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TORONTO (Billboard) - For Simple Plan, the multimillion-selling pop-punk band from Montreal, "The End" was also a new beginning.
After a year writing material for the follow-up to 2004's "Still Not Getting Any . . .," the band was struggling to find a way forward, drummer Chuck Comeau says. But last spring in Miami -- where Simple Plan had gone to test-drive some songs in the studio with producer Danja (Nelly Furtafo, Justin Timberlake) -- it became clear the group could forge a bold new sound.
"It really clicked for the first time in Miami when we came up with 'The End,"' Comeau says, referring to one standout track from the band's self-titled third studio album, which hits North American stores February 12 through Atlantic Records.
"It was different and cool-sounding," he says. "There were beats, which is something we haven't used, and Pierre Bouvier's vocals were so much more layered."
The three songs created in Miami opened Simple Plan up to new possibilities. "We were discovering new music that had us excited," Comeau says. "Modern-sounding records, like the Justin Timberlake record. It takes a lot of balls to admit you like it, but it's amazing."
With the band feeling it had reached new heights with the Danja-produced tracks, including "When I'm Gone" and "Generation" (both also involving producer Arnold Lanni, who helmed the group's 2002 debut, "No Pads, No Helmets . . . Just Balls"), producer Dave Fortman came in to finish the album.
The album rolls out internationally through February. Lead single "When I'm Gone," issued digitally October 29, climbed to No. 18 on the January 5 Canadian Hot 100 after eight weeks on the chart. It premiered globally on the band's Web site (www.simpleplan.com) along with a preorder for the album through online retailer Lala. The single's video debuted on mtv.com and MTV's "TRL" December 12.
Simple Plan toured for around 18 months in support of "Still Not Getting Any . . ." -- which has sold 1.5 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- and a spring/summer North American tour is in the works.
The band undertook several "sneak attack" performances at top 40 radio stations' shows in U.S. markets in early December. It then played a December 18 date at the Highline Ballroom in New York, a recording of which launched December 31 on YouTube. The band is also playing three shows in London on January 27.
Even as the band members embrace a more embellished sound, Comeau is keen to emphasize that the group's SoCal punk roots shine through on the new set.
"We could not have made this record without having grown up on pop-punk from California -- NoFx, Green Day and that sort of thing," he says. "That's where the arrangements and the energy comes from. Now there are beat-driven verses that explode into the huge choruses that we're known for. But it is still Simple Plan."