Music interview '“ Good Charlotte: '˜I think having a job like this keeps you youthful'

Good Charlotte are one of the most successful bands to have emerged from the US punk-pop movement.

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 9:00 am
Good Charlotte co-headline Slam Dunk festival in Leeds.
Good Charlotte co-headline Slam Dunk festival in Leeds.

More than two decades on from their formation, the Maryland five-piece continue to tour the world. This weekend they co-headline Slam Dunk festival in Leeds city centre with Jimmy Eat World.

Other acts on the bill include PVRIS, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes and Creeper.

According to guitarist and keyboard player Billy Martin, the band are refreshed after their four-year hiatus between 2011 and 2015.

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“You look at things a little differently,” he says. “I think it took us to not be on the road to make us realise how much we missed doing Good Charlotte, but also taking several years off let us figure out how to get in to a schedule and get in to the swing of things.

“Both with being dads and figuring out family life, so really I think we have a good balance now, and we know how to pull off both without being dropped in a situation that’s kind of a panic all of the time.

“It definitely started to wear on us, so we needed to just step back a little bit and I think for a while. I was stoked, and then after a little bit of time I was thinking ‘Man, what are we doing? We are taking too long, we’re having too much time off’, and then it got to the point where four years had gone by, and I was thinking ‘Maybe we aren’t going to be doing Good Charlotte any more. Maybe that was just a different chapter in our lives, now we’re all doing other things, and that was it’.

“When friends bands would come through town, I’d go out to the show, and being in that environment, not even being in the show, but just being parked out the front of the venue, going to the dressing rooms, you know, all those little bits that are part of tour life that you don’t really see (at the time).

“The way we used to tour back in our twenties, we were at home very little, so it felt more comfortable and more normal being on the road.

“You take that away and go to a show again, and you’re like, ‘Man, this old life, I kind of forgot about this’, and then yeah, I suppose you kind of start missing it.”

Martin says he ‘kept busy’ during his break from music.

“I work as a full time illustrator as well. I draw for Marvel, Disney, and Nickelodeon whether it’s comics or animation; it is something that I’ve always dabbled in as a side job, but with the hiatus I knew I had time to actually make that a full-time job.

“So that’s what I’ve been doing as a freelancer, bouncing from different companies, and trying to turn my other passion in my life in to a full-time job which turned out to be cool.

“When I was a little kid I used to tell myself all the time that when I grow up, I was either going to be an artist or a rock star, and sometimes I think to myself, ‘Holy s***, I did both!’ I’m very thankful for that, I really am.”

Martin and his bandmates

Joel and Benji Madden, Paul Thomas and Dean Butterworth began hanging out together again in 2015. “It just felt really good, so everyone was just like ‘Hey, let’s make a record and just see what happens.’”

The album Youth Authority followed in 2016, featuring guest appearances from Kellin Quinn of Sleeping with Sirens, and Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro.

Martin says: “The thing about Good Charlotte for me are the memories of a road trip up to Scotland with their CD blaring out, giving the world ‘the’ attitude and feeling forever young and hopeful. Never in a million years would I have imagined the guys from Good Charlotte settling down and adapting to ‘normal’ life.

“I still feel youthful, to some extent. I mean I think having a job like this keeps you youthful. You don’t have to check in at your desk thinking how miserable your 9-5 job is every day – not that that is a bad thing though, and sometimes that what some people do and that’s just life, you know?

“I think when you do a job that you love you are thankful and appreciative. I mean, I roll into my kids’ school to pick them up, dressed in black, covered in tattoos; I am who I am, I don’t put a nice collared baby blue shirt on to walk in to school; I’m still me and I still like to be myself.

“I think all of that helps keep me youthful. I don’t necessarily have to do that Monday to Friday 9-5, although I kind of still do. It’s like I have to flick the switch from dad mode to music mode. It’s totally different but I love it.”

The last time Good Charlotte played in Yorkshire was at Leeds Festival 2016. This, though, will be their first appearance at Slam Dunk and Martin says he is ‘stoked’.

“We have always had a very special relationship with the fans over in the UK – we’ve always had killer shows, the festivals are cool, and the fans always give 100 per cent. I think there is just a love for rock’ n’ roll over there. America has its moments where rock thrives and feels really good but then it has its lulls, so yeah, man, we totally love doing shows over there.”

Good Charlotte play on the Jägermeister Main Stage at Slam Dunk. www.slamdunkmusic.com