Cover Story

When one thinks of era, generation-defining bands, Simple Plan is, more often than not, on top of everyone’s list. Consisting of lead vocalist and bassist Pierre Bouvier, drummer Chuck Comeau, lead guitarist Jeff Stinco, and rhythm guitarist Sébastien Lefebvre, the band has long since been at the forefront of the pop-punk and punk rock genre since their inception in 1999.

After releasing five studio albums along with a string of hit singles such as “I’m Just A Kid,” “Perfect,” and “Welcome to My Life,” Simple Plan makes their highly anticipated return this year with their sixth studio album “Harder Than It Looks”, bridging the six-year gap since their last studio album with “Taking One for the Team” in 2016.

Especially with everything that has been going on in the world for the past two years, a brand new album with plans of going on tour is surely what every music fan has been missing and longing for, an idea that was seemingly eons of years away from fulfilling given the unprecedented halt brought by the pandemic.

Now that the world is slowly opening up again with live music and concerts making their comeback, the band, through vocalist Bouvier tells Rank Magazine about how the album couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Photographed by Jordan Kelsey Knight via Secret Signals.

On being the best time to release new music, Bouvier highlights, “At some point, we realized that we can’t wait forever. And it seemed the right time because we had the ‘I’m Just A Kid’ TikTok challenge that was blowing up in the last couple years, and it really felt like pop-punk was coming back to the mainstream. And we just couldn’t wait anymore. This is ridiculous. No matter what happens with the world, this album needs to come out at this point.”

On “Harder Than It Looks,” the band has stated that the album is a return to form for the iconic groupa return to their pop-punk roots. Fans old and new in for an aural treat, revisiting and rediscovering what’s in store with the band’s latest music. Owing to the sound that catapulted them to worldwide success and recognition, Bouvier talks about how the creative process in making the album in this day and age was both challenging and easy at the same time. 

“I feel like we were not questioning ourselves as much on this record. We kind of felt like if this feels good, it doesn’t matter if it’s the sound of the day, it’s going to be cool. We kind of had a bit more confidence in ourselves. We also embraced what fans want from Simple Plan,” he reveals.

Sébastien Lefebvre, guitar. Photographed by Chapman Baehler.

Chuck Comeau, drums. Photographed by Chapman Baehler.

The band initially planned to release the album and go on tour back in 2020, but was halted due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person meetings, studio sessions, and live performances transformed into Zoom conferences, home studio recordings, and live streamed events.

With most of the songs recorded and finished before the pandemic struck, aside from tweaking a couple of mixes, Pierre expresses that they did not really change anything in the songs and materials from then to the album’s current state. He did share, though, that some of the lyrics took on a new meaning since the pandemic, some even sounding “eerily prophetic”, given the inescapable stop that the world has seen because of the global crisis.

With everyone going through difficult times and experiencing new emotions, listeners were able to relate to each song differently and with new perspectives.

Photographed by Jordan Kelsey Knight.

For over two years, live music and touring disappeared from the world due to the various restrictions and quarantines. Musicians especially found it difficult since this directly impacted their creative passions and livelihoods. Bouvier opens up on how the pandemic has made the band pushed the band to a wall, to make them realize the possibility of going out and playing shows could be taken away at any given moment. Making a record and going on tour felt like work, and having that taken away from them for two years gave them a newfound appreciation for the career that they have. 

“Wow, we’re really lucky to be here. Sometimes you take it for granted when you get it everyday every time. But having those two years taken away from us has made it more exciting, more inspiring to get back on the road and play some shows and do it with a new outlook,” the band’s lead vocalist and bassist shares.

With social media and TikTok being ubiquitous in today’s society, songs such as “I’m Just A Kid,” “Perfect,” and “Welcome to My Life” have garnered hundreds of millions of streams and had people from all over the world react and make videos to the tune of the decades-old songs. Bouvier reacts, “I think it’s awesome. And I think what’s cool about them is that it’s such a genuine, heartfelt thing.” 

Jeff Stinco, lead guitar. Photographed by Chapman Baehler.

Pierre Bouvier, lead vocals, bass guitar. Photographed by Chapman Baehler.

From selling millions of units and copies to amassing millions of streams today, the way musicians make their music and how it is consumed today brings on new adjustments and perspectives. Especially with how the pandemic has changed the world, the whole music industry and its artists had to find and make their way in this new normal while continuing to pursue their passions and maintain their livelihoods.

For Simple Plan, the world is now viewed in smaller, more specific lenses now compared to before. This translates into their songwriting as well, with Bouvier describing how the band is more flexible with their songs, adding that their outlook has been influenced and changed by current events and interacting with various people from social media.

With “Harder Than It Looks,” fans can expect a return to their pop-punk roots for Simple Plan. With the ten-track release last May, Bouvier shares how the tracks each represent a section of the album, with a variety of sound from fast-paced songs akin to Green Day and Blink-182 to slower, more paced songs. “There’s just really awesome material in my opinion and I’m excited for people to hear it,” he says.

From young adolescents first starting out and playing around with their sound to being industry giants and pop-punk legends today over twenty years later, Simple Plan’s musicality and role as artists has seen constant growth and evolution throughout their career. Their view and outlook as artists has taken on a more mature note, especially with the pandemic, musicians has seen themselves paying more attention to the effect and responsibility they have in entertainment and with their music and the effect it has on fans and listeners. 

“I feel a sense of responsibility that I did not feel when I first started. When we first started, we did not have any fans. We did not have anyone to disappoint. We did not have anyone to help. We did not have anyone with our music that could potentially help them through difficult times. It did, but we did not know that.”

Pierre Bouvier, lead vocals, bass guitar. Photographed by Chapman Baehler.

Today, Simple Plan’s impact on fans everywhere can be seen with the unrelenting hype and traction their album is getting, be it in their newfound social media presence or quenching the thirst for new material long-awaited by fans they have long had from decades back.

The band recognizes the added responsibility and dependence of their old and new fans today. With “Harder Than It Looks,” fans can expect both the Simple Plan they know and love from their pop-punk glory days and a Simple Plan that delivers meaningful and uplifting messages that will definitely make everyone wait in excitement and anticipation for more to come from the rock legends.

Made in collaboration with Secret Signals

Interview by Leo Balante and Matthew Cruz

Cover layout by Bhernn Saenz