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Sum 41 tell us about “aggressive” final album ‘Heaven :x: Hell’: “It’s the perfect way to go out”

Sum 41 have announced the release date for their final album ‘Heaven :x: Hell’ and shared latest single ‘Rise Up’. Check it out below, along with our interview with frontman Deryck Whibley.

READ MORE: Sum 41: “We’re not ashamed of anything, we’re not afraid of anything – we just do what we do”

‘Heaven :x: Hell’ is due for release in March 2024 as a double album. The ‘Heaven’ side of will feature 10 tracks of pop-punk-inspired music – influenced by their 2001 breakout album ‘All Killer, No Filler’ and 2002’s ‘Does This Look Infected?’ – while ‘Hell’ will showcase the heavier style that has defined recent Sum 41 releases like 2019’s ‘Order In Decline’. According to Whibley though, “there’s more to the album than nostalgia.”

“Even if I tried to write ‘All Killer, No Filler’ again, I wouldn’t be able to,” he told NME. “It just doesn’t come out the same. The songs sound like they could be from those eras though.”

Following on from recent single ‘Landmines’, Sum 41 have today released the frantic, chaotic ‘Rise Up’.

“’Rise Up’ is about me coming out of hospital 10 years ago, and what happened afterwards,” said Whibley, who was hospitalised in 2014 after his liver and kidneys failed due to alcohol abuse. He went on to spend a week in a coma before being told he’d almost died. “That’s something I’ll never stop thinking about,” he told NME, with ‘Rise Up’ penned about “that struggle of finding the faith to continue on and the strength to build yourself back up.”

So far, both singles shared from ‘Heaven :x: Hell’ see the singer talking about perseverance. “It’s that cliche thing where you can do anything you put your mind to,” he said. “I really believe in that, but I’ve also surprised myself. Things can get better if you just work at it.”

“‘Heaven :x: Hell’ is an aggressive album,” Whibley explained. “There’s not really any slow songs on either side of the record. Everything is very energetic. The pop punk stuff is fast and upbeat, while the heavy songs hit hard. There’s also some stuff that’s heavier than anything we’ve ever done before.”

He continued: “It’s aggressive but it’s not angry. It’s just excitement. That comes from the fact that everything I write is for the stage. If it makes me want to move around when I’m sitting in my studio, that’s when I know we’ve got something good.”

Sum 41 first started talking about ‘Heaven :x: Hell’ back in March 2022 but earlier this year, the band confirmed they would be breaking up after its release and a subsequent world tour that includes an appearance at Download Festival 2024.

“I feel really good about this album, which is why I felt it should be the last one. We didn’t know we’d be splitting up when we were making it, but I’ve been making records and touring with this band since I was 15,” said Whibley, now 43. “I’ve had this feeling for a long time now that I want to do something different and it just feels like the right time. This album feels like the perfect way to go out.”

He added: “Over the past few years, the touring has constantly been getting bigger and the band is at our best. My fear is that if I start to lose the excitement, we’ll just fade away. I care too much about the fans and what we’ve built as a band to let that happen, just because it’s a good paycheque.”

Back in September, Whibley was once again hospitalised after contracting COVID-19 while on tour, which turned into pneumonia and laryngitis. The following month, he was back onstage performing with the band at When We Were Young Festival though. Speaking to NME, Whibley explained that concerns about his health were never a factor in deciding to walk away from Sum 41.

“I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been in my life right now,” he said. “Yes, you probably have to modify how you perform as you get older but I feel like you can get better as you age. I don’t think Mick Jagger is the anomaly.”

Whibley still isn’t sure what will happens post-Sum 41, though, admitting: “I can’t figure that out until everything else is out of the way.”

Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley – CREDIT: Getty

Last year, Whibley spoke to NME about how Sum 41’s eighth studio album “accidentally” became a double album after he was asked to write pop-punk-inspired music for other artists over the pandemic, following a resurgence in the genre. In the years that have followed, pop-punk has continued to go from strength to strength with classic artists like Paramore and Fall Out Boy reaching new heights, while a new crop of artists have been embraced by a new generation.

“Pop-punk is resonating now because it’s good and it was always good,” said Whibley. “It’s never really gone away, but sometimes bands or genres can get dismissed because they were part of a specific moment in time. If you listen back to the music that came out in the early 2000s, there’s some really good stuff there, even if some of it did suck. It’s nice that those bands are being validated.”

“It’s funny that as it’s coming back, we’re getting out,” Whibley continued. “Financially, it’s probably a great time to be a pop-punk band but we’re going to step aside. We’ve only ever done things that are genuine.”

“When we first got successful with ‘Fat Lip’, there weren’t a tonne of bands making that kind of music,” Whibley explained. “You had Green Day, you had Blink-182 but most rock bands were heavy. Linkin Park, KoRn, Limp Bizkit and that sort of thing. We never thought ‘Fat Lip’ was going to be a hit song, but we wrote it because we loved Run-DMC, Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.  We thought it would be fun to put all those influences into a punk rock song, and then it just took off.”

A wave of pop-punk bands crashed into the mainstream around the same time as Sum 41, “but we just didn’t want to fit in with that,” Whibley said. Later in their career, their label Island Records pushed the band to write poppier songs in an attempt to follow trends but they responded with “the heaviest record we could possibly make,” 2011’s ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’. ”We’ve always done things that are probably not always the most financially sound ideas, but it’s always been about the music to us,” he added.

“We’ve had something to prove with every record we’ve put out,” said Whibley. “On ‘All Killer’, we were proving ourselves as a new band. With ‘Does This Look Infected?’, we were proving we weren’t just a flash in the pan. On ‘Chuck’, we wanted to prove we could play metal, despite being seen as a pop-punk group. With ‘Heaven :x: Hell’, we want to show how we’re the best version of this band that we’ve ever been. This really is our best record.”

‘Heaven :x: Hell’ is due for release on March 29, 2024, and available for pre-order here. Check out the tracklist below:

‘HEAVEN’:

1. ‘Waiting On A Twist Of Fate’
2. ‘Landmines’
3. ‘I Can’t Wait’
4. ‘Time Won’t Wait’
5. ‘Future Primitive’
6. ‘Dopamine’
7. ‘Not Quite Myself’
8. ‘Bad Mistake’
9. ‘Johnny Libertine’
10. ‘Radio Silence’

‘HELL’

1. ‘Preparasi A Salire’
2. ‘Rise Up’
3. ‘Stranger In These Times’
4. ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’
5.’Over The Edge’
6. ‘House Of Liars’
7. ‘You Wanted War’
8. ‘Paint It Black’
9. ‘It’s All Me’
10. ‘How The End Begins’

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