While pop-punk arguably wore out its welcome awhile ago, the lads in Good Charlotte have at least had the decency to spice up and rearrange their sound over their last two albums, especially their latest, Good Morning Revival. The funny thing is, Good Charlotte thinks they've been wrongly labeled from the beginning. New Times recently caught up with guitarist Billy Martin to talk about fame, privacy, and the meaning of punk.
New Times: Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon once said that rockers date supermodels "because they can."
That might speak more to [frontman] Joel Madden's experience, but some of the songs on the new album deal with relationships. How do you maintain a normal relationship in the public eye?
It's been a little strange. I've actually been with the same girl for... it'll be eight years. She's been through the whole thing with me. It's definitely been not so easy, especially when we were first starting out. I'd have to leave for three months at a time and I was only 18. I'd say the hardest thing has been the internet. It's made things so strange and taken away so much privacy. As good as MySpace and all that stuff is to help promote your band, my fiancee can't be around anything without having hundreds of kids either saying nice things or mean things or trying to get to me through her.
You guys have several songs where you don't sound too hot on L.A. [the band's home].
It's funny, because we all moved here by choice, except our bass player, who lives in Oakland now. It's amazing how many people that you meet here who don't have the right intentions. You really have to know what you're getting into, and not everybody here is a nice, hard-working person. I just have to guess what Joel's thinking, but L.A. for us is a love/hate place. But I've heard Joel say that not every song that people think is about L.A. is about L.A. The first song on the record mentions "look at all these plastic people," and everybody automatically assumes. But Joel always explains that "plastic people" means people who get married, have kids, with a white picket fence and a dog.
You guys obviously embrace a poppy, melodic sound. How much apprehension do you have about what constitutes punk?
I don't really think of anything that comes out now as real punk. I think it ended a long time ago. Me personally, I'm not really a fan of any punk music. That's never really been my thing. It always confused me why people would always say, "Is Good Charlotte punk or not?" We'll be the first ones to tell you that we're not.