Sum 41's Deryck Whibley reflects on "Fat Lip" 20 years later

Publish Date
Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 9:24AM

Sum 41 catapulted themselves into rock stardom in the blink of an eye, all thanks to their debut album All Killer, No Filler and its hit single "Fat Lip." Now, 20 years after releasing the track that would change their lives, frontman Deryck Whibley reflects on an iconic song that was almost never written.

“It was the last song I had written for All Killer,” Whibley confessed during a recent interview with Stereogum. “The whole album was pretty much done. It was never meant to be a single. It wasn’t even supposed to be a song.”

“The very, very first thing I wrote was the guitar riff,” he recalled. “And I didn’t necessarily write it for this idea that I had for this sort of punk rock-rap kind of thing. I knew I had this old school rap idea mixed with punk rock sort of stuff, but I wrote this riff just as a riff. And then I ended up writing a chorus, like, months later. And then I had this verse. And none of them were supposed to be together. They were just separate things that I was writing over time. And then one day it kind of clicked, and I thought, ‘Well, these all kind of work. They’re all around the same tempo, they’re all the same key.’ I changed a few things and made it work, now all of a sudden I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got the rap part, I’ve got a riff, and I’ve got a chorus.’ But I don’t have the rest of the song. And then it took a long time before pieces just kind of came together.”

While he was still trying to piece the track together, Whibley remembers being hesitant about sharing it with people. “I was really embarrassed, cause it had this old-school rap thing, and it just seemed kind of quirky and weird,” Whibley admitted. “I remember I played it for a few people, friends, and I don’t even think half the band really liked it. And it wasn’t really like it was this great song that everyone loved. It was kind of like, ‘Meh, it’s kind of stupid sounding. And are you really gonna rap over it?’ It was a bad demo."

But when he showed the demo to the band's producer, Jerry Finn, his confidence rose. "I played it for Jerry Finn, and he was like, ‘That’s your first single. That’s gonna be a hit,'” Whibley said.

“We went in and we recorded it a couple more times as a demo, and it just never quite felt right,” he continued. “It took a year and a half to write, but then it took, like, I’m gonna say six months probably to record it over and over again to figure out how it should sound. And it just never came together. And the thing that really, finally made it come together, after all the writing was done, it was the rap stuff. And it was a simple fix. I just kept listening to it over and over and over again. We had it fully mixed and done and everything. Everyone else thought it was fine, and I just kept saying, ‘It’s not done.’”

“So, for example, it used to go, ‘Stormin’ through the party like my name was El Niño/ Hangin’ out drinkin’ in the back of an El Camino,’” Whibley explained. “Once I realized what was wrong with it, it became 'Stormin’ through the party like my name was El Niño / When I’m hangin’ out drinkin’ — when you have that little thing to pull you into the next line is what made it all flow. Every line had to have that, all of a sudden we realized. When you listen to it, every line there’s a pickup word that takes you into the next line. They overlap each other. And that’s what made it all of a sudden a special song to me.”

Read Whibley's full interview with Stereogum HERE.

This article was first published on iheart.com and is republished here with permission