|One careful listen to the songs of their new Epic album, The Young and The Hopeless, and the message is clear: Good Charlotte is growing up fast.
In these 14 new original songs, all co-written by GC founding members and identical twin brothers Benji and Joel, the melodies are more diverse, the edge is more aggressive, the playing and singing are stronger and more confident than ever before. Whatever the style or subject matter, every track reveals new maturity, expanded creativity, and hard-won wisdom.
About The Album
The Young and The Hopeless was recorded between February and May 2002. Good Charlotte worked with Eric Valentine, who produced, mixed and recorded the album at his own Barefoot Studio in Hollywood, CA. Valentine's previous credits include Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, the Dwarves, and Queens of the Stone Age.
"Eric's main job was to make us play the best we could play on this record," explains Benji. "We recorded mostly in full takes, without editing. That was hard, but I'm really glad we did it. You can tell it's authentic."
The brothers had no trouble coming up with new material, their intensive roadwork acting as a creative stimulus. "I write better on tour," says Benji, "in places where I don't know anyone, where I'm in the middle of nowhere."
"Joel's got this flair, this spark-that's why he's the lead singer-and a lot of times he can take a song from being just okay to being great. At other times, he'll have ideas and not know what to do with them. But I'm good with structures and arrangements, so we work well together even though we're really different people."
About The Songs
"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" - The first single from The Young and The Hopeless is this biting commentary on both celebrity self-pity and justice that's bought and paid for. It's a fearless critique of American culture from a street-level point of view.
"Hold On" - In the course of their many months on tour, Good Charlotte encountered hundreds of new fans across the country. Benji and Joel met many that shared their experiences of poverty and abuse, who contemplated running away or even suicide. The twins wrote this song in response, and today Benji cites it as one of his favorite tracks on The Young and The Hopeless. The unforgettable chorus goes: "Hold on, if you feel like letting go/Hold on, it gets better than you know."
"Boys and Girls" - A caustic and witty critique of interpersonal relationships tainted by mindless materialism: "Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money/Boys will laugh at girls when they're not funny." "It's pretty self-explanatory," says Benji. "I hope it pisses some people off!"
"The Anthem" - A song for the so-called "losers" in every junior high and high school across America, the ones who are shunned and mocked for their appearance or their foreign background or their lack of money. Benji and Joel knew-and befriended-some of those kids, and now have given them what Benji calls "a song that would help them get through the day. It's a song that could help them say, 'hey, bring it on-it won't bother me because I don't wanna be like you.'"
"Bloody Valentine" - Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's classic story The Telltale Heart. This haunting, tragic tale of mad love is a prime example of the twins' more mature writing style and their expanded creative horizons.
"Emotionless" - When the twins were 16, their father walked out on Christmas Eve, leaving their mother alone to care for four children. His departure sent the family into a financial tailspin, ultimately lead to eviction from their home.
"I feel like my dad affected my life in a bad way for long enough when I was younger, and I'm not gonna let him do it anymore," say Benji. "I'm not gonna carry that burden of being hateful and angry. So 'Emotionless' is a song of forgiveness. I'll forgive him for my sake: I won't let those feelings about him affect the way I treat other people or the way I live my life."
The Story So Far
Twin brothers Benji and Joel (born 3/11/79) grew up in a lower middle-class family in the town of Waldorf, Maryland-"the middle-of-nowhere suburbs," says Benji.
"Ours was definitely a dysfunctional family situation," he admits, "but luckily me and Joel always had each other. When things started to fall apart, we just got into music." The twins' older brother Josh turned them on to influential albums by Rancid, Minor Threat, the Cure, the Smiths, and many more.
Benji began teaching himself guitar at 16; Joel gravitated towards lead vocals. "Right away, Joel and I started thinking up songs," Benji recalls. "We'd go straight to our room after school, singing and playing for hours every day."
After Paul (bass) and Billy (guitar) joined, Good Charlotte took their name from a children's book and played their first gig in a neighbor's basement for an audience of 20. "We only played our own songs-we weren't good enough to learn anyone else's songs!"
The brothers dedicated themselves to their music, although they had almost no money for equipment and no connections in the industry. They cut their first demo, wrote their own bio, and began mailing packages off to a list of record companies obtained from a magazine.
"I wrote this letter saying, we're Good Charlotte and if you sign us now it will be a lot cheaper than if you wait!" recalls Benji. "Our ignorance was kind of a blessing. We couldn't be discouraged by knowing too much about how the business really works."
Benji and Joel graduated high school in June 1997, and for a graduation present the twins' mother presented them with a pair of open airline tickets to California. "Some of our favorite bands like Green Day had started out at this East Bay club called 924 Gilman Street. So when we graduated, that summer we made a pilgrimage to visit the club. We'd never even been on a plane before, but we have an aunt in Berkeley who let us crash with her."
The brothers returned to Maryland, newly inspired and more determined than ever. They left home and moved to Annapolis, played many more shows both electric and acoustic, and worked "all kinds of shitty jobs-I've had over 30 of them," says Benji. "It was a struggling time in our lives, but it was also a great time. It's good to be hungry sometimes."
When Billy joined on second guitar, Good Charlotte was complete. The band won a local contest, and their song "Can't Go On" was included on a sampler of area talent. They attracted the interest of a manager, and Lit offered a support slot on a series of sold-out East Coast dates.
"We had no money, no transportation, and no way to do the gigs. Our mom was living in like a shed on a neighbor's property, and the only thing she really owned was a mini-van. She said, you guys take the mini-van to play the shows and I'll catch rides or walk to work. That just shows you how she's been there for us the whole time."
"By the time we played New York with Lit, in December 1999, all the labels turned out. We signed our deal in May 2000, in the studio where we were recording, and the album Good Charlotte (Epic) came out in September."
By then, the quintet was on the road non-stop. Three months of dates with MXPX segued into the 2001 W.A.R.P. tour, then into more gigs up until Christmas Day (off), followed by still more gigs including a trip to Australia and New Zealand (where their debut went platinum). Through this intensive roadwork, Good Charlotte built an avid fan base-and MTV took notice, giving extensive airplay to the band's videos for "Little Things," "Motivation Proclamation," and "Festival Song." At this writing (August 2002), Benji and Joel are hosting MTV's "All Things Rock," which airs Monday through Thursday after 11 PM (ET).
Honesty is the thread that runs through every song on The Young and The Hopeless and binds Good Charlotte to their devoted fans. "I don't think we're better than any other band," says Benji, "although I do think we're more sincere, more real, than some of them. We want to be judged for what we're really doing, not put in a genre with a bunch of other bands with which we have nothing in common."
"We have a lot more to say than some of the bands we're compared with, and I hope people will hear it on this album. The kids that we were, five years ago-I just want to give those kids something to help them through the day."
SOURCE: Good Charlotte Rocks (Official Site)