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One day last year, Simple Plan's Pierre Bouvier and Chuck Comeau were sitting in the recording studio trying to come up with lyrics for a track they planned to include on their new album, Get Your Heart On!. Not only did they want to write a song about the emotional power music can have in one's life, they also wanted to capture the sentiment behind the thousands of pieces of mail the band receive at their Montreal headquarters each month from fans all over the world who write to express what Simple Plan's music has meant to them. As Bouvier tells it: "These letters are pretty overwhelming and humbling at the same time so we wanted to somehow pay homage to those fans. We were sitting there going, ‘I don't know, what do you think they would say?' and Chuck says, ‘Why don't we just ask them?'" The following message was posted on Comeau's Twitter feed: "We decided to write a song about you guys…Can you tell me how our music has made you feel through the years?"
"Within seconds, the responses started coming in," Comeau recalls, still marveling at the moment. "It was a deluge, like a hurricane of answers." Based on those Tweets, Bouvier and Comeau constructed what is perhaps the first song ever written entirely via Twitter: the poignant album closer "This Song Saved My Life." "Every word is taken from the hundreds of messages we got from our fans," Comeau says. It's a tribute to these loyal souls (25 of whom showed up from all over the world at a studio in Vancouver to sing on the track after the band tweeted an invite) who have faithfully followed the Canadian quintet since its inception in 1999, through three studio albums, two live albums, and tours to nearly every corner of the globe, including visits to Russia, Israel, Poland, Jakarta, Estonia, South Africa, and The Philippines, as well as extensive sold-out headlining tours of the U.S. and their native Canada.
Simple Plan's connection with its fans has translated into a string of hit singles, including "I'd Do Anything," "Addicted," and "Perfect" from their 2002 double-platinum debut No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls, "Welcome To My Life" and "Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me)?" from 2004's platinum Still Not Getting Any…, and "When I'm Gone" and "Your Love Is A Lie," from 2008's Simple Plan, which debuted in the Top 3 in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Canada, Top 10 in Hong Kong, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, and Germany, and Top 20 in Spain, Finland, and France. Overall, Simple Plan have sold nearly four million albums in the U.S. and Canada and more than 7.5 million albums worldwide.
Now the band are back with Get Your Heart On!, a gloriously fun, boundlessly melodic slice of poppy modern-rock that finds Simple Plan returning to the revved-up energy of No Pads and Still Not Getting Any after taking a slight detour with a darker, more beat-driven sound on their previous album.
"We love and are very proud of our third album and I feel like it was a record we had to make because we wanted to do something different," bassist David Desrosiers says. "But now it's time to get back to the high energy songs. We were really itching to have a batch of fast-up tempo songs, because they are really fun to play live."
One of the first songs written for Get Your Heart On! was album opener "You Suck At Love." The chorus' instantly catchy melody and tongue-in-cheek punchline resonated with fans immediately when the band unveiled the song during a string of memorable performances at last year's Bamboozle Roadshow and was a key moment for the new album.
Guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre explains: "This band comes alive on the road. That's where we've earned everything in terms of our fans. We really wanted to keep the energy up there, have a lot of fun with these songs and make sure they came across that way while playing them live. When we played 'You Suck At Love' at those shows, it just felt right. So this time, we thought it'd be nice to have more songs that hit you in the face. It kind of became a theme while we were writing the album."
Which is not to say that Get Your Heart On! isn't musically diverse. "Summer Paradise," featuring Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan, is a lilting, reggae-influenced tune, while "Gone Too Soon" is a heartfelt piano-driven ballad. As with all of Simple Plan's albums, the thoughtful, slower-paced songs balance out the rowdier moments, which are plentiful here. Produced by Brian Howes (Puddle of Mudd, Boys Like Girls), Get Your Heart On! is packed with high-velocity, super-charged songs like "Loser of The Year," "Last One Standing," "Freaking Me Out," (featuring All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth), and "Can't Keep My Hands Off You," which Bouvier and Comeau co-wrote with one of their musical heroes, Rivers Cuomo, who also sings on the track. "Working with Rivers and having him actually appear on ‘Can't Keep My Hands Off You' was a dream come true for us," Bouvier says. Other highlights include the hands in the air, arena-ready anthems "Anywhere Else But Here" and "Astronaut," as well as "Jet Lag," a churning duet with British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield.
"Jet Lag," which addresses the toll that distance can take on a relationship, and "Astronaut," about feeling isolated and longing for someone who understands you, are strong examples of how Simple Plan has stretched itself lyrically, retaining the emotional relatability that is the band's trademark, while showcasing how dedicated they are to the craft of songwriting. "'Astronaut' is a more somber and deep song for us," Bouvier says. "It feels like a very pivotal track for our band and for this album in that it's about what our fans tell us they feel, which is wanting to connect with other people like them."
The band members feel they wrung their best work out of themselves by approaching the writing process differently this time around. "On our second album, we wrote 12 songs and each one was on the album," Comeau says. "We probably had 40 ideas, but never completed them. This time, we forced ourselves to finish every idea, so we ended up with around 70 songs." From there, the band narrowed it down to 30, and finally to 11 that are included on Get Your Heart On!.
"We treated every song like it was a possible single," guitarist Jeff Stinco says, "which is why the album took us a bit longer to make than we had anticipated. But it was so worth it because there isn't one thing we would change. We poured everything we had into making it."
"We're really proud of this record," Bouvier says. "And I think our fans are going to love it. Yesterday, we listened to it all the way through and I tweeted, ‘I can't wait for you guys go hear this, because it's going to blow you away.'"
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“We started the Simple Plan Foundation as a way to try to give something back to our community and make a difference. After reading hundreds of letters and e-mails from our fans and talking to them at our shows, we know very well how tough life can be for kids growing up. It breaks our hearts to see so many young people fighting to survive while feeling depressed and lost. We want our Foundation to help them find their way and show them that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel, that things can get better.”
Being in this band, we also got to meet lots of kids and families dealing with illness. There's nothing more unfair and absurd than seeing a young life ruined by cancer or any other sickness. This subject is extremely close to our hearts because we've had people in our own families that were hit by cancer and got to witness first-hand how devastating this can be and what toll it can have on our loved ones. The foundation will be there to try and help out families who are going through such tragic events.
We’ve had the great opportunity of touring the world and meeting all sorts of kids from places far and wide. We’ve also had to see the harsh realities of children living in war torn areas around the world: children who are living in poverty, who are forced into armies, and are suffering from the after effects of war. We believe every child deserves a happy childhood. We hope our foundation will be a global foundation that will give back to the world community of children and help them deal with their own personal daily struggles. If we can bring a few smiles to these children, we know that would make a world of difference.”