Correction May 3, 2019: This article has been corrected because Sum 41 is not appearing at a future festival in the Houston area as originally stated. The Houston Press apologizes for the error.
Last week, Sum 41 released its first new music in nearly three years. “Out For Blood," the lead single from the band’s forthcoming seventh studio album, showcases the seasoned punk rockers doubling down on the heavy leanings of their last few albums.
Ahead of their performance at the the Bronze Peacock at the House of Blues this Thursday, bassist Jason “Cone” McCaslin spoke with the Houston Press about the “No Personal Space Tour," the inaugural “Disrupt Festival” and the band’s new record, Order In Decline, which he says might be Sum 41’s hardest-hitting release to date.
“This album might be a little more heavy than the last one,” McCaslin says with a chuckle. “There are two slow songs on it – in the vein of a “Pieces” or “Some Say” or something like that – but the majority of it is fast, heavy and aggressive.”
After soaring high on the pop-punk anthems of of All Killer No Filler, Sum 41 began leaning toward a darker sound with 2004’s Chuck, which incorporated elements of heavy metal and saw the band refining its lyrical content. When pressed to describe the new record's sound, McCaslin calls it a combination of Does This Look Infected, Chuck and Screaming Bloody Murder, three of the band’s most confrontational and thematically mature albums.
“There’s a lot of Dave (Baksh)’s shredding guitar solos like what you can hear on the first single – there’s more stuff like that on the album.”
And while Sum 41 had no intention of making a protest album, McCaslin admits that the current division within US politics played a role in Order In Decline's inception.
“On the last tour, CNN was constantly on in our bus,” “he says. “But (vocalist Deryck Whibley) was like, ‘I don’t want to make a president-bashing album.’ We all have our views, but we didn’t want to do an album like that.”
Party politics being as ubiquitous as they are, however, activist themes leaked into the songwriting process, so the band ran with it.
“It’s hard to ignore stuff like that when you’re constantly watching it,” McCaslin says. “So when you’re writing lyrics, even if you’re not intending it when you start it, it sounds political. So when people listen to this album, they’re going to get a little bit of that, but it’s not all like that.
“It’s hard though, with so much news coverage, to get away from it," he admits.
Whibley began penning Order In Decline while the band was promoting its last release, 2016’s 13 Voices. The vocalist spent a lot of time in the back of the group's tour bus, scribbling lyrics and ideas, many of which evolved into full-fledged songs. Some time later, Sum 41 met at Whibley’s home studio in Los Angeles to work through the tracks together.
“That was probably Fall of last year,” McCaslin says. “We ended up recording a bunch, and 10 songs made the album. There are some other songs we kicked around too. They could be for another album or maybe a soundtrack. It’s always nice to have extra songs.”
Once the songs were mostly complete, each band member returned home to work from his own home studios. Whibley and drummer Frank Zummo worked together in Los Angeles, while McCaslin recorded bass at his own studio in Toronto. Baksh also worked in Toronto, while guitarist Tom Thacker recorded in New York.
“We were spread out everywhere,” McCaslin says.
Before Order In Decline was announced, Sum 41 had already planned a nationwide tour, which McCaslin says will serve as a warmup. Aptly named, the “No Personal Space Tour" will bring the Canadian rockers through a number of smaller venues throughout the continental United States.
“We’ve gone to shows like this before in the past, as fans of other bands,” MCaslin says. “Growing up in Toronto, we had these little clubs, and when you’d hear that these bands were coming to this little 300-seater, people would get excited.”
It will be a departure for the veteran group, which has been accustomed to playing larger amphitheaters since the mid 2000s, but it won’t be a first.
“The idea for this came right after All Killer,” McCaslin says. “We did this whole American tour at these type of places, and I remember the fan reaction was really good. People loved it, and I don’t think we’ve done anything like it since. So with the new single coming out – we’ve been off for six months and we wanted to get back into it a little bit – so we decided to go do a little promo tour. And people seem to love it.”
The “No Personal Space Tour," began over the weekend in Salt Lake City and concludes with a show in Chicago in late May.
, the band will join The Used, Thrice and Circa Survive among others for the inaugural “Disrupt Festival,” which will make its way to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in late June.
“It’s getting harder as we get older," McCaslin says of the band’s grueling schedule. "Because now kids have come into the equation and everyone’s married. It was a lot easier when we were in our early 20s and could just go do whatever whenever.
“During All Killer, we were all still living at home with our parents so more touring was better,” he adds with a laugh. “Now it’s a little different, but we just have to consider our schedules a little more and make sure there’s time to go home and see the kids.
“We’ve always been a band that, when an album comes out, we just go,” McCasllin says. “And it looks like this one’s going to be no different.”
Sum 41 and Assuming We Survive are scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. (doors open) on May 2 at The Bronze Peacock at The House of Blues at 1204 Caroline Street. For information, call 1-800-653-8000 or visit livenation.com, $39-$91.
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