Good Charlotte


Interview with Joel, lead vocals

Before the sound check on December 29th, 2000 at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia.

Music Head (MH): So, how’s it going?
Joel (J): Good, man. Alright, we played last night.

MH: Where did you guys play?
J: Hoboken, New Jersey.

MH: Hoboken, alright cool.
J: Sure. It’s all good though, we go home tonight.

MH: So how were the holidays for you guys and what did you guys do?
J: The holidays were very short. I mean we got home on Christmas Eve and spent it with our families and then we had to leave the next day. So, we had to leave the day after Christmas, you know. But, it’s good because we hadn’t been home in a long time so we got to see our families and stuff so it was cool.

MH: Did you get any good presents?
J: Um, we got you know. I mean Christmas for our family isn’t a lot about presents. I got some cool books and some clothes, but we just like to be with our family and eat some home cooked food. It was nice.

MH: Are you excited for your New Years Eve show with Jimmies Chicken Shack?
J: Yeah, it’s going to be fun. They’re really good friends of ours so it will be nice to hang out with them and spend it with them. You know, at home, so we’re excited.

MH: Do you have any special plans for that show?
J: We’ll probably be on the stage with the Shack a lot and they will probably be on stage with us a lot. Jepetto is playing with us and they’re friends of ours too. All three bands are really good friends so we’ll probably all be on stage with each other a lot. And you know, at twelve o’clock, I’m probably going to be kissing a lot of girls. You know, good excuse.

MH: Any New Years resolutions?
J: Let’s see, New Years resolutions… I haven’t really thought about that. I think our New Years resolution as a band is just to um…. I don’t know. We don’t really have any. We’re just going to tour our asses off. And try to keep touring. I mean we want to tour the country all next year as much as possible. People will probably get sick of us.

MH: How is life on the road? Is it a different kind of lifestyle?
J: Yeah, it’s different. We’ve been away from home now probably like seven or eight months. So, we haven’t really been home in that long. You get really used to living out of the bag and to meeting new people everyday and being in new situations, new surroundings everyday. I don’t think any band has the right to complain because I think we’re so lucky to be able to do this and be on the road and play everyday and meet people. I mean when I hear a lot of rock and pop stars complaining, it makes me sick. Because I’m like, this is a dream come true, you know, it’s amazing. I mean it is hard sometimes, you know with the little things. But that’s just so minute, you know. We love it. We enjoy it so much. I mean other days, because we’re in the van and we’ll be, you know, like get your leg off me and we’ll be fighting about little dumb things. But that’s normal, you know. We love it, everyday.

MH: Yeah, I saw your van out there. Do you have a Play Station in there?
J: Yeah, we got Play Station. We got it hooked up. You know, we gotta do it.

MH: What’s your favorite game for Play Station?
J: I would have to say Tony Hawk.

MH: Did you get Tony Hawk 2 yet?
J: Yeah, we have Tony Hawk 2. I like Tony Hawk, man, it’s awesome. You can’t beat that game. It’s a solid game. It never gets olds, never gets tiring.

MH: Yeah, I agree. How is it touring with your twin brother? Do you guys ever have any conflicts?
J: No. Really, I mean me and my bro, Benj, we’re like best friends. We fight about little things, but I fight with Aaron, Paul, and Billy just as much, as we’re all brothers. So, we all love each other and we have a really good relationship, our band. We’re really honest with each other and we talk a lot about things. We all fight about small things you know sometimes but nothing major. We love touring together. I wouldn’t rather be touring with anyone else. I wouldn’t change it at all, I like the way things are.

MH: How are you two different?
J: I think Benj is a little bit more outgoing and in your face. I’m a little bit more reserved and quiet and conservative in some ways. Benj is wild, you never know what to except out of him. He’s out of control sometimes, and that’s the way he is and I love him for it. I wouldn’t change one thing about him. We’re just like Ying and Yang, me and him, like night and day sometimes. He’s really outspoken and he says what he thinks right away. He's got strong opinions and he’s very hard core about being um… he’s not straight-edged, like he doesn’t call himself straight-edged but he is just very extreme. Whatever he does is extreme and I’m not quite as much like that.

MH: Any reason why you guys are playing two shows today?
J: Well, we put the first one up and it sold out in two days and there was so many fans that wanted to go to the show and they couldn’t get tickets. So, we were like well let’s add another show so that our other fans could come too. Also, we feel really lucky because every time we play here kids come and they stand outside and they want to come in. It’s hard for us because we can’t get everyone in. But we usually sneak probably up to... I’m not even going to say how many kids because the club will probably get pissed. But we sneak kids into shows all the time because we see them outside and we don’t want to not let them in. But we just added another show, they promoted it and it worked out well. And there’s still kids outside right now that don’t have tickets. It’s crazy man.

MH: Do you play any cover songs during your set?
J: Ah, tonight we are, we’re going to play “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles.

MH: How about any acoustic songs?
J: Not during the set. All of our songs are written on a acoustic guitar so all are acoustic songs at first. So, all of our songs we could play acoustically, like Benj and I. But not during the set, it’s a rock show.

MH: What is your favorite song on the album? Why?
J: My favorite song on the album changes all the time. Any given day it could be a different song. I really enjoy “Change.” I like listening to that. I think that’s another side to our music that people don’t really know about yet. And eventually one day they’ll hear it and they’ll hear that side of us because on the next record we might do even more of that. “Change” I guess because it’s a personal song to me so I enjoy that song. I also like “Waldorf Worldwide and “Motivate.” I like “Festival Song” a lot too.

MH: When things were at there worst in your life, where did you get the strength to pick the
high road?
J: We went right from light to deep. We went from the shallow end to the deep end. That’s good dude, I love abnormal questions like that. Well, at the lowest point in my life, I mean the last seven years I guess have been like a roller coaster ride for me. As far as family life and personal life and everything with growing up. Like the last seven or eight years. And the lowest point in my life I think there was a couple times I liked to remember like two years ago was really low, it was like at the bottom of the barrel for me. I was dead broke, me and Benj were really struggling because we had the band going and we were barely keeping our heads above water. I can say that if I didn’t have him that I wouldn’t have made it here. Like if I didn’t have my band. Because my band has seen me through the craziest times. They know me inside and out. They know me the best. They’ve seen me through it all. And if I didn’t have my band and my brother and my family and even their families, it’s like one big family, I wouldn’t be sitting here. But through family and through God and through a lot of other things, some friends that I’ve had, definitely not myself being a strong person. I mean I’m somewhat of a strong person but, the people around me are strong and that gives me strength. When you’re broke and you don’t have anything but you have good family and good friends and you have God, you don’t need anything.

MH: What advice can you give to young people to help get them through rough times?
J: When times are hard, it’s like the 2Pac song “Keep Your Head Up.” That song is one of my favorite songs because it’s true, you know, you just have to keep your head up and you got to realize that there’s going to be a better day. When you get down to your lowest point you got to realize that there’s only one way up and it’s up. If you keep your head up and know that things are going to get better and don’t give up on yourself and just stay true to yourself and true to what you believe. It might not happen tomorrow but it’s going to get better and it’s going to be a lot better.

MH: Do you think that bands should be role models?
J: Oh yeah, definitely. I think that anyone in the public eye has a responsibility to that and some people just don’t want to accept it. I mean I’m not judging them either but, I think that whether you realize it or whether you want to accept it or not, you’re a role model and it’s your responsibility to make a difference with whatever you can.

MH: Benji mentions, “We daydreamed all this stuff- and now it’s happening.” What is the first thing you think about when you wake up everyday?
J: First thing I think about when I wake up everyday is probably what am I going to eat. No, but seriously I wake up everyday and it feels very real but, it does feel like a dream. Our band everyday has the discussion of how lucky we are. None of us complain because we’re always thinking how lucky we are and if it all ended today I would still be happy with everything that happened. It’s been amazing. We just hope that we can continue to give people good things to listen to and good shows to come to. That’s all we want to do. We just feel so lucky, I mean I can’t say anything besides that we just feel so blessed and lucky.

MH: Any reason why you guys only go by your first names?
J: Yeah, the story with that is, well Benj and I, we are actually changing our last names legally. But professionally all of us go by our first names. There are a lot of different reasons but one of the main reasons that we’re changing our last names is so we’re losing our father’s last name and picking up our mother’s last name. And our band we’re all so tight and they support us so much that they’re like if you guys don’t want to use your last names then none of us will. It’s really cool of them to do that so we did that and it kind of stuck so now it’s kind of a thing. It will probably be like that but you never know one of these days we might come out and give everyone our last names.

MH: When you decided not to go to college and start working while playing gigs at night, did you ever have any doubts that things were not going to work for the band or you wouldn’t make it big?
J: Well, you always have that fear whenever anyone is working anything. Whether you’re trying to get a degree in college or trying to do anything. There’s that fear behind you that you’re running from like you don’t want to fall, you want to make it happen. So there’s always that fear and there are doubts. And there was a couple times when it was so hard I mean I was so broke, I think I was 19, and I was like man I could go get a job were I made like $30,000 a year and I could live comfortably and not be doing this. But you just believe that it will happen. But there were some points where I was this close to just being like it’s over and I’m done with it. But something inside of all five of us makes us do this, like we could never stop.

MH: So, the dedication and perseverance paid off then?
J: Yeah, just stick to it.

MH: You mention, “We've probably got four albums worth of material.” When do you see the next record coming?
J: We’ll probably do the next record this time next year. We’ll probably tour for the rest of the year, all next year, and then around the winter, November, December, we’ll probably start working on the next record. And then depending on how this record goes or maybe a little later this time next year we’ll start maybe thinking of the next record. We’re already writing for it, so we’re excited.

MH: Do you have a lot of material already?

J: Yeah, we have a lot of new songs. But who knows maybe we will play them out at the concert, when they're ready but, who knows. Not tonight but, sometime during the future. Just trying to promote the new album right now. This one has only been out for 3 months so this one has a lot of life in it. So, we’ll see what happens with this one first. So far so good.

MH: How do you think your music will change as you grow older?

J: It’s definitely going to change because you can only play the same songs for so long and you don’t want to write a lot of songs that sound exactly alike. I mean it will probably mature as our life situations change and we deal with different things. I mean I’m not dealing with poverty anymore, so I’m not going to write about it because it’s not real. I only want to write about things that are real. The songs, what they are about and the way we write them will probably change. We’ll probably try new things. We don’t know, we don’t have any limitations to what we can do with our music so whatever comes out will just come out.

MH: Where do you see Good Charlotte in the future, 5-10 years from now?

J: Five, ten years from now…. Ten years, we’ll be together and we’ll be making records. Hopefully by then we will have a lot of records out. We’ll just be hanging out. All five of us talk about in ten years where we want to be and we all have our own places and are going over each other’s houses for barbeques. We’ll just be hanging out. We’ll still be together, making records. I’ll be acting.


American pop punkers Good Charlotte were here a few weeks ago for a short promo visit. They were taking time off from the conclusion of their appearance on the Warped Tour in the States to further increase their already strong popularity in Australia and support their new single ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ from the album ‘The Young and the Hopeless.’ We were speaking with Benji’s twin brother Joel.

You’re the conservative one I understand?
‘That’s what I hear. That’s one way of looking at it.’
Your brother always has a different look. At one stage he looked lie like Mogwai from ‘Gremlins?’
‘Man he always has a different look. I can’t keep up with him. I’m pretty particular though. I keep the same look all the time. Since we have been in Australia, we have been staying in some really nice hotels. He showers regularly here.’

How was The Warped Tour?
‘We have been on tour in the States for so long now. It just seems like non stop for the last three years. It just gets better. Every time we come back to Australia it just gets better and better.’

Joel and his brother Benji both have apartments overlooking The Potomac River in one of the nicer areas of Washington, did he get much time to stay there?
‘It only takes a second to get down to the water from my appartment. It’s nice there,’ he says. ‘But to be honest with you, I have only been home there a couple of times in the past three years, for a couple of days each. I don’t think I have a home. I have always been on the road touring and I have a car that I have driven twice. But if I didn’t tour I wouldn’t have that house or that car. I am thankful that I can tour and I am thankful for all my fans who come to the shows. This opportunity that we have is a very rare opportunity and a lot of kids dream about it. So we are not going to slack off about it. We have to work. There are days you wish you can go home and there are days when you pick each other up. You have each other to back.’

Recently their home town of La Plata in Washington was devastated by a tornado. Joel was happy to point out that the school and his old house were undamaged. ‘The grocery store and the church got knocked down. And a couple of buildings were blown away and three or four people died. A big path had been torn through the town. When we get some time we want to go back there and do a free show for all the kids.’

Their album ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ has been doing well here, but recalling that old TV series ‘The Young and the Restless,’ was it a pisstake of the whole soapie genre?
‘ We didn’t even think about that till someone said something. ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ is just another name for Good Charlotte and all the fans that can relate to us. It’s about a celebration of being looked down on you know. The way we get treated in public, sometimes by people who couldn’t get used to us. Like if you are travelling first class or if you go to a nice restaurant. The way they treat you.’

Surely you guys wouldn’t get treated like that anymoree we insisted.
‘’You would be surprised man. In the fist class sections of planes. In the nice restaurants or nice hotels. You would be really surprised man. There are a lot of people who are straight up rude to us. A lot of people with money who don’t understand where we come from. We definitely come from a different class to many people. We have the tattoos and the piercings. We have our lifestyles. People can treat us as if we’re less than those with the proper clothes or whatever. The Young and The Hopeless. That’s how we feel at times.’

Songs on ‘The Young and the Hopeless’ deal with a variety of personal issues. ‘Some of them deal with my dad, just being on the road, the burden of having so many fans and the need to lead them in the right direction. A lot of kids come up to me and say “Your music is the only reason I am alive because of this and because of that. And I think about suicide, but your record helps me.” I think a lot about that. When I was writing the records and thinking about my fans and death and the responsibility and my family and a lot of crazy life stuff. It’s a record of my life really.’

You mentioned your father. I know that he walked out Christmas Eve many years ago. Are you reconciled with him at this stage? Have you contacted each other in those eight years?

Your mother has supported you and your brother through all these times I believe?
‘Yes, she is absolutely amazing. I love her very much.’

Is she ever going to come out to Australia so we can meet her?
‘I would love to bring her out man. Hopefully some day when I get the money.I would love to do that. Maybe we can have a family vacation and bring my mum, my brother and my sister over here. I love it here man. I love it. Every time I come here I never want to leave. It sucks that we come for maybe a week. It’s never enough. I wish I had a week off to just really hang out here.’

You’ve told me how you get treated poorly in the States because of your looks etc. How do you get treated here?
‘People here treat you so nice. Really nice and really respectful. Everyone here treats you great. People don’t even notice and if they do they ask you questions. They think the tattoos are cool. I found out that Australians are not caught up on vanity. It’s really refreshing to come somewhere where clothes don’t matter. It’s like everyone lets everyone else live and everyone respects everyone. That’s one of the reasons I really like coming here. It’s not a fashion show. It’s just laid back and relaxed. People don’t trip man.’

Has the music of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ and ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ changed musical directions?
‘’Definitely “Yes.” It has changed. Our capabilities are bigger now. We can play more. I write better lyrics now. I sing better. We’ve toured and got better on each instrument. Just through practice and touring. We were limited last record because we were so young. This record has so much more depth. To me it is so much more interesting.’
With fourteen tracks on ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ were there many tracks that had to be cut?
‘I had written some fifteen or twenty tracks before we went into the studio and I actually through them all away and rewrote them when we got into the studio. Most of the songs on the record were written in the studio. Benj and I would write them together. We had some songs that we wanted on the record. But we decided that they weren’t good enough. There was actually a song called ‘Here We Go,’ that was cut because we didn’t finish it.’

Will there be any B-sides?
‘For the new single we released some B sides. We did an acoustic live version of ‘Lifestyles,’ a demo version of the song called ‘The Anthem,’ and we did a silverchair cover ‘Symmetry.

I understand that you have a very strong fan base here in Australia?
‘It is. Right there with the United States. If you work out the numbers per head of population, our fan base in Australia is almost the same as America.’

Will they be coming back to play?
‘We’re waiting to hear if we’re coming back to play Big Day Out. That’s our dream to play Big Day Out. That’s our big dream here. If it’s not, we’re going to come here and do our own shows.

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