The VICE Interview: Deryck Whibley


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the vice interview

The VICE Interview: Deryck Whibley

We chatted to the Sum 41 frontman about hating school, death threats and getting caught up in a civil war.
Hannah Ewens
London, GB

When you think of pop punk, before Dickies or pizza, you picture Deryck Whibley's spiky blonde hair. Deryck Whibley with his massive hair singing in an empty swimming pool surrounded by teenagers. When you're talking pop punk's legacy, Sum 41 are as significant to 20-somethings as Blink-182 and Green Day.

In 2014, Whibley was back in the headlines after he was put in an induced coma when his liver and kidney collapsed from an alcohol addiction. After a long period in hospital, he had to retrain himself to walk because his muscles had been depleted. Now sober and in good health, he's touring Sum 41's new album 13 Voices(out Oct 7th on Hopeless Records).


When he came to London we had tea.

VICE: What would your parents have preferred your career to be?
Deryck Whibley: My mom knew that I was interested in music so she wanted me to do something like work in a recording studio, something that seemed kind of official, you know? Once I got a record deal, which was pretty quick out of high school, I think she realised, this can actually work. My mom is a super-fan now. She's been on this whole tour with me.

What was your first friends' holiday?
I've only ever been on one holiday in my life, which was my honeymoon. I never once went on holiday when I was a kid. I grew up with my mom who had me when she was 17. I never met my dad. So she worked and went to school while I was growing up. We didn't have any money, we didn't really do much. I hadn't been on a plane until I signed with a record company. I didn't really do anything until music. My mom's out here because she's never been to Europe so we've been travelling through these cities. I still only go somewhere if it's touring. I like being anywhere for a short period of time. Anywhere in the world for more than like a week or two, I'm sort of like "OK, I need to get out of here."

Sum 41

What is the one memory from school that stands out to you more than any other?
Oh I hated it. I hardly went, I couldn't stand it. I hated it so much. I think I knew so young that I was never going to do anything with it. You just have that feeling. Everything seemed pointless to me. None of it seemed relevant to anything I wanted to do. I feel like even at a young age, my teachers didn't seem smart. They didn't come across as though they really knew what they were talking about. I just had my two guy friends and then the same when I was in high school. I've always kept a small group of friends.


What was your worst phase?
I don't know because I like them all, even the bad ones. I can say that my most unhealthy phase was when I was drinking and partying too much and ended up in the hospital with liver and kidney failure. In the 90s, I used to wear really overly baggy skater clothes. When I look it now, it was really ridiculous. I used to wear snowboard pants and snowboard goggles on my head to school. Not on my eyes, on my head. And I had like orange spiked hair and I thought it was so cool.

Why did you break up with your first girlfriend?
My first girlfriend was when I was about 16 or 17. I mean, first real girlfriend that was serious, that I brought home to mum and dated for like a better part of the year. She was just nuts. Her family were part of the mafia with her dad somehow connected to the Mob. It was a whole weird scene. I was actually terrified to end it. It scared me off relationships for, I don't know how many years. My next girlfriend ended up becoming my first wife and that was when I was 24. So that scared me off for like seven years!

How many people have been in love with you?
I'd probably say not that many. I would assume my ex-wife [Avril Lavigne] was at one point. I'm married now. I hope that we're in love. After being married and divorced once, I kind of felt like I would never, ever get married again.

What is the nicest thing you own?
My house? I don't really have much. The only thing I have is a lot of guitars. I don't really like anything. When you're young you want to buy the big shit then you realise it's stupid. Sometimes I'll fly to go to concerts and spend money on tickets, hotels and dinners.


Sum 41

What's the closest you've come to having a stalker?
My ex-wife had a lot of stalkers. And being married to her, they sort of wanted to come after me. There was this one guy from the UK who started sending death threats. He was really weird because the stuff he sent had no fingerprints on it and it was at a level that was a little bit more sophisticated. It turned out to be way more serious and he wanted to kill me for some reason. Thankfully the FBI found him over here.

What picture of you from the past year do you think you look the nicest in?
I hate pictures. I fucking hate pictures. My mum gets all bummed out at me. She knows how much I hate seeing myself. When we do a photoshoot I already know it's going to be bad and we just did one on this tour, on the second day of the tour. Just two days ago, the magazine came out and I saw it and it's awful.

When in your life have you been completely overcome with fear?
Still to this day, that feeling would be back in 2003 or 2004, when I was in Congo, Africa and we were caught in this civil war that had broken out. We went there to do a documentary on the effects of the civil war. There'd been a ceasefire for a year. While we were there, the ceasefire had got broken and we were in the middle of it. Literally in the middle of it. We were stuck in this hotel. There was a rebel group on one side and another group on the other side. The UN had to send tanks to get us out. We were stuck in for three days. I thought we were definitely going to die. They were bombing the hotel, parts of the hotel were exploding while we were in it.


Complete this sentence: "The problem with young people today is…"
Laziness. That's my problem with most people, probably because I worked so hard that I have a bit of a high standard. I hear people complain, this and that. You know if you worked a little bit harder, you wouldn't be able to complain. Everything you're complaining about is because you haven't done it yourself.

Would you have sex with a robot?
That's just eerie. It doesn't seem like it would be that enjoyable. My first image of a robot would be… a lot of metal. If it's a silver, metal robot. No. No.


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