Alter The Press!


Interview: Good Charlotte

Making their first UK appearance in over two years, the pop-punk superstars, Good Charlotte, are back with a one off, sold-out, show in the nation's capital; in celebration for the band's forthcoming, long awaited new album, 'Cardiology'.

Just before taking the stage at London Koko, Benji and Joel Madden spoke to Alter The Press! about 'Cardiology', the 10th anniversary of their self-titled album, today's pop-punk scene, being in Brand New's video for 'Jude Law and a Semester Abroad' and more.

Alter The Press: How is it being back on the road?
Joel Madden (vocals): It's refreshing. There have been some really memorable shows. We just played out first show in Moscow, a couple of weeks ago, and it was insane.

Benji Madden (guitar): Our fans are so hardcore, and some times you forget how hardcore they are. It's the most rewarding thing about it all.

Joel: You go home and live your life; I got kids, I’ve got a life. I go months without talking about my music with anyone; when you get back on the road, you forget that you have fans and people who like your music. You play these shows and it's really touching.

Benji: I think tonight is going to be like that. Our fans in the UK are so hardcore. No matter how small or large they are in numbers, they listen to every lyric; know every song, and every b-side. It's cool.

ATP: 'Cardiology'. This wasn't the first instance the band has scrapped an album. What was the reason this time?
Joel: We were trying to do something different, so we went with a different producer. We thought we would try something different because we've only made records using two producers. Against our better judgment, we went with a big, well known, radio hit producer, Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The All-American Rejects). He is a great producer, and you have to give the guy respect, he's made a lot of great records. Howard has made some of my favorite records, from bands that I love. He has, like, a factory assembly line for making records. He does ten records at a time, and it's like building songs. We got 70% done, we heard it, and thought it just wasn't a Good Charlotte record. It was a good record. I guarantee if those songs got on the radio, they would have been hits, but it didn't have the soul.

We always believe we have a soul to our records that other bands don't have, and we have to believe that to keep going. This record didn't have that. It was unanimous after hearing the first round of mixes.

Benji: After, we were all pretty calm about it, and said we'd do whatever it takes. It was the right decision. We knew the focus of this record had to be the soul, and reconnecting with our fans. We never had a problem with writing catchy songs. The radio was something we didn't need to chase. If it's supposed to happen, it will; and if not, it won't. I can tell when bands do, and I hate it. I love it when I can feel that are making a record sincerely, and that's what we needed to do on this one; and we did. I'm really happy we did, and I can definitely stand up on stage every night, and be proud of this record and these songs.

ATP: You were originally quoted saying that 'Cardiology' is a mix of the first and second album, nothing dancey, sounds like Blink-182. Would you say the new album still reflects that?
Joel: That was, I think, the demos.

Benji: It's really the heart and soul of our first record.

Joel: Some of the attitude of our second.

Benji: We've definitely returned to some pop-punk elements, that I love, and I'm really excited for our fans to hear. There are definitely some throwbacks. I think people are going to be like, 'Oh shit man, it's like 2000-2001!'

Joel: One of the Blink-type songs made the record, and I think the fans will love that one.

Benji: It's called 'Counting The Days'.

Joel: It's a great song and is definitely reminiscent of some Blink stuff. It's a bit of everything we said and more. It's a great record; it's going to be fun to hear what the fans thinks.

ATP: It's been three and a half years since the last album. Why the long gap?
Benji: Children. Family.

Joel: It's hard to leave home man. I have two kids. We went a hard, nine years of straight touring, and had forgotten what life was about. It's weird when you’re in a bubble, in a different city each day, and your whole world revolves around your band and your music. You become this, not real person. We'll always be ‘us,’ but your reality is twisted. You go home to the ‘real world,’ and no one is listening to your album 24/7 and you're not waiting to play a show.

Benji: You're not that important.

Joel: On tour it's like: you've got an interview, a photo shoot, a show, an after show, meet all the fans. It's not about being humble or anything like that, but that is your life every single day. When you get home, it's a reality adjustment. It took a year for me to get my head straight.

Benji: I love it because when you’re at home, the kids are the most important thing.

Joel: My music is the least important thing. It's nice, but when we started making this record, the real feelings and lyrics started pouring out because we let it build up for a year, and we needed that outlet again. That's probably why we love this record so much, because it's real.

Benji: We just became fans and started loving music again. I buy so much music and I love it. There were a couple of years where I didn't listen to music. You get a little jaded. When you write songs and write records, you are making yourself kind of vulnerable. You love the songs you write, and you put yourself out there; every musician goes through it. I've talked to friends of mine who are the coolest of the cool who, in my mind, critics love; and in their minds, they get torn to shreds more than anyone. It's so crazy to me. You realize, as songwriters, we're really vulnerable; we put ourselves out there and get a little jaded.

In the last two years, I started loving music again and started buying records. It's been great.

ATP: It's been ten years since the self-titled record. Have you thought about doing something special to mark the release?
Joel: It's funny, because we spoke about it as a band, and we were like: 'What if we did five shows and we played each record? Each show, we would play each record, in a different city, until the new record'. But we keep thinking, what do we do for ten years? What do we do? That would be cool. Anything’s possible, but do we really make a big deal out of it? Is ten years really a big deal? We're kind of struggling with it. We're not ruling it out. We just don't want to make a big deal out of ourselves. But, at the same time, we want to do something special for our fans.

ATP: How did you end up being in the video for Brand New's 'Jude Law and a Semester Abroad'?
Joel: It's funny, because we knew those guys at the time, when they were a new band. We were touring and they were shooting that video. They're nice kids.

Benji: We were some of their early, biggest supporters.

Joel: Remember when we heard their demos and said, 'This band's fucking awesome!' We were, early on, big supporters of the band. They were shooting their video and asked if we wanted to jump in their video and we were like, 'Fuck yeah!' It reminds me of a young, innocent, time in my life, where I was so stoked we were in a band, on tour, and meeting other bands. When I think of other bands like Midtown or like Brand New, all of these old bands, watching them go off and become the people they became; it's pretty cool.

ATP: When will you be shooting a video for your new single, 'Like It's Her Birthday'?
Benji: When we go home.

Joel: When we're home in August, we're going to shoot it.

ATP: What is your view on today's pop-punk scene?
Joel: I love it.

Benji: I went on a run this morning, and was listening to Set Your Goals. They are one of the one pop-punk bands who I like. I love Set Your Goals.

Joel: It's awesome to see it's deriving. There is also a return to the year 2000 sound, you know.

Benji: It always comes back in cycles, when you think about bands like Green Day, Blink and us. There's always been waves; like when Fall Out Boy came.

Joel: I think All Time Low are fucking great. They're great live and great guys. There is something about it man. It's exciting. I love all of the new bands.

ATP: What's the plan after this European run?
Joel: We go home and then we start doing promo, which is the boring part of the record, but good.

Benji: The record is out in October.

Joel: Then we start touring.

ATP: Thank you guys. Is there anything you would like to add?
Joel: Thanks to our fans, and everyone who has been listening to us. It doesn't matter which record they got into or whenever. Whenever someone listens to our music, and it means something to them, it means something to us. We've always felt that way.

'Cardiology' is out October 26th on Capitol Records.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!