After scrapping at least two albums’ worth of material, Good Charlotte have finally completed their fourth disc, which is scheduled for release in February and is titled Good Morning Revival! Guitarist Benji Madden recorded his final parts for the album on Thursday and Andy Wallace (who mixed Nirvana’s Nevermind among many other albums) started mixing the disc three days later.
The album — which was produced by Don Gilmore, who also helmed the band’s 2000 self-titled debut — includes tracks like “Misery,” “Victims of Love” and “Keep Your Hands Off My Girl.” While such song titles suggest Good Charlotte are still writing the kind of dark, biting anthems they penned for 2002′s The Young and the Hopeless and 2004′s The Chronicles of Life and Death, that’s not really the case. Even when their messages are somewhat cynical, the music is surprisingly upbeat.
“We went in a whole different direction as far as the mood of the record and the song content goes,” singer Joel Madden said Friday. “We wanted to keep away from all the dramatic and dark overtones that we’ve been doing for the last four or five years. Everyone else in our genre of music is getting really dramatic, so we figured, let’s go somewhere completely different. So it’s a little bit dancier and the music feels really good, but it’s still Good Charlotte.”
The band started working on Good Morning Revival! last year and wound up writing and rehearsing two separate batches of about 30 songs before they finally penned the tunes that would comprise the new record (see “Good Charlotte Busy Blogging, Making Acronyms, Cranking Out Demos For Fourth LP” ). “The problem with all those other songs is they could have been on any of our other records,” Madden said. “I know there were some good ones on there and maybe one day we’ll release them over the Internet to our fans. I mean, I like those songs. We took our time and really worked hard on them.”
When they decided to throw away the second pile of 30 songs (the brothers also kept themselves busy with outside production work: see “Maddens Bring ‘Flavor’ To J-Kwon Tracks, Get ‘Pumped’ For Next Good Charlotte LP,” “Joel And Benji Madden Record ‘Clash Meets N.W.A’ Track With Game” and “Hilary Says She Worried About Fan Reaction To Madden-Produced Music” ), Good Charlotte agreed that it was time for a change of scenery. They’d worked previously in Los Angeles and New York, so Vancouver, British Columbia, seemed the right place to start with a clean slate.
The city’s picturesque environment was inspiring, and in less than two months they had written the entire new album. “We just needed to get away from everything,” Madden said. “We were somewhere peaceful and quiet, working in the studio 12 hours a day. The whole thing felt fresh, so we were able to not have to live up to anything and just make music.”
While the songs on Good Morning Revival! didn’t come easily — and every time the band decided to start over, its management and label got anxious — Madden says the bandmembers never felt frustrated or freaked out. In fact, they felt more like they did when they were first starting out in the music business.
“It was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had making a record,” Madden said. “It was all about doing what we wanted to do and there were no rules. Doing the album with Don [Gilmore] was so great because he made our first record, so it was really just about getting back to the music, and who cares what anybody else is doing.”
Still, Madden did find one aspect of making the new album challenging: This was the first record he has ever worked on sober, and he had a difficult time staying off the bottle. “It’s a weird part of my life because it’s such a struggle,” he admitted. “It’s a hard, hard thing for me to deal with. I’ve been sober now for two years, and I go through periods where it’s not so hard, but there’s just this part that’s inside of me that wants to be a mess. Also, when I’m writing, I think a lot of my creativity comes from that part of me, so it’s hard.”
He paused to gather his thoughts, then continued. “I don’t know why we’re that way, but it’s like you’re born just wanting to go on a tear and be irresponsible and it’s hard to fight that because I’m like, ‘Well, is that a part of me? Am I supposed to do that? Am I supposed to change?’ Because I was doing this before anyone knew who I was and I was a mess, but that was me. So, it’s a hard thing to deal with, but I stopped drinking after we finished a tour for the last album because I think I knew enough is enough, you know? I had a lot of good things going and I didn’t want to f— it up.”
No singles have been chosen yet for Good Morning Revival!, but the bandmembers have decided to put various mixes of “Get Your Hands Off My Girl” on their Web site before the record is released. The track was inspired by legendary New York DJ Junior Sanchez, who Madden befriended, and who has schooled the singer about DJ and dance culture.
“I just did this dance song, and I specifically wanted Junior and a lot of his friends to remix it and put it out,” Madden said. “I wasn’t even thinking of it for the record. I just wanted to do it as an indie-dance song for a laugh. I thought it would be funny to hear my stuff at the club. So, I wrote this song and everyone was like, ‘Holy sh–, that’s really good!’ So it made the record.”
Another song Madden is proud of is “The River,” a spur-of-the-moment collaboration with his friends in Avenged Sevenfold. The track is about people who get caught up in the hype and hysteria of Los Angeles and lose their own identity, and Avenged Sevenfold jumped onboard at the last minute. Right before this year’s VMAs, the two bands were hanging out, and Good Charlotte invited Avenged to come to the studio to check out their new album. Then, Madden asked them if they wanted to be on a song, and they chose “The River.”
“It sounds so awesome,” Madden said. “Matt [a.k.a. M. Shadows] sings the second verse and he also comes in on the second chorus. And Brian [a.k.a. Synyster Gates] does a guitar solo through the bridge. It’s not a metal song, but their parts fit and they really rock.”
Good Charlotte will preview some of the songs from Good Morning Revival! on a club tour that begins on September 27 in San Francisco and runs through October 22 in Baltimore (see “Good Charlotte Roll Out U.S. Tour Dates For Still-Untitled Fourth LP” ).
“I’m so excited to be doing small clubs again,” Madden said. “It’s good way for us to get back out there before we play bigger places again. I can’t wait.”