Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Sum 41

Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Sum 41
Photo: Ashley Osborn
Amidst the pop-punk boom of the early aughts, Ajax, ON outfit Sum 41 stood out for their huge hooks, hair metal homages and bratty antics — then, they weathered the storms of substance abuse, lineup changes and industry evolution, and managed to sell 15 million albums in the process.
 
On July 19, the band will drop their new album, Order in Decline — their seventh — via Hopeless Records, and we took the occasion to look back on their storied career in our monthly Timeline feature. Before we publish it in full, here's a little preview of five noteworthy facts, cut and pasted from the forthcoming Timeline, that you may not have known about Sum 41.
 
 
1. Len's Marc Costanzo played a significant role in the early days of the band's career.
 
[Greig] Nori becomes the band's co-manager, along with Nettwerk, who also manage Treble Charger. "Deryck's persistence made me think I had something to offer the band." Costanzo has access to a recording studio at Ryerson University. He convinces Whibley and [Jon] Marshall [the band's first singer] to switch positions and lays down demos of Whibley's songs. Sum 41 become part of a group of friends that includes Nori, Costanzo and a pre-Broken Social Scene Brendan Canning.
 
2. The song "In Too Deep" began life as a collab between Deryck Whibley, Greig Nori and Canadian MC Snow.
 
In 2018 on the Blink-155 podcast, Fucked Up's Ben Cook, whose previous band No Warning had worked with Nori, reveals that "In Too Deep" began life as a collaboration between Nori and Canadian Caribbean-inflected rapper Snow.
 
"One of [Nori's] early ideas was to mix pop-punk and reggae." Cone later confirms Cook's story, noting that Whibley, Nori and Snow almost formed a band together on the basis of the demo.
 
3. Sum 41's more destructive tendencies were encouraged by their label.
 
Island/Def Jam president Lyor Cohen, who worked with the Beastie Boys during their Licensed to Ill days encourages the band to "fuck shit up," assuring them that the label will pick up the tab — as long as the band videotape the mayhem. "The Beastie Boys were much tamer," he tells Rolling Stone. "Sum 41 are a multiple of them." Some of the footage, as well as the stuff they filmed before getting signed, appears on the appropriately titled live DVD, Introduction to Destruction.
 
4. Whibley once dressed up as his ex-wife for Halloween.
 
In October, Whibley and girlfriend Ari Cooper attend a Halloween party dressed up as Lavigne and her fiance, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger; Whibley goes as Lavigne, Cooper as Kroeger. Kroeger later tweets "Hey Deryck loved the costumes! we were going to dress up as you guys this year but all the parties had celebrity themes haha!"
 
5. A now-sober Whibley has found like-minded friends in a group of '80s hard rock stars.
 
In the wake of his sobriety, Whibley discovers that his social circle changes. "I don't get calls from certain people that I used to… the drinking friends," he tells Kerrang! in 2014. "Who wants to invite the sober guy to the party?" He finds supportive friends in Iggy Pop as well as Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, and Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum from Guns 'n' Roses. "We go out for coffee and talk about shit." For a year afterwards, Whibley can barely stand for more than a few seconds at a time. Speaking and playing guitar are also difficult. Whibley: "My whole brain felt like it reset."