Sum 41 hits the road to celebrate anniversary of ‘Does This Look Infected?’

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Sum 41 — Cone McCaslin (from left), Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh, Deryck Whibley, Tom Thacker and Frank Zummo. | Jonathan Weiner

Deryck Whibley had no plans to celebrate the 15th anniversary of “Does This Look Infected?”

“In all honesty,” he says, “I didn’t even know it was the anniversary. I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff. And it just sort of feels like it wasn’t that long ago.”

He and the other four members of Sum 41 were more focused on getting new music together for their first release since “13 Voices” hit the streets in late 2016 when the fans started asking about the prospects of an anniversary tour, he says.

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“So we thought, ‘All right, let’s go out and do a short run.’”

“Does This Look Infected?” was the band’s second album, following the platinum breakthrough of “All Killer No Filler,” which did not, as it turns out, rate an anniversary tour.

“But who knows?,” Whibley says. “Maybe one day. I do know the anniversary of that record is also the 25th anniversary of Sum 41, so that’s possible. That’s in a few years.”

The singer, guitarist and primary songwriter shares his thoughts on the state of the world, new music and more.

Q: What makes this album rise to the level of going out and celebrating it like this?

A: I don’t know, to be honest. Like I said, it’s something that the fans asked us to do.

Q: What do you recall of the writing and recording of that album?

A: It was really fast. We put out four records in four years. We were touring on “All Killer.” Our whole goal was just to be out on the road. And we were getting pressured by the record company and management, all the people around us, that we needed to put out new music to stay on tour. Which I realize, looking back at it, we didn’t really need to. We could’ve gone around the world a second time on that same album. But I didn’t know that at the time. We just felt that pressure of “Can you go into the studio?” and I said, “Sure, why not?”

So we got off the road. I wrote songs for about six weeks. We went into the studio for six weeks and then that was it. It was done. We were out on the road. We were actually finishing it up while we were on the road because we already had the tour. We went over to England, did Reading and Leeds, then we were back in the studio in the U.K. for a week and finished it off.

Q: You talked about the label pressuring you to get new music out. Did you also feel pressure to match the success of “All Killer No Filler?”

A: No, not really. It wasn’t your typical kind of pressure. They were pressuring us to put something out. But it could’ve been anything. They always let us do what we wanted to do creatively and they always stood behind everything that we wanted to do.

When I started writing songs for “Does This Look Infected?,” they were drastically different than “All Killer,” even though it was only a year apart. I mean, the first single, “Still Waiting,” compared to the single, “In Too Deep?” They were two different bands. But they didn’t say anything about that. They said, “Great, let’s put it out.” And it did really well for us. So it didn’t matter. But there were all these people saying, “When can you get back in the studio?” And that happened again on the next album, “Chuck.”

We came off the road, I started writing and we put out an album the next year.

Q: Lyrically, “Does This Look Infected?” is a heavier album than the first one. Obviously, 9/11 had happened between those two records. Did that play a factor in where your head was?

A: Absolutely. I had been around the world, 9/11 happened. Even though it was only a year later, I felt like I’d been through so much that year that I had more to say.

“Still Waiting” was all about George W. Bush and going into Iraq and what a disaster it was gonna be. It was an anti-war, anti-Bush song. But I didn’t have the best messaging. I felt like I was being so obvious. That’s that young sort of naïve thing and probably subconscious insecurity, feeling “Oh, this is so obvious.” I was almost embarrassed, thinking, “Everybody’s gonna know what I’m talking about.”

But of course, no one really did. And I didn’t explain it. I didn’t talk about it in interviews.

Q: You mentioned George W. Bush and Iraq with regard to “Still Waiting.” Does it feel like the chorus – “Am I still waiting for this world to stop hating?” – may be just as relevant today as it was at the time?

A: Absolutely. I’ve even said that when we start that song. It feels like it’s more relevant than ever.

Q: Did you have to relearn any songs for this tour?

A: We play some of these songs already. There’s only a handful of songs that we’ve got to learn as a band. But I mean, they’re not that difficult of songs. The only thing I have to remember is a couple lyrics. I have to go back and say, “What was I singing in that song?” As far as chords go, I can probably pick out any Sum 41 song and get my way through it without having to go back and listen to it.

Q: How do you think it’s held up as an album?

A: I’ve always, always hated the way this album sounds. I hated it in the studio and it still bothers me. The demo I made myself at home sounded better than the final mix. And it’s not anybody’s fault necessarily. I don’t think I knew enough of how to explain what I wanted to the mixer.

Maybe I’ll remix it one day. The tracks themselves don’t sound bad. They’re recorded well. It’s just that myself and our manager-producer didn’t know how to explain to the mixer what to do. And he didn’t totally get it.

Q: You can do a 20th anniversary mix.

A: I would love to. I probably will one day. I wouldn’t redo anything. It’s all there. It just needs to be mixed right.

Q: Which part of being in a band do you prefer, playing live or making records?

A: Playing live by far.

Ed Masley, USA TODAY Network

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