Good Charlotte: Good Morning, Re-Invention
Bored with the scene-and their haters-GOOD CHARLOTTE have traded a life of contemporary-punk popularity for a world of DJ booths, club life and hip-hop heroes. And it’s okay with them if you have a problem with that, too.
Story: JR Griffin
“I just did a couple of photo shoots for a few magazines,” says vocalist Joel Madden. “I didn't do one for AP. I don't know. I really have no idea what this interview is for, but it's all good.”
That’s his opening line when we get him on the phone between photo shoots in New York City to chat about Good Charlotte’s fourth album, Good Morning Revival, and all of the baggage that for whatever reason, comes along when he, guitarist brother Benji & Co.-guitarist Billy Martin, drummer Dean Butterworth and bassist Paul Thomas-decide to release a dozen or so new songs into the world. Any regular AP reader has to understand why Joel might be on the defensive. When the band was at the top of their pop-punk game with 2002’s The Young And The Hopeless sporting anthems like “Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous,” they repeatedly took it on the chin by punk-policemen labeling them poseurs, sellouts, whatever-a trend that has continued since the band’s last disc, 2004’s The Chronicles Of Life And Death.
This is why the Maddens are seemingly distancing themselves from today’s pop-punk scene. Recently, the brothers Madden have been moonlighting as DJs at trendy NYC and L.A. nightclubs, with the New York Post’s Page Six gossip section tracking some of their appearances (for better or worse) on the turntables. Joel was dating and producing music for Hilary Duff and has since been linked to Nicole Richie, while Benji is engaged to Australian actress Sophie Monk. On their new disc, the Maddens drop the names of high-fashion lines (Luis Vutton, Chanel et al) in “Keep Your Hands Off My Girl,” a new industrial-dance track (yes, you read that right) that’s been remixed by Junior Sanchez and featured a painfully hip, early internet video of Los Angeles “It Girl” Cory Kennedy chomping on Indian food while bopping along to the track. They’re hanging with and producing music for the hip-hop world (see sidebar). Clearly, the Maddens are doing just about everything to add fuel to the fire of anyone hating on them.
“At this point, it’s kind of a cliché to hate our band,” says Joel, who, when pausing to consider, doesn't see his band as a pop-punk group that ever changed or turned on the scene. But the question remains: Did the band leave the pop-punk world behind for a life of designer clothes and cool new friends? Or were they ever really accepted in the first place?
“There was a time when we came up in the scene and I was so gung-ho for it. I was like, ‘There’s a place for our band here.’ People were cool with everyone. And then when we got more successful, all of a sudden everyone just rejected us. We kind of have gone out on our own. Were we forced out [of that scene]? I don’t know. But either way, we’ve been on the outside for years as far as that scene goes, especially the music that your magazine includes in it. And we’re happy to be out here.”
Being distanced from various punk scenes has pushed the brothers in various directions. In addition to pursuing club life and celebrity dalliances, Joel and Benji focused on their music production company, the Dead Executives, revamped some businesses and made new friends in Hollywood and other musical circles. The guys also took their DC Flag record label (which issued releases by power-poppers Lola Ray and hardcore supergroup Hazen Street) and clothing company Made and folded them into DCMA, a venture currently focusing on clothing rather than music. “We have a production company, so we’re finding bands and taking them to labels and getting them record deals,” explains Joel. “But we decided that putting out records is not our thing.”
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Click HERE for the official AP review of Good Morning Revival.