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Recently, I got the chance to sit down with Benji Madden from the band lyrically and we talked about everything from the highly publicized 're-do' of their fifth full length Cardiology, ''So, I was like 'We got to re do it guys' so when we went to re-do it, I wrote another round of songs and there was a few in there that I really liked and we just re did it and it sounds good and it was an important thing. The idea of this record when me and Joel talked about writing it, we just wanted to write a really good record and re-connect with our fans because we had kind of shut everyone out for a while,' to their plans for the time being to how bands like All Time Low and The Maine helped them with twitter to ustream. Read on for more from this talented musician and look forward to the new record, it's going to be a good one!
(Q): How did you first start getting interested in doing music as a career?
It was a certain time in my life and I just became obsessed with it. I'm definitely the type of guy that like when I find something I like, I go 'Oh I can do this! I could make a career of this' I mean everything! If I go snowboarding, I'm like 'I can be a snowboarder!' or if I play golf, it's like 'I can be a golfer!' so it was the same way with music. I just happened to really love it and stick with it you know. What a amazing ride it's been! Especially the last ten years. Our first record came out ten years ago and the last ten years have just been such an amazing ride and such an awesome life so I'm glad about what I did but it was definitely just I'm very passionate about everything and I was very passionate about music.
(Q): Well good and then at the beginning of this year, something kind of different happened. You scrapped your fifth album 'Cardiology' and you re-recorded it, correct? How did that writing process go?
I just started writing it and with the first go around, where once again it wasn't the vibe I was going for. You know, I really wanted to make a feel good record and that record just kind of had a dark vibe because anyone you're in the studio with can affect the record and the producer that we were working with just kind of had this effect on it. So, I was like 'We got to re do it guys' so when we went to re-do it, I wrote another round of songs and there was a few in there that I really liked and we just re did it and it sounds good and it was an important thing. The idea of this record when me and Joel talked about writing it, we just wanted to write a really good record and re-connect with our fans because we had kind of shut everyone out for a while. I think it's natural to do when you're growing and musicians are insecure as is so it's a rollercoaster ride. So, on this record we just wanted to reconnect with our fans and just let them kind of back into our lives and that's kind of what we did. Lyrically and everything, I think it's the most personal record we've written in some time now.
Well, that's great! What can kids look forward to with this record then? Is it something new?
Yeah, it's got a new fresh vibe. It sounds like a new band but it definitely is reminiscent of like our first two records. You know, so it's a little old school and I think it's, you know we love big catchy choruses, that's what we've always loved and these ones are the catchiest ones yet I think.
Oh awesome! Like we said, you start the Roadshow tomorrow and I believe you're on it for the whole thing. What are you most looking forward to from this experience? I know you're close to All Time Low so you're probably pretty excited about that being with them all summer but what are you most looking forward to? Any bands that you're excited to see?
I mean I'm excited to just be back in the scene, back on tour. Back with all the young bands and so that's what I'm excited for. Just hanging out and getting back with all of this audience. It's been a while for us and you know we needed a little bit of a break. We went pretty hard for a while and we toured and toured and toured and toured so it's good to be back in front of everyone and back in it. That's what I'm most excited about.
Perfect, and then a little soft one to do with writing and touring. If you could collaborate with any other band or artist that you've toured with, who do you think they would be and what do you think the songs would be about?
I mean, I get to collaborate with John Feldman all the time and I've really enjoyed that. He's from Goldfinger but I would love to do a song with all the bands. That's a really hard question, I don't know!
With everyone going on lately and you guys, like you said, really coming back into it. You've been really active on your website at least and other social media outlets like Ustream. How do you think that's helped you now at this point in your career?
I think it's been really great and that's actually one of the most important things that we've done . It's weird because we kind of came from the old school and so all of the new media and everything, we had to kind of embrace them and it actually kind of took us a while. I mean when we started our band, none of us even had computers period. Now, that's something we've actually learned from these guys like All Time Low and Boys Like Girls and The Maine. All these young bands, they've kind of taught us like 'Hey you know like this is kind of how it works now' and we're 'like oh shit, we got to catch up!' So, that's something that we've tried to kind of catch up on. Like you said, lately we've really been like working hard at it and it's just something you have to wrap your brain around because there was no myspace when we started. We were going to Kinkos and just running off fliers and had a mailing list at every show. We had our mailing list and we would go out with a pen and paper and we would just sign people up to our mailing list. It was a whole different thing and now I'm on twitter every day and now it's so much easier to keep in touch with your fans but I see a lot of bands that were like kind of coming out when we did that don't do it and I'm like 'Guys come on, you got to do it like this'. We see that with all young bands coming out now, we can learn a lot from them and so we just try to keep an open mind and just try not and be like 'oh well we know it all, we've already done it'. We try to go like 'well, what can we do better' and these guys definitely teach us a lot.
Then like you said Good Charlotte's been around forever. It's a really long time now, like fifteen years. How do you think you've maybe matured personally as an artist or as a group through all of these times?
We just learn as you go and I think just going on the whole ride has just been the best education of my life. You learn about people, I've learned about patience. It's like, to keep it simple, if you work hard for something you can get it. At the same time, it's just as much work to stick around so work ethic is very important. I'd say that to any young band or any one trying to do anything. Work ethic is very important. No one's going to show up at your house and just deliver you a hit song or a career. You have to go out and work for it and that's something that I've actually really enjoyed doing and I'm lucky to have a band that is down for the cause to do it with me. I wouldn't have chosen to spend the last ten years any other way and I'm definitely looking forward to the next ten years. I mean we want to be one of those career bands and that's what we've been striving for so it's a very fun process.
Perfect, and then with the new record, what can fans look forward for the rest of this year and these next few months? More touring, more shows, what's going to be going on?
We're going to do, it's going to be like old school Good Charlotte. We're going to get out and just tour as much as we can. We just want to meet as many of the fans as we can because it's been a while for us and we've been away for a little while and now we're back. We're well rested, we're back and we're excited and we just want to get out and meet as many kids as we can and just get back in it. Just get back in the scene!
Good Charlotte biography
Good Charlotte are a band who need no introduction. Originally formed as a pop-punk act in Waldorf, Maryland, in 1996, the band'vocalist Joel Madden and his identical twin brother guitarist Benji Madden along with guitarist Billy Martin, bassist Paul Thomas and the latest edition drummer Dean Butterworth'have sold over 10 million records to date, penned countless mainstream radio hits such as "The Anthem," "Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous" and "Hold On' and shared the stage with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Third Eye Blind.
That said, fourteen years deep into a career full of milestones the band could not be more excited to release their fifth full-length and Capitol Records debut Cardiology almost exactly a decade after their debut disc Good Charlotte hit the streets. 'When I listen to our first record it's so innocent and I think that we really managed to recapture that feeling with this record without actually repeating what we've done in the past,' Joel explains. 'I get the same feeling of excitement listening to this record that I did when we first started making music, which was so refreshing for us.'
However in order for the band to reach the state of mind where they could make Cardiology, first they had to take some time to step away from the band and live their lives. 'Over the past few years most of us have started families and had so many new experiences so with this record we wanted to take that wall down that we may have had in the past and let our fans back in again like we did on our earlier albums,' Benji elaborates. 'I love everything we've done, but we kind of had our defenses up on some of those albums whereas on this one we decided to write from the heart and be vulnerable again.'
In order to capture the intensely personal nature of Cardiology last January the band reentered the studio with longtime producer Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne). 'The first day we went into the studio with Don it felt so right and the entire record got made in six or eight weeks because he really understood our vision and what we wanted to accomplish this time around,' Benji recalls adding that standout songs like 'Silver Screen Romance' and energetic first single 'Like It's Her Birthday' got written during the recording session when the band experienced a final burst of creative energy. 'It was just so exciting to hear these songs take shape and we didn't want to stop writing.
From the upbeat pop feel of 'Sex On The Radio' to slower, more sensitive tracks like '1979' and 'Harlow's Song (Can't Dream Without You)' and synth-driven party anthems like 'Like It's Her Birthday' and 'Last Night,' Cardiology is a case study in all of Good Charlotte's various musical identities and sees them finally reconciling all of their influences into an album that proves the band are more relevant now than ever. ' One of the things I'm proudest about this band is that we don't have two records that sound alike and I think that's helped keep us around,' Benji responds when asked about the album's inherent versatility. 'I think there are some elements on this record that will remind people of our first album and then there are some elements that will remind them of [2007's] Good Morning Revival, too.'
'A lot of the lyrics on this album are about being in a different place in my life,' Joel, who had his second child last September, explains. 'There are some songs like 'Harlow's Song (Can't Dream Without You)' that are directly about my kids or being in love and how being in a relationship changes the whole experience of my life, but a lot of the lyrics are more introspective.' A great example of the band's attitude shift is 'There She Goes,' a song that sees the band revisiting the same personal narratives that endured them to countless fans all over the world and sees them once again wearing their hearts on their tattooed sleeves. 'Obviously we're all in different places in our lives but we're giving our fans that same honestly we always have.'
That honesty is dripping all over the songs on Cardiology and the band are thankful that they had the opportunity to have some extra time to fully realize this material. 'I don't think that a lot of these songs could have written a few years ago and time can often be the recipe,' Benji explains, citing '1979' as a personal milestone. 'All of our fans who have been with us know the whole story about our dad leaving, but with '1979' I wanted to show the time when my parents were together and happy,' he continues. 'It's a song that I couldn't have written a few years ago and I think it's all a part of growing up.'
Ultimately as much as Cardiology looks back on the band members' experiences, it's also a look ahead at the next decade of Good Charlotte'¦ and they couldn't be more excited to see what the future holds. 'It's funny because I've almost been in this band longer than I wasn't in this band during my lifetime,' Benji explains. 'I've never had a successful relationship as far as a wife or girlfriend, but I've had an amazingly successful relationship with my band and we've survived a lot of stuff that I don't think most bands would be able to make it through because we know how to communicate and we've never sold each other out,' he adds.
'Opportunities come along and people could bail on the band and look out for themselves, but we've all stuck it out and that gives me faith that I'll be able to do that someday in my own life,' Benji continues. 'Getting to the point where we could make Cardiology took fifteen years of work but there are some situations where time is the only ingredient and you can't rush it,' he adds. 'That's what this album is all about to me and I think our fans will recognize and appreciate that, too.'