This month: Simple Plan's Chuck Comeau
Born and raised in Montreal, drummer Charles-André (Chuck) Comeau helped found the band Simple Plan in 1999 with high school friend Pierre Bouvier (lead vocals) and Jeff Stinco (lead guitar), Sebastien Lefebvre (guitar), and David Desrosiers (bass). The group has since emerged as one of the most popular bands to ever come out of Montreal, achieving multi-platinum success in the U.S., Canada, and around the globe with such singles as “I’d Do Anything”, “Perfect”, and “Welcome to My Life” off its hit albums No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls (2002) and Still Not Getting Any… (2004). The band is currently working on studio album No. 3.
So we understand you’ve got Canadiens season tickets. Is that new this year?
Chuck Comeau: Actually my dad has them, but I steal every single ticket whenever I’m in town. I’ve been going to a lot of games; we have seats right behind the visiting team’s net and it’s a great view. We tried getting tickets in section 102 [at center ice] but we heard those have been sold out for a long time (laughs).
Do fans come by to say hi?
Chuck Comeau: Yeah, a lot of kids come up, but a lot of parents, too. We get stuff like, “I know my son or my daughter loves you guys, so would you mind…” It’s great to see these 45-, 50-year-old people get up and come over. They’ll do anything for their kids, it’s amazing. But it’s been cool. We go to all kinds of shows and events around Montreal, and we just like to hang out and talk with people. Some bands have their security and entourage, but we’re not like that. We like to mingle.
We assume you grew up a Canadiens fan?
Chuck Comeau: Definitely. What music is to me now, hockey was when I was a kid. That’s all I cared about. I knew every single player’s number, their stats, you name it. It was how I’d remember phone numbers. If a number was something like 123-2932, I’d figure it was 123-Gaston Gingras/Claude Lemieux. My favorite all-time Canadiens player, even today, is Mats Naslund, number 26. The Viking. You have no idea… I had every single piece of merchandise of his. He was sponsored by this skate sharpening company, so he’d go to this store near my house; I was the annoying kid who’d hound him for all these autographs. He’d ask me, “Didn’t I sign something for you?” and I’d tell him, “Yeah, sorry.” But he was my ultimate favorite because he was small, like me. I bought the Torspo stick like him, and taped it white, like he did. And being a total nerd, I became a Sweden fan and would root for them in the Olympics. And not just in hockey; I discovered other Swedish athletes to root for, like Stefan Edberg in tennis. I was a total freak for Sweden because of Mats Naslund.
Given your profession you obviously know music. If you were the DJ at the Bell Centre for a night, what changes would you make?
Chuck Comeau: I’d play more Simple Plan! (laughs) Seriously, I don’t think you can top the Coldplay song [“Fix You”] when the team first takes to the ice. It just feels so magical, it’s great. I don’t know if I’m crazy about the Rage Against the Machine and the Metallica that plays during the game. I don’t think that’s us as a team; to me it doesn’t necessarily feel right. But you know what? It’s easy to criticize from the couch when you’re not handling the programming. Maybe I should sit down and actually think about it. I know I don’t like the traditional, cliché sports songs. If I come up with some recommendations I’ll let you know.
You guys in the band are close to Jose Theodore and developed a good relationship with him when he was here. Did you watch his return to Montreal on October 21 with mixed emotions or allegiances?
Chuck Comeau: No offense to the Montreal Canadiens, but I was totally rooting for my friend. It was the only time in my life I cheered for another team. That whole game bummed me out because I felt that guy did so much for this team and it was lame for people to boo him. He’s my friend, so obviously I’m biased, but he never said a bad word about the team or about the city. And Breezer [Patrice Brisebois] – that guy has such a good heart. I got to know him through Jose and got to hang out with him in Denver; I think there’s this perception among some fans that just because you make a lot of money, you become different. It’s unfortunate, because hockey players have their salaries printed in every paper, so they can’t escape that. To me, both guys are awesome people and don’t deserve to be booed. Anyway, Jose’s bounced back and the Canadiens have been doing well, too, so I’m happy.
If you could choose between a Grammy for Simple Plan or a 25th Stanley Cup for the Canadiens, which would it be?
Chuck Comeau: (laughs) Oh man. Geez, I hate to be selfish, but I’d have to say a Grammy for Simple Plan.
All right, here’s one for you: Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden is dating Hilary Duff, and Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley recently married Avril Lavigne. If Chuck Comeau were to hook up with a pop starlet, would he choose a) Kelly Clarkson, b) Jessica Simpson, or c) Fergie?
Chuck Comeau: Fergie. I think she’s cool. She’s got attitude. We actually got to meet her, and she’s really nice and down to earth. We partied with her in Singapore just when the Black Eyed Peas were starting to blow up. She’s really funny and didn’t take herself too seriously. I think she’d be a more interesting person than the other two, although I do think Kelly Clarkson has a great voice.
You guys are currently at work on the band’s third album. How’s that coming?
Chuck Comeau: It’s taking a little more time this time ‘round, not because we’re taking it easy, but because we’re really trying to find the right songs and the right sounds. The first two months were a little rough because we’d come up with some good stuff, but not really great stuff, and that won’t cut it if we want to top the last record. But now it feels like we’re really on track and there’s some awesome things coming together, so I’m pretty stoked.
What’s the sound going to be like?
Chuck Comeau: There won’t be a drastic change; we’re not completely reinventing anything because we’re comfortable with what we’ve been doing and we loved the last record. We’re just trying to push the envelope a little bit more. The rock songs are a little more rock, and the slow songs are a little more… slow. (laughs) There’s a bit of a Killers influence on the album. There’s one track that sounds like Simple Plan meets the Killers meets AFI, and it’s my favorite song so far. At this point we’re aiming to head into the studio in the New Year, and hopefully the album will come out in the spring, sometime between March and June.
If you could work with any three musicians, living or dead, who would they be, and why?
Chuck Comeau: Hm. I think it would be really rad to do something with the Beatles, just because they essentially invented what we do. Jay-Z is a master of what he does, so I think it would really be a cool clash to work with him and mix our sounds. And you know who else would be great? Joey Ramone. Like the Beatles, the Ramones invented a sound and were an awesome band.
You guys have sold millions of records, yet you still seem remarkably down to earth. How’d that happen?
Chuck Comeau: it’s really about how you’re brought up. Four of us went to the same high school, so the core of us grew up together with the same values and same type of supportive parents. We were taught that no matter how successful you get, or how much money you make, that’s not what makes you a cool, interesting person. Wisdom doesn’t come with a big bank account.
Give us your wildest printable story from the road.
Chuck Comeau: Okay, let me think about that one. (laughs) Well, we got to play the Playboy Mansion, so that was amazing. Kind of a childhood dream – you’d have to be a bit weird not to get stoked about that. We got to dive off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and bungee jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand – I was petrified, but when this 15-year-old girl did it in front of me, that pretty much forced me into it. I dunno, there are just so many cool experiences. We met Tom Hanks at the MTV studios, and that was a big deal; I don’t usually get impressed, but when it’s Tom Hanks, you kind of go, “Whoa”. To me, it’s all about the journey. I was in Tokyo and had some of the best, freshest sushi imaginable at 5:00 in the morning at some little no-name restaurant, and that was a great moment for me. It’s not so much doing the rock star thing, but just enjoying the small stuff. We were in Sweden, in Malmo, and after a show we just headed out to this rink in the middle of the city at 1:00 a.m. with our skates and Habs jerseys and played a little pick-up game by ourselves. It was a moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Speaking of which, we understand you were a part of a pick-up staff game here at the Bell Centre. How were your skills?
Chuck Comeau: I try to play hockey three times a week, and I honestly think I’m a pretty good player and can hold my own. But the game at the Bell Centre was at like 6:00 a.m.! So I don’t know, I was pretty tired and out-of-breath for that one. Hopefully we can do one at a reasonable hour. Anyhow, I’d love to be back – I didn’t score a goal, but I picked up four assists, so I felt pretty good about my game. I pulled the Pavel Datsyuk move, so that was cool.
You recently licensed one of your songs for a Canadiens TV spot, and we hear rumblings there could be some type of Simple Plan-Canadiens collaboration down the road. Any truth to those rumors?
Chuck Comeau: We’re totally up for it. We love the team, we love hockey, and we love Montreal, so it would be great. It’s totally in the hands of the team.
What’s more likely to break: Sheldon Souray’s stick on a slapshot or Chuck Comeau’s stick during a drum solo?
Chuck Comeau: (laughs) I’m more likely to drop my sticks during a solo than break them. So I think I’d have to go with Sheldon for my answer on that one.
J.S. Trzcienski is a special contributor to canadiens.com.
This article was published in CANADIENS magazine Vol. 21 No. 2. See Table of contents