LIFE CHANGES

TWO YEARS ON, BENJI AND JOEL MAD­DEN RE­CALL THE, UM, LIFE-CHANG­ING CON­VER­SA­TION BE­HIND THEIR COME­BACK AL­BUM’S OPEN­ING TRACK…

Kerrang! (UK) - - News - WORDS: JENNYFER J. WALKER

In July 2015, a cur­rently-on-hia­tus Good Char­lotte had their first band hang-out in years. One Satur­day af­ter­noon, at gui­tarist Benji Mad­den’s home in Bev­erly Hills, the group sat in gar­den chairs, un­der a per­fect LA sky, ate BBQ food and threw back shots of tequila, as they re­galed their wives with tales of ‘the good old days’.

Af­ter nearly five years away, talk of a re­u­nion had cropped up be­tween ev­ery mem­ber of the band ex­cept front­man Joel Mad­den. “Joel was the guy that was like, ‘I don’t think I’m ever gonna do Good Char­lotte again,’” explains Benji. “He was just like, ‘I feel like I’ve grown past it, and I’m not sure it’s what I wanna do any­more.’”

Hear­ing his twin brother make such a de­fin­i­tive state­ment cut Benji deep.

“It was sad to hear Joel say he didn’t wanna do Good Char­lotte again, ’cause I knew it was more than just him say­ing he’s ma­tured or grown past it – I knew there was some dis­ap­point­ment there for him.”

Then, out of nowhere, as the fam­ily men watched their kids splash around in the pool, Joel just de­cided, “Fuck it!”

“I was more sur­prised than any­one be­cause Joel can be very po­lite when it comes to other peo­ple,” re­mem­bers the gui­tarist, “be­cause he doesn’t wanna hurt any­one’s feel­ings. So the other guys [in the band] didn’t quite know how much he had told me that he was never gonna do it again.”

“It was just be­ing with the guys,” says Joel of what changed his mind that day. “I guess I just felt sat­is­fied in what we’d done,” he pauses to choose his words care­fully, “and I didn’t feel like… I didn’t know if I wanted to an­swer to any­one any­more. Ex­plain­ing your mu­sic and ex­plain­ing your­self con­stantly is re­ally not that fun. I said to the band, ‘I only wanna do this if it’s for us. Let’s just make a record that the five of us just wanna make, and that we love. And we all mean it and our hearts are in it, and we can do this our way, and we don’t get back on some train…’ And the en­tire band agreed!”

They hugged it out, and Benji hit up the twins’ long-time co-writ­ing com­pan­ion John Feld­mann to book into his stu­dio the fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day.

Twenty min­utes into that first ses­sion, and Good Char­lotte were back to work; the first riff that found it­self em­a­nat­ing from Benji’s gui­tar? The open­ing to Life Changes.

“Right when he hit those chords, those words,” Joel starts singing, “‘Go through these life changes’, came right away.” The con­ver­sa­tion they had in the gar­den that day formed the lyrics, which poured out of Joel like the tequila at the BBQ. He didn’t write one word down ’til the song was com­plete, a mere 20 min­utes later. “That’s the way the good ones come for me,” says Benji. “Re­ally fast! Life­styles [Of The Rich & Fa­mous]… Girls & Boys… Hold On… all of our songs that have ever been big all came in 20 min­utes to half an hour.”

“When I hear that song now,” he adds, “I think back to me and my band sit­ting around in the backyard – I think about how long we’ve been to­gether, and all the ups and downs, and ev­ery­thing that we’ve done to­gether. That’s why it’s one of my favourite Good Char­lotte songs, if not my favourite. I just think about how much I love the guys and how great it was to have that sec­ond when Joel said: ‘You know what? Fuck it, let’s do it!’”

PHOTO: TOM MARTIN

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