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Sum 41: ‘Living in the past would be a mistake’ | Music | Entertainment

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Sum 41 have been one of the pillars of punk-rock and pop-punk music since they hit the scene back in 1996.

As a four-man punk outfit from Ajaz, Ontario, Canada, these aggressive youths took music to an exciting new plane by pushing boundaries with their unbelievably catchy melodies filled with absolute and abject fury.

During this time, the industry feasted on Sum 41’s chart-topping hits such as Fat Lip, Pieces, In Too Deep, Still Waiting and many more. But it has not been a smooth journey.

Over the years, they’ve had their troubles, with members leaving, returning, illness, and albums flopping. Regardless: they’ve endured. Eventually, though, all good things must come to an end. This week, Sum 41 will release their eighth and final album, Heaven :x: Hell, before going on a massive world tour, and finally bringing the band to a close.

Speaking exclusively to just days before the record’s release, Sum 41’s lead guitarist Dave Baksh looked back on the band’s legacy, and what will come after the amps are turned off one last time.

Dave has always been a powerful and creative force within Sum 41; penning some of music’s most iconic guitar solos and riffs of all time. Looking back to their first album – and ahead of this week’s release – Dave was quick to point out the parallels.

“It’s wild to bookend our career with what’s widely regarded as our first release – All Killer No Filler – having a hit with that, and then our very last release [Heaven :x: Hell] having a hit as well, over here in North America. It’s a crazy feeling, and kind of vindicates us liking what we do.”

This isn’t just another Sum 41 album, though. This is, for all intents and purposes, the Sum 41 album. Over the past 30 years, the band have always jumped between and blended genres – mainly pop, punk, and heavy metal. Heaven :x: Hell takes on both of these personas in the most earnest way. The double album is 20 tracks; ten of which are lighter (Heaven), with the remaining songs creating a heavier, moodier experience (Hell).

Ultimately, Dave explained, the decision to split the album into two halves allowed the band to experience a little more freedom. “I think the fact that we were able to lean fully into either side – whether the punk-rock side or whether the heavy side – I think it just allowed the songs to breathe a little bit more,” he said.

“And, I mean, [singer Deryck Whibley’s] motto when he’s writing a song is he lets the song lead him where to go,” Dave continued. “He’ll never force something. And I think, because of the freedom that he had writing… it lends itself really well to just doing two sides to the record.”

Speaking to his fans, he added: “I mean, I hope when you hear it, you feel the same way.”

Dave confessed he believes Heaven :x: Hell includes some of the “best punk-rock stuff” Sum 41 has ever produced. And the best heavy music they’ve released, too. But… weirdly, it doesn’t matter if this album is “good” or not. This is their final album, final tour, and that’s it. Curtains. There isn’t really a vision of commercial “success” for the record. And that fact has taken all pressure off the band, Dave explained.

“That’s that familiar feeling of when we first kind of started in we were just like, essentially, a four-headed juggernaut,” Dave went on. “It kind of feels like we’re there again because it’s the last record. I don’t understand why there’s no pressure… But maybe it’s just down to the fact that we’re just so happy to have made the decision to stop at this point. As opposed to what could have happened.”

After a beat, he continued: “You never know where your relationships are going to be in ten-to-12 years, and – especially if Deryck was feeling the way he was about touring and being constantly called on, as is the demand of the lead singer … I would hate to see one of my best friends get to a point where he started resenting what he was doing. Yeah.”

Still, looking back on his career over the past 30 years must be fun. Does Dave have any regrets from his time in Sum 41 as a rowdy 20-something? “We were pretty big d******ads in the beginning of my career,” he cackled. “So I mean, there’s always those regrets, but I mean, at the same time without those regrets, there’s no lessons. There’s no learning. And, you know, as I get older, I get more calm and less like ‘What’s going on outside?’ As opposed to, like, what’s going on in my fridge.”

Between looking back on past regrets and the rigatoni in his fridge (no, really), do Dave and the rest of the band ever take a step back and think… to hell with it? Let’s just not split up?

Shaking his head slightly, Dave said: “That’s being comfortable and being afraid of what is, essentially, in the abyss. Because, I mean, if we could all know what our future holds, then, you know, life would be a lot less stressful. But, I mean, being 43 and possibly having to change careers…” he trailed off. “Because I’m not the type of person to just rest and, you know, survey, my suburban kingdom. I want to stay busy and I want to keep going.

“But I mean, at the same time, do I sit there and freak out? Or do I make sure that I don’t turn into this person that simply looks at what happened? I mean, it’s amazing to be to be sentimental. And it’s amazing to look back. But… to live in the past, I think that would be a mistake.”

Sum 41 – Heaven :x: Hell is out tomorrow. Preorder it here.



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