Rock band feuds were once all the rage. From Megadeth versus Metallica to Tommy Lee versus Kid Rock, there was a time when rockers made no hesitation throwing harsh words, and sometimes fists, at each other. Punk rock bands, like Sum 41, were no strangers to stirring up trouble either. Recently frontman Deryck Whibley set the record straight exclusively with PopCulture.com on one of the band's most infamous, and nearly mythical, feuds. The whole thing was almost entirely contained in the Nashville, Tennessee area in 2000, while Sum 41 and defunct pop-rockers SR-71 were playing Buzzfest — a festival sponsored by local rock radio station 102.9 The Buzz.
As the rumor went, the two bands got into some kind of scuffle, which also led to a war of words once they both hit the stage. Whibley, however, indicated that the verbal jabs were essentially all this legend amounted to in real life. Reflecting on the incident now, the singer firmly states, "It was something that was really dumb, it was not anything that really needed to ever happen."
"We were only about 19, 20, maybe at that point. In those days, I mean, we were just, everything was funny to us. We never really took anything too seriously. So if we were making fun of somebody or said something on the stage, we didn't really care too much about it. But it was easy to set us off at the same time," he told PopCulture. "So all it would take was somebody to tell us that somebody said something about us. We didn't even have to hear it. This is how young and dumb we were. People say, 'Hey, these guys are talking s— about you guys,' and we're like, 'Oh, I'm going to go up on stage and say something then.' It was kind of like that."
Whibley then explained that Sum 41 got some unreliable information that ticked them off. "Somebody had said, and this is deep background. But when we were trying to get signed, we had shopped our music to RCA Records and we passed on it. But our manager was good friends with somebody there he came to us and said that he had heard that they were going to try to turn this band that they already had into a band like us. They didn't think we were good enough, but they were going to take our sort of vibe and our sound and sort of mold it into this other band called SR-71, blah, blah, blah," he said. "So that's what we were told and that's what set us off, whether that's true, I don't think, it's probably not true at all. But we're 19 years old. That's what we get told. We had a few drinks and then we saw them watching us on the side of the stage. That's what triggered it."
Whibley then revealed that, initially, he "didn't plan to go up and say anything on stage." However, he "saw them at the side of the stage" and assumed "these guys are just watching us to rip us off even more." The Canadian rocker adds: "I started saying something and got the crowd to whatever I did, chant 'SR-71 sucks.' Something like that. They were coming on right after us. So I thought that was fun. Our last song, the entire crowd chants 'SR- 71 sucks' right as they're about to come out."
As for why the young Whibley felt the need to antagonize, elder Whibley confessed, "We grew up liking these band feuds that were not real feuds. They were just sort of, we weren't really trying to fight anybody or wanting to fight anybody. It was more we liked the Blur/Oasis kind of feud, and no one was doing anything like that anymore. And I think we just thought, 'let's just disrupt some s—.' We were not really upset about any of it. 'Let's f— some s— up and have some fun.' And then hopefully it's a playful back and forth."
Ultimately, the feud dissipated almost as soon as it started, leaving it to be nothing more than a faint echo in the Hall of Rock Feuds. These days, Sum 41 are far more preoccupied with writing, recording, and touring than they are with beefing, and SR-71 founder Mitch Allan has gone on to become a songwriter and mega-producer, working with artists such as Demi Lovato and Dixie D'Amelio. Fans can next catch Sum 41 on the "Blame Canada" tour — with Simple Plan, Set it Off, and Magnolia Park — which kicks off on April 29 in Raleigh, NC. A full list of dates for the Blame Canada tour, as well as access to tickets, is available by clicking here.