I was actually lucky enough to attend the ten-year anniversary tour surrounding Sum 41's sophomore album, Does This Look Infected? when it came to San Francisco's Regency Ballroom. The first thing I thought when vocalist Deryck Whibley walked out onstage was "Holy shit. He does not look good." I felt guilty for thinking it, and even mentioning to my friend standing next to me, but completely forgot about it moments later as the first epic notes to the album's opening track, "The Hell Song", kicked in. The band sounded immaculate throughout the entire evening, and I wasn't even aware of what Whibley had been going through personally (in 2014, Whibley was hospitalized for severe alcoholism and had been fighting for his life, unbeknownst to fans).
I give this small anecdote as a preface to this piece because it's important to know the history. Sum 41 returned onto the scene with a headlining stage slot on the 2016 Vans Warped Tour, before heading out on their own 'Don't Call It a Sum-back' headlining tour later that year (our outlet was fortunate enough to cover the San Francisco date of that run). When I saw Whibley step on stage in 2016, my first thought was, "Holy shit. He looks so much better." The difference was night and day. And they sounded even better than they did in 2012, and they sounded incredible then. When the news first broke that the band would be doing a fifteen-year anniversary tour for Does This Look Infected?, I became very excited. This particular tour in Sum 41's history is a big deal because it's a chance to start over while continuing something beautiful that's been alive since the band's inception in 1996, and it's a chance to give fans the show they feel that they may not have been able to give them back in 2012.
Much like this particular tour, the release of Does This Look Infected? on November 26th, 2002 was a massive deal for the band. While most bands incur the dreaded "sophomore slump", Does This Look Infected? proved to be anything but a slump. In fact, it expanded highly upon the band's previous material from their exemplary pop-punk debut, All Killer No Filler, which spawned the popular hits "Fat Lip", and "In Too Deep", tracks that remain staples in their set list to this very day. The difference, however, is that Does This Look Infected? is an inherently darker record than its predecessor. In an interview with MTV leading up to its release, Whibley stated the following:
"A lot of stuff happened in the past year that opened our eyes to new things. The whole last year has been really crazy around the world. There's been so much stuff going on and it's been so televised. I think we've all become more aware. When we were writing the last record everything was happy go lucky. Now this time we've seen a little bit more and our eyes have been opened up a little bit."
With topics spreading out and exploring the hatred of the world ("Still Waiting"), drug usage ("All Messed Up"), people who hate the world ("Mr. Amsterdam"), and the HIV diagnosis of a close friend ("The Hell Song"), Infected touches on much heavier material lyrically than their previous effort. Musically, the songs still retain their inherent pop-punk qualities, but manage to blend in elements of most traditional punk rock and hardcore, as well as nods to heavy metal that inspired the band (this genre would be explored more on songs like "We're All To Blame" on the band's next album, Chuck.)
Since its release, the band have sold over 860,000 copies of Does This Look Infected?, and helped the band's career and fanbase skyrocket over time. While there have been a number of lineup additions and changes in the band as time has gone on (drummer/vocalist Steve Jocz left the band in 2013 and was replaced by current drummer Frank Zummo), Sum 41 are just as strong, if not stronger, than they were when Does This Look Infected? came into the world fifteen years ago.
You can view the full list of tour dates for the band's upcoming tour, which kicks off this Friday, April 27th at The Warfield in San Francisco, CA (tickets can be found here).
What's your favorite song from Does This Look Infected? Let us know in the comments below.
April 27: San Francisco, CA - The Warfield
April 28: San Diego, CA - House of Blues
April 29: Phoenix, AZ - Van Buren
May 1: Albuquerque, NM - El Ray
May 3: San Antonio, TX - Aztec
May 4: Dallas, TX - House of Blues
May 5: Houston, TX - House of Blues
May 7: Lake Buena Vista, FL - House of Blues
May 8: Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution
May 10: Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theater
May 11: Norfolk, VA - The Norva
May 12: New York, NY - Terminal 5
May 14: Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory
May 15: Boston, MA - House of Blues
May 17: Pontiac, MI - Crofoot
May 18: Chicago, IL - Concord Music Hall
May 19: Minneapolis, MN - The Varsity Theater
May 21: Denver, CO - Ogden
May 23: Salt Lake City, UT - Complex
May 24: Las Vegas, NV - Brooklyn Bowl
May 26: Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern