For years, Sum 41 sang about drinking and partying, and embodied the carefree, fast-living attitude expected of punk rockers.
But in April 2014, that lifestyle caught up with frontman Deryck Whibley, who collapsed in his kitchen when his liver and kidneys failed following a night of heavy drinking. Whibley, then 34, spent three days in an induced coma and a month detoxing at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Now that the Canadian musician has returned to touring with his bandmates Dave “Brownsound” Baksh, Jason “Cone” McCaslin, Tom Thacker and Frank Zummo — who hit the road with Seaway and SuperWhatevr this month to honor the 15th anniversary of their hit album Does This Look Infected? — he’s embracing life without alcohol.
“If anything I actually kind of enjoy it more now, which I wasn’t really expecting,” Whibley, 38, tells PEOPLE. “I was having such a great time when I was drinking and partying and I thought sobriety would be boring, but it’s really not.”
Though the “In Too Deep” singer is still surrounded by partying, he isn’t tempted. “Everyone’s supportive, but at the same time they still drink and they do their thing, which is fine because the last people I feel like drinking with is my band,” he says. “I’ve done that. I could be on the tour bus and they can be drunk and doing their thing, and I can walk past them in the bus and listen to conversations and be like, ‘Nope, I want none of that.’ “
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Whibley continues, “There’s nothing about that that makes me want to get in on this. I’ve been there a million times at five in the morning sitting on the bus, sitting with these guys talking about nothing.”
“It’s still early but we plan on having new music as early as 2019,” Whibley reveals. “Even while I’m on stage playing I can sort of map out ideas while I’m performing other songs; I can sort of see how I would write something. It’s weird but when you get to a certain point on tour, you can write your grocery list while you’re on stage, so I was actually kind of writing some ideas in my head while I was performing.”
Fans coming out for the Does This Look Infected? 15th Anniversary Tour can expect to hear most tracks from the album, as well as songs from the group’s latest record, 13 Voices.
Though it’s been 15 years since Sum 41 released the follow-up to their 2000 debut, Whibley says, “It feels like it was just yesterday.”
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“I feel like everything gets better — and not because of drinking or not drinking,” he adds. “As you get older and you’ve been around longer and it’s still working after this long, it’s just a different feeling than it was in the beginning. When you’re so young and you have success, it goes by so fast that you don’t quite have the capability to appreciate it. When you get older and you realize how difficult it is to maintain a career, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.”