Simple Plan followers--fundraisers, songwriters
Stephen Taylor / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
|Simple Plan at Atlantic Records, London, on 9th June 2011|
"We started off with the first donation [to the Canadian Red Cross] of 10,000 [Canadian dollars, about 830 yen,000], then we gave another [donation] to the Red Cross in Japan," Bouvier said. Bandmate Lefebvre was keen to stress how important it was for them to help.
"We have a foundation, we care about what happens in the world, and we have a lot of fans in Japan, so it was important for us to do something," the 30-year-old said, adding that the group's legions of fans around the world did their bit as well.
"A lot of our fans were like, 'Oh, you know, it's so sad what's happening, we want to help as well,' so we created a T-shirt where everything goes to Japan, so the fans could get involved by buying a Simple Plan 'Help Japan' T-shirt."
The foundation Lefebvre refers to is the Simple Plan Foundation, a charity set up by the band more than five years ago to help young people in their hometown. Over the years the band's benevolence has spread quite a bit further.
"We do a lot of stuff locally, for our own city of Montreal, but we try and do stuff worldwide--we've given when the Haiti disaster happened--I think every little thing makes a difference. We're not the biggest foundation, we don't have millions of dollars, [but] so far I think we've donated 500,000 dollars," Bouvier said.
Half a million dollars? Not bad for a pop group! But not surprising for a band that since its debut album, No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls, in 2002, have built a global following that continue to flock to crowd-pleasing live shows, with some audience members at their London show the previous night having camped out overnight. The band's fourth album, Get Your Heart On!, came out in June, and is a return to basics after 2007's self-titled release had taken them into more anthemic territory.
"That record was a little bit different--love it, I think it's great. They're epic [songs] and really opened up the horizons to what we could do and what we could allow ourselves to do. Once that was done and we toured on that record for two years, we felt like, 'Hey, now we want to go back and play some fun, fast, melodic, pop-punk influenced things,'" the 32-year-old said, with his bandmate quick to point out that each album has its place in the group's evolution.
"Even if it is a little back-to-our-roots, it could not have been our first or second record--it definitely is our fourth," Lefebvre stressed.
The massed ranks of the Simple Plan army also got a chance to express themselves on the closing track on Get Your Heart On! (before the bonus tracks), and is sure to have quite a few of the Simple Plan faithful diving for their packets of tissues.
"'This Song Saved My Life' was a song we wanted to write about the impact that our music has on people...I've heard it again yesterday after the show, some girl was like, 'I just want to say thank you very much, because I was really thinking about killing myself, and because of your band and your music, it helped me through that time and now I'm here,'" Bouvier explained, adding that a bit of social networking had provided some of the lyrics.
"We asked them on Twitter to tell us about how they feel about our music, how it's helped them and when they hear the words, 'Simple Plan,' what does it make them feel? And all those answers became the verses of the song," he said. And as part of the songwriting process, it was fitting that some of the contributors joined the group in Vancouver when they recorded the track, as Lefebvre recalled.
"We invited some fans to actually sing on the song, so there's people from all over Europe and North America--even people from Brazil and Japan came--and, honestly, they were pretty good singers. Whenever that part of the record comes on--it's the last song on the record so it's pretty much the last part of the whole record when the kids start singing--that still gives me goose bumps when I hear it," he said.
This year, Simple Plan will make their Summer Sonic debut, having headlined the White Stage at Fuji Rock Festival three years ago, and Bouvier is raring to go.
"We loved Fuji Rock. It was great too, but Summer Sonic seems to be more like the bands that are our style, so we've always wanted to play it and we're excited about doing it this year. I think it's gonna reach out to a lot of fans that like our band, but have never seen us before."
Simple Plan will play the Mountain Stages at Summer Sonic, held at QVC Marine Field and Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on Aug. 13 and Maihama Summer Sonic Osaka Site in Osaka on Aug. 14. For more details, visit www.summersonic.com/2011. For information on Simple Plan's "Help Japan" T-shirts, visit http://merchdirect.com/simpleplanfoundation/tshirts.
(Aug. 5, 2011)