“Cone of Sum 41 is ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’”

I remember when I first saw the Sum 41, it was like watching the Sex Pistols mixed with the Beastie Boys and Slayer. It was such a random combination, but they pulled it off and they pulled it off well. I remember watching MTV’s Metallica ICON special and Sum 41 was the house band and they sounded better than Korn, Limp Bizkit, Snoop Dogg, Avril Lavigne and Staind. They’re a band that has graduated to that veteran status and they’re back with a new heavy, darker and intense album, “Screaming Bloody Murder.” I got a chance to talk with Cone from Sum 41 about the new album.

Zoiks!: Most artists are fans of a wide variety of music, but tend to stick to one genre. The great thing about Sum 41 was that, while labeled pop/punk you guys really attracted a wide variety of music fans, from Beastie Boy fans to Slayer fans. Where did incorporating all those styles yet making the album easily accessible on the ears come from?

Cone: I guess like you said we are all fans of a very very wide variety of music and always have been. I guess the difference between us and what another band would do is that we wanted to incorporate all these styles into 1 thing and still do to this day. Not just be a punk band or a metal band but be a "rock" band that plays and can play all different things.

Z!: That was then this was now, you took a couple years off. Where are you at musically now? How different is the new album compared to your earlier releases?

C: This album took a few years to write and record and get together and I think this album musically is a pretty natural thing for us. We didn't sit down and say "ok we need to make a heavy aggressive dark album". We literally didn't have any direction and this is just what came out. Nothing was over thought. We just had fun and made music together with no deadline or pressure for ourselves. Compared to the last album "Underclass Hero" I would say its pretty night and day. This album is heavier, darker, and more intense than that album. This album has more songs on it that don't have traditional song arrangements. Its not your standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, end. This has more complex arrangements where parts come out of nowhere. Might be a metal part or soft part or whatever. Pretty reminiscent of a song from our album "Chuck" we had in 2004 called "We're All To Blame".

Z!: Was the writing and recording of "Screaming Bloody Murder" any different from prior albums?

C: A little. This time we did most of the recording (except drums and vocals) in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills. It was a house we all lived in together and the guest house had been transformed into a studio. So any time of the day or night we had access to the studio and living there all together made us really live this album instead of going home at night and being alone in a hotel room. That was the biggest difference this time around.

Z!: You've reached the point of a veteran rock band. You took a couple years off. You're back and people are still showing up to your shows. What does that feel like?

C: It feels great to still have a strong fan base after all these years. Almost feels like our fan base is getting bigger. Maybe young kids are discovering us on the internet or word of mouth or whatever but it feels like we are playing bigger shows now. As far as being away for a while, I think in most people's minds maybe we did but in our minds we were still working a lot over the past 3 years doing this album and touring randomly. We did a tour with Offspring 2 years ago, we did some stuff in Japan 2 years ago, we did Warped Tour last summer so we've been still going but we just haven't had a new studio album out in 4 years.

Z!: People are still showing up to shows, but the music industry has changed (is changing). While recording "Screaming Bloody Murder" is there any level of anxiety about the success of the album?

C: Not so much anxiety but you do have to be aware that things are changing and you can't always count on things like radio or getting money from your label to do this and that. You have to do it yourself. Its great if radio plays your song but you can't count on it. That was our mind frame. We are lucky to have a pretty big fan base that keeps coming to shows and we knew that so we just did our thing and never really worried about too much. We knew our fans would come to shows and we knew our fans would like this album.

Z!: How do the new songs translate live?

C: It’s been great so far. I think because of things like you tube and stuff like that fans can go the internet and listen to your new songs and so when we play a few new songs live right now it almost seems like they are old songs because everyone already knows all the words and the album isn't even out yet.

Z!: Do you have any summer touring plans?

C: We are doing a tour in Japan in May, then we are in the midst of booking European festivals after that. Then the plan is by mid summer to start doing some North American stuff. Still figuring everything out though.

Z!: Are there plans to play a lot of the new songs this summer?

C: We are only playing 2 new songs right now but when the album comes out we will be adding a lot more new ones to the set. We will still play all the old "classics" (laughs) too though.

Z!: What can fans expect from a Sum 41 show?

C: It’s always a high energy fun show. We spend a lot of time putting together a good live show and I think it has been the biggest key as to why people are still coming.

Z!: What advice would you give to young artists trying to have a career in the ever changing music industry?

C: You have to do it yourself. Labels aren't spending money on bands anymore, there aren't as many radio stations playing rock anymore. You have to market yourself and get your band noticed. Use internet tools like you tube and twitter. Use it all and tour like crazy even if you're playing to 10 people. Be a good live band because that's the only way you'll survive in this new music industry. Touring is everything.

Z!: Thanks for taking the time is there anything else you'd like to add?

C: New Album - "Screaming Bloody Murder" March 29th! We'll be on the road and we'll see you all soon!

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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