Back in May, Sum 41 released a re-imagined version of “Catching Fire” (featuring nothing.nowhere), the closing track from their 2019 album, Order in Decline.
Frontman Deryck Whibley has always been open about the track’s meaning— it was his way of starting the conversation with his wife, Ari, about her suicide attempt in 2013. Timing the single’s release with Mental Health Awareness Month was no coincidence, but it’s important these conversations don’t stop with the turn of your calendar page.
“I’d written [“Catching Fire”] about six or seven years after her attempted suicide, which I largely tried to forget about, or at least the pain part to forget about,” Whibley says. “Up until that point, I’d largely tried to bury the pain of that night, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that it had happened, and what if it could happen again…”
Whibley says that while he doesn’t consciously write for catharsis, this track in particular helped release the repressed emotions for both him and his wife.
“Once I wrote [“Catching Fire”], all that went away,” he says. “We were actually able to have an open dialogue about depression and how she felt.”
2021 is very much a year of reflection for Whibley, for many reasons. One of those is that Sum 41’s iconic album, All Killer, No Filler turns 20 this year. Whibley says the band’s aspirations haven’t changed all that much in those two decades, though.
“Being a live band is all we’ve ever cared about, that’s all we do,” he says. “So, for us, the goal’s still the same, play bigger places, and just see how far we can push this thing. Thankfully, 20 years later, [the shows are] bigger than [they were] back then. But the goal is still the same. It’s just to get on stage and put on the best show possible, and hopefully pick up new fans every year.”
With reflection comes hindsight, as Whibley knows all too well when looking back over the Sum 41 discography.
“There’s lots of stuff that I wish I could redo,” he says. “I think our record Does This Look Infected? never turned out the way we wanted it to. Our producer was very unsure of himself, and we recorded the record, he didn’t think it was right. He wanted us to redo it, so we rushed it in two weeks. And I don’t think it sounded as good. I think the first version was better, the demos were better. The final version I hate. Sometimes that’s how it goes.”
There’s plenty of tracks that Whibley is proud of though.
“[‘Fat Lip’], that one stands out for sure,” he says. “Another song I really love is ‘Still Waiting,’ [from] Does This Look Infected? There’s even some of the slower ones, like ‘Pieces.’ I like ‘Catching Fire’ as well. And I also like ‘Never There,’ [from] the last record. I can think of probably a song or two from every record that are equally my favorites, and they have some sort of meaning to me.”
While Whibley has a lot to look back on over his 20+ year career, he’s also looking forward, especially now live shows are back. Oh, and he’s now a father.
“The amazing thing is, and I guess the one silver lining for me being home this entire time and not being able to work, is that I’ve been able to spend all this time being a new dad, being a family,” he says. “And I think the family is going to be hitting the road properly soon. We’re trying to figure out if Slam Dunk is gonna be baby’s first show.”
Revisit All Killer, No Filler here:
For more from Sum 41, check out their official website.
Photo courtesy of Deryck Whibley