Simple Plan is one of the world’s only interactive bands.
When it comes to writing songs, these French-Canadians want to know what we think. They want to read our tweets, our emails, our thoughts, in the hope that we will inspire them to head to the studio.
The immature 14-year-old inside me wants to call this 'laziness', but it's clearly not. It's about inviting fans into the creative space, allowing them to make Simple Plan their own.
As so many artists fight to stay relevant after their time in the spotlight is over, guitarist Sébastien Lefebvre admits that his outfit places an incredible amount of trust in their core group of dedicated followers.
"We're very relevant in our world. We're very important to our fans, we're very important to ourselves in that we still love what we do and we always decide to do it better. How relevant are we in the music world? That's a hard question to answer. Once in a while you'll hear or you'll read that an artist has been to a Simple Plan show, or they used to be fans. It makes you feel relevant."
The track 'This Song Saved My Life' from Simple Plan's latest LP is the example Sébastien throws in the air as an example of what he's talking about.
"It was co-written by the fans, almost. We took their testimonies and turned it into a song. We were wondering what to write about, and we just had that line ‘this song saved my life’, so we asked on Twitter what music meant to people. When all the comments started pouring in, that's how we shaped the verses of the song.
"We actually invited some fans to come to Vancouver and sing on the track. They were pretty good! When 25 people show up you never know how many of them are going to be good singers. It turns out they were."
All of this interactive camaraderie is well and good, but surely it's more important what the members of Simple Plan think of their music, not what the fans think... right?
Crowd-sourcing for creativity doesn't always have the best results. I'm not saying Simple Plan writes music exclusively through Twitter. What I am saying is that they collaborated with Shaggy, and someone needs to pay for that.
"I wouldn't say it matters more what we think. I think you have to keep both in mind. We have a special relationship with our fans. I don't see a lot of bands that have the same relationship... not that it's good or bad, just that the kind that we do have is different. You know, we involve them in our songwriting, our videos. We've asked their opinions about album covers.
"The fans are the reason that the band exists. If you're putting out music but you don't care about your fans then just stay in your basement and don't put out music.
"When we first started [in 1999] it was the very beginnings of the internet. Our personal emails were on the [Simple Plan] website [but] we would always go out to the merch stand after the show and try to meet people, try to take pictures. We always had meet-and-greets and signing sessions."
But now with the internet Simple Plan never have to meet anyone face-to-face again! Right?
"No! That's not true. The next step to all of that was to use social media to share a bit of our lives. It's actually pretty weird because when the fans come to see you they feel like they know you. They'll be like ‘Hey, how was that thing you did last week?’ and I'll be like ‘What?’ Then I'll remember it was on Twitter and that's how she knows."
I have to try not to laugh every time Sébastien says the title of Simple Plan's last album, 'Get Your Heart On'. Put on your best French-Canadian accent and then say 'heart on' three times fast. I'm not the only one that finds this funny. Eagles Of Death Metal named an album 'Heart On' as a joke, so that Jesse Hughes could say he was getting his 'heart on' all across America. He probably was.
"Whenever we put out an album we always want to make sure it's the best album we ever put out. So 'Get Your Heart On' is a fun album, and we really tried to let loose on it, we really tried to have a good time on it. It makes you wanna smile, it makes you wanna have a good time.
"Depending on what we're going through in our lives, that's what we talk about. So on the first album it was more like 'leave me alone I wanna do what I want'. Then on the second album there were songs that said 'don't try to bring me down, I'm still gonna do what I want’."
Simple Plan can talk about their discography until the cows come home, but let's not forget that this is the band that plays the theme song for ‘Scooby-Doo’. That's much, much more impressive.
An ideal Simple Plan show, in this writer's opinion, would be for Sébastien and his mates to come out on stage and play the theme from ‘Scooby-Doo’... This might sound silly, but Sébastien has arguably done sillier, more hilarious things. For one, he singlehandedly started a rumour that he and his merch guy were starting a band together. They even had t-shirts printed.
"We were on tour a long, long time ago with Bowling For Soup. We kept telling people for no reason that we had a band called ‘Man Of The Hour’. So it was me, Pierre our singer, Jaret from BFS, our merch guy who doesn't play any music at all, and we kept telling people that we were going to get signed. So after all that when we started doing radio we decided to call it the Man Of The Hour show."
Simple Plan play Vans Warped Tour at Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds Friday November 29.