Sum 41 revisits the band’s platinum-selling debut

Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 performs during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Expo Center on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

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Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 performs during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Expo Center on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Hear “All Killer No Filler” and more at the Tabernacle on May 24.

There’s a popular saying that musicians have a lifetime to make their first albums and six weeks to make their second one. Deryck Whibley could say that saying was only half true when it came to his band, Sum 41.

The saying is timely because the long-running punk-pop-metal band is on tour this summer celebrating the 20th anniversaries of their first two albums, 2001′s “All Killer No Filler” and 2002′s “Does This Look Infected?,” playing the former album in its entirety as the centerpiece of the shows.

“We’re going to play all of the ‘No Killer’ album, and then because we’re actually falling on another anniversary, of our second record ‘Does This Look Infected?’ now, so we’re going to kind of sprinkle in some of that stuff as well,” Whibley said in a late-April phone interview.

When singer and songwriter Whibley looks back on the making of “All Killer No Filler,” he remembers he was sitting on a pile of grade A, ready-to-record songs written over multiple years.

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Deryck Whibley of Sum 41.

Credit: courtesy of Sum 41

Deryck Whibley of Sum 41.

Credit: courtesy of Sum 41

Combined ShapeCaption
Deryck Whibley of Sum 41.

Credit: courtesy of Sum 41

Credit: courtesy of Sum 41

“We kind of went in (to the studio) with half of an album and I kind of tried to write some stuff while we were there, and it didn’t go so well,” Whibley recalled.

In fact, it took several more sessions, interspersed between tours over nearly a year’s time, to finish “All Killer No Filler.”

Yes, Whibley said, he felt pressure to get songs written. But that’s not to say making “All Killer No Filler” was entirely stressful or a grind. In fact, Whibley has great memories of being in the studio with producer Jerry Finn and his bandmates and having record label money to spend on whatever they wanted — sometimes to the detriment of getting work done on the album.

“We were really kind of going crazy because we were so young and we liked to party. And we really spent a lot of time and money partying,” Whibley admitted. “And Jerry Finn liked to party. Nobody was kind of like keeping us in line.”

In the end, of course, Whibley came up with the remaining songs needed for the album. “All Killer No Filler” arrived in May 2001, with the lead single, “Fat Lip,” released a month ahead of the album. That summer, Sum 41 joined the Warped tour, and it was during the middle of this touring alt-rock festival that everything changed pretty instantly for the band.

Sum 41 had been offered a slot opening MTV’s 20th Anniversary concert celebration broadcast and had recruited Tommy Lee of Motley Crue and Judas Priest singer Rob Halford to join in performing a medley of songs. The performance drew raves, and when Sum 41 rejoined the Warped tour, their sets drew bigger and bigger crowds, as “Fat Lip” took off. Before “All Killer No Filler” finished its run, it had gone platinum and produced two more popular singles, “In Too Deep” and “Motivation.”

Then it was on to the second album, and Sum 41 found there was truth to the saying about having six weeks to make the second record. Actually, it was more like five weeks to write and five weeks to record what became the 2002 release, “Does This Look Infected?”

Despite the compressed schedule, Whibley and Sum 41 delivered another solid album. If not as successful as the first album, “Does This Look Infected?” still went gold and gave the band a top 10 modern rock single in “Still Waiting” and a top 15 single in “The Hell Song.” More importantly, it cemented Sum 41′s place as an established band.

The group has gone on to release five more studio albums, weathering several personnel changes along the way. Today, the band includes Whibley, long-time bassist Jason “Cone” McCaslin, guitarist Dave Baksh (who left the band in 2006, but returned in 2015) and more recent recruits Tom Thacker (guitar/keyboards) and Frank Zummo (drums).

And while Sum 41 is revisiting their first two albums on tour, they’re also looking ahead to the release later this year of a new double album, “Heaven and Hell.” The “Heaven” half will be in the vein of Sum 41′s early pop-punk sound, while “Hell” will align more with the heavier, more metal-influenced songs of the band’s more recent albums. Whibley didn’t know he was embarking on such an ambitious project at first.

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Deryck Whibley, from left, Jason McCaslin, and Dave Baksh of Sum 41 perform during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Deryck Whibley, from left, Jason McCaslin, and Dave Baksh of Sum 41 perform during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Deryck Whibley, from left, Jason McCaslin, and Dave Baksh of Sum 41 perform during Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

“I was writing music because I’d been hit up by some managers and by some labels and some artists who wanted to know if I would be willing to write songs for them,” Whibley said. “And as I started writing them, I started thinking well, actually, I like these. I don’t want to give them away. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them.

“I said OK, I’ve got to listen to all of these songs,” he said. “I’m going to put all of the pop-punk ones in a row and then I’m going to put all the heavy ones in a row, put them on a disc and just drive around listening to them. So I did. And when I got through it, I was like this sounds like a [expletive] double album to me, and it actually sounds pretty good.”


CONCERT PREVIEW

Sum 41 with Simple Plan

7 p.m. May 24. $37.75-$43.75. The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. NW. Atlanta. 404-659-9022, tabernacleatl.com.