The past two years have been a turbo-charged merry-go-round for Maryland punk-pop group Good Charlotte.
The band’s debut single, “Little Things,” from its eponymous 2000 album, drove the group to the top of the “TRL” heap, and a Warped tour and outing with Blink-182 helped spread the Good vibes far and wide. The group’s new single, “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” is currently heating up airwaves, and a video for the song, which features cameos by ‘NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick, Tenacious D sideman Kyle Gass and former Minutemen and Firehose member Mike Watt, is getting lots of love as well.
But as Good Charlotte have discovered, where there is love, there is also hate.
“There are all these people that hate us and don’t get what we’re doing,” singer and guitarist Benji said. “They think that we’re only going to be here for this one record. And they could be right. I can’t tell the future.”
The way Good Charlotte have been critically assailed and venomously insulted inspired them to call their new album The Young and the Hopeless.
“We’ve been a band for eight years,” vocalist Joel explained. “But since we’ve gotten popular, we feel like we’ve been carefully watched and scrutinized for things that we don’t really think about because we just do what we want to do. We make our own rules and live the way we want to live.”
Added Benji: “The way we live, there’s gonna be things people really love about us. Like we’re really into charities. But there’s also gonna be things people hate and make them go, ‘Well man, I thought they were good guys.’ We’re just people and we think about our actions and consequences, but at the same time, I don’t think you should over-analyze things. We don’t think about credibility.” The new album should give everyone less to hate. Unlike Good Charlotte, which swam with glossy melodies and pristine production, The Young and the Hopeless is more raw and immediate. It’s not hardcore, but it’s punchy and propulsive, capturing the band’s good time, hard rockin’ onstage vibe more accurately than before.
Good Charlotte credit producer Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Smash Mouth, Third Eye Blind) for the more dynamic sound on The Young and the Hopeless. To pinpoint their aesthetic, Valentine didn’t just meet with them, he entered their world.
“He came down to D.C. and went around to all the pubs that we hang out at,” Benji said. “He went to the tattoo shop that we’re always at. Basically, he wanted to see where we grew up, what we do when we’re home, who we hang out with and just get our vibe. We owe him a lot because he really understood what we wanted to do so we were definitely on the same page.”
Of all the songs on the record, “My Bloody Valentine” is the one that most accurately captures the band’s current mind frame, Benji said. In addition to aggressively melding melody and volume, the lyrics take Good Charlotte a step beyond their usual wordplay.
“The song is more of a poem,” Benji said. “It’s a story about a love triangle, but it’s got a real Edgar Allan Poe vibe to it. Basically there’s a guy that knows a girl and wants to be with her so he kills her boyfriend. It’s definitely different than anything we’ve ever done and that’s one reason we like it so much. It’s something we couldn’t have written four years ago.”