Simple Plan

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Interviews

Simple Plan - Jeff Stinco

  • November 26th, 2005
  • Rexall Place - Edmonton, Alberta

Editor’s Note: No one can deny that Simple Plan have blown up the past two years. The last time I sat down with them, two years ago, they were playing at Red’s. This time they stepped onto Rexall Place’s floor to send all their fans crazy. But even though the size of their fans may have grown, the guys have still stayed just as nice, and once again took the time to sit down and talk to me. I’d like to thank Jeff for doing the interview with me and Laura for setting up the interview.

Please note: All photos were taken, without permission, from their site and are copyrighted by their rightful owners.

Bobby: You guys are just starting your tour with Hedley and the Planet Smashers, are you looking forward to it?

Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve been touring all across the US, South America, a bunch of places all around the world, and it was great to come back home. Canada’s a comfortable country, even if it’s cold. There’s just so many things about it. Like people are really warm here. People are here to have a good time at shows, and it really feels that way. We started in Victoria and it’s just such a good atmosphere. It’s a little less tense than in America. People are just more into partying here and having a good time I think.

Simple PlanBobby: Why did you guys pick Planet Smashers and Hedley to open for you guys?

Jeff: Well, Planet Smashers are a great band. They’re a really, really good band from Montreal and we’ve known those guys for like ages. And it’s always great to help out bands that we like and bands that are starting and are doing really good on a smaller level and you can sense that they need a little boost to get to the other level; and yeah, that’s why we chose those bands. Bands that have potential to grow but don’t necessarily have the opportunities to play the big venues that we are playing. And it’s kind of a way of giving back for all the chances that we’ve gotten. Like Sugar Ray bringing us on tour, Blink182 bringing us on tour, Green Day bringing us on tour, those were great opportunities, and it’s our way to give back to the smaller bands.

Bobby: After this tour, in the new year, you guys are going over to Europe, are you looking forward to that?

Jeff: Yeah, it should be interesting. It’s more of a club tour. Europe is not as big as anywhere else in the world for us; so we still need to work hard at it. There’s some countries that we’re doing amazing, like Spain and Italy, some others where we need to do more work, like the UK and France. But yeah, it’s gonna be really, really fun. We have a lot of friends there. Europe is hard to tour, because the touring conditions are not as comfortable as in America, but it’s always a lot of fun. There’s beautiful countries that we are gonna be visiting on this run, like all of Scandinavia. We’re looking forward to going there. It’s just really amazing.

Bobby: You just said that you guys have been touring all over the world recently, China, South America, Japan, Australia, did you ever think you would be playing all over the world and selling out shows?

Jeff: You know when you’re a kid, and you start playing the guitar, start writing songs, and you’re like “well, I hope someday I get to play in an arena” – and that dream alone seems like something that was so far from here, like it seemed like the hardest thing to attain, to achieve and you dream about it and do everything you can do to get there. You get a band together, you get the financial support to make it happen, you start touring in a little van all across the country and gradually you see that things are getting bigger. I think that everyone had the dream in the back of their minds, but no one verbalized it because it was a little bit too cocky to even talk about it within the band. But yeah, I think it’s a dream that everybody has. When you see the huge bands, like the U2s, you see the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and they’re touring and you’re like “Wow, I wish that some day I’ll be like those guys, touring all across the world.” Our bands were like the Guns’n’Roses and Metallica. Those were the bands that we looked up to and seeing all the videos, all across the world in huge venues and it was like “maybe someday, that will be us.” And I gotta tell you, in a lot of countries, we’re at that level, which is pretty amazing.

Bobby: Yeah, it would be pretty cool to walk on stage and see all those people staring back at you.

Jeff: Yeah, we just did a show in Sao Paula in Brazil, and I gotta tell you, it was so big that I had the shakes before going on stage. I don’t know if you’ve seen those huge stadium shows on TV where it seems to be a crowd that’s never ending and you see these big stages that are like super spread out, really wide, really long – and that was that show. Super big light show, big production, we brought a really cool set up. It was pretty fantastic, petty amazing.

Bobby: You guys also recently did a deal with MasterCard where fans can buy a debit card, that looks like a credit card, with your faces on it. Why did you decide to do that?

Jeff: Well, the company that makes those cards approached us about it and at first we were like, “ummmm not so much.” But then they explained the concepts and the concept was pretty cool. It allows parents to responsibilize their kids, to getting good credit and getting their way into using cards. I remember when I was a teenager and I got my first credit card, I loaded it, like maxed it out the first week, because you don’t realize, I didn’t realize, that you had to pay the bills after. It just seemed like free money and I guess it was just out of lack of habit of having a card. I think these cards are pretty cool for kids to learn how to use these cards responsibly and beyond that, it’s a cool way to be able to have their own little identity, like you have your favourite band on the card. We thought it was a pretty cool thing to give to our fans.

Bobby: Have a lot of fans been buying it?

Jeff: Yeah, it’s actually the most successful MasterCard, like debit card with bands on it, right now. There’s some really major artists that have done it and we’re the most successful ones.

Bobby: Last October you guys released you’re sophomore album “Still Not Getting Any…”, for that you released three alternate covers. Why did you decide to do three covers?

Jeff: Because I think the pictures were amazing, all of them were amazing, and we as a band couldn’t agree on which one should be the album artwork. You know, there’s the obvious one, the normal one. The pretty shot, the normal, the good looking shot that you’d get on album covers, but I thought the other ones were funnier and our fans thought so too. Actually, the alternate album covers did really, really good, and I think it’s because people just wanted something quirky. You’re used to seeing the same album cover all the time, and then someone pops out that alternate cover and I think it’s kind of cool. You know, it was a really cool shoot to do too – to get older within a day. Going from 27 to 97 within a day was pretty cool so we had to do something special about it, for it.

Bobby: Out of the three covers, which would you say is your favourite?

Jeff: The last one, it’s so funny. The one when we’re like 90. Like I’m in a wheel chair and I think it’s the funniest one. There’s so many funny details in that thing. Sebastian peed his pants, like if you look, he’s got water on his pants. There’s little fine details all over which are really, really funny, but I’ll let the fans figure them out. We put specific things in there to make people laugh; I think it’s the best one. It’s so funny to see everybody… Like I don’t even recognize Dave and Chuck – I don’t know who’s who. They just look that bad, I can’t even recognize them.

Simple PlanBobby: Also on that disc, you did it in two formats. One two-disc release and then a DualDisk release, why did you do that?

Jeff: The DualDisk thing worked for a little bit, but I’m not really sure, I think we decided to discontinue it at some point and it came back to the 2 disc release. I think DualDisk was the cheaper way of getting the two things out there and we just wanted our fans to have access to it without having our fans pay too much money. But I think there were some problems with old readers, like some CD players were not reading them, so we had to offer an alternate version of it.

Bobby: You guys also just recently released a live CD called “MTV Hard Rock Live”, why did you decide to release a live one?

Jeff: I think the question is why so soon. The thing is, honestly, Simple Plan is a touring band first and foremost, and all our records are made with the intention of getting back on the road and playing those songs live. Having new material, making sure it’s still fresh, that’s why we record albums. Obviously making albums is a way to touring and promoting your tours, I guess that’s the artist’s perspective on how the industry works. But what we do is making live songs and playing songs live, and fans have been requesting material from those live shows which is much different than what we do on record. There’s more quirkiness between the songs, funny little things. The songs also evolve live, they are different. And our fans, I think, just wanted something to bring back home and watch at home. I think it’s pretty cool, and it looks amazing. Like I just watched it at home recently and it’s so cool to see the quality of the image and to have a recording of it too. It was a really good show and it was our way of giving back to our fans that wanted it. I think it’s really for a hardcore Simple Plan fan, it’s not for everybody. It’s for someone who’s seen a show and really wants to watch it at home. And there’s an alternate version of a song called “Crazy” on it, it’s an acoustic version, and I think the acoustic version is probably better than the album version. I think it’s more in touch with the lyrics. I think we should’ve recorded it that way in the beginning, but that’s my opinion, I’m just a fifth of the votes. It’s a democracy within Simple Plan!

Bobby: Was it weird playing live and knowing that’s being recorded? Like was there any added stress or anything?

Jeff: It’s always going to end up being recorded in some way, there’s always journalists in the room. But yeah, I guess, it’s a whole show. You can’t think about it too much though. I work really hard at my craft, like I practice a lot every day, and yeah, I just do what I do. I don’t think about it, like how many people are in the room or how many recorders are on. I just play music and try to be as honest as possible every time I do it. It sounds kinda like a cliché, but it’s really what I think about it. Before going on stage I’m really well prepared. I’m warmed up. I practiced during the day and I go for it. You can’t think about the mistakes you’re gonna do or what you’re not gonna do – you have to play and let it out. Some nights are worse, and some nights are better. But that’s just the nature of being a human being.

Bobby: So far, from your new CD, you’ve released four videos from it. My favourite is, of course, “Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me?)”. I love everything about it, the symbolism, how it’s all shot, everything. How did you guys come up with the idea for the video?

Jeff: Well that song was inspired by a bunch of different tragedies that happened around us. It wasn’t about one specific event. But during the making of the record… that song came last. It actually came while we were mixing the album; it was the last song that we recorded for the new album. And as we were writing it, we didn’t really know what the song was specifically about. It was kind of evolving naturally, it was more, I guess, a train of thought kind of thing. Like we were just working on it and it was evolving naturally. Then eventually we remembered this event from when we were in high school. Three guys went skiing and they drank their asses off all through the night, and one of the drivers was drunk and took the car back to go home. And he killed his best friend during the accident that followed when he fell asleep. I think it happens to a lot of people. I think, unfortunately, most teenagers, when they get their licences, tend to think that they are invincible. That they will never be too drunk to drive, and they take their cars and they just get into accidents. Or sometimes not, because their lucky. But it’s a really risky thing and I think it’s very popular unfortunately. I think Canada’s better than the US, I think in Canada, people are more aware of the dangers of drunk driving. But in the US, I gotta tell you, all around me, friends of mine do it all the time. We just wanted to make a very strong visual statement on what could happen to the people involved in the accident and also to the people surrounding. The family and the friends that are connected to the people that are getting into those accidents.

Bobby: I’ve also read on that after your European tour, you guys are going to take three months off to write a new album. Is that true?

Jeff: We’re going to take as much time as possible, as much time as we need. We’re gotta make a great record, a great third record, and we’re gonna take as much time as we need to write it. We’re not going to release new material that we’re not proud of. If it takes three months to write it, good. If it takes more time, we’re gonna take that time. It really depends on the writing. We need strong songs and we need songs that are different than the first and the second record, we need to evolve on this third record. So yeah, whatever time it takes. We’re in no rush to release a bad record; we want to release a good one.

Bobby: Do you think it’ll be anything incredibly different or will it still be Simple Plan?

Jeff: It will be Simple Plan. We’re not into changing everything and mixing our fans up, we’re not about that. We don’t want to confuse our fans. We want to make sure we’re releasing something that’s still in the vein of Simple Plan. But I think we’re gonna take some changes on the next record, try out a few different things. What exactly? Well, you know, we haven’t written much yet. We’re gonna see. We’ve all made a decision to really kick our butts, to challenge ourselves into writing different stuff. We have ideas that are quirky, a little different, so we’ll see where those ideas go.

Simple PlanBobby: Do you have any idea approximately when the CD will be released? Or is that way too far ahead?

Jeff: We’re hoping to have something out before the end of 2006.

Bobby: Alright, now onto a bit more unusual questions I just like to ask at all my interviews to make it a bit more interesting. First of all, if you were a member of the opposite sex for a day, week, month or however long you want, what would you do and why?

Jeff: *laughs* What would I do? I don’t know, I guess I would just try to do as many things as women do that men don’t do. I’d try to experiment a little bit. I probably wouldn’t have sex though, I think it would be kind of strange.

Bobby: Okay, if you guys, as a band, were stranded on a desert island, with no food and nothing to eat, which one of the band members would you eat to survive and why?

Jeff: Probably Pierre because he’s the biggest one so I’d have more food for longer.

Bobby: Can you tell us something about the band or one of it’s members that not many people know about? Like something odd they do on the road or something?

Jeff: For every band member? I don’t know, it’s hard. Well Pierre and Chuck still live at their parent’s house, I don’t know if a lot of people know that. David has the most amazing apartment in the world, but it’s so dirty you don’t even want to get in there. There’s like clothes everywhere in the room, everywhere! He doesn’t even open his mail; he hasn’t opened his mail in like a year. So he has no clue what’s going on right now. Sebastian, I’m trying to think… Sebastian’s just a pretty easy going guy, he’s pretty chill. Like what you see is what you get. As for myself, I’m just a nerd really. I was just lucky to be in a band. I’m a book worm. I just play my guitar, read books, watch movies, and that’s pretty much it. And I love skydiving.

Bobby: I guess that’s about it, thanks a lot for doing it. Do you have anything you would like to add?

Jeff: No, that’s about it. Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Thanks for doing it.