Simple Plan Looks Ahead As It Celebrates 15 Years

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Simple Plan exploded onto the Canadian music scene with their debut album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. The 2002 record spawned hits like “Perfect” and “I’m Just A Kid” and turned a group of friends from Montreal — Pierre Bouvier, Jeff Stinco, Sébastien Lefebvre, David Desrosiers and Chuck Comeau — into international rock stars.

“It doesn’t feel like 15 years,” Stinco said this week before a hometown show. “That record changed so much in our lives that it just feels that it almost was yesterday.”

Comeau added: “I feel in some ways that we’ve lived like 30 years in 15. We’ve done so much, we’ve travelled everywhere, we’ve played so many shows, had so many amazing life-changing events in our career and our personal lives as well.”

Simple Plan celebrated the anniversary of No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls with a tour of concert halls.

“So many fans never had a chance to see us live because they were too young when the album came out and now it’s their first chance,” said Comeau. “It’s a luxury to be able to make a first impression on a bunch of people that never had a chance to see us play before.

“We’re at the top of our game. It feels great. It feels like the first album still, so that’s good. We’re still relevant. People are still reacting.”

Thanks to streaming playlists and YouTube, a new generation has been able to discover Simple Plan’s early material. Both Comeau and Stinco said the videos don’t feel too dated.

“Although,” Stinco said, “your 36-waist Dickies. Can we admit that they were a little too big?”

“A little bit,” Comeau replied. “It was the style.”

Once the tour wraps up, it will be time to look forward, not back. Comeau promised there will “definitely” be new music next year.

He acknowledged that the way music is delivered and consumed has changed — but said Simple Plan still believes in releasing an album.

“We might try to experiment with different things and different ways of putting out music and being able to release it faster, but I still think people are attached to [albums],” said Comeau. “The fans still expect that kind of collection of music.”

Stinco agreed. “Our fans definitely do. They still purchase vinyls of the record," he said. "I think they’d be disappointed if we did an EP.”

“They might still consume it different,” Comeau said. “Like they might not play it from top to bottom — they might have a few favourite tracks or mix it into playlists or whatever — but at the end of the day there’s a thirst for a lot of new music from us.

“We still like the format. We just have to find a way to put them out a little faster.”

Stinco said the key to the band staying together all these years is communication.

“There’s that history and you don’t want to break a relationship that’s been going on for so long,” he explained. “I think just working hard on it. We fight like anybody else but I think we’re just better at making up.”

Comeau said it has helped that all five guys have similar values. “If you, as five people and as an entity, value friendship and you value loyalty then you try to instill that in everything that we do,” he said. “That mattered to us. It’s part of who we are as a band.”

Four of the five musicians are fathers, which has also had an effect on the group.

“We don’t do the four, five, six months in a row like we used to do,” Comeau said. “We’re more aware that we need to be home more often. We don’t want to miss out on our kids growing up. So that definitely changes our approach to traveling but at the same time that’s what we do for a living and we need to go out there and play for fans. We’ve built this band on live performance so we try to balance it out as much as we can.”

Are there early signs of another generation of Simple Plan musicians?

“My kid is obsessed with the band and music and drums and guitars,” said Comeau. “He has all the moves. I don’t know, we’ll see. He’s very young but it’s cool to see.”

Stinco’s daughters are less interested. “My kids play music," he said, "but for them it’s 'dad’s thing.' They do other things."