SUM-41 Band hits with new sound

The quartet recently teamed up with hip-hop's Ludacris for a 'Saturday Night Live' collaboration.
CLEVELAND -- Almost as if possessed by a cheesy '80s metal band spirit, unconsciously channeling rock balladry into his tape recorder for the sole purpose of exorcising it from his system, Sum-41's singer/songwriter Deryck Whibley wrote the band's latest single "Pieces" in a cathartic and inadvertent fashion.
"When I was writing it, I remember thinking I like this song but this will never be a Sum-41 song," Whibley said calling from Los Angeles. "Pieces" appears on the band's 2004 disc "Chuck."
Considering Sum-41 is decidedly a pop-punk band with metal leanings, an arena rock Bic lighter anthem didn't necessarily fit the band's prior creative method, ranging from its playful 2001 debut "All Killer No Filler" to the harder 2002 disc "Does This Look Infected?." However, what followed next surprised even him.
"I didn't really think anyone in the band was going to like it, [but] they all liked it," Whibley said. "So, basically we all kind of voted on it. I was surprised [because] it was kind of different from what we've done before. That's the thing, I guess, we've always enjoyed doing something different from what we've ever done and each one of our records always sounds different from the previous one."
Something different
The mantra of doing something different appears to fuel this Canadian quartet, which a few months ago teamed up with hip-hop's Ludacris for a "Saturday Night Live" collaboration on his single "Get Back."
Considering the dozens upon dozens of bands currently lumped together on rock radio, being different or being ironic -- a ballad from a snot-nosed punk band definitely qualifies -- is a good thing. More importantly, it has helped the members of Sum-41 distance themselves from the pack.
"I think we stepped out of that right on our second record," Whibley said. "With 'All Killer No Filler,' we were just a new band and just lumped in. And at the time, there weren't any other bands, just Blink [182] and Green Day and us. We were just so sick and tired of all of these new bands that were coming up and it was just like too much over-saturation of this kind of thing."
Whibley points to its lead single "Still Waiting" from "Does This Look Infected?" as proof positive that the band was capable of changing musical directions without losing its fan base, while adding new listeners.
"We just naturally grew into that without thinking about it," Whibley said. "It just seems like with every album, there's a totally new crowd that is into us."
The current crop of Sum-41 fans can check out the band's "Go Chuck Yourself Tour" Friday at the Tower City Amphitheatre. As for its future musical direction, who knows?
Said Whibley, "We'll figure it out when we get there."

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