A Pop-Punk Farewell: 27 Years Of Sum 41

As they announce their upcoming goodbye, writer Laviea Thomas reflects on their legacy.

Famed for pioneering a space for pop-punk to thrive in the late 90s, Sum 41 have, over a course of 27 years, planted themselves as a key voice in the evolution of the genre. Forming in 1996, the group very quickly established that they were here to make a lot of unapologetic noise with mammoth singles and an army of dedicated fans.

But as most of you have read, on Monday May 8th, the outfit publicly announced that they were saying goodbye. A group that have paved the way for today’s scene and shared a number of stomping ear-worms were announcing that they were breaking up. Since leaking this information, fans have been left distraught by the loss of a band who were able to bring such an authentic source of light, humour and flair to pop-punk.

In fact, Sum 41 are one of the few reasons this subgenre has managed to make it into the mainstream. Dropping their debut EP ‘Half Hour of Power’ in 2000, the group later went on to share their critically acclaimed album ‘All Killer No Filler’ which featured colossal tracks ‘Fat Lip,’ and ‘In Too Deep.’ From there onwards, the taste of success was clearly in the air, as they went on to release hit singles ‘Still Waiting’, ‘Motivation’, ‘With Me’ and so many more.

Lauded for their helter-skelter music videos, they brought the immaculate atmosphere of a party to the screen and the MTV premiere of ‘Fat Lip’ 22 years ago was just the beginning of many more exhilarating videos to come.

But much like any other band, along the way the group have encountered a few ups and downs, especially with their lineup. Currently consisting of long-time frontman and guitarist Deryck Whibley, lead guitarist Dave Baksh, bassist and backing vocalist Jason McCaslin, guitarist and keyboardist Tom Thacker and Frank Zummo on drums and percussions, at its core, Sum 41 has maintained its essence, but has along the way changed its path on several occasions.

Dave Baksh’s presence alone has been an inspiration for thousands of POC across the globe. Being able to see a brown person in the white-saturated scene of 90s rock music is something that will forever go down in history. Whilst this may not have felt like a radical statement at the time, Dave’s stature as a lead-guitarist in a highly successful pop-punk band was the perfect representation to bite back at the white stigma that circulated the rock scene at that time. Dave’s position in Sum 41 defied the odds, and enabled other POC to acknowledge that they too could flourish in these scenes. He unconsciously opened up many conversations about the inclusivity and diversity of POC within rock music, and for that so many people are grateful.

We have bands like Sum 41 to thank for the way the pop-punk scene is currently shaped. Before bidding us goodbye, the five-man-collective are set to complete their last stages of touring, alongside the release of their highly-anticipated album ‘Heaven :x: Hell.’ The work they’ve built is sure to continue inspiring others and with the huge level of support behind them, the group are sure to wear their legacy like a badge of honour.

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