Who You Callin' Punk?
Pop-punk arguably wore out its welcome yesterday. But the lads in Good Charlotte have at least had the good sense and decency to spice up their sound on their last two albums, especially the latest, Good Morning Revival, released in March. New Times recently caught up with the band's almost eerily composed guitarist, Billy Martin, who discussed fame, fortune, and the meaning of punk.
New Times: Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon once said rockers date supermodels "because they can."
Billy Martin: [Laughs.]
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. We're getting married in March. 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.... Even though I'm not walking down the street with paparazzi following me, it's funny that anything that me and her do, even though we're not nearly as famous as Joel and [his girlfriend, Hollywood personality] Nicole [Richie], you can go on the Internet five minutes later and our fans already know about it. It's like, 'Man, we're not even getting photographed,' but somehow they know everything you do.
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 you meet here 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 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.
The band obviously embraces 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.
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