Simple Plan goes back to its pop-punk roots for 'Harder Than It Looks' – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Get the latest concert news and more from the St. Louis music scene from Kevin C. Johnson.
Simple Plan
Simple Plan
Pop-punk band Simple Plan celebrates the new and the old when it brings its “Blame Canada Tour” to the Factory this weekend with Sum 41.
The Canadian band is supporting its latest album, “Harder Than It Looks,” and marking the 20th anniversary of its debut album, “No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls.”
Being back on the road “feels good,” says frontman/bassist Pierre Bouvier. “We just started the tour, and the challenge about going back on tour after having been gone is reminding yourself who you used to be onstage.”
He’d spent the past two years of the pandemic at home being a husband and father.
“When you start up again, it’s like, ‘Do you remember who I used to be? Has my alter ego disappeared, or is it still there?’ I was nervous the first couple of shows. But then it was like riding a bike. The stress is gone. We broke the ice. We’re even more excited than we used to be.”
The band is anxious about being on tour with the new album, he says. With the music, Simple Plan leaned into what the band is and what people expect. In the past, the band had been more experimental.
“Harder Than It Looks” by Simple Plan 
“I’ve been in a band for a long time,” he says. “You can doubt what you’re doing. You want to change and evolve. You want to show people that you can do more than what you’ve been doing.”
But those days have passed.
“Now I’m in a different place, older, more mature,” Bouvier says. “Let’s just give people what they want. What do they want out of a new record? They want a record that sounds like Simple Plan.”
That was the clear goal for “Harder Than It Looks,” the band’s back-to-its roots effort with a slight evolution.
“We scratched the itch of doing a great punk record where we weren’t reinventing the sound,” he says. “If you’re a fan of the first couple of albums, there’s a good chance you’ll like this one.”
The new album includes songs and lyrics that hopefully will resonate with listeners.
“We’ve heard (that) a lot of our fans and people who appreciate pop-punk and emo need the music to help them feel better,” he says. “That’s something we worked on in making the album — to let people know they are not alone.”
Bouvier was more involved with this album’s production, “though I’ve always done a lot of that since the second album, being a producer in the background. I asked for production credit on this one. We recorded some of it at my house.”
In 2020, bassist David Desrosiers left the band after allegations of sexual misconduct.
“It was definitely a bit of an adjustment, but we can still carry on,” Bouvier says. Before this, Desrosiers had taken an extended break after feeling burned out, and the band managed fine.
“We carried on without him for a year and a half, so we knew what it would feel like,” says Bouvier, also a bassist. “I’m always willing to step in.”
“No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” by Simple Plan 
“No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” will be honored with a segment of the show, mostly leaning on singles such as “I’m Just a Kid,” “Addicted” and “Perfect.”
“We’re definitely tapping into that nostalgia,” Bouvier says.
The debut album evokes memories of “sleeping in the studio and waking up in the morning with the smell of five dudes. It was just awful,” he says. “There was a lot of work putting that record together. We worked our asses off.”
What Simple Plan, Sum 41 • When 7 p.m. May 21 • Where The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard • How much $43.75-$53.75 • More info ticketmaster.com
Get the latest concert news and more from the St. Louis music scene from Kevin C. Johnson.
Kevin C. Johnson is the pop music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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Simple Plan
“Harder Than It Looks” by Simple Plan 
Simple Plan
“No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” by Simple Plan 
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