted audience of young followers who liked their pop-punk with a side of sweetness. Between 2002 and 2004, the Canadian quintet released two full-length albums, a live CD, and a full-length DVD. While many critics scoffed at the band's "punk-lite" sound, the band's album sales, which ventured into the three million mark, indicated that fans felt differently. The group received so much airplay in such a short period of time that attending one of their concerts actually became a plot line in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's 2004 film New York Minute. High-profile fans like Hilary Duff and tour mates such as Avril Lavigne, Rancid, and even Aerosmith only secured Simple Plan's popularity, at least for the moment.
As high school pals in Montreal, Canada, Pierre Bouvier (vocals), Jeff Stinco (guitar), David Desrosiers (bass), Sebastien Lefebvre (guitar), and Chuck Comeau (drums) had no idea that their pictures would eventually plaster the walls of teenage girls across North America. It was with the hardcore group Reset where Comeau and Bouvier honed their musical chops prior to Simple Plan. As teenagers, they toured with Reset across Canada, playing with punk bands like MXPX, and released No Worries in 1997. During recording for the band's follow up, No Limits, Comeau and Bouvier (bass) quit the band. After a try at college, Comeau and Bouvier hooked up again at a Sugar Ray concert and laid the idea for Simple Plan.
Signing to a major label for their debut release, Simple Plan had the winning formula down. On their Lava debut No Pads, No Helmets ... Just Balls, the band used cheeky lyrics and suburban teenage angst to create a handful of adolescent anthems. Collaborations with members of Blink-182 and Good Charlotte gave Simple Plan an instant fanbase. "Addicted," with its waggish and catchy chorus, the relate-able "I'm Just a Kid," and the softer, "Perfect" encompassed the band's personalities with a parent-approved corporate punk sound. Early on, the band members decided to leave the partying to Sum 41 and the potty humor to Blink-182. The enthusiastic group appreciated their success, even if it meant they had a cleaner act than their peers. "If you're just partying and drunk the whole time, you're going to miss out on so much and you're going to wake up and go, 'Why the hell are we here?'" Comeau said to Billboard.com.
Music critics weren't as kind to Simple Plan's squeaky-clean look as the millions of fans on MTV's popular vote-in television show TRL. The band, however, disregards any negativity. "We are who we are, and we just tried to write the best songs possible." Comeau said in an interview with Mean Street 's Peter Atkinson. "This record is for the kids. They make the difference." To showcase their appealing style of softcore teenager alienation worldwide, the band released Live in Japan in 2002, and followed it up with the amusing and informative DVD, A Big Package for You. The DVD/EP included a few songs as well as documentary clips capturing the band's quick rise to fame. Already veterans on the Vans Warped Tour summer festival, it was no shock when the band was asked by America's most popular twins to be in their new movie. Simple Plan's appearance and soundtrack contribution in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's New York Minute let every viewer know that Simple Plan was the "It band" of the year.
After two years of constant touring, the band's song-writing began to skew to a slightly different angle. Written in a three-month period in Vancouver, the band's sophomore album, Still Not Getting Any reflected the band's continuing sonic evolution. The kiddie jokes of No Pads... were gone, but only slightly. The album title hints at the bands' youthful exuberance, but was also a reaction to the lack of respect from the media. Bouvier and Comeau found themselves penning lyrics that had more meaning to their nowexperienced lives. "Songs about cars and partying do nothing for me," Comeau explained in the band's official bio. "I like songs where I listen and it makes me shiver." The band expanded it's sound from the somewhat easy sound of No Pads... "I think it's a stronger effort (because) we chose not to limit ourselves to one genre of music and not try to be a band that people wanted us to be, but just find our own voice and be the band who we are," Stinco told the Ithaca Journal. Rolling Stone 's Jenny Eliscu commented on the album's new songs, calling Still Not Getting Any, "a hard-to-deny collection of bubblegum punk."
To up the ante for their anticipated second CD, the band enlisted hard rock producer Bob Rock. Rock, who had made a name for himself with the likes of mega rock stars Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, was able to use his thick and polished flair to encompass the band's tempered angst and pop melodies. With the sugar-coated pop-punk staple "Welcome to My Life," "Shut Up," the string section on "One," and "Untitled," the band was able to open up their sound while retaining the slightly riotous and youthful pop-punk mentality that gave them success in the beginning. "We were happy with the first record, but sometimes I think it felt like there was too much the same kind of color to it," Comeau revealed to Jam! Showbiz 's Jason Macneil. "We wanted everything to be pristine and that was a mistake. This one, we weren't going to complicate stuff; we just wanted to go in and play."
For the Record . . .
Members include Pierre Bouvier , vocals; Chuck Comeau , drums; David Desrosiers , bass, vocals; Sebastien Lefebvre , guitar, vocals; Jeff Stinco , guitar.
Group formed in Montreal, Canada, 2001; released debut CD No Pads, No Helmets ... Just Balls on Lava Records, 2002; contributed to The New Guy soundtrack, 2002; contributed to Scooby-Doo soundtrack, 2002; released Live in Japan, 2002; contributed to Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed soundtrack, 2004; contributed to New York Minute soundtrack, 2004; released Still Not Getting Any, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Lava Records, 1290 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10104. Website— Simple Plan Official Website: http://www.simpleplan.com.
Despite the two solid years of mainstream success, Simple Plan have felt the pressure to act and look a bit tougher and more like their musical peers. Stinco even told the Ithaca Journal that the band contemplated getting tattoos just to fit in. "It crossed my mind, maybe I should look a little tougher? Maybe my music would be taken a little more seriously, but then I just accepted this is who I am." Sticking to their guns, got them this far, so why change a proven formula?
No Pads, No Helmets—Just Balls, Lava, 2002.
(Contributor) The New Guy (soundtrack), Sony, 2002.
(Contributor) Scooby-Doo (soundtrack), Lava, 2002.
Live in Japan in 2002, Lava, 2003.
(Contributor) Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (sound-track), Warner Bros., 2004.
(Contributor) New York Minute (soundtrack), Elektra, 2004.
Still Not Getting Any, Lava, 2004.
Ithaca Journal, November 25, 2004.
Mean Street, November 2004.
Rolling Stone, November 11, 2004.
"Simple Plan," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (January 12, 2005).
"Simple Plan," Jam! Showbiz, http://www.canoe.ca/JamMusicArtistsS/simpleplan.html (December 14, 2004).
"Simple Plan Has 'A Simple Plan,'" Billboard.com,http://www.billboard.com (December 14, 2004).
Simple Plan Official Website, http://www.simpleplan.com (January 4, 2005).
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