Practically honorary Aussies, Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden are enjoying a new sound and new success by keeping it simple as The Madden Brothers.
In a ‘pinch myself’ moment, I phoned them in LA for a catch-up about their upcoming Aussie tour. As cheeky and fun as I had imagined, like the rest of Australia, I fell in love with how open and real they are. So real, in fact, one of them conducted the interview while walking the family dog.
Ok, I’ll hit you with the hard question first. If the Madden Brothers went on tour with Good Charlotte, who’d be the headline act?
Joel: That’s a conundrum! We’d both have to headline, a co-headliner. We’d find a way to make the set list pretty interesting.
The Madden Brothers is such a brilliant and different incarnation to Good Charlotte. How did the idea come about?
Benji: Well, we were watching Superman: The Movie and we realized Clark Kent really was Superman but there was this whole other side to his life people didn’t get to see because people were focusing on the cape and the tights, you know.
Joel: To tell you the truth it was this adverse reaction to some allergy medicine. It was a bad trip and what came out of it was the Madden Brothers and the idea to do this album. It turned out alright, though, because the music’s pretty good.
Benji: We also just wanted to be creative and do an album for artistic reasons; just try something.
Benji, Good Charlotte isn’t a big band. How did the other guys take the news that you wanted to do something with just the two of you, or have you used the rest of Good Charlotte on this album as well?
Benji: No, this album is completely different musicians. Being that Joel and I did write all the songs for Good Charlotte and when we made music Joel and I were at the engine of that, we kind of had the desire to do other things. Everybody was at a point where they had kids and there were marriages that needed to be tended to, so we were at a place to take a few years and do something different.
Joel, do you feel like there’s some sort of expectation that bands must stay together? Even though it is still your job, do you have different expectations than the real world when it comes to working?
Joel: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head, you have a pretty good understanding of both sides. There’s the people who make the music and the people who listen to music and then in the middle there’s the people who play the music and help curate the culture around the music. So there’s all different areas and we all have roles but music is such an important part of people’s lives and everyone has their own soundtrack, so when people love a band I think there is the idea they never want them to grow up or change, because change is something that scares all of us in some way or another. So there’s that idea that when something becomes owned by a lot of people there’s a struggle for control between the fans and the artists, and an artist that loves their fans is always torn between wanting to please their fans and wanting to grow, so it’s an age-old thing in rock n roll that’s always happened.
With the Madden Brothers, it’s us living our life in front of everyone. We’ve grown up and we wanted to make an album that expresses who we are in music right now, and once you hear the music it all makes sense.
On the tour we’re coming to Australia and we’re going to be playing all kinds of songs from the Madden Brothers. We’re going to be playing some great California music and we’ll probably throw in a couple of Good Charlotte songs reimagined in a cool way. There’s also lots of cool stuff we’ll do on the tour to point to all the places you know.
The tour is coming to the Gold Coast, have you spent much time there before?
Benji: Yeah, we love the Gold Coast, we did a couple of V8 races there over the years. It’s an awesome, fun and welcoming place to tour. The weather’s good and it’s a good hang!
Obviously you guys are twins and you’ve probably been asked a lot of over the years about twinisms, but honestly, Joel, do you have the connection?
Joel: I think that just because you’ve been with someone since the minute you were born you have such a close relationship. So I don’t know if it’s, like, a mental psychic connection or if it’s because we’ve been together so long we know each other so well. I think we’ve always known where the other ones at and what they’re feeling because we’re so close.
It’s almost like having a twin means you’re born with a stalker! It doesn’t matter what you do, the other one always knows what you’re doing!
Joel: Yeah, pretty much!
How does that affect you musically? When you guys are creating things together, does one of you look after the music and the other writes lyrics? How does it work?
Benji: It’s a true partnership that continually changes. Imagine a couple of people were carrying a load of bricks and as one brick fell the other person caught it. We constantly adapt to each other. We’re true collaborators and we roll with it.
Australia has fallen in love with you guys. The Voice helped you a great deal, and I think we were one of the first countries to jump on board with We Are Done. Why do you think we love you so much?
Joel: We hope it doesn’t go away! We just love it. It’s a country we love as much as the country loves us.
Benji: I think we have a lot in common. I get along with everyone down under and I love being there, I’ve been coming there for a long time. It’s like a home away from home. I don’t feel like a stranger there and I have an understanding of it. I’m really proud of our relationship with Australia.
Ok, this is really random — which one of you is walking your dog right now?
I can hear him panting down the phone, you’ll have to introduce him to me… what’s his name?
Joel: It’s actually my dog! He’s walking him for me.
Benji: Joel’s dog is a German Sheppard that I sometimes kidnap. He’s all black and named Ero.
Joel, where did that name come from?
Joel: Its funny, its like a Japanese spelling, but Nicole named him and I don’t know what it means. He’s a very happy dog.
You guys are away from home a lot. What happens with your dog while you’re away?
Joel: As a family we just make it work. We always find a way to take care of the dogs.
Well, Joel and Benji, it’s been a delight to chat to you, and I cant wait to see you on the Gold Coast on the 2nd of November. That happens to be my anniversary and I can’t think of anything more romantic than spending it with you two!
Both: Oh, hey! Yeah! Thank you!
The Madden Brothers play their only QLD show at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on Sunday 2 November.