Origin: Ontario, Canada
Genre: Punk rock, pop punk, melodic hardcore, alternative rock, alternative metal
Years active: 1996–present
All Killer, No Filler (2001)
Does This Look Infected? (2002)
Underclass Hero (2007)
Screaming Bloody Murder (2011)
Sum 41 is a Canadian rock band from Ajax, Ontario, Canada. The band was formed in 1996 and as of 2014 consists of members Deryck Whibley (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Tom Thacker (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Jason McCaslin (bass guitar, backing vocals). In April 2013, former drummer Steve Jocz announced his departure from the band.
In 1999, the band signed an international record deal with Island Records. The band released their debut album, All Killer, No Filler in 2001. The band achieved mainstream success with their first single from the album, “Fat Lip”, which reached number-one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and remains the band’s most successful single to date. All Killer No Filler was certified platinum in the United States, Canada and in the United Kingdom.
The band later released Does This Look Infected? in 2002 to a commercial and critical success. The singles The Hell Song and Still Waiting both charted highly on the modern rock charts. The band released their next album Chuck in 2004, led by singles We’re All To Blame and Pieces. The album proved successful, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and sold 5 million copies worldwide. In 2007, the band released Underclass Hero, which was released to a mixed reception, but gained some commercial success, becoming the band’s highest charting album to date. After four years, the band released Screaming Bloody Murder, in 2011 to a mixed to positive reception, as well as some average charting positions. The album did not do as well commercially as the band’s past albums.
The band often performs more than 300 times each year and holds long global tours, most of which last more than a year. They have been nominated for seven Juno Awards and have won twice (Group of the Year in 2002 and Rock Album of the Year for Chuck in 2005). Sum 41 was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song “Blood In My Eyes”, however they lost to the Foo Fighters.
Formative years (1996–1998)
Sum 41 was formed by lead guitarist and backing vocalist Deryck Whibley and drummer Steve Jocz, under the name Kaspir after Whibley convinced Jocz to join his band. Jocz was a drummer in another band and Whibley was convinced that “he was the best drummer around”. The duo then added Dave Baksh to take over Whibley’s spot as lead guitarist and backing vocalist and Whibley took over as rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist after going through several rhythm guitarists and lead vocalists and after going through several bassists, ended up picking McCaslin to complete their lineup.
The group began as a NOFX cover band named “Kaspir”. They decided to change their name for a Supernova show on September 28, 1996 which happened to be the 41st day of their summer vacation.
Half Hour of Power (1998–2000)
In 1998, the band recorded a demo tape on Compact Cassette which they sent to record companies in the hope of getting a recording contract. These demo tapes are rare and are the only recordings known that are with the original bassist, Richard Roy and original keyboardist, John Nicosia.
From 1999 to 2000, the band recorded several new songs. The Introduction to Destruction and later the Cross The T’s and Gouge Your I’s DVDs both contained the self-recorded footage, which saw them performing a dance to “Makes No Difference” in front of a theater.
Sum 41’s first EP, Half Hour of Power, was released on June 27, 2000. The first single released by the band was “Makes No Difference”, which had two different music videos. The first video was put together using the video clips sent to the record label and the second showed the band performing at a house party. The album was certified gold in Canada. Following the success of the EP, the band began working on their first full-length album.
All Killer No Filler and Does This Look Infected? (2001–2003)
Deryck Whibley at the Ottawa Bluesfest in 2003.
Sample of “Fat Lip” from All Killer No Filler. “Fat Lip” was the band’s first single to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.
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Sum 41’s first full-length album, All Killer, No Filler, was released on May 8, 2001. “Fat Lip”, the album’s first single, achieved significant chart and commercial success; it topped the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart as well as many other charts around the world. The song remains the band’s most successful song to date. After “Fat Lip”, two more singles were released from the album: “In Too Deep” and “Motivation”. “In Too Deep” peaked at No. 10 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, while “Motivation” peaked at No. 24 on the same chart. The album peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart and at No. 9 on the Top Canadian Albums chart. The album was a commercial success, and was certified platinum in the United States, Canada and in the UK.
The success of the album brought the band touring offers with mainstream pop-punk bands like Blink 182 and The Offspring. The band spent much of 2001 touring; they played over 300 concerts that year before returning to the studio to record another album. They took the last week of the tour off due to the September 11 terrorist attacks. They later rescheduled the canceled shows.
On November 26, 2002, Sum 41 released their second album, Does This Look Infected?. The special edition came with a DVD, Cross The T’s and Gouge Your I’s. Whibley said of the album: “We don’t want to make another record that sounds like the last record, I hate when bands repeat albums.” The album featured a harder and edgier sound, and the lyrics featured a more serious outlook. The album peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 chart and at No. 8 on the Top Canadian Albums chart. The album was certified platinum in Canada and gold in the United States, but was not as successful as its predecessor.
The first single released from the album was “Still Waiting”, which peaked at No. 7 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single, “The Hell Song” peaked at No. 13 on the chart. “The Hell Song”‘s music video depicted the band using dolls with their pictures on them and others, such as Ozzy Osbourne and Pamela Anderson. The third single, “Over My Head (Better Off Dead)”, had a video released exclusively in Canada and on their website, featuring live shots of the band. The video also appeared on their live DVD, Sake Bombs And Happy Endings (2003), as a bonus feature. The band again commenced on a long tour to promote the album before recording their third studio album.
In late May 2004, the band traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with War Child Canada, a branch of the British charity organization War Child, to document the civil war in the country. Days after arriving, fighting broke out in Bukavu near the hotel the band was staying at.
The band waited for the fighting to die down, but it did not. During that time, a U.N. peacekeeper, Charles “Chuck” Pelletier, called for armored carriers to take the hotel’s occupants out of the hot zone. After nearly six hours, the carriers arrived, and the band and the forty other civilians were taken to safety.
“We’re All to Blame”
Sample of “We’re All to Blame” from Chuck. “We’re All to Blame” featured an alternative metal sound.
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In honor of Pelletier, Sum 41 named their next album Chuck; it was released on October 12, 2004. The album is the band’s heaviest and most serious album to date, and charted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and on the Top Internet Albums chart. It also peaked at No. 2 on the Canadian Albums chart and was the band’s highest-charting album until it was surpassed by Underclass Hero. The album received positive reviews and was certified platinum in Canada and gold in the United States.
The first single from the album was “We’re All To Blame”, which peaked at No. 10 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It was followed by “Pieces”, a relatively soft song which reached the top of the charts in Canada. The next single was “Some Say”, released only in Canada and Japan. The last single off the record was “No Reason”, released at the same time as “Some Say”, but with no music video and was only released in Europe and the USA, where it reached No. 16 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.
A documentary of their experience in Congo was made into a film called Rocked: Sum 41 in Congo and later aired on MTV. War Child released it on DVD on November 29, 2005, in the United States and Canada.
Following the album’s release, the band went on a tour with Good Charlotte until 2006. On December 21, 2005, Sum 41 released a live album, Happy Live Surprise, in Japan. The CD contained a full concert recorded live from London, Ontario and was produced by Whibley. The same CD was released March 7, 2006, in Canada under the name Go Chuck Yourself.
Underclass Hero, All the Good Shit and Baksh’s Departure (2006–2009)
Sum 41 playing live at Club Oxygen on March 7, 2008
On May 10, 2006, Dave Baksh announced in a statement through his management company that he was leaving Sum 41 to work with his new band, Brown Brigade, which has a more “classic metal” sound. Baksh cited “creative differences” as the reason for his departure but claimed that he was still on good terms with the band. The next day, Whibley confirmed Baksh’s departure and announced that the band would only replace Dave with a touring guitarist, who would not have any decision-making power in the band or be in videos, photo shoots, or albums.
Sum 41 “Walking Disaster” (2007)
Sum 41 returned to more of a pop-punk sound in Underclass Hero.
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Recording of the band’s fourth studio album, Underclass Hero, began on November 8, 2006 and finished on March 14, 2007. The album, backed by the first single and title track, “Underclass Hero”, was released on July 24, 2007. Despite mixed reviews, the album was a commercial success, debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and at No. 1 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart, the band’s highest U.S. chart position to date. The album sold over 1 million copies worldwide. It also peaked at No. 1 on the Canadian Albums chart and on the Alternative Albums chart, a first for the band on both the charts.
On April 17, 2007, the band released a song on iTunes, “March of the Dogs”. Although not a single, the band released it early because, according to Whibley, “the record [wouldn’t] be out until the summer”. Whibley was threatened with deportation for the song, because he metaphorically “killed the president” in it. Two more singles were released from the album, “Walking Disaster” and “With Me”. “With Me” especially found radio success by 2008. Underclass Hero was certified platinum in Canada.
In October 2007, the band began the Strength In Numbers Tour, a tour of Canada with Canadian band Finger Eleven; Die Mannequin opened each of Sum 41’s shows. During the tour, Whibley sustained a herniated disk. As a result, they canceled the rest of their shows. After Whibley recovered from his injury, the band recommenced the Underclass Hero tour in March 2008. They toured until early July, when they began preparation for their next album.
On August 7, 2008, McCaslin announced in a journal entry on the band’s official site that the band was currently taking time off from touring to do other things. Afterward, they would begin working on the band’s next studio album. McCaslin worked on the second album by his side-project, The Operation M.D.. Jocz toured as a drummer for The Vandals, and Whibley toured with his (then) wife, Avril Lavigne.
On November 26, 2008 Sum 41 released 8 Years of Blood, Sake and Tears, a greatest hits album, in Japan. The album included a previously unreleased song, “Always”, and a DVD, which contains each of the band’s music videos. On March 17, All the Good Shit was released.
Screaming Bloody Murder and Thacker’s arrival (2009–2012)
Steve Jocz confirmed that new lead guitarist Tom Thacker will take part in the writing and recording. On November 5, 2009, Deryck posted a blog on the band’s MySpace page announcing Gil Norton as the producer of the band’s upcoming album, also saying that 20 songs were already written for the album. In an interview with Tom Thacker, some working titles for songs for the new album were confirmed, including “Panic Attack”, “Jessica Kill” and “Like Everyone Else”. Pre-production for the new album took 13 days in December 2009, with the band officially entering the studio to begin recording at Perfect Sound Studios on January 26, 2010. The new studio album, titled Screaming Bloody Murder, was expected for a late 2010 release, until it was delayed again until early 2011. The band finished recording on June 24, 2010, just before joining the 2010 Warped Tour, and while they were on the tour, the new album entered the post-production stages of mixing and mastering. A new song called “Skumfuk” was leaked online on July 6, 2010. The song is not a single of the new album, and was hoped to be included as part of a Warped Tour compilation album. In an interview with Canoe.ca, Steve Jocz stated that while producer Gill Norton was originally hired to engineer the new album, he was only around for a week and Sum 41 self-produced their record.
Deryck Whibley in 2012
On January 8, 2011, it was announced that the band will release the radio single “Screaming Bloody Murder” on February 7, 2011 in the United States. The song had its worldwide premiere on January 14, 2011, on the Windsor radio station 89X. Universal Japan has confirmed on the official Japanese Sum 41 website, that Screaming Bloody Murder will be released in Japan on March 23, 2011, after which it was confirmed on the band’s official website that the album be released on March 29, 2011, in the US, though the Japanese release date was since then postponed to April 6 following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. On February 28, 2011, a stream of “Blood In My Eyes”, another new song from the album, was released for free listening on Alternative Press. On May 28, 2011, Sum 41 performed a live set for “Guitar Center Sessions” on DirecTV. The episode included an interview with program host, Nic Harcourt. On June 14, 2011, it was announced that “Baby, You Don’t Wanna Know” will be released as the second single of the album. On June 28, 2011, it was confirmed that the band shot a music video for the song during a day off in Germany. In July 2011, Matt Whibley has confirmed that the music video for the first single “Screaming Bloody Murder” will be left unreleased due to its content and difficulties with the label, but the video for “Baby, You Don’t Wanna Know” will be released soon instead.
In May 2011, during the band’s 10th anniversary Japanese tour, the band debuted for the first time some new songs from Screaming Bloody Murder, including “Reason to Believe”, “Blood in My Eyes”, “Sick of Everyone” and “Back Where I Belong”. During the same tour, Deryck Whibley’s cousin, Matt, who served as the band’s assistant as well as video photographer, has joined the band on stage as an unofficial member to play the keyboards. He then continued to play keyboards during the band’s European summer tour in June–July 2011.
On August 9, 2011, Sum 41 released the live album Live at the House of Blues, Cleveland 9.15.07 – a live recording of a show that took place on September 15, 2007, in Cleveland, Ohio, while the band was touring their previous album Underclass Hero.
On August 13, 2011, while the band was touring the US as part of the Vans Warped Tour, making up for dates they had to cancel on their 2010 stint on the tour, they were forced once again to cancel all remaining dates in the US and Canada after playing only 3 shows, after Deryck re-injured his back again. On August 23, 2011, it was announced on the band’s official website that following Deryck Whibley’s back injury on August 13, which forced the band to already cancel their US and Canadian dates in August, the band would be indefinitely postponing all upcoming tour dates for 2011, due to Deryck undergoing a treatment for his medical condition. It was confirmed that the band’s first ever South American tour as well as their first ever Asian tour (excluding Japan), would all be cancelled, and rescheduled for some time in 2012. In an interview with Cone that took place in Oppikoppi, Cone has said that “it’s safe to say Sum 41 won’t have another album out for at least the next two years.” On November 30, 2011, Sum 41 was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song Blood In My Eyes, however on February 12, 2012, the Foo Fighters won. On February 24, 2012, it was announced on the band’s Twitter that this week the band will be shooting a music video for the song “Blood In My Eyes” with director Michael Maxxis in Los Angeles, confirming that it’ll be the third single of the album. Shooting of the video took place on February 29, 2012, at the desert around the Los Angeles area. On March 19, 2012, it was announced on the band’s Twitter that the 1st cut of the music video was ready, and that the video will be shortly released and some changes will be made. The video was finally released on the 10th of September.
It was announced in September that the band was planning a Does This Look Infected? 10th Anniversary Tour to celebrate the album’s release in 2002. The tour consisted of North American dates that spanned from November into December.
Jocz’s departure and new album (2012–present)
Sum 41 on tour “10th Anniversary Of Does This Look Infected?”
On November 26, 2012, the band revealed they will be taking a break from touring sometime in 2013 to begin work on a new record.
On April 18, 2013, drummer Jocz announced he would be leaving the band via his official Facebook page, leaving Whibley as the sole founding member of the band.
In an interview on February 7, 2014, Deryck revealed that the band has possibly found a new drummer and would be premiering new music “soon”.
The expected sixth album would be the band’s first with Whibley and McCaslin as the only two band mates from their original release left.
On May 16, 2014, Deryck Whibley posted on his personal website, explaining that he had a liver and kidney failure due to extensive drinking. He also stated that he had some ideas for new songs, and that the band would be soon starting to make a new album.
On June 9, 2014, Deryck Whibley has stated on his personal Facebook page that he was working on new Sum 41 music, and working out his home studio to get ready to record some new tunes.
Side projects and collaborations
Before the release of Half Hour of Power and up until the departure of Dave Baksh, Sum 41 occasionally played as an alter-ego 1980s heavy metal band called Pain for Pleasure during shows. The band appeared in Sum 41’s music videos for “Fat Lip” and “We’re All to Blame” and had at least one song on each of the band’s first three releases. Their best known song under the Pain for Pleasure moniker is “Pain for Pleasure” from All Killer No Filler, a track that remains their staple during live shows.
Sum 41 has collaborated with many other artists, both live and in the studio, among whom are Tenacious D, Ludacris, Iggy Pop, Pennywise, Bowling for Soup, Unwritten Law, Treble Charger, Nelly, Gob, Tommy Lee, Rob Halford, Kerry King, Metallica, and Ja Rule.
Shortly after touring for Does This Look Infected?, Sum 41 was recruited by Iggy Pop for his album, Skull Ring. Deryck co-wrote the first single from the album, “Little Know It All”, and joined Iggy on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote the song. Following their September 11, 2005 show in Quebec City, Quebec, the band went on a touring hiatus, although on April 17, 2006, Sum 41 played at a tribute to Iggy Pop, joining Iggy on stage for “Little Know It All” and “Lust For Life”.
During the band’s 2006 touring hiatus, Whibley focused on his producing career: he produced two songs for Avril Lavigne’s album The Best Damn Thing. Jocz recorded his first video as director for a Canadian band, The Midway State, and McCaslin started a side project with Todd Morse of H2O and Juliette and the Licks. McCaslin’s two-person band, named The Operation M.D., released their debut album, We Have an Emergency, in early 2007. As well as playing bass, keyboards, and acoustic guitar, Cone contributed backing vocals as well as leading vocals on three songs. The album was co-produced and mixed by Whibley. Their video for their first single, “Sayonara”, was directed by Jocz.
In December 2007, McCaslin interviewed Slash of Velvet Revolver. They talked about Slash’s experiences while in Guns N’ Roses and his part in Velvet Revolver. The interview was part of a MySpace project and was posted on the site in three parts.
The 2010 video game Vancouver 2010 features Sum 41’s “Open Your Eyes” from Chuck as one of the game’s songs.
Music style and influences
Sum 41 been labeled as various genres, such as pop punk, punk rock and melodic hardcore. They have also been labeled as alternative rock and alternative metal.
The band’s style has been disputed by fans because of the complex combination of different musical styles and the more mature, serious, and heavy sound in later albums. Fans and critics agree that Half Hour of Power and All Killer No Filler were mainly pop punk, punk rock, skate punk and rapcore, but Does This Look Infected? started moving towards a heavier punk rock style and was also influenced by melodic hardcore, which equated with the band coming out with a heavier and more mature sound. On the other hand, Chuck was getting heavier opting out the original pop punk sound with strong metal influences and an alternative rock sound, but the band kept in touch with their punk rock and melodic hardcore roots, which created an even more mature side than their previous effort.[not in citation given] Critics have described Underclass Hero as a revival of the band’s old pop punk style. Some of the band’s songs contain political-social commentary; “The Jester” is an “anti-Bush screed”, “Underclass Hero” is a song about class struggle, and “Dear Father” is about Deryck’s absent father. The band’s most recent effort, Screaming Bloody Murder, brought back their punk rock, pop punk, melodic hardcore, alternative metal, and alternative rock sound but was heavily experimented with, and garage rock also became a heavy influence on Screaming Bloody Murder.
Sum 41 have been influenced by bands like NOFX, Pennywise, The Vandals, Gob, Bad Religion, Rancid, Green Day, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Blink-182, The Offspring, Megadeth, Slayer, Nirvana and The Beatles
Cone during July 7, 2003 Ottawa Bluesfest
Touring in support of Chuck, Sum 41 played videos before their set which were deemed “unsuitable for children”. Controversy arose over some of the videos’ violent content. They made several other videos, including Basketball Butcher and 1-800-Justice, which were originally available exclusively on Sum 41’s now-defunct fan club, The Goon Platoon.
Sum 41’s most recent internet video project is a “weekly series,” SUM 41 – Road to Ruin. The trailer was posted on January 8, 2007 on the Sum 41 web page. The first episode debuted on January 21; it followed their exploits on their Singapore 2003 tour. Since then, their episodes have included footage of drunkenness in New Orleans, setting off a fire alarm in a hotel, and a feature about their first tour manager. So far, they have released ten episodes, with their latest and as they have stated recently, their ‘last’ for now being an episode that features their guitar technician. They also created a series of cartoons based on superhero “Stickman Moss”, who saved the world from anti-punk figures who endangered the world of punk rock.
In December 2009, the band launched a new daily update series from the pre-production of their upcoming fifth studio album. It was announced on the band’s Myspace page that the daily updates will run for the 2–3 weeks of pre-production. 13 video updates from the pre-production were made and posted on the band’s official Myspace page.
Awards and nominations
Sum 41 have been nominated for seven Juno Awards; they have won twice. In 2001, they were nominated for “Best New Group” at the Juno awards, but lost to Nickelback. They were nominated for “Best Group” in the Juno Awards of 2002 but again lost to Nickelback. Also in 2001, The album All Killer No Filler was nominated for “Best Album; however, it lost to The Look of Love by Diana Krall. In 2003, Sum 41 won a Juno Award for “Group Of The Year”. In 2004, they were nominated again, this time with Does This Look Infected? for “Rock Album of the Year”, but they lost to Sam Roberts’s We Were Born in a Flame. In 2005, the album Chuck won “Rock Album of the Year”; they were also nominated for “Group of The Year”, but lost to Billy Talent. In 2008, their album Underclass Hero was nominated for the Juno Award “Rock Album of the Year”; however, the album lost to Finger Eleven’s Them vs. You vs. Me. They also have been nominated for three different Canadian Independent Music Awards. In 2004, they won a Woodie Award for “The Good Woodie (Greatest Social Impact)”. They were also nominated for a Kerrang! Award in 2003 for “Best Live Act”. On November 30, 2011, Sum 41 was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance for the song Blood In My Eyes, however on February 12, 2012, the Foo Fighters won.