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Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley On ‘Does This Look Infected?’: “I Don’t Think We Cared About Too Much…”

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 26 November 2020 at 15.55

"It was us saying that we’re not going to chase or follow what we’ve done in the past."

Sum 41's sophomore record 'Does This Look Infected?' was released 18 years ago today!

To celebrate, we're throwing it back to a conversation we had with frontman Deryck Whibley back in 2018 when the band toured the album and played it in full every night...

What do you remember most about this period of time for the band?
I have so many that just pop up in my mind. It was just a really great time. The whole thing was done so quickly. We only had a few weeks to record it and I only had a few weeks to write the whole thing. It was probably about six weeks in total. It was just those 12 songs that I wrote. It was as many as I could get done in that amount of time. We had to be done because we were playing Reading Festival. That was our deadline and we started on July 5th. I remember that we weren’t done and we came over to do the show and we finished up in Olympic Studios in London. Then we just kept on touring. It was just such a quick record and we haven’t done a record like it since.”

The time between the release of 'All Killer No Filler' and '...Infected' shows the size of the wave that you were riding at the time. Did being on a wave like that influence how the album sounded?
“Yes and no. I’m always writing and always have little bits here and there, so if I’m forced to sit down and write songs they all kind of come together and get completed. Those first four albums that we did, we did in four years. Every year we had an album out. I felt that in terms of recording, we were sacrificing a bit. When I hear ‘Does This Look Infected?’ I think it’s the worst sounding record that we have. It could have been better in my opinion. There were just little things that I wish could have been better, if we had spent more time and better guitar sound or the drum sounds. But it is what it is. Maybe one day I will remaster it.”

Thematically the album is a lot darker and took you down a path towards 'Chuck' and 'Underclass Hero' in later years. How did this style reflect your mood towards the world and the industry at the time?
“I would definitely say it was influenced a lot by the world. Coming back after the ‘All Killer…’ tour, we had never been around the world before. We hadn’t really seen anything. We were a little more aware of things. Also 9/11 had happened and we were paying much more attention. We were getting to that age where you pay more attention to what is going on in the world. When travelling, you’re starting to form an opinion. I felt like I was opinionated in that time but I wasn’t sophisticated enough to know how to express myself. So I think I was trying to get into themes that were a little more political and socially observant but I didn’t quite know how to explain it.”

“Musically, that record in my mind was so far from what ‘All Killer…’ was. If you look at the singles where we went ‘Fat Lip’, ‘Motivation’ and ‘In Too Deep’, we then started this album with ‘Still Waiting’, which to me sounds like a completely different band. Whether that came across to anybody else, I have no idea. They are like polar opposites to me. I liked that though. I was a little nervous but it seemed to work.”

What was your inital feeling building up to release?
“Most feelings I had were just little blips in my mind. Everything happened so fast that we didn’t have time to think about it. I may have had a thought while we were recording like, ‘Wow this is a lot heavier than ‘In Too Deep’, I wonder what people are going to think’ and then I’d move on. There was so much work to be done and we were still out on the road. My mind was on so many things. Also, that era was probably our hardest partying time of the whole band. So any time you had an actual thought it was drowned out by a tonne of booze and drugs. I don’t think we cared about too much for too long.”

It was around the boom of the rock scene bleding with mainstream culture, so you just had to go along with it really...
“I guess so. We never thought about too much of anything back then. Thoughts quickly came and went. ‘All Killer…’ was fading as we were put out ‘Still Waiting’ and it was already taking off. If there were any doubts, it was already starting to work anyway.”

Let's talk about the artwork. How did you get away with it?
“Everyone always let us do whatever we wanted. The record company in those days, Island, were the best. They fully believed and backed everything that we did. They never questioned us. It was great. That’s why they signed us. They thought we were a band who knew how to market themselves and whatever we did would be fine. It all seemed to work out. Also, everything was done off the cuff. The only way we got that title was because it was at the last possible second. We simply didn’t have a title. I remember getting a call from Island saying, ‘We need a title by the end of the day or this record isn’t coming out this year’. We knew what the cover was so the four of us were sitting on the tour bus brainstorming and then it just popped into my head. And I said, ‘What about this?’ That was it. It was done.”

What do you feel like this era represents for both you as an indiviudal but also Sum 41 as a band?
“I feel like it represents a turning point. That record made a statement, whether it was good or bad. It was us saying that we’re not going to chase or follow what we’ve done in the past. We do what we feel at the moment, for better or for worse. Sometimes it’s been great for us. Sometimes it’s been bad for us. It’s just the way that we are.”

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