Good Charlotte
By Kim Filipek

You’ve probably heard their first single, “Little Things”, on your local radio station. It’s an upbeat rock ballad about the band’s difficult high school lives which ended not too long ago for band members Benji and Joel, the twin vocalists and lyricists for Good Charlotte, are merely 22 years old. The band consists of Billy, Aaron, Paul, and of course Benji and Joel, who together are the start of something new for rock and roll. The group began in a small Maryland town in 1996, around the time the twins’ father left the family, which is the subject for several songs on the group’s self-titled debut album. Good Charlotte is being recognized on MTV, now with 3 singles and videos as well as being the writers of the recently premiered MTV show Undergrads. I recently talked to guitarist Billy and vocalist Joel before their Atlanta concert on April 22, 2001 at the Tabernacle.

E.C.: What would you guys say is the best part about being in Good Charlotte with the touring and everything?

Joel: Meeting the fans, getting to meet like a thousand new kids a night is really, really cool.

E.C.: What would you say is the worst part of it?

Joel: I miss my dog.

E.C.: Who primarily writes the songs and what inspires you the most to write?

Joel: Benji and I write the songs and mostly we write about our life experiences and everything. Anything that we’re dealing with or we’re going through or anything like that.

E.C.: Would you say your goals and outlook on music and the band has changed now that you’re becoming a mainstream band?

Billy: I think our goals have always been the same, you know, just to tour and to become as well-known as we can and by touring, to meet as many fans as we can.

Joel: Yeah, I think that our goal in Good Charlotte is just to be Good Charlotte, and whatever happens, whatever that means, we don’t even know, we just push on and tour and make music and do whatever. Whatever opportunity comes our way, we usually take it. It’s weird talking about mainstream or this and that. I mean, our outlook and stuff on music has always been the same, we just love music. We’re all music fans and we just love being in a band, and that’s why we do it.

E.C.: How many days a year do you tour?

Joel: We’ve been on tour for like 9 months now and we’ve been home, maybe like 3 or 4…

E.C.: How do you write new songs? On the road?

Joel: Most of our songs we just write on our guitars, ya know, in our hotel rooms or while we’re on the van.

E.C.: Do you guys enjoy making music videos now that you have 3?

Billy: Yea, music videos are really fun, ya know, it’s like one long day but it’s so cool and to see it at the end. We really like doing it.

Joel: Videos are fun. They’re a good experience.

E.C.: I recently saw your new video, “Click”.

Joel: I really like that video. That’s probably my favorite video.

E.C.: Your song, “Click” is the theme song for the MTV show that’s premiering tonight, isn’t it?

Billy: Yea, we’re really excited. They actually drew us as cartoon characters and we got to see ourselves as cartoon characters and we’re like “wow”, ya know?

E.C.: Would you rather spend your time recording in the studio or touring?

Joel: They’re both fun in their own ways. I mean, recording is long but after, it’s like a video, the final product is always really fun, but touring is an experience that, it’s just amazing.

Billy: You can’t top playing live in front of a thousand kids. You can’t beat that.

Joel: Yeah, I’d take touring definitely.

E.C.: What song would you say is your favorite to perform?

Billy: Right now it’s a new song that we have, it’s called “The Story of My Life”. It’s a new song that we’ve been playing. I like it just ‘cause it’s new and it’s something fun. And I love playing “Little Things” just because everybody’s singing along.

Joel: I like “Festival Song”.

E.C.: Which song can we expect to start hearing on the radio next?

Joel: Probably “Festival Song”.

E.C.: Do you guys decide which one goes out as a video next?

Joel: Our philosophy on all that stuff is, we have a record label and we just let them do their job because we have faith in our record label. And of course we always have the final say but usually we don’t argue with what they pick because so far we’ve been very happy with the songs they’ve picked. And they said “Festival Song” and I was excited about that ‘cause I didn’t expect them to want to put out “Festival Song”. So we’re all excited about it.

E.C.: Any talk of a new CD coming out next year or in a couple of months?

Joel: Maybe next year.

Billy: Hopefully next year.

E.C.: We talked about UNDERGRADS earlier. How did that come about? Did MTV contact you to come do a theme song for it?

Joel: They were looking for someone to come up with a song for it and we didn’t really expect to get it, but, we just wrote the song and they liked it and it worked out really quickly and really well. It was good. It’s pretty exciting ‘cause we really like the cartoon. It’s a really funny cartoon.

E.C.: I’ve heard rumors about a new movie that you guys did a little cameo in. Any details about that; when it’s supposed to be out, what you guys did in it?

Joel: It’s coming out in October, I think, and it’s called NOT A TEEN MOVIE, and it’s like SCARY MOVIEW, but a spoof on teen movies. Yea, it’s going to be really funny.

E.C.: I heard you guys were playing the prom band in the movie?

Joel: Yea we play in the prom and we did like 4 cover songs.

Billy: Lots of old 80’s songs, and it had like choreographed dancing to it. We’re like the band in the background so we got to actually be in the movie. That was really fun to see what it was like to make a movie.

E.C.: Is it strange to suddenly have tons of fans and girls fighting over you? You hear your songs about high school and how people didn’t like you and now all of a sudden you have people arguing over you.

Billy: It’s cool because, ya know, meeting fans is awesome and kids that are really into the music, that’s what we’ve always wanted. So it’s a good feeling when kids get excited and like to come to the shows. We spend a majority of the show after the playing just walking around the crowd and meeting kids. Kids are like “why do you do this?” and we say “well if it wasn’t for you guys we would be nothing”. It’s like it makes sense to us just to hang out ‘cause we like to.

Joel: Yeah, it’s weird ‘cause we’re like the 5 most normal guys. We’re the most average, very average normal guys. And it’s fun ‘cause we’re all together, like best friends and stuff. And when we see our fans, we love our fans, and we appreciate when they get excited, we think it’s cool, but it’s kinda weird to us ‘cause we’re like “woah, it’s just us”.

E.C.: What do you think of Napster?

Joel: I think Napster is good for bands that aren’t signed and it’s bad for bands that are signed.

Billy: I think it’s awesome when you can get like a live song or some rare accoustic thing. It’s really cool, it’s amazing, but when you’re trying to make a living off selling records and kids are just downloading it then it’s sort of bad.

Joel: I don’t really take a stance on it either way. The artists that are upset about it, like Metallica or any other bands, I tottally think they’re right for doing that, ‘cause that’s what they believe, if they think it’s wrong. It is a violation of their rights or whatever, but for bands that aren’t signed, Napster’s amazing because people can get in there and get new music and it’s a great network.

E.C.: With all the competition that’s out there, what do you thinks sets you apart from all the other bands?

Joel: We have a lot of friends in other bands and we don’t really consider it a competition. We’re just 5 kids that are music fans. We like other bands, like we were fans that were going to other shows and we wanted to be in a band, and that was our goal, to be in a band, and whatever happens now, who knows? We’re just going to keep doing it and see where it takes us. But we’re not a band that takes it all too seriously. We just enjoy music and we enjoy our fans at the shows and we enjoy what we’re doing and that’s what we’re all about, just enjoying this whole thing.

E.C.: What band inspired you most when you were first starting out?

Joel: Probably I’d say Green Day was probably one of the biggest inspirations. And then there’s Rancid and Weezer, and there’s a lot of bands. Beastie Boys…and then like Billy’s into Incubus and Silverchair

Billy: I just love Incubus and Silverchair because they were like 15 and they put out like an amazing record and I was like “hey, I’m 15 I can do that too”. So they were always my base influence.

E.C.: Did you guys get a lot of people telling you “you can’t do this” when you were first starting out?

Joel: Of course, yeah, but we never really listened to them.

E.C.: What advice would you have for kids out there that are being inspired by you guys and want to go out there and be in a band like you?

Joel: Just practice a lot and play wherever you can play and meet whoever you can meet and don’t set any fences for yourself. Just do whatever you do and whatever comes out comes out and just enjoy it and have a good time but work hard.

Review of Good Charlotte live in Atlanta 4-22-2001

Few people in the crowded venue had heard Good Charlotte’s music, if they had heard the name at all. The room was filled with excited MxPx fans, and questions were flying as to who this “Good Charlotte” band was and what they sounded like. At about nine o’clock, screams filled the room as Joel, Benji, Billy, Paul, and Aaron stepped into the light and resumed their places onstage. Instruments and microphones in hand, the band began playing their song “Walk By” and the crowd was up and jumping, those who knew the words singing along. The security guards had their hands full with overzealous crowd-surfers and after a while, lead singer Joel joined in on the fun. Cheers of recognition rang throughout the room as backup singer and guitarist Benji lead the crowd in singing the beginning of their second single, “The Motivation Proclamation”. We were treated with a new song, titled “The Story of My Life” which proved to be another big hit in the audience. After giving many fans high-fives from onstage and recuperating from crowd surfing, Joel and Benji ended the show with the group’s first hit single “Little Things” which delighted the crowd beyond recognition. The crowd surfing and pogo-ing plummeted and just about everyone was singing along. Good Charlotte’s version of the Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night” showed that their influences are not all punk. It’s not easy to cover Beatles songs, but the band gave the song a new twist. The evening left the fans bewildered and the merchandise table overflowing with people eager to buy the Good Charlotte album. As if all this wasn’t enough, the band members themselves hung out after the show in the lobby giving hugs and autographs, posing for pictures, and talking with their devoted fans. All in all, although their set only lasted about 45 minutes, the feedback I got from many MxPx fans after the concert concluded that Good Charlotte put on a better show than the opening and main acts combined.

Click here to visit the Good Charlotte web site