Early 2000’s pop punk. Now there’s an interesting genre. As someone whose formative years were, well, informed by so many of the bands that took pop punk from the sunny west coast underground to a critically and internationally recognized facet of rock, it is only in hindsight that I am able to realize just how intelligently bred the genre really was. From a marketing standpoint, pop punk was truly the best of both worlds––easy to sell to a young audience as pop typically is, and yet still cool, quick and rowdy enough to reside under the rock and roll umbrella.
When Treble Charger released their 5th studio album Detox back in 2002, pop punk was at its absolute pinnacle. Having already reached critical mass largely thanks to international acts like Green Day, The Offspring and Blink-182, mainstream pop punk bands began springing up the world over and Canada was no exception.
Produced by Matt Hyde and a then twenty-two year old Deryck Whibley, Detox was Treble Charger’s third major label release as well as the follow-up to their breakthrough album, 2000’s Wide Awake Bored. Spawning the infectious hit “Hundred Million,” which was the album’s leadoff single and an absolute monster of a radio-track, it erupted onto the airwaves in June of 2002 and featured background vocals from Whibley as well as percussion from Sum 41’s Stevo (Steve Jocz).
The video for “Hundred Million” also topped the charts at home in Canada that year and featured cameos from several local acts including members of GOB, Sum 41, Swollen Members and even Avril Lavigne.
With its pounding stadium style drumbeats, underlying three chord progressions, explosive crash chorus and unforgettable hook, “Hundred Million” was a solid pop punk song through and through. Unfortunately for Treble Charger, Detox didn’t yield any other songs that could remotely compete. To their credit, the album was certified Gold, which is no easy feat, but despite the fact that they were forerunners of the genre here in Canada at the time, Detox was really just a lack-luster crop of songs. Sure it checked all the boxes in terms of being characteristically pop punk, but it was also bone dry and seriously generic. While Treble Charger did manage to find some success on the back of the song “Don’t Believe It All,” which was a more down tempo and angsty kind of track with really nice vocal harmonies that erred more on the side of previous hits like “Brand New Low,” it did little to help their cause.
As has been the case for many bands that have made the successful jump from oblivion to major label chart toppers, pressure to release an album that appeals to the tastes of a specific audience and is in line with what’s popular genre wise at a given time, often takes its toll. Unfortunately, that was the case with Detox, and its release incited tensions within the band that culminated with the departure of founding member and co-lead vocalist and guitarist, Bill Priddle. By 2004, the success of Treble Charger protégés Sum 41, who frontman Greig Nori had first started producing and managing in the late 90’s, began to eclipse the band’s own career, prompting an eventual hiatus. Amazingly, some twelve years after the release of Detox, which was Treble Charger’s last album, they remain a staple of Canadian pop punk, an era that is perhaps the last time we saw rock bands from this country really get a fair shake.
PS. For those who still own a physical copy of Detox, there is a hidden song titled “Drive” accessible after track 11 at three minutes and twenty-three seconds.
Juliette Jagger is a writer living in Toronto. She's on Twitter.