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

Sum 41’s latest studio release ‘Order in Decline,’ is due on July 19

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.”

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Houston mill to re-open June 8

Ends lengthy shutdown which began in March

No fines issued in provincial parks over May longweekend

Activities restricted to day-use only

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

Social distancing at the skatepark — kids style

Kids in the village have taken on board this season of social… Continue reading

Spirit Square reopened on June 1

Spirit Square was closed to the community in accordance with the public… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Williams Lake RCMP capture fugitive walking along Highway 97 in city limits

Witness said they could hear police yelling for suspect to ‘get down’

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

COVID-19: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

Sales allowed to other licensees that can reopen

Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Most Read