Two years on from their 2016 comeback album ‘Youth Authority’, Good Charlotte have returned with the powerful, emotionally raw ‘Generation RX’. With much of the album based on subjects as meaty as the Opioid crisis, the loss of musical icons and battles with ghosts from the past, it is a huge world away from the breezy pop-punks of old. Upset caught up with Benji and Joel Madden in L.A. to find out more.
You came back from your hiatus a couple of years ago with ‘Youth Authority’, what are your thoughts on that record now?
Benji: I love that record man, I really love it. We went through a period where my brother told me on a few different occasions that he was never doing Good Charlotte ever again. He felt that it was our baby, that it had gotten us out of poverty and rough situations and it was time to take it back. It’s provided for our families, y’know? We came into the industry as little lambs… young, innocent, kind of green. We’d never even been on an aeroplane before our first record deal!
Joel: When you are young, you don’t know that you have a choice. You don’t give yourself permission to be in control. And I sometimes think young people don’t give themselves the credit that their instincts are good, that they know more than they probably think.
Benji: We didn’t have an education, no parents around us. We didn’t have anyone older around blocking for us or being a bodyguard for us. But when we came of age, we turned from little lambs into fucking wolves; we stood up for ourselves. We said everyone can fuck off; this is ours. It wasn’t about business any more. We took all the merch offline for five years, closed the website and took control back.
Joel: As an older guy, you understand that all of the ideas that tell you that you need to be anyone other than yourself are bullshit. Being yourself always wins. When you learn to be yourself, you can control your own experiences and feel ok about them.
Benji: At the end of 2010, we were like a football player that got injured, tore an ACL or something. We kinda limped off the field, on our own terms though, so our heads were held up high. And that was that. Even my kids and my wife would say, “He used to be in a band!” But then one day, Joel said to me, “Man, I need to take a fucking swing again.” There’s some stuff he can only say when he’s in Good Charlotte. When we write, we write from this place that goes back to our pain, our youth, a place where it’s all real. ‘Youth Authority’ felt like the moment Joel’s ACL injury healed. But it was just us jogging back onto the field, warming up and trying to get that swing back.
Joel: I didn’t even know what it meant to be in Good Charlotte when we put ‘Youth…’ out. I don’t think we had any expectations; we just wanted to put the record out. It was kinda nice to ease back in, put it out and promote it. Touring it was limited to special shows, it all had almost a nice boutique feel to it. Because everything is now controlled by us, it’s re-defined the band for me.