I recently spoke with drummer Steve Jocz about the new album from his band, Sum 41. The record is titled Underclass Hero and it dropped in late July.
We talked about the departure of longtime guitarist Dave Baksh, being on MTV and their political lyrics and the ensuing controversy.
Howâs everything been going as far as Dave not being in the band anymore?
I mean within the band we kinda knew heâd wanted to leave for a while, which is fine since weâre not the type of band to fight over something like that. So when he called to quit he called me and I was like "Alright cool" and I was fine, it was very amicable. And I was sort of relieved in a way because I knew he was unhappy and he was relieved because I think he was expecting the worst, even though in my opinion there was no reason to be mad, but I guess you sort of think those things before you do something like that.
So we were all very supportive and it was fine, so it hasnât been that difficult or weird. I mean we still hang out with him and still talk to him, and he came to the show in Toronto. The only real difference I think, as far as music goes, was that he would always want to be a bit more metal, which weâve liked but we also wanted to have more variations where we can have some songs that were like that but also have songs that were softer or slower or more melodic. So I think now that heâs gone itâs easier for the three of us to agree on everything and do what we like, while Dave is off in his band, which is a full on heavy metal band.
Itâs not like God is going to stop his busy work building a galaxy, or whatever the hell heâs doing to give us a hit album.
Is that why the new record is a lot less metal then what you had going in the last few?
I think weâve just sort of done it and now our pace has changed. I donât even listen to that stuff anymore and when I did it wasnât in the way Dave listened to it it was always your standard Judas Priest and other metal bands. But we knew it was time and we wanted to explore other stuff with more melodies. No double kick drum on this record. Haha
You have definitely gotten more serious in the last couple of records, I mean obviously the last record had a more serious idea behind it. But it seems that the band is getting more in depth on political issues. Can you tell me more about that?
I mean some people think weâre jumping on the bandwagon with the political issues, but really I mean you sort of have to beat people over the head with these things. I mean "Still Waiting" was directly influenced by going to war, I mean you listen to the lyrics and thatâs exactly what itâs about. We were stating, "This is a bad idea, this shouldnât be happening, although we canât make it stop." So when we were putting the video together making fun of the whole Strokes thing, I donât think people put two and two together.
But weâve always had political songs, but I think everyoneâs done them, I mean you canât avoid it. Everywhere you go, every time you turn on the TV, every time you open a newspaper, itâs just this one element of this world we live in, itâs whatâs going on everyday. Itâs kind of why thereâs songs like that and people are just fed up and we are too.
You were involved with punk voter right?
We did punk voter and it was funny cause people were like "Weâll youâre Canadian, you have no right to say anything," which I think is ridiculous when really we all live in this world, so we can have an opinion.
I know you mentioned that you were taking a more melodic route with this record and some people are even mentioning that it sounds like youâve been listening to Green Day. Is there anything thatâs unorthodox that went into this album?
This time we wanted to do a record that didnât sound thrown together, but having each song played out and make sense. I would say the style was more inspired by like the Beatles then I would say Green Day. Whenever you listen to any of the Beatles records, they all sound like they just fit, like one thing, all the songs just fit together and make this one album whichever one it is.
And thatâs what we wanted to do because weâve never really thought of anything like it before. And itâs all about playing and thinking about what you want to do before you even go into the studio.
I know you are involved with other projects like how you just finished the video for Operation MD and working on other videos. Is that what you want to do in the long run, do you want to keep doing videos or do you enjoy playing more?
Itâs a fun thing to do, I mean playing drums job is kind of like a paying job but itâs not really job. I enjoy it, as far as the music thing goes, I like the drums, I like playing drums, but I also like other aspects of the music and have always been involved in our music videos. So maybe when this is all over, Iâll try more of that aspect, but for now I donât really have a lot of time to do it, it takes a big chunk of time.
Over the years youâve definitely have become the face of the band for a lot of people, because of your extensive involvement in the band like posting on the website, even more so then the other guys, is that something you just like to do?
I think we all do our equal parts, the way itâs always been is Derek handles the deeper questions about the album and what itâs about, you know the "real questions" and Iâll sort of say something stupid that will get a reaction and thatâs always how itâs worked.
So are you going to say something to get a reaction now?
How many more albums do you think you'll do?
I donât know, weâll continue doing albums till itâs not fun. As long as we can keep it going and can continue enjoy doing them, then Iâm down. I mean hereâs the thing, this touring cycle has been a nightmare,
itâs still enjoyable but we sort of go one at a time, weâre all sort of falling a part whether it be tendonitis, fuckinâ carpal tunnel, weâll soon not be able to handle it anymore. So hopefully we have a couple more albums in us.
You have been in the news a lot, whether it be with the gossip entertainment dealing Derek and his relationships or just being on MTV a lot, do you enjoy having the spotlight? Going from Ajax, Ontario to MTV is kind of a big shift.
We donât take it that seriously, itâs not like we think, "Yeah we made it on MTV!" And if we ever win an award itâs not like weâre going to be thanking God for allowing us to do what we do. Itâs not like God is going to stop his busy work building a galaxy, or whatever the hell heâs doing to give us a hit album. My point is that itâs all really just silly.