‘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

Powerful Russian folk trio makes triumphant return to city

Trio Voronezh back on Victoria stage for first time since appearing at Coupe Mondiale in 2013

Abbamania, Night Fever in spotlight at McPherson in Victoria

ABBA, Bee Gees songs will fill the Mac Feb. 7, along with Lady Gaga tribute

Vic High alumni named Victoria’s new Youth Poet Laureate

Neko Smart, the founder and coach of the Vic High slam poetry team, will serve a one-year term

Dance Victoria: The Trocks are in town!

Dance Days 2020 performance roster includes two powerhouse presentations

Pacific Opera Victoria exec member earns major honour

Yvette Guigueno to attend prestigious OPERA America leadership program this month in New York

Winners announced for inaugural Victoria Arts Council/Monday poetry contest

More than 100 entries received in five categories

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Spring author’s reading series kicks off early in Sidney

Sidney and Peninsula Literary Society hosting Yasuko Thanh and Carla Funk for Feb. 7 event

The winners of London Drugs’ 2019 Amateur Photographer of the Year contest are…

After more than 26,000 entries, the winners have been selected across Western Canada.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ filmmaker Dean DeBlois among Canadian Oscar nominees

Multiple Oscar-nominated Canadian talents on Academy Award hopefuls list

Most Read