Interview: Good Charlotte's Joel Madden

September 20, 2006 12:18 PM
by Christina Fuoco
LiveDaily Contributor

While recording their yet-to-be-titled new album for 2007, pop-punkers Good Charlotte harkened back to their teen years, when they spent hours in their rooms listening to new music. They wanted to resurrect that feeling of having fun.

"The new album is influenced by the pop sensibility of super-melodic bands like The Police or Oasis," said Joel Madden, Good Charlotte's lead singer. "I think we've become comfortable with the melodic side of our music, and on this album we totally embrace it."'

The band--which also includes Madden's twin, guitarist Benji Madden, guitarist Billy Martin and bassist Paul Thomas--took its time recording the forthcoming album, which marks the return of producer Don Gilmore, who helmed Good Charlotte's 2000 self-titled debut

"We don't really feel the need to rush," said Joel Madden of the band's first album since 2004's platinum-selling "Chronicles of Life and Death." "We just want it to be right, and as time has gone on and things have developed, we feel the need to spend more time to make it exactly the way we want it."

Benji Madden said in a press release that the new album feels like Good Charlotte's first effort "and anytime you have the opportunity to make a first impression, you really want to look your best and leave people with a good feeling."

Although the album is fun, Joel Madden said, it also addresses serious issues like heartbreak. While he is in a much-publicised relationship with teen sensation Hilary Duff, his brother just exited a long-term affair. According to Joel, that allowed for a perfect balance on the album.

Joel Madden talked with LiveDaily about his production team, the Dead Executives (with Benji Madden and John Feldmann of Goldfinger), working with Don Gilmore and returning to clubs for Good Charlotte's fall tour.

LiveDaily: Are you looking forward to touring the United States again? It seems like it's been a long time.

Joel Madden: Yeah, it's going to be fun. It's been awhile. In America, it's been since about last December, so almost a year. We were on tour in the rest of the world, and that was about nine months ago.

I understand you're going to play smaller venues this fall. Was that important to you?

I think that we wanted to, first of all, do something special for our fans. Give our fans an opportunity to see us just in a real close and personal setting. For us, we kind of miss the clubs. We've been touring so long in arenas and amphitheaters. This tour isn't too long. It's only a month, but we wanted to play venues that we chose, venues that we love. Not that we don't love playing arenas, too, but it's exciting to play small clubs.

You can really feed off the crowd's energy in smaller venues, too.

It's been so long since we've been able get sweaty and play a power set. We're looking forward to it.

How does the new album fit in with your catalog?

The new stuff is definitely very energetic and a little bit up-tempo. We're going to play a couple new songs on this tour.

It sounds like it has a much more fun feel to it.

The last one ["The Chronicles of Life And Death"] was a little dark, which I think it was where we were at. I love this record. It definitely just feels good.

In working with the Dead Executives, what were you able to bring over into Good Charlotte?

Doing a lot of hip-hop [with The Game and J-Kwon], we carried a lot into the album. I think that it's opened my mind up to definitely a little bit more. I have the freedom to not over-think something we make. We want to make feel-good music. I want to make people feel good. I want people to listen to my record and have a good time. Like, with this record, I wanted it to be one that you can put on at a party and leave on the whole time. The whole record is an hour or so of feeling good, making you move a little bit. That's what I really wanted on this record. I think we did it. I'm really excited for people to hear it. You know what? With other artists, it's given us more experience, and just opening our minds up: "It's OK to try this and try that." If it feels good, why not do it? We have a lot of programming on this record, all the drums are live but we programmed stuff with the drums. It sounds cool, and we like it. Why can't we do it, you know what I mean?

Not to get into your personal life, but what was it like to work with Hilary Duff? [The Madden brothers wrote and produced three songs for Duff's 2005 album, "Most Wanted."]

Easy, because it was fun. The pressure's off. It's not for your record. We can sing about different things, more things. It's easy and really fun. I could do things I normally wouldn't do. With Hilary or with anybody else--with the Dead Executives and J-Kwon--we just have fun. [I] fell in love with music when I was [15 years old], in my room listening to CDs. That's why I got into music. That's why I'm doing it. I love music--sharing music and making music. When we do producing stuff, that's what we try to re-create. With Hilary's stuff and J-Kwon, that's what we'll usually do. We have a good time. If it's not fun, we stop and then we start over. When we did our own record, [Good Charlotte producer] Don Gilmore was right on the same page. "I want this album to feel good. I want people to fall in love with it and have a good time with it." We have some serious issues, as usual, on this record. We deal with some of the issues that our fans go through, but we want them to feel good. I think that, as a band, we were a little bit to blame for our genre going dark. On our last record, we kind of went dark--even on the record before that. We're trying to bring it back to being fun.

You mentioned sitting in your room listening to music and falling in love with it. What did you listen to?

Weezer, when they did the blue album and "Pinkerton." "Pinkerton" saved my life. And Green Day. Every album Green Day has ever made, I love.

What was it like to work with Don Gilmore?

Don Gilmore, he did our first record, we were friends since then. He's just a really great guy who's fun to be around with. Don's smart. He's a smart guy. He loves music. As a producer, too, I learned a lot from Don.

What did you learn from him?

I think when we were doing the demos, we would record everything ourselves and bring that to Don. A lot of times, there's an energy on that demo that you can't re-create. We used a little bit of each of the demos. We learned it doesn't have to be perfect. It's the little imperfections that that make it cool or that make it unique. So a lot of the songs on the record, we used certain parts [from demos]. There's a certain point on the demos in which we had no rules. It has to feel good. It has to be right. Working with Don has taught me to get his perspective. I was a bit of a perfectionist. We've taken a lot of time on this record, but it feels right.

How long did it take you to record the album?

We actually recorded the album in three months. We spent four or five months beforehand, just demo-ing songs.

Do you have a name for the album yet?

We don't have a name yet.

Any ideas?

No ideas. We don't have any ideas yet. We're kicking ideas around, but nothing is coming yet.

Your tour is going to run through the fall. What are you going to do afterward?

I don't know. We may go somewhere else, maybe in South America or Europe. In January, we leave for the world tour.