Poor Simple Plan. The not-horribly-disfigured Canadian pop-punk quintet hit pay dirt on four singles to help its debut album sell more than 1.7 million copies, and still the bandmembers gave their second album the embarrassingly confessional title Still Not Getting Any ... .
"That's the whole joke," singer Pierre Bouvier quipped. "We're actually getting laid every day!"
Bouvier is kidding, of course. Having spent the last few months writing songs for Simple Plan's new album in Vancouver with drummer Chuck Comeau, and then returning to their hometown of Montreal to record, hasn't left the frontman too much time for carnal cavorting. The band has completed eight songs, with three to go, for Still Not Getting Any ..., due October 26. And when the songs are completed, the band expects to end up on life support — for the CD-booklet artwork, at least.
Bouvier said the idea is for the band to appear on the album cover as they do now, in the present day. On each page of the booklet the group will look progressively older, a visual gag made possible with time-consuming makeup and prosthetics.
"At the end, we're on life support and we really look like 95-year-old guys," an excited Bouvier offered.
Bouvier, Comeau, bassist David Desrosiers and guitarists Sebastien Lefebvre and Jeff Stinco dressed up like geriatrics not to forecast the future, but rather to give something back to the fans who embraced their debut, 2002's No Pads, No Helmets ... Just Balls.
"It's always cool when you buy a record, and the band gives you something special," Bouvier said. "I think our fans are into funny stuff and seeing bands doing something different. I think we like to laugh at ourselves and we don't really care if we look stupid."
Despite the humor in the album title and the artwork, the first single, "Welcome to My Life," expected to surface in mid-September, has a sobering tone. Amid a steady flow of pop-punk bounce, Bouvier sings sad-sack lines about being hurt, left out in the dark and kicked when he's down. If the listener can relate to his laments, he says, then welcome to his world.
So much for the rich rock star who lives life like it's one big party anthem.
"That's definitely a big misconception," Bouvier said. "When you have a band and you have some MTV airplay and you get played on the radio, people automatically think you're loaded — which is so not true — and you're happy. The richest people in the world are probably the most screwed up in the head. Being in a successful band or having a little money doesn't bring you anything more than what it is. We have our issues like everybody else. The song says, 'Take a look inside, it's not so beautiful for everybody.' "
Although "Welcome to My Life" is a musical progression from old songs like "Addicted" and "I'd Do Anything," tunes such as "Crazy" suggest a significant departure from a patented sound. Heavy guitar riffs are offset by delicate harmonic tones before Bouvier launches into a tirade about the erosion of a modern life marked by cosmetic surgery, broken homes and gas-guzzling SUVs. And somewhere mid-song, Stinco unleashes a massive guitar line that could make Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood jealous.
"Some of those [old] songs were written four years ago," Bouvier said. "So we definitely have evolved as people and as musicians. If we were to make the same record, it would be boring for us to play and tour on it for the next two years. It's cool to show there's an evolution there."
Simple Plan will begin a string of European dates with Avril Lavigne on September 26.