INTERVIEW: Good Charlotte talk “Youth Authority” and being back for good!

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“Maybe some of the younger bands that were influenced by Good Charlotte talk about us in interviews and these young fans go check it out. Than they want to come see our band. I think we’re just truly lucky to get this opportunity to have that sort of second chance with new fans.” Sometimes you’re doing an interview with someone, this particular someone being Billy Martin of Good Charlotte, and you immediately know what your lead off quote or favorite quote is going to be as they’re saying it. And it’s something I scribble down in my notes while in conversation with them.
While the focus of this blog was to spotlight the new class of rock coming out and I think we’ve done a pretty stand up job of that, we’ve also interviewed many of the bands that those new bands grew up on and Billy pretty much nailed that idea. Good Charlotte put out their most recent record, “Youth Authority”, this summer and are currently on their first full US tour since the hiatus. And despite just being a few shows in, it already feels incredible for them. With a great support bill of The Story So Far, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, Hit the Lights and Big Jesus, this is one tour that you just can’t miss. It will expose the Good Charlotte hardcore fans to some incredible acts and just overall be a great night. For my Boston friends, the guys will be here on 11/13 and tonight they’re in Salt Lake City!

You guys have a lot going on right now. You’re on your first US tour since the hiatus, you have the new record. To start it off soft, the three things you had to bring with you this time?
The most important thing is my computer probably. It’s hard to be away from the wife and kids so any kind of device to be able to talk to home is really nice. I also work as a freelance illustrator so I do a lot of my artwork on the bus and stuff like that. So I like to bring my supplies with me to keep me busy and the third thing, what else is really important on tour? I’m trying to craft some cool answers for you but it’s all practical stuff. Well with this tour, I brought a little practice guitar and a battery powered amp and a couple of pedals. I pop it all into a case that I can bring into the dressing room each day and just plug in my guitar and sort of warm up for the shows. That’s something I put together before this tour and it’s been really nice to have to warm up before the shows.

I’m sure that’s been great. Then maybe how has this tour been going. You are a few shows in, maybe how has it been going. It’s a really unique tour package. How has it been going so far for the band?
Yeah it’s great you know. We did the second show of the tour last night. I don’t think that we’ve had a bad show since Good Charlotte has come back. It’s really nice and refreshing. We have this really cool level of excitement with the fans. I think it’s nice when you haven’t been able to play for so long especially because a lot the fans that have been coming to the shows are saying it’s their first time being able to see the band. We keep thinking how is it your first time? We’ve been doing this for so many years and they say well I was like ten when Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous came out and as soon as I was old enough to start going to concerts, you guys went on hiatus. And this is their first opportunity to get to see the band so it’s cool. There’s just this really nice general excitement.

Maybe how has that been for you? You’re an original member of the band obviously and the band formed almost twenty years ago now.
I think the coolest thing about it is that the band is getting that opportunity. We’re getting a second wave of fans. Most of the time, it’s the hardcore fans that are with you since the band comes out. They grow up with you and stay with you through the career of the band. So the opportunity to have a second wave of younger fans, even teenagers. We’re meeting kids that are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. Maybe some of the younger bands that were influenced by Good Charlotte talk about us in interviews and these young fans go check it out. Then they want to come see our band. I think we’re just truly lucky to get this opportunity to have that sort of second chance with new fans.

Then like I keep saying there was a hiatus but you are all in a much different place now. Things have changed. For “Youth Authority”, maybe how long was that in the making considering the hiatus for the band?
I mean, kind of always. I don’t think when we went into the hiatus we were like we’re going to break up forever but it wasn’t like let’s take one year off. There was really no time on it. I mean technically the album was sort of always in the making because I think that’s what makes a good record. Life experiences and had we not taken that time off to just try a regular life out a little bit, I don’t think the record would have been as special. All of us are married and most of us have families so for a while there, we had already been Good Charlotte through ten, eleven years or whatever style of touring with no breaks. Then kids came into the picture and there was a lot to juggle and I think we just needed to back off. Sort of reassess life and enjoy having kids. Then we figured out to make it work and make life a little easier and bring the band back. And because of that, it gives you just a different reason for doing it. It’s so cool to do the shows and have all of our kids come out to the shows. To have our families sitting on the side of the stage. Like five, six, seven year old kids seeing people sing all the words to their dads’ songs. It’s cool. It feels like a whole new chapter. I think when you’re in there working on music, you think okay well we get to play to our fans but also our kids are going to listen to this record and be like oh I remember when dad went to make that record. All that kind of stuff. It definitely gives you this perspective on it but it’s a very cool exciting new perspective.

Then just from listening to it, it’s obviously a little different from what you guys were doing in the past. I know from reading the credits that the band was very hands on with the writing for this record. Do you think the writing process still changes or do you think it’s kind of been that same steady rhythm as from before?
We’ve always had a very similar process for the writing. Benji and Joel are twins and they’ve got a special connection there. I don’t think anyone can understand if they’re not a twin. It’s interesting to watch them from afar. I think they have a way of just getting in each other’s heads in talking about it. It’s a really special thing that I think our band has and not a lot of other bands have. It helps to make a really cool, unique songwriting process for our band. We’re lucky.

Then there are two people that are on the record that are obviously very different from each other in the music they make with Kellin Quinn and Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro. Maybe how did those collaborations kind of come about for the band on this record?
With collaborations for Good Charlotte, we always try to make it a natural thing. We have so many friends that would be great to work with but sometimes it’s weird when you’re like hey we should do a song on the record. Come in and see what can happen. Sometimes you’re forcing a collaboration and you don’t always get what you want but with both of those, both Kellin and Simon we’re working with John Feldman on different projects. Sort of in between, before and after, or while we were doing “Youth Authority” and they were just hanging around the studio at different times. So we were like let’s set an idea and just kind of start working on stuff. Especially in the studio, you never know what’s going to make the record and what’s not going to make the record. It’s a lot of just trying stuff out. Both of the songs just ended up coming out really great. They were both just sort of chance features because we were in the right place at the right time.

Perfect and then I keep saying this but it’s your first US tour since the hiatus. You have so many albums that you’ve done. How do you go about planning the sets for this tour? Do you do a lot of old favorites, do you focus on the new record? What kind of has been the plan for the first few shows and maybe for the rest of the tour?
Yeah that’s the tricky thing. It’s not a bad problem to have too many singles or something to fit into your set but there’s certain songs that we just know go across really well live and there’s maybe some big popular songs that sound good but aren’t the most exciting songs live so maybe you don’t play some of those. Sometimes we’ll rotate a couple different songs out until we find the ones that work out the best but it’s definitely a mix. We try to play a handful of songs from every record just because that’s a cool thing about Good Charlotte fans. You ask what their favorite song is and everyone is going to give you a different answer. So we really try to just spread it out and play a lot of different stuff. Stuff that we know fans will like and stuff off of Youth Authority.

Then to end it off, obviously you have a lot coming up in these next few weeks with this tour. The record is still so new only coming out this summer. Kind of what’s the plan for Good Charlotte for maybe the rest of the year? Is it something where you’re just going to ride this wave and see how it goes or take a little break? You all have things you do.
This tour cycle will take us all the way to Thanksgiving. December is going to be quiet for us. We’ll probably be at home with the kids and doing all the normal holiday December stuff. Then next year, we’ll get back to it. We have nothing really confirmed or planned but we’re going to keep going. Everybody is happy to be back at work. It wasn’t just like put a record out and do one tour and be off again. That’s certainly not the plan. We’re back at it. Theres out a lot of places outside of North America that we haven’t gone to yet but America feels really good. It hasn’t felt this good for us in a long time. We’re really enjoying playing shows so we’ll definitely be doing some more.

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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.

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