Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley Doesn’t Think ‘All Killer No Filler’ Was ‘Very Good’
Looking back on Sum 41's All Killer No Filler, the Canadian pop-punkers' 2001 major label debut, Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley doesn't rank the album too highly among the band's work.
Still, the album's celebrating its 20th anniversary, and a retrospective is in order. So, talking to Billboard this week (April 7), Whibley spoke with the benefit of hindsight in recalling his career beginnings as a 21-year-old musician who skyrocketed to fame along with his merry band of guitar-wielding pranksters. It all happened because of All Killer No Filler, released on May 8, 2001. But the record itself is lackluster — if you trust an evaluation from the singer and guitarist.
"I've always felt it wasn't that great, if I'm being honest," Whibley admitted. "I never quite understood — to a point where it's almost like, when people tell me it means a lot to them or it was a really good album compared to other records, I always think they're lying. I've always felt like, 'Have you listened to it lately, though? I don't know if it holds up.'"
He added that, when All Killer No Filler got as successful as it did, he "had an immediate embarrassment. Almost like you become ashamed of your own success. In some way, I feel like it snuck through and everyone's going to find out soon that it's not that good. Like I sort of cheated my way, somehow. That's kind of what I've always felt about that record. I think if I listen to it now as I'm older, maybe I can be a little bit more objective. But for the longest time, I thought it wasn't a very good record."
Anyone can color something they did 20 years ago with some amount of regret — it's understandable. But that doesn't make Sum 41's success any less impressive. The group's rise from garage band to punk rock superstars is a Cinderella story for young musicians everywhere.
"We sent our music out first, and it got turned down by everybody," Whibley remembered of a time when Sum 41 were trying to get signed and the sophomoric hijinks of Jackass were all the rage. "We would film ourselves doing stupid stuff like drive-by water gunning people, egging houses, and cut it with some film of our shows. I put this thing together, just for our friends, and our manager saw it and said, 'This is great. Let's put a three-minute video together with your music, we'll send this out to record companies.'"
After that, "it was a matter of weeks," the musician continued. "Every label in the U.S. was trying to sign us, and it turned into a big bidding war." An amazing feat considering "it was the same music — that was the funniest part. That music was already turned down by everybody."
Whatever Sum 41 were doing back then, it certainly connected with listeners, regardless of whether Whibley thinks it's good now. But Maybe All Killer No Filler really did have a little bit of filler, after all.