‘I tried to fight it’: Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley on giving in to Trumpian lyrics

TORONTO — Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley watched from his hotel rooms as the world descended into havoc over the course of the rock band’s last tour.

The Canadian singer-songwriter can place the exact moments when he sensed the political divide growing wider. The first time, his rock band was in England on a European promotional tour as the Brexit vote dropped and “mayhem” ensued.

Months later, he saw Donald Trump’s rise to power in the U.S. election, which polarized the nation across party lines, and witnessed the heated 2017 presidential election in France that led to violent clashes in the streets.

“It seemed to get worse and worse wherever we went,” the performer said in a phone interview from Los Angeles ahead of Sum 41’s new album release.

“I would wake every day and start my morning routine. You’d have the news on, and you’re just kind of watching the chaos of the day — from Donald Trump to whatever else is going on.”

Whibley would occasionally dip into writing new songs to distract himself, but as the turmoil picked up in the outside world, he said he found it harder to escape. Trump had winnowed into the recesses of his mind, and he was seeping into the lyrics.

“My first thought is I’m not going to let this (expletive) take over my music too,” he said.

“I tried to stop it and tried to fight it… I tried to change the words, and it just felt really disconnected. After about a week, I said, ‘Well, (expletive) it. It is what it is, I’m just going to write words and we’ll figure it out.”’

Hearing Whibley talk about politics can be jarring at times.

While Sum 41 built its reputation throwing stones at authority, their rowdy pop-punk anthems mostly ignored specific targets in favour of pushing back on The Man and nameless conformity, like on the title track of their 2007 album “Underclass Hero.”

These days, the 39-year-old songwriter observes the world with more specificity.

His work on the band’s previous album “13 Voices” was an exercise in self-reflection as Whibley clawed back from years of unaddressed alcohol abuse that led him to be hospitalized in 2013 with nearly fatal health problems.

Sum 41’s latest studio release “Order in Decline,” due on July 19, inches closer towards an edgier sound for the band that started in Ajax, Ont. It’s their heaviest, most hardcore effort to date, and Whibley produced and engineered the album in his home studio.

Signs this project is different begin with the album artwork, an apocalyptic illustration of a puppet master operating overtop a man who’s enveloped by flames. Beneath him, a skull looms with glowing eyes.

While the songs don’t directly address Trump, the 45th president of the United States, some come incredibly close to calling him by name. On “45 (A Matter of Time),” Whibley sings about a man who rises to power unexpectedly, but he quickly shifts the narrative onto the people who got him there.

And on “The People Vs…” he breathlessly chastises a failed leader between guitar shreds: “I know a bad man when I see his face, and now we suffer as a human race. And he’s a bad man, but I got faith. To rid this misery he’s got to go.”

Whibley says he doesn’t necessarily consider “Order in Decline” a political protest record, despite the occasional pointed lyric.

“I’m not really talking about specific policies… There’s no specific song about gun control, so I say it’s not really political,” he said.

“I guess you could call it a personal protest.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP, city, health officials join forces in problem-property crackdown

Eastview property had generated recurring complaints to RCMP

Mag 7.7 quake hits between Cuba and Jamaica, but no injuries

HAVANA — A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea… Continue reading

Trump peace plan delights Israelis, enrages Palestinians

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan Tuesday… Continue reading

GOP squirms as Bolton prepares to dish on Trump White House

WASHINGTON — For much of the last 20 years, John Bolton was… Continue reading

More than 200 cabinet-appointed positions remain empty, says memo to PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been warned that more than… Continue reading

Country music fans enjoy free concert at Red Deer mall, ahead of ACMA awards

Fans like to get up close and personal and that’s exactly what… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

David Marsden: Let’s see success at Westerner Park

It’s encouraging that Westerner Park has admitted it needs the support of… Continue reading

Mag 7.7 quake hits between Cuba and Jamaica, but no injuries

HAVANA — A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck in the Caribbean Sea… Continue reading

Trump peace plan delights Israelis, enrages Palestinians

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan Tuesday… Continue reading

GOP squirms as Bolton prepares to dish on Trump White House

WASHINGTON — For much of the last 20 years, John Bolton was… Continue reading

More than 200 cabinet-appointed positions remain empty, says memo to PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been warned that more than… Continue reading

Alberta climate plan part of cabinet decision on oilsands mine: Wilkinson

OTTAWA — The federal cabinet’s decision on a huge new Alberta oilsands… Continue reading

Things for people in Canada to know about the coronavirus

Two cases of the new deadly strain of coronavirus have been identified… Continue reading

Most Read