Keeping it Simple

By Anushka Nagji

Naming an album doesn’t have to be difficult when you’ve got gonads on your side, just ask Simple Plan’s Jeff Stinco.

“We wanted something funny, and usually we come up with the meaning later,” he explains. “We were throwing around titles and we came up with No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls. It kind of refers to extreme sport, and for us five Montreal boys to try and conquer the world is pretty extreme.”

The Canadian punk band released their debut album in March 2002 and the music world is starting to take notice.

“In the beginning, everybody turned us down,” says Stinco. “It’s funny how they say now that they knew all along that we were the shit, because no, they didn’t.”

And they must be kicking themselves now, with Simple Plan’s debut album sales continuously rising, their newest release Perfect rocketing up the charts, and a recent Juno nomination.

“Our best award is playing in our shows, having a couple hundred or a couple thousand people show up and have a good time… that’s all we want,” says Stinco.

But the fans aren’t the only ones having a good time. After all, what’s the use of being a punk band if you can’t have some fun?

“Sebastian’s a cheap drunk and Pierre, well we’ve never been able to figure it out but he gets naked when he’s drunk and throws fridges out of windows” says Stinco, laughing.

And what’s beer and money without girls?

“Our bus driver out of all of us probably gets the most girls, he’s a stud,” explains Stinco. “I guess David though would be most likely, but he has a girl and he doesn’t hook up–he’s a good boy. Pierre gets a lot of attention because he’s the lead singer, but he can never close the deal.”

But there are more important things than partying, girls and cheap beer–or so says Stinco.

“It’s about doing something you love. I play music for a living and I love it and I know how lucky I am because my parents kicked me out when I chose music over school, so I left home with $200 in my pocket, lived on the streets and it sucked.”

His luck changed when he joined the band and the members have grown close because of their common backgrounds and experiences–maybe a little too close, as Stinco admits.

“David has had this cold for 15 years now, and he’s always scraping his throat and we tell him to stop doing it, that it’s bad for your throat and he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it anymore.”

It’s all part of being in a band, but being in the public eye is not easy, keeping up with the expectations of fans and critics alike. Still, Stinco believes one label can’t describe the five-member band.

“We’re more complex than that,” he insists. “Just one label won’t fit us, and there are those critics that say we’re not really punk but most people don’t know what punk is. Mommy will pay for food, and for the piercings and tattoos.”

With all the public pressure, Stinco and his band members just enjoy playing the live shows, but not without some odd and maybe a bit embarrassing moments.

“We played a huge show in Montreal, and everyone’s there, your friends, your parents and your hometown fans, and the show is amazing so I decided to pull a slick move and flip my guitar around my neck. The next thing I know the strap rips off and the guitar goes flying into pieces in the crowd, and I was standing on the stage without a guitar, it was really embarrassing.”

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