Deryck Whibley on Why It Was Time to End Sum 41: ‘We’ve Achieved What We Were Trying To Do’

Feature Deryck Whibley Reveals Why It Was Time to End Sum 41
Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 performs during the "Does This Look All Killer No Filler" tour on October 21, 2022 in London, England. Burak Cingi/Redferns
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It doesn't feel like the end for Deryck Whibley.

The Sum 41 frontman exclusively tells Us Weekly he feels "really good" ahead of the band's farewell tour, The Tour of the Setting Sum.

"Everything feels like it's the beginning and not nearing the end," Whibley, 43, tells Us. The long-running punk band, which formed in 1996, announced in 2023 that they would call it quits after the world tour in support of their final album, Heaven :x: Hell.

"I'm sure it might feel a little bit different as we get closer to the end of the tour," he adds. The band's final outing will take them on the road for 2024, concluding with one final show in their native Canada at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on January 30, 2025.

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"But, I'm also really excited about that, too," he adds about the end of the tour for the band he's led for nearly 30 years. "Not that I just want to get over Sum 41, but I feel excited about the future, of trying new things, expanding and growing and being creative in other ways and seeing where life takes me."

Before Whibley embarks on that new adventure, he will give Sum 41 a proper send-off with the release of Heaven :x: Hell, the band's eighth and final studio album, out March 29 through Rise Records.

Whibley, Dave Baksh, Jason McCaslin, Tom Thacker and Frank Zummo have captured the sounds that made Sum 41 special during the early 2000s pop-punk explosion. The double album encapsulates the group's journey to the moment: Heaven features the pop punk sound that heralded Sum 41's breakthrough and early success; Hell reflects their unabashed love of heavy metal that steered their sound in their later years.

It's fitting, though, Whibley said he didn't go into the recording sessions hoping to make his last Sum 41 record.

"Once it was finished, it just spoke to me," Whibley tells Us. "I thought, 'You know what? I've been having these thoughts for a few years now,' and I usually just bury them and say, 'Quit thinking like that. You're in Sum 41, and this is all you're supposed to do, and what a great life, so stop thinking about doing anything else.'"

"[But] when I just sat back and listened to the music," he continued, "I thought, 'This is where I can hang my hat and call this the last record.' I feel like we've said and done everything that we came to do."

The new album is a "full-circle moment" for Sum 41. "It's the full evolution of the whole band," says Whibley. I just feel like, 'What a great way to walk away from it.' And not only that, I feel like this record is unique to us. It's something that we built in this lane that we carved for ourselves from the very beginning, which took a long time for it to make sense that a pop punk band was going to have metal influence."

Sum 41 never shied away from their influence. The band's breakthrough single, "Fat Lip," saw them proudly boast that "heavy metal and mullets, it's how we were raised" and that bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest "were the gods that we praised."

Whibley tells Us that it took the band a few tries to figure out how to blend the explosive irreverence of pop punk with the hardcore headbanging of heavy metal. It also took time for fans to accept a punk band inspired by Mercyful Fate as much as Minor Threat.

"Now I feel like we're there," says Whibley. "It doesn't feel weird. It actually feels kind of normal, and I think, 'Yeah, we've achieved what we are trying to do, so this is the time [to quit].'

If Sum 41 is viewed not as a collective of musicians who produce art but as a piece of art itself, then it's easy to relate to Whibley's decision to disband. The painting is complete, with Heaven :x: Hell acting as the final brushstroke to a work that has occupied his time for nearly three decades.

"Once I listen to it back, I'm like, 'This is Sum 41, the whole thing,'" he says of the final album." And not just the music, but even the title, as simple as it is. Heaven and Hell not only represents the light and the dark of the music or the record sonically, but it also represents the whole journey of Sum 41. In the simplest form, there have been such extreme highs and such extreme lows that there's no better way to say what Sum 41 has been like. It's been heaven and hell."

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Tom Thacker, Jason McCaslin, Deryck Whibley, Frank Zummo and Dave Baksh of Sum 41. Araya Doheny/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

While Heaven :x: Hell solidified Whibley's decision to call it a day on Sum 41, he tells Us that he had thoughts about walking away from Sum 41 for the last "four to five years."

"I first started having thoughts of like, 'Well, would I try to try something else? Will I always stay with Sum 41?'" he shares. "I would bury those thoughts, and I wouldn't have that thought again for another six or eight months. And then the thoughts got closer and closer to each other. And then it got to the point where you're thinking about it all the time, 'Maybe I could see myself doing something different.' And as it started happening more and more, I realized that my mind was going that way.

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Whibley admits that he felt guilty for thinking about trying something new because it would require him to end Sum 41. The band is always a top priority, and he says that his work ethic makes it impossible for him to focus on two things at the same time. A solo career and a successful metal-inspired pop-punk band? Having both was just not in the cards.

"Finally, I allowed myself to say, 'You know what? It's natural to want to do something different. It's not a bad thing to feel like you're ready to try something new,'" he says. "It's all about evolution, growth, taking chances, and just life experience."

The punk singer also cites his health and age as other factors for the change. "I'm at that point where I'm ready for something different," he says. "I've been doing this for almost 30 years since I was in the 10th grade."

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Jason McCaslin, Tom Thacker, Dave Baksh and Deryck Whibley of the band Sum 41 perform at the 2024 iHeartRadio ALTer EGO on January 13, 2024 in Anaheim, California. Harmony Gerber/Getty Images

It has taken a toll. Whibley was hospitalized in 2014 with severe kidney and liver damage due to rampant alcohol abuse. He got sober after this near-death experience but was back in the hospital again in September 2023 after coming down with pneumonia. Though he was discharged shortly after his admission into the facility, he still dealt with lingering issues.

Thankfully, Whibley reassures Us that he is in good health. He adds, "The band is great, our relationship is great, and we enjoy what we do." And that is also why it's time to call it quits: to go out on a high point.

"We've been through ups and downs," says Whibley of his bandmates. There have been times when they couldn't "be in the same room together, or we've done group therapy to try even just to be able to look at each other and talk. We've gone through all the s–t, and it's so great right now that I just want to leave it in that kind of place."

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"It's funny though to think that now, we're going to break up the band when there's been so many times where we should have broken up," he adds. "It really just comes from the love of it, even as dark as things got, and the moments where we f–king hated each other, and I thought I would never speak to some of the guys again. You give it time and you're just like, 'I just love the whole thing too much to walk away.'"

Now, it's a case of loving the band so much that it's time to walk away. Whibley explains, "Now, [Sum 41's at] a point where it's bigger than it's ever been, and we're just going to say, 'Yeah, this is where we've been trying to get to.' So we're here, and we're going to leave it here."