Good Charlotte Guitarist Billy Martin Interview

MIM asks about the internet, the new album, and the writing process

Good Charlotte from Trendsetter skyway theater Minneapolis interview billy Martin November 6 2018
Good Charlotte from Trendsetter

If you didn’t already know, Maryland-based rock band, Good Charlotte, will be bringing their tour to Skyway Theatre THIS WEEK!

If for some reason you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, maybe this exclusive interview will convince you that it is time to do so.

We spoke with guitarist, Billy Martin about Good Charlotte’s newest album, Generation Rx in preparation for their Generation Rx tour. Check it out!


Interview Transcript

Martin: Hey, how’s it going?

MIM: Hey, good Billy. How are you doing today?

Martin: Great, thank you.

MIM: Awesome. Well, thank you for joining us. Basically, I have several things I want to talk to you about, as well as some fan-submitted questions to ask later on. But primarily what I want to focus on during this time is your newest album, Generation Rx, which just came out last month actually, so it’s brand new. What can you tell me about the name specifically? I’m really interested in learning about the process of choosing it and why “Generation Rx” was the way to go. 

Martin: Yeah. Well, this record was very inspired by the current situation we have with the opioid crisis, mental health, and certain issues that I feel like are coming to surface and people are more comfortable talking about. I think its a direct correlation to a lot of our fanbase now and when we were first starting out. We actually did a cover song of Lil Peep’s “Awful Things” right after he passed. We had actually been talking to him about doing a tour together and we were fans of his music. I really think there is a strong correlation between the current scene of the Soundcloud rappers, or “Emo Rap”, whatever people call it, its a bunch of kids dressed in all black with tattoos, listening to sad music. I feel like that was the Good Charlotte fanbase when we started out, and to some extent, still a big part of our fanbase. So, I really feel like there’s a connection between that sound, and that style, and that movement of music, and when we did this cover for Lil Peep it had sort of a cool, dark, edgier sound than we had done in the past, and it was emotional for a reason; it was supposed to be. It really set the tone for this record and we kept thinking, “man, it would be really cool if we made a whole record that kind of had a vibe like this song that we did”. So in turn, the record we called “Generation Rx”. We grew up in what was called “Generation X” and obviously the “Rx” is just for a prescription. It was sort of just like a play on words, where we grew up vs. the young kids who are listening to music and the era that they’re growing up in.

MIM: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s something I noticed too, when I was going through the album and looking at the tracklist. There seemed to be a lot of medical-related terms. Was that something that you did on purpose? Or was that kind of a coincidence?

Martin: I don’t know. I’ve never thought about that before. I mean maybe there was something when we were doing the lyrics that there was a correlation, but I’m not positive.

MIM: Sure. And you mentioned the change in sound. I’m kind of jumping ahead here, but it ties in really well to a fan question that we had submitted earlier. It was submitted by u/Scout_650 on reddit – what he wants to know is if this darker style of this album, with the distorted synths and electronics, if that’s going to influence future Good Charlotte records or is that something that is more specific to just Generation Rx?

Martin: I think that we learned a long time ago that you have to make the record that you want to make, not the record that you think you’re supposed to make. I think a lot of bands struggle with that, especially after you have a major hit song or hit record and you’re on a major label, that label is kind of saying, “Hey, we want another one of those records, make us another record like that, we know how to market that” or “we know what to do with that”. But if that’s not the record that the band is passionate about, you’re not going to get an authentic record. So to us, it’s just about the record that we want to make and at this point in our career, this sounded like the record that we wanted to make. I think the twins really had something to say lyrically, moreso than the last two records. I think the lyrics were a little more broad, not as specific emotions and sort of digging down deep for some things that you needed to talk about that were really personal; and that just fit this record. So next record, I think its like wherever we’re at is the record that we’ll make. I don’t think we’d ever know where we’ll be in a couple years or what kind of music we’d make. But right now I think this is my favorite Good Charlotte record we’ve ever made. I feel really proud of it. I feel connected to this style, it’s really up my alley with the type of stuff I’m in to. I definitely could see us making another record like this, but I could also see us just trying something totally different also. 

MIM: Yeah, absolutely. And this is a very powerful record because it does talk about a lot of heavy, current topics, and it’s amazing how much you were able to fit in. This is your shortest album, it’s only nine tracks.

Martin: It is, right, yeah.

MIM: So that’s just crazy. I do want to take some time to talk specifically about the song, “Prayers”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be one of the songs that are being pushed right now, because you performed it on The Late Late Show with James Cordon, it was performed during a halftime show on ESPN as well, and just sound-wise it’s a song that really stands out as you’re playing through the record itself; there’s a very obvious shift in sound there.

Martin: Yeah. I mean, it’s hard these days because I feel like when we were first starting out you would pick a single, you’d go to the radio with it and were kind of pushing the song on the radio, you’d get yourself on MTV and then you’d have this single and that was the song that you worked to death until it was over. But nowadays there are hardly any radio stations left, there’s no MTV. I just feel like the importance of “the single” isn’t quite there anymore. So we’ve already done three videos off this record and we’ve got another one ready to go that we’re going to drop really soon. So for us, it’s just about putting more songs out, more content. But yes, Prayers, we wanted to sort of hold that one as the most important single off the record, and that’s why we put “Prayers” out right as the album came out. Because you know you’re going to get a lot of TV promo and stuff like that when a new record is coming out, so we wanted that to be the song that we could go out and really push as the song for the record. It has a good meaning, it’s a personal song, and I think it really makes a lot of sense with where the world is at right now. I think any of the songs from this record have a good meaning and have a strong lyrical connection, but Prayers is definitely not as much personal, but socially conscious about where everybody is at. “Prayers” has a bigger reach, per say, than more of the other songs.

MIM: Absolutely. And I saw that the budget for that was donated to RAICES, which I thought was really cool of you guys to do that, to make that step.

Matin: Yeah. You know, I think that our job as entertainers is just to find a way to spread the word, but instead of just spreading the word – you can’t just spread the word and not do something – kind of like what the whole song is saying is, “You can say something, but doing something is better”, and we thought that would be something cool we could do to say something and do something at the same time.

MIM: This interview obviously isn’t meant for discussing politics but I do think that a lot of the topics, especially in Prayers, but on Generation Rx as a whole, kind of begs the question. We’ve seen a lot of artists recently, Kanye West, Taylor Swift specifically, being very transparent with their views. So I just kind of want to know about what it’s like to hold that social platform as a musician and how you go about making those decisions, what you’re going to talk about and how.

Martin: I think the main part is that you have to be educated about it. I’m not super political, I’m not really that into politics, but I am in my thirties and married with kids so I’m at a point in my life where I need to pay attention to that stuff. So yes, I vote, and yes, I pay attention to that stuff. I think that artists are influential, especially with the youth culture. I was just reading something the other day about how the biggest problem with people not being happy with voter turnouts or who wins is because its the generation older than all of us who are doing the voting and such a small percentage of the youth or even people in their twenties are going to vote because they’re just not interested in it. And you can’t blame them, you can’t make people be into politics. But musicians and entertainers, in general, have such an influence and a voice on the younger generations that its great to get out there and say how you feel about it and get people involved. Even if they’re not watching CNN and learning about things, if they even hear just a little story from one of their favorite entertainers about a situation they are that much more educated than they were before if they listen to it. It’s definitely important but if it’s not something you’re passionate about and you’re not educated about it, I don’t know that you’d go out and preach about something. I try to keep my mouth shut about it for the most part because it’s not something that I’m super passionate about and I don’t know all the details and I don’t wanna go out there spreading the word about something I don’t know about. Just like the notion of “thoughts and prayers” over actually doing something. That’s something where no matter what religion or race or politics you believe in, we can all agree on something like that. So I think that’s where Good Charlotte stand, a little bit more in that sort of social consciousness than being like a straight political band.

MIM: Absolutely. I do want to end all with a couple of fan-submitted questions here. One person from reddit, u/phantom-anthemz, they’re wondering where the feature with Sam Carter on the song Leech what inspired that?

Martin: Well, man, we just love Architects, it’s one of our favorite bands. We just have become good friends with Sam over the years. When we played in London last year he came out and did M. Shadows’ part on The River which was cool. We were thinking, “Oh man, it would be cool to do something”. With Leech, we had always left that part open in the song since the beginning. We just knew we wanted someone to come on and do that, we weren’t sure what to do. It needs to be natural, you wouldn’t just wanna call some random singer from a band you love that you’ve never met before and be like, “Hey, come sing on our record”, because you might not get along with each other and you might end up being like, “Man, this guy is not cool. Why’d we do that?”. But we love Architects, we know Sam is a good dude, Sam is an awesome singer, and this record was harder and darker, and we were like, “I think it makes sense”. Maybe before it would have been weird, but it totally fit on that one, and it was easy.

MIM: I have one more, I’m going to end on a little more of a lighthearted note just because it has kind of been a heavier discussion I feel like. A lot of people, myself included, are dying to know about the Dr. Phil collaboration and how that came to be.

Martin: James Cordon just asked us. We got an email from his team the day before like, “Hey James has this funny idea and he wants to do this thing with Dr. Phil, are you guys down?”. They didn’t really tell us what we were going to do or too much about it, but we were like, “Yeah, sure, whatever, let’s do it!”. Whenever you do those shows you always kind of hope you get to do something funny like that, but rarely do they rope the band into the skit, so when they asked us to do it we were just like, “Okay!”. We really literally just walked in the room and he explained it real quick and they turned the cameras on and were like, “Go.”. We kind of were just winging it all on the spot, and it was funny. Dr. Phil in between takes kept being like, “Man, you guys must think I’m so weird because you probably never really would want to do a song with me”. I mean sure, yeah, we probably wouldn’t, but we don’t not like Dr. Phil. It was kind of funny, he walks in the room and nobody knows him, and James Cordon is like, “Just act like you hate this guy,” and we’re like, “Oh, okay great!” It was a lot of fun. And obviously that got more attention than actually playing “Prayers” which is kind of funny, but that’s how the internet works.

MIM: Yeah, the internet loves a good meme, you can’t deny that.

Matin: But it was fun, it was cool though. Another one for the books for us.

MIM: That’s awesome. Well, that’s all I have for you, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, I know that your tour starts in the next few days. I just want to thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you here in Minneapolis on November 6th at the Skyway Theatre.

Martin: Sweet. We love playing Minneapolis so it’s going to be fun, I’m looking forward to it too.


Be sure to catch Good Charlotte at Skyway Theatre on November 6th with support from Knuckle Puck and Sleeping With Sirens!

Katie Ahrens
Author: Katie Ahrens

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