Now 8 years sober, Whibley prepares to release a new Sum 41 record. They’ve crafted a double LP (a first for the band) titled Heaven And Hell, which deftly threads a line from their early pop punk days to their current metal era. The first disc, full of songs harking back to the golden age of ‘00s pop punk, was written in the wake of a proposed deluxe-reissue of their debut LP, All Killer, No Filler. Universal Records asked Whibley if they had any songs leftover from their early days. He didn’t, but the challenge presented itself to come up with one or two.
Before long, Whibley had written enough songs to make a record and opted to collect them all as a new record instead of extras on a nostalgic repackaging. At the same time, he had been writing new material that was much more of-the-moment for Sum 41, a band that has moved away from the pop punk songs of their youth into heavy metal arenas.
What came out of this creative renaissance was Heaven and Hell. The first part of the two-part LP, known as “Heaven,” taps back into the current nostalgia surrounding pop-punk — a style Whibley started writing in before it became a thing again: “When that happened, I was like, ‘What kind of luck is that?’ ” he says. The album’s second, heavier side (“Hell”) features metallic tracks closer to the band’s most recent sound. “As I listened to almost all of it, it just kind of dawned on me,” he recalls. “‘Did I just make a double record by accident?’ “
In an interview with PEOPLE, Deryck, 41, and Ari open up for the first time about her attempted suicide eight years ago, how they’ve grown as a couple since and why Sum 41’s track “Catching Fire” — re-released Friday featuring Nothing, Nowhere — was the catalyst for their healing.
”This is something that I live with every day. It’s something that he lives with every day,” Ari, 30, tells PEOPLE. “It’s something that is very tangible in our lives. But keeping it between us isn’t going to do us any more favors. We’ve grown and learned everything we can from this experience.”
I’ve always felt somewhat, like, when that record had success — and maybe this is just my personality — but when it got as successful as it did, I had an immediate embarrassment. Almost like you become ashamed of your own success. In some way, I feel like it snuck through and everyone’s going to find out soon that it’s not that good. Like I sort of cheated my way, somehow. That’s kind of what I’ve always felt about that record. I think if I listen to it now as I’m older, maybe I can be a little bit more objective. But for the longest time, I thought it wasn’t a very good record.
The end result was Rocked: Sum 41 In The Congo, a documentary made in collaboration with NGO War Child Canada. It’s a story that culminates with the band under siege in a hotel room, taking shelter in bath tubs, as warring militias bombarded their surroundings.
“They almost paid with their lives to tell that particular story”, Executive Producer of War Child Canada, Dr. Samantha Nutt recalls of Rocked: Sum 41 In The Congo to Blunt Magazine.
“My job was really to brief them and to provide them with information and to answer their questions, and also to make sure to steward some of the interviews; to make sure that everything was being handled in a sensitive and appropriate way.”