Meet Jason McCaslin, aka Cone, who talks all things Sum 41
After several banging concerts in Hungary, Sum 41 hit the stage at Budapest Park tonight. In just a few hours, the Canadian pop-punk band will be filling the concert venue to the brim. Just before showtime, we caught up with bassist Cone for a chat about the past, the present and all things Sum 41.
Ah, Sum 41… Those were the days when Fat Lips started climbing the charts after being featured on the American Pie 2 soundtrack, Deryck Whibley’s dyed fair hair was the most awesome and we all felt like the coolest kids listening to In Too Deep getting some really clumsy head banging on while jumping off mum’s living-room couch. Now, 18 years later and with a lot of ups and downs behind them, from Deryck’s alcohol problems to the huge comeback with 13 Voices, Sum 41 are more popular than ever. We spoke with bassist Cone just before the band take the stage in Budapest tonight.
We Love Budapest: Cone, so nice to see you. Does anyone still call you Jason?
Cone: Yeah, my parents, but it’s funny because if someone says Jason I feel like I’m in trouble (Laughs.) We have a lot of other nicknames from high school and some of my friends call me other weird nicknames. Cone actually comes from high school with Deryck. I wasn’t even in the band but this nickname stuck and when I joined Sum 41, that’s what they called me.
WLB: Where does it come from?
C: In high school I used to eat a lot of ice cream for lunch. Like every time I came into the cafeteria I had an ice cream cone in my hand and I wouldn’t have anything else, so my friends started calling me that. Now I’m almost 40 and they still do. (Laughs.)
WLB: How does it feel being back in Budapest?
C: It feels great. We played here at Budapest Park before, at the Sziget and VOLT Festivals but this place is amazing. Budapest Park is one of the coolest concert venues. There are already twice as many people here than last time. Maybe next time we come it will be even more.
WLB: Have you seen much of the city?
C: Yeah, every time we come we try to walk around. Yesterday I arrived at 4pm and did just that. We’re staying on the Pest side now but last time we stayed on the Buda side, so I’ve seen both. I do like the Pest side as there’s more going on, and you can see the buildings on the other side. Someone was telling me that the huge building (Buda Castle) is where the king used to live and I’m like, who needs a house that big? (Laughs.)
WLB: How are you feeling so close to the concert?
C: I’m anxious to play. I don’t get nervous unless we play at some crazy festival with 80.000 people but then I’m like, wow, there’s 80.000 people here to see us… I only get a little nervous if we’ve been off on tour for a long time and it’s the first show back, but this one’s fine, I’m looking forward to it.
WLB: How would you sum up the past 18 years?
C: Our first album came out 18 years ago, so there’s a lot there. We’ve gone through so many crazy experiences both personally and professionally. It’s hard to remember, it feels like a lifetime ago when we first started. We got signed when we were only 19 and now I’m 38… It’s been fun, it hasn’t always been great, there were total down moments but now it feels amazing. We’re back on track and the band’s doing very well.
WLB: And what does the future hold for you, you have a new album coming out next month…
C: Yeah we’re releasing Order In Decline and then we’re touring the world again, hopefully it’ll go OK.
WLB: What can you tell us about it?
C: It’s heavy and aggressive with two slower songs on it. It is going to be one of the heaviest albums we’ve ever released. Not like screaming-wise, but musically it’s pretty intense.
WLB: Is it very personal?
C: Yeah, well Deryck writes the lyrics but there are also political undertones. When we were touring with the last album the news was on all the time and we were all watching. But not just American politics, world politics. There is so much going on now that it’s hard to escape. Brexit, Venezuela, USA of course, even problems in Canada… just so much news and problems. It just all snuck into the lyrical content of the album.
WLB: Well, it’s very hard not to reflect…
C: Yeah, I guess we could have turned it off and not paid attention, but that’s no fun.
WLB: Do you have a favourite song you love playing on stage?
C: Yeah, I still really like Still Waiting. That one’s still fun to play and the crowd loves it.
WLB: Will you play any new songs tonight?
Yeah, Out for Blood for sure and People Vs, which is an album track. It’s a fast song, not a single or anything but a new song. And all those all-time favourites, of course.
WLB: If you had to be in another band, which one would you choose?
C: Probably The Clash because they’re one of my favourite bands. Well, I couldn’t have played bass for them as they were just amazing. Paul Simonon is one of my bass heroes.
WLB: And if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
C: Probably wishing I was a musician doing something I don’t like. I didn’t like doing much when I was young. I joined Sum 41 when I was 18 and I’m not good at anything else. I even got rejected from college as I didn’t have the grades.
WLB: Is there anything your fans don’t know about Sum 41?
C: I think there is a misconception, actually, that we’re always crazy ’cos you look at videos about what was going on in the past and you feel like we’re constantly like how we were in our 20s but we’re also very calm people who like to chill out. People think ‘wow they’re crazy, trashing hotel rooms and dressing rooms’, and yeah, it happens once in a while but it’s not the thing… Even if crazy times happen, now it’s just a bit more sparse. We’re older and wiser. Well, not sure any wiser, but older, yeah! (Laughs.)