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
"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."
Joel Madden: vocals
What's On My Mind:
music i'm listining to at the moment
the alkaline trio's "good mourning", thrice's last 2
records, afi, nofx's "war on errorism", pennywise "land
of the free", mest, goldfinger"stomping ground"
, atreyu, i'm sure i'm missing some, but that's about it for newer
bands. i got to see the foo fighters play the other night, they
ruled. i also saw the used the other day, they ruled too. oh yeah
i forgot, rancid's new record "indestructible" rules....that's
it for now. later.
well this is my bio. hmm....well, i don't really know what to
say besides i love music. i love being on the road. i love playing
shows. i have awesome friends. i love being in my band. this band
saved my life. our fans are a part of this band, so you guys saved
my life too. thanx. i don't know , lately we've been all over
the world so i could tell you some places i really like. Japan.
switzerland. sweden. the uk. italy. austrailia. new zealand. all
those places rule. i know i missed some places i like, but whatever.
of course i love touring in america too. i'm into taking pictures,
i'll try to put some up on the site. anyways, thanx for checking
out our site. i'll get more info about myself up here when i think
of it. peace.
Madden: guitars, vocals
Billy Martin: guitars, keyboards
Paul Thomas: bass
Chris Wilson: drums