Published in The Music (WA) | 30.10.13
THE DRAWING BOARD
Admitting Simple Plan aren’t the most relevant band anymore, guitarist Sebastian Lefebvre tellsDaniel Cribb they’re focusing their efforts behind the scenes and are far from done.
Maybe it’s to do with the geography of our countries or the fact we’re both still under the Commonwealth, but there’s an unspoken bond between Canada and Australia. Simple Plan are a staple of Canadian pop punk, and can relate to the painstaking long drives a lot of Australian bands have to endure, which is why they’re the perfect fit for the Australian Warped Tour’s ten-hour drives. “They say Warped Tour is a punk rock summer camp, right? It’s true,” Lefebvre says in the lead-up to the band’s Australian visit. “There’s definitely a lot of bands coming together and helping each other out. Maybe ten years ago it was about who the coolest band was, but I think Warped has evolved from that, and now it’s just about the music and having a good time and the kids coming to the shows and enjoying a million different bands playing. We did it a few years ago in the US and it was great; I think it’s going to be even better in Australia… [Australia] feels like Canada with a lot of beaches and beautiful weather,” he adds in a thick Canadian accent.
There’s something welcoming about the accent, and you needn’t look any further than Simple Plan for an example of generosity. In December of 2005 the band established the Simple Plan Foundation, and it’s since evolved into an unstoppable force, last year raising over one million dollars. $1 from every ticket sold to their only Warped sideshow in Perth goes towards the cause, which aims to assist young people struggling with physiological and physical illness.
“It’s crazy how simple it can be to make a difference in someone’s life, and when we saw that, there was no way around it for us, we had to get involved somehow and try to help out as much as we could. We never thought it would be that much work. I mean, it is simple to make a difference, but there is a lot of logistics involved.
“Whether it’s been locally or abroad, we’ve definitely met some people who we’ve had a positive impact on. We met some kids in Africa who were able to go to school because of our support, and we’ve met some people in our neighbourhood who have a hard time, whether it’s coming out or depression or general illness, and it’s huge. It’s very difficult to grow up nowadays and if we can be there to help, we will.”
The band’s fourth and most recent record, 2011’s Get You Heart On!, could have quite easily focused on such topics, but Lefebvre stresses the importance of keeping the music side of things light-hearted. “There’s part of Simple Plan that just wants to have a good time and not take things too seriously. We really, really enjoyed the philosophy of the last record, which was to just have a good time, and we’re going to carry on in that vein and write songs that are going to be fun to play and tour on, so that’s the general direction of our new album.”
It’s worked on every record since their debut No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls hit the shelves in 2002.. Holding the same line-up since forming and returning to Australia regularly, Simple Plan are an interesting specimen of pop punk. Where a lot of their colleagues have fallen into the shadows as the genre’s popularity recedes, the Canadian five-piece have maintained a steady following.
“They say you’re only as hot as your current single, so if we have a flop, people will forget about us. We’ve always taken the approach that with every new album we start over, we’re a new band. We always try to make the right decisions and not base it on who we are and what we’ve done before.
“I think for us, as long as we’re relevant to our fans, that’s all that matters; as long as we’re connecting with them, and as long as we put out music they can identify with and can say, ‘Yes, Simple Plan is still my favourite band’, that’s being relevant to us. I mean, it’s very difficult to be a trendsetter or be the band that everybody looks to and all the critics say, ‘Oh my god, this is the greatest band in the world’ – that’s not what we try for. We just want that connection to the fans, and I think we’ve been pretty good at maintaining it so far and we’re happy to keep it going.”