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Sum 41 is a Canadian rock band from Ajax, Ontario, active since 1996. The current members are Deryck Whibley (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Jason McCaslin (bass guitar, backing vocals), Steve Jocz (drums, backing vocals), and Tom Thacker (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboard).
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 UK. The band has since released three more studio albums: Does This Look Infected? (2002), Chuck (2004) and Underclass Hero (2007). All three albums were certified platinum in Canada.
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).
Beginnings and Half Hour of Power (1996–2000)
Sum 41 was formed by singer-songwriter Deryck Whibley and drummer Steve Jocz, 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 as lead guitarist a year later and after going through several bassists, ended up picking McCaslin to complete their lineup.
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 with the original bassist, Richard Roy.
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 contained their performing a dance to "Makes No Difference" in front of a theater.
Sum 41 released the EP, Half Hour of Power 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 EP 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)
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 #10 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, while "Motivation" peaked at #24 on the same chart. The album peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200 chart and at #9 on the Top Canadian Albums chart. While critical reception was mixed, 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 punk rock 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 more edgier sound, and the lyrics featured a more serious outlook. The album peaked at #32 on the Billboard 200 chart and at #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 #7 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single, "The Hell Song" peaked at #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.
Chuck and the Congo (2004–2006)
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.
"Bullets were coming through windows and everyone was just lying on the ground with their hands on their heads. One bomb came too close, hit the hotel and the hotel just started shaking. Everyone dove and was lying on the ground. Things were falling off the walls, mirrors were breaking. That's when we all kind of realized that this was really going bad, and we're probably not going to make it out. - Deryck Whibley"
The band waited for the firing 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.
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 #10 on the Billboard 200 chart and on the Top Internet Albums chart. It also peaked at #2 on the Canadian Albums chart and was the band's highest-charting album until it was surpassed by Underclass Hero. Chuck received generally 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 #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 #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.
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.
Baksh's departure and Underclass Hero (2006–2008)
On May 11, 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.
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. It debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and at #1 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart, the band's highest U.S. chart position to date. It also peaked at #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 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". 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.
Greatest Hits and Screaming Bloody Murder (2008–present)
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.
Sum 41 released a press release that mentioned that following the success of Underclass Hero, Universal Music picked up the option to have Sum 41 produce an EP in 2009. However, Deryck stated that the new EP was quickly turning into an LP due to the amount of music they had recorded, which was more than what they had initially planned. The band entered the studio in late 2008 for a plan to release the album sometime during 2009, with a supporting tour in the summer.
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. In February 2009, the band said that due to the success and demand for the greatest hits album, they had decided to release it worldwide, although with a different title and artwork. On March 17, All the Good Shit was released.
On February 15, 2009, Deryck posted a news bulletin on the band's website stating that the band had decided to make a full album instead of an EP. He went on to say that "it's safe to say" the album will be released in 2009.
On July 20, 2009, Steve posted a blog on the band's website saying that the band finished all their tour dates for the year after their summer tour with The Offspring, and that they were going to take the rest of the year off to finish working on their album. He has also confirmed that new lead guitarist Tom Thacker will take part in the writing and recording.
On July 31, 2009, in an interview with Steve and Cone, they told fans to expect the new album to be released around the Summer of 2010, although it might be released sooner. In the same interview, they claimed to have 5 or 6 songs already done. In a recent interview with OK! Magazine, Deryck said that the band is considering recording the new album in a "crazy" chateau outside of Paris, France, just to do something different. He also said that they have 15 to 18 new songs, but haven't laid any tracks for them down yet. He also said that Sum 41 fans should "brace themselves" for a "less poppy, more punchy record".
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".
Sum 41 was confirmed for playing the entire 2010 Warped Tour. This was the band's fourth time on the tour. However, the band had to cancel several dates toward the end of the tour, after Whibley was hospitalized for a slipped disc in his back after he was attacked at a bar in Japan.
On March 17, 2010, the band finished recording all instruments for the new album, with only vocals left to be tracked by Deryck Whibley at his own home studio. On April 7, 2010, the whole band returned to the studio to record a couple more last minute songs for the album. In a video update from June 12, 2010, Deryck Whibley has confirmed that the album is "99% done".
A new studio album, tentatively titled Screaming Bloody Murder, is expected for a late 2010 or early 2011 release. The band finished recording 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 from Sum 41 called "Scumfuck" (or "Skumfuk") was leaked online on July 6, 2010. The song will not be a single off 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.
Music style and influences
The genre of Sum 41's music 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 and rapcore, but Does This Look Infected? and Chuck started moving toward heavier styles, such as alternative rock and alternative metal. Critics have described Underclass Hero as a revival of the band's old pop punk style. The genre argument is centralized around the punk streak of the band, and they have been labeled as pop punk, punk rock and alternative rock. 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.
Awards and nominations
Sum 41 has been nominated for seven Juno Awards; they 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 2002, 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".
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