Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

SIMPLE PLAN complicates things with fan involvement

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The members of Simple Plan have always been into collaborating, but they went overboard for their latest album.

The Montreal pop-rock quintet was writing a song about the power of music when it decided to seek input from its fans about how Simple Plan's music made them feel. The band received thousands of responses and worked some of the best lines into the track, This Song Saved My Life.

"We decided to go straight to the source and ask the fans," says guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre. "People were really excited so honestly, we didn't have a hard time coming up with verses and the chorus.

"It wasn't really a mess, because we used the Internet -- it's not like we had 100 people in the same room. We picked what was relevant."

Choosing lyrics for the song was a band effort, but when it came time to record the song in Vancouver with producer Brian Howes, the band sent out an offer to fans to help sing backup vocals.

Twenty-five fans were selected to join the band in the studio, including several from outside of Canada.

"A lot of people even flew in from around the world to come in the studio with us to be on this song, it was like wow, awesome. They could have sucked; it was a possibility," Lefebvre says with a laugh. "The worst thing that was going to happen is we don't use it, but everyone was pretty good."

The song is one of six to feature guest vocalists on the band's fourth album, Get Your Heart On. Other guests include K'Naan, British vocalist Natasha Bedingfield, Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, who co-wrote the song Can't Keep My Hands Off You.

"We heard he was co-writing with people so we asked him, 'Hey you want to write with us?' and he said yes. It's crazy. At some point all you've got to do is ask," Lefebvre says.

The album was released last summer, but the band is finally getting around to touring its home country, following jaunts to the United States and Asia, where they have a large fanbase. They play the MTS Centre tonight with Marianas Trench, All Time Low and These Kids Wear Crowns (tickets are $41 and $59.50 at Ticketmaster) as part of a cross-country tour before heading to South America, Australia and Europe later this year.

One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to the Simple Plan Foundation, a charity founded by the band to raise money for various children's and youth-related charities. Since 2005 the band has donated $750,000 to various organizations.

"I think we feel that obligation as people," Lefebvre says. "We get to do what we love as people. We've travelled around the world and met a lot of people not as fortunate as we are, or visited hospitals, so we just wanted to take it a step further."

The band just announced a partnership with Sher-Wood Hockey and Pro Hockey Life to create a limited edition Simple Plan hockey stick -- all proceeds from sales of the $79.99 carbon fibre stick go to the band's foundation.

To promote the stick, the band will appear at Pro Hockey Life's Winnipeg location on St. James Street to sign autographs today at 5:30 p.m.

No purchase is necessary.

-- -- --

While Simple Plan raises money for its national charity, a local couple has recruited various musical talent for a cause closer to home.

The Can-EH-dian Rockers Make a Wish Charity Concert takes place Wednesday at the Palomino Club with the goal of raising about $20,000 for the Children's Wish Foundation to help fund the wishes of two Winnipeg children.

To do that, organizers Scott and Lisa Townsend, bartenders at the Portage Avenue landmark, have recruited Slash's rhythm section -- Winnipegger Brent Fitz and ex-Age of Electric guitarist Todd Kerns -- to team up with Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve (Loverboy) and John-Angus MacDonald (the Trews) in the all-star band, Justice Beaver. Other artists on the bill include Kenny Shields and a reunion of Winnipeg hard rock group Specula Black.

At press time earlier this week, tickets were nearly sold out. Any left are $30 at the bar (772-0454).

The Townsends organized a similar fundraiser last year, raising more than $10,000 for CancerCare Manitoba.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2012 E7

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