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‘Still Not Getting Any…’: Why Simple Plan’s Second Album Got All It Deserved
In Depth

‘Still Not Getting Any…’: Why Simple Plan’s Second Album Got All It Deserved

Going beyond the confines of their initial pop-punk template, ‘Still Not Getting Any…’ saw Simple Plan meld muscle with maturity.

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Simple Plan’s 2002 debut album, No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, did what its title suggested: it proffered an abundance of gutsy, bratty pop-punk which drew comparisons with in-vogue contemporaries such as blink-182 and Good Charlotte. It also ripped up the charts, peaking at No.2 in the band’s native Canada and going platinum in the US – but its success meant Simple Plan were expected to deliver more of the same with their second album, 2004’s Still Not Getting Any…

The Montreal quintet, however, had other ideas. They were keen to experiment and push beyond their pop-punk blueprint, but, due to their intensive touring schedule, needed to do so with one eye on the clock. Here’s the story of how Still Not Getting Any… ensured that Simple Plan got everything they deserved.

Listen to ‘Still Not Getting Any…’ here.

The backstory: “After months of pushing each other, it just came together”

On No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, the group set themselves a specific challenge: to write a pure pop-punk record. When it came to crafting a follow-up, however, their aim was to simply “write good songs” – even though events seemed to conspire against them.

“This record was so full of deadlines,” drummer Chuck Comeau told Modern Drummer magazine. “Because of the way the schedule worked out, we had to write about ten songs in three months. We did fight a lot.”

In a 2005 interview on the band’s website, Simple Plan vocalist and co-writer Pierre Bouvier agreed with his bandmate’s assertion – though he stressed that capitulation was never an option.

“At first we had trouble coming up with stuff we loved, so we just kept writing and writing… never giving up,” Bouvier recalled. “After months of doing this and pushing each other, it just came together. Perfect World was one of the first good songs that we got, and from there the songs just started coming out of us like a waterfall.”

The recording: “You can go and be yourself on record, trust your instincts”

Though Simple Plan hailed from Quebec, Bouvier and Comeau had taken themselves off to Vancouver, British Columbia, to write their new batch of songs during the latter days of 2003. By the time they returned home, they had enough rough sketches for an album. In January and February 2004, they went back on the road, on a co-headlining tour with MxPx. Following this, they felt confident enough to record their new songs – with the help of one of the industry’s most sought-after producers, Bob Rock.

“When you’re around this legend who produced Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, it’s like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna listen to him,’” Comeau told Modern Drummer. “Bob is a genius at recording drums. When we first met him, we explained what we wanted: ‘The Black Album’, but with our songs. ‘The Black Album’ has this really clean, yet intense and powerful sound.”

“He brought in the idea that you can go and be yourself on record, trust your instincts, and go with them,” guitarist Jeff Stinco added in an interview with Cryptorock.com. “He is a very quick guy in the studio, he is efficient, he gets amazing tones. I learned a lot about guitar playing and sounds in the studio because of him.”

The songs: “They demonstrated a growing maturity”

Rock was also savvy enough to ensure Simple Plan didn’t lose what had made them contenders in the first place. The band were determined to progress, but their renowned producer ensured that Still Not Getting Any… included plenty of their patented angsty pop-punk, thanks to songs such as Shut Up!, Jump and Promise. In some cases, though, Rock gave the group a freer rein, allowing them to demonstrate a growing maturity on tracks such as the acoustic-tinged Welcome To My Life and one of the band’s personal favourites, the socially-aware Crazy.

Describing Crazy as being “about all the bad things in the world”, Pierre Bouvier told MTV, “It could’ve been a 12-minute song with each verse about a different topic, but that wouldn’t work. So it’s about a few specific things: the gap between the rich and the poor around the world… how women are objectified in the media, and all the stereotypes they’re supposed to live up to.”

Elsewhere, Rock encouraged Simple Plan to strike out for pastures new on tracks such as the abrasive, Smells Like Teen Spirit-quoting Me Against The World and One, the latter an adventurous hybrid pulling in a string section and a quirky rhythm inspired by dancehall king Sean Paul. Late in the day, the band even concocted an unlikely, Foreigner-esque power balled, which again featured strings and even timbales. Initially struggling to give the song a title, they eventually released it as a single under the name Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me?).

The reception: “A hard-to-deny collection of bubblegum punk”

By and large, the critics also dug Simple Plan’s desire to walk on the wilder side with Still Not Getting Any… Around the album’s 26 October 2004 release, Blender declared it was the record’s “less raucous and more thoughtful side that shows Simple Plan’s investment in the future”, while Entertainment Weekly praised the band’s sense of humour and also the fact they were “smart enough to understand that sometimes music shouldn’t be” complicated. Even the exalted Rolling Stone’s review suggested the album was “a hard-to-deny collection of bubblegum punk”.

Despite its title, Still Not Getting Any… showered the band with commercial rewards. Peaking at No.2 in Canada and at No.3 on the Billboard 200, the album eventually went quadruple platinum in the band’s homeland, and it remains Simple Plan’s biggest seller to date – not to mention one they recall with particular fondness.

“It was interesting because we had been touring non-stop for three years by then,” Jeff Stinco recalled for CryptoRock.com. “We just got into the studio, we knew exactly what we wanted to do, we knew what our setlist was missing… We had a lot of things we wanted to address.

“Songs like Untitled, Crazy and Welcome To My Life came about,” the guitarist continued. “They filled the gaps in the setlist that we wanted to fill up. It was actually an easy record to make.”

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