Q&A: Joel Madden of Madden Brothers and the New Revolution of ‘We Are Done’

By Courtney E. Smith

Good Charlotte is dead, long live the Madden Brothers. After the dissolution of their previous project, Joel and Benji Madden have teamed up for a new one under the moniker the Madden Brothers. Their first album, Greetings From California, is sonically two parts Beach Boys, one part the Clash and one part sounds that they worked hard to make sure no one had used before.

Radio.com caught up with Joel for a Proustian question and answer session, in which he talked at length about the events in Ferguson, Mo., the pursuit of happiness and the oddity of their debut single lining up with what’s happening in Ferguson, Mo.

Greetings From California is in stores on September 16.


Radio.com: What is your first childhood memory?

Joel Madden: Eating watermelon in the driveway with my brothers and sisters when I was three or four. I was in Maryland.

What is your idea of contentment? 

Being with my family somewhere on the water, looking out and watching the sun set or rise.

What ideal are you most loyal to? 

Protecting the integrity of who you are and what makes you special. With this record we’ve been really protective of the integrity of the record and the music. And keeping it special. Making sure that it’s unique, that every sound on the record has never been used before whether it’s a guitar tone or whatever.

Musically it’s very different for you, did you have to protect your ability to go in this direction? 

Yes, we had to protect the space that we were in to be able to create the record and not let anyone intrude on what we were doing for three years while we were making it. It was very important to us that we make sure we protected our ability to create it and not think about charts, what’s in the radio, what we’ve done before, what people are going to think — all the different, hundreds of factors other people think about. We didn’t want to because we don’t believe in that stuff.

What song makes you feel most secure? 

I think it’s Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody.” It makes me feel like at the end of the day we all are just humans. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. It doesn’t matter how special my record is or how important this time in our career is, whatever you’re saying at the end of the day we’re all going to have to serve somebody. And every dog has his day, basically.

If you could change one thing about humanity, what would it be?

I would change our level of compassion, to give us more.

What feelings do the images of a militarized police in America on the news inspire in you?

Our single “We Are Done” is about that. It’s about being done with the old way. I think the system hasn’t evolved as much as it should. That being said, I think people should also evolve. As a country and as a society we constantly need to evolve and compassion is a bit part of evolution. It’s been sad and hard to watch.

If we get deep into it, and we talk about society, we haven’t evolved. I think that education is the No. 1 solution. I think we have to work hard on trying to provide more of it. The bottom line for me is having compassion and it’s tough. I understand that individually people are doing the best they can. One way of looking at it is as a group, but another way is breaking it down individually by case, by person. It’s easier said than done and watching this, especially as a father with two young kids, I’m watching this and scratching my head, wondering, “Where are we headed?”

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