Pop-Punk Paradise: Sum 41 and Yellowcard at House of Blues Cleveland

Canadian pop-punk darlings Sum 41 play the House of Blues Saturday night.
Sum 41 and Yellowcard headline the House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-BLUE) Saturday, September 15. The show represents some of the best and worst pop-punk has to offer. Florida’s Yellowcard could learn a thing or 20 from Canada’s Sum 41, among the most seriously overachieving acts of their generation. Playing hopped-up emo, Yellowcard scammed its way into a major-label deal, stealing attention from better Warped Tour bands by showcasing backup singer Sean Mackin’s violin -- the most naked bullshit gimmick in the entire shady history of the shady-ass music industry. The Tri-Lambs’ fiddle jam in Revenge of the Nerds was more punk-rock. Shame on you if you’ve purchased, downloaded, or sung along to music by this band. Seriously. Watch both nerd fiddle jams yourself, then leave a comment to let us know who rocks harder – Yellowcard or Poindexter & Lamar. Yellowcard: The Other Nerds: That's what I thought. Now, moving on, Sum 41 – then just tenth graders -- formed in Ajax, Ontario ten years ago. They started gigging and didn’t stop until early 2006, when the group finally buckled under the pressure from ten years of relentless touring. Their inaugural hit was 2001’s bouncy “Fat Lip,” and they continued as standouts by rocking a little harder and being fun as they did it. How they grew: They’re now the only band to have collaborated with Avril Lavinge (Whibley helped with her latest album, but didn’t contribute to “Girlfriend”), Slayer (thrash guitarist Kerry King contributed a solo to Sum’s “What We're All About” from the Spider-Man soundtrack), and Iggy Pop (“Little Know It All," from Pop’s 2003 Skull Ring). Maybe it doesn’t exactly firm up Sum’s punk cred, but we’re willing to concede Iggy may well know something we don’t. After last year’s collapse, founding guitarist Dave Bakus left the band, and the members thought the band was over. One long rest later, they regrouped for the new Underclass Hero, an ambitious, conceptual outing in the vein of Green Day’s American Idiot. Scene talked to Sum frontman Deryck Whibley, who sowed his wild oats so hard that he was featured in Playboy (interview, not pictures), then settled down and married Lavinge. Despite having seen the world and weathered the near-end of his meal ticket, he still talks and sounds like an excited 16-year-old. Scene: Lat year, reports said the band was over. How’d you come back? Whibley: It just took about six months of living my own life and not really being in Sum 41 any more. Then I started having ideas and started thinking about all these things we’d done and never did, and I started getting excited about doing another Sum 41 record. And I started talking to the guys, and it felt like things were different, and I had more to say. How did the album come together? The writing process was different, but just because of my writing to write in a different way. It was different because Dave wasn’t in the band, and it freed me up a lot. It gave me way more freedom, because I didn’t have to sit there and write something I thought somebody else was going to want to play. I didn’t have that thing in the back of my mind, “Is Dave going to want to play this?” What was your vision for the disc? When we started to make the record, we wanted to make something more creative and more artistic, and as an overall record had one more important meaning, that was more real and honest. We wanted to make one cohesive body of work that was musically relevant all the way through, that had an important meaning: This record reflects the confusion and frustration of modern times. What kind of set are you playing? We switch out new songs every night. One night, we’ll play a couple new songs, then change it and do different new songs. Sometimes we’ll throw in a cover. Sometimes we’ll do a cover. We’ve done “Attitude” by the Misfits. Sometimes people will shout something out, and we’ll do it. It’s just kind of whatever. It just happens. – D.X. Ferris
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