Good Charlotte

Interview date: August 02, 2003

Acid Rain Entertainment: You’re getting ready to release your new album, describe the sound.
Billy: I think this one is just a rock record. With the last one, I think we kind of got dubbed as a pop punk band right away because some things sounded kind of punky. I think on this record, we didn’t really go that route very much. There’s three or four slow, like ballads, on the record and there’s a couple of kind of punk songs. For the most part, it’s really just a rock record.

ARE: Are there any significant changes, either musically or personally, between the first album and the new one?
Billy: Musically, definitely because we’ve been on tour for about three years now. Being around bands every single day, meeting all these other bands; plus we don’t have our old drummer anymore. It’s almost easier though. When there’s five people having to write songs, things can get less vocal when there’s only four people having to worry about. For some reason something happened and we all became really close and we became better friends than we ever have been. We made a record that we all really love and are excited about.
ARE: Did you have more creative control over this album?
Billy: No, we had just as much creative control over either one. I think on the first one - I was just out of high school, everyone was between 18-20 and we didn’t really know what we were doing. I think that we’re just more experienced now, we know what we’re doing a little better.

ARE: Tell us about the video for your new single and the concept behind it.
Billy: The first single is called ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous’ and it’s about rich people and how they complain about having all this money and how they have so many problems. Pretty much, the theme of the song is if you’re going to complain that much, then we’ll take the money from you. Kind of like Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor type of thing. That’s sort of what we wanted to do in the video. It starts out as a news brief of someone breaking into a Hollywood mansion and we’re inside the mansion playing. Then we get arrested for it and we go to court and go on trial against all these different celebrities.
ARE: Yeah, I heard that Chris Kirkpatrick is in the video.
Billy: Yeah, Chris is in the video.
ARE: People were talking about it on the e-team.
Billy: Our tour manager, who is actually one of our good friends from home, he’s worked with *N Sync for the last three years. He’s a tattoo artist from back home and Chris is his best friend – we’ve hung out with Chris a couple of times – he’s super nice. I’ve never met any of the other guys, just Chris. We were like, ‘hey we’re going to do this video and we’ve got to testify against celebrities.’ And he was like, ‘dude, I’ll be there!’ It was awesome.

ARE: You’ve become pretty successful over the past two years. How have you seen the fans and the music change within those two years?
Billy: Personally I know that we’ve been touring and touring and touring and once in awhile, radio will play a song a little bit.
ARE: I know here in Orlando, you guys sold out a show.
Billy: Yeah, I think it’s just from touring so much. We’ve played probably every city in the US, at least every big city, at least 5, 6, 7 and 8 times. I think that we just go out and talk to the kids and hope that they come back. Little by little, the crowds seem to grow. Then we took these four months off to record and we haven’t done a show for four months. We were kind of nervous, we were like, ‘I wonder if things have died done since we haven’t done any shows.’ We come out and the shows are twice as big. We’re like ‘oh my god, where did all these people come from?’ It doesn’t make sense. It’s like when you take a break, things are supposed to go down, but it went the other way for us.
ARE: You know, you’re good. Especially not having any videos out or music on the radio.
Billy: I guess so. But we’re just so thankful for it. We’re not really sure how it happened, but all of a sudden things are moving in the right directions for us. We’re just really thankful.

ARE: What bands have you found yourself listening to a lot of lately?
Billy: Lately it’s just the Used, a band here on the tour. Jon Feldman produced them.
ARE: Yeah, I saw them when they were on tour with Goldfinger, Mest and the Riddlin’ Kids.
Billy: Really? I got their CD the first day of the tour and watched them. I was like, ‘wow’. Also I like Silverchair’s new album. It hasn’t really come out yet, it came out in Australia so I got a copy of it. That’s about all the CD’s that I listen to.

ARE: What’s your biggest fear?
Billy: My biggest fear of anything?
ARE: Of anything.
Billy: Snakes. I hate snakes. There’s not anything else in this world that I hate more than snakes (laughs)

ARE: Tell us a little bit about your clothing company.
Billy: My clothing company is Level 27. I’ve just been drawing since I was 2 years old. I always wanted to be a comic book writer or a cartoon animator or something. Then I got a guitar and I stopped drawing and all I did was play guitar. I was like, ‘man, I used to like to draw and I haven’t done that in forever.’ I started drawing the Good Charlotte shirts and stuff like that. I thought, ‘wow, this is really fun.’ (laughs) Then I thought, ‘what could I do as far as drawing on my own. Well, I do Good Charlotte shirts so I could probably do something on my own.’ So I just started drawing and doodling. 27 is my lucky number. It’s just something that I like to do when I get bored.
ARE: When you get bored? (laughs)
Billy: There’s definitely a lot to do on the road but there’s many hours, like on the Warped Tour, where you’re in your bus and you have nothing to do. So I just start drawing stuff. I have a really cool company that helps me out, they’re called MerchDirect.

ARE: What’s something about yourself that anybody would be surprised to learn?
Billy: I keep reading these things online where kids are writing things on websites about me smoking crack and being this insane drug addict. I believe it’s because every time I take a picture, I blink, so I look like I’m really stoned in every picture. Then I read on websites where it says, ‘Billy smokes crack.’ (laughs) It might be surprising for people to know that I really don’t smoke crack and stuff like that (laughs) I guess that would probably be something interesting. Even though people already know it’s not true, but I see it all the time on the internet.

ARE: What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make for your career thus far?
Billy: Just being away from home and your family and your friends. I definitely miss these things. You’re used to growing up around the same people, your house is one thing. I can’t even decorate my house or my apartment to what I want it to look like because I hardly ever see it. You see people on tv, like big bands, where they buy big houses and decorate them and stuff and that’s really cool. But those bands can do one big tour a year and then stay home in their nice house. Like for us, we’re not that big yet, so we have to always be on tour. There’s no sense in ever getting a nice car or try getting an apartment fixed up because you’re never going to see it. That’s probably the biggest sacrifice, not having something to go home to every night.

ARE: Are there any plans for another tour after warped tour?
Billy: We’re going to tour a whole lot after this. As soon as the Warped Tour is over, we’re going to go home and rehearse some to make sure that we know how to play all the songs on the new album really well. Then, we’re going to go to Europe and do shows in London. We’ll come back after that and do a headlining US tour.

ARE: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play?
Billy: I guess that would have been Australia but we’ve already played there. Only because Silverchair is from there and that’s my favorite band – I’ve always wanted to play there. But we go to go there and play already – I’d still say Australia (laughs)

ARE: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Billy: Things that drive me crazy? I would say the one thing that always comes to my mind is when you’re driving behind someone and they don’t turn on their blinker. That bugs me. Not even stupid drivers, but when they’re right in front of you and you have to dodge it because they didn’t turn their blinker on. I hate that.

ARE: You’ve reached a certain point in your career where you influence other peoples lives – do you ever feel like you have to hold back on things you’d normally do or say because you’re in the spotlight?
Billy: I think that I probably am 95% myself at all times. Sometimes if there’s young kids around – like after the show, if one of us is drinking or something like that – we’re really not a party band, but every once in awhile, everybody parties. But like if it’s at Warped Tour and you’re walking around and some kids come to us and we’re all drinking, anything in general like that, I try to be a good influence. I really don’t drink a lot, I don’t do drugs. If one time I happen to drink, I do it with my friends. I try to be as good as a role model as I can. We’ve had tons and tons of kids that come up to us and are like, ‘you know, I was going to commit suicide last week but I’ve spent the whole week listening to your record and now I really feel like I can make it through.’ It’s just amazing that our record can make that much of a difference. When a kid says something like that, you’re like, ‘I don’t want to do another bad thing in front of anybody again.’ If we’ve made that positive impact on one person, we’d like to do it on everybody.

ARE: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about you and/or your music?
Billy: All the time kids come up to us and say, ‘why do you guys call yourselves punk? We don’t think you’re punk.’ I don’t think there’s been one time anyone in this band has said, ‘hey look at us, we’re a punk band.’ Benji likes punk, he listens to punk – I don’t really like punk music at all. I think the biggest misconception is that people think we’re a punk band. But we’re not, we’re just Good Charlotte, we just make records. You can call us whatever you want to call us, that’s fine, but I think that people assume that just because Benji has spikes in his hair and has tattoos that we’re a punk band. That’s fine if they think we’re a punk band, but we didn’t tell them that.

ARE: Besides a new single and album, what else can we expect from you guys this year?
Billy: Hopefully some more singles and some new videos. Everybody loves this new record, we’re really excited about it. We’re just going to keep on touring and touring until everyone in the world has seen us.

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