Nearly two decades ago, a Canadian rock band stormed onto the pop punk scene with their debut album, No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls. Supported by the singles "I'm Just A Kid," "I'd Do Anything," "Addicted" and "Perfect," Simple Plan went on to cement themselves as mainstays of the genre through a long trek with the recently defunct Vans Warped Tour.
“It’s been a huge part of our lives and our career,” drummer Chuck Comeau says of the traveling festival, which completed its final cross-country run in 2018. “We were able to use it to elevate ourselves and extend our reach. It was a huge platform for us and being able to do the last one was special."
Comeau suspected that the end of the 24-year pilgrimage might breathe new life into the festival, which had been struggling to attract fans in recent years, but the level of renewed interest he saw in each town still amazed him.
“The fact that it was the last one brought out so many people, because they wanted to live it one more time,” he says. “We had a hunch that people would show up, because that festival really resonated with people. Sure enough, every show was gigantic. They hadn’t had sell-outs in years, and I think the response surprised even the organizers.”
While on tour, celebrating and mourning the end of an era, Simple Plan cozied up with fellow pop punkers State Champs and We The Kings, and the three bands agreed that a tour together might fill some of the void left in the wake of Warped Tour's demise.
“We wanted to create an event, something special that isn’t just another normal show,” Comeau says. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this package. The shows have been huge so far, and it’s been amazing.”
With two platinum albums to their name, it would be easy for Simple Plan to settle in as another nostalgia outfit, but Comeau and the rest of the band refuse to rest on his laurels.
“I’ll always be very proud that people love the first few records, but we also want to keep putting out music that people can connect with," he says. "That’s a big part of being in a band, being engaged and not just playing the old stuff."
Last month, ahead of their current tour, Simple Plan released "Where I Belong," a new single that's also a teaser for their upcoming sixth studio album, which they hope to release next spring.
“We love playing the music that made us who we are, but we also want to present new music that will give fans the same feeling, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this new record," Comeau says. “It’s quintessential Simple Plan. We’re not trying to be something we’re not, but we are trying to make it modern and exciting.”
Comeau points to the likes of Green Day and blink-182 as inspiration. Both bands are cornerstones of the scene, groups that helped grow the genre but refuse to be pigeonholed as acts of yesteryear.
“It’s about embracing your past and being proud of it but also looking to the future,” he says. “I think fans want new music, and we want to give it to them."
But Simple Plan is about more than just music. For the better part of their career, they've also been involved in philanthropy.
“We started the (Simple Plan) Foundation in 2005, probably around the time our second record came out,” Comeau says. “We wanted to use some of the success and luck that we’ve had to do something positive for the young people coming to our shows."
The foundation takes a dollar from every ticket sold and gives it to a charity of the band's choice. The proceeds from the band's latest outing will be donated to help children affected by the ICE immigration raids in the USA.
"My parents asked me, ‘What do you want to be remembered for? Do you want to just have big shows and a lot of records sold or do you want to have something that can have a real impact on people?’ And so far, we’ve raised about $2.5 million."
A lot has changed for the seasoned pop punkers over the course of their career, but Comeau says they're still having the time of their lives.
“Now that we have families and kids, it’s a lot harder to be away," he says. “When we were 22, we didn’t care. We wanted to tour for two years straight. Nothing was keeping us home. Now it’s a bit more of a sacrifice to be away, but we still get to have fun and get play for a living.
“And now we get to show that to our kids, and we want them to be proud of us," he says. "If we keep going and keep playing good shows and making great records, we can probably keep doing this for the rest of our lives."
Simple Plan, State Champs and We The Kings are scheduled to perform at Revention Music Center at 5:30 p.m. (doors open) on November 16 at Revention Music Center, 520 Texas. For more information, call 800-745-3000 or visit reventionmusiccenter.com, $16.75-$33.50.
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