Sitting in the lounge of a New York City hotel, Good Charlotte's
frontman, Joel Madden, 24, is singing "Many Men (Wish Death)," his favorite 50 Cent song: "Many men...wish death upon me..."Just
as you're laughing at the idea of anyone wishing death on the most down-to-earth, fan-loving punk in the music biz, his
twin brother, Benji, the band's guitarist, chimes in with the rest:"...Lord, I don't cry no more, don't look at the sky no
The guys may not have a price on their own heads, but they've
had their own trials and tribulations. When Benji and Joel we're 16, their father abandoned their family (including their
mother, older brother Josh and younger sister Sarah), leaving them so broke that they were temorarily homeless. The experience
provided the Waldorf, Md., pair with the material for songs like "The Story of My Old Man" ("I don't too much about my old
man/I know he walked right out the door, we never saw him again/Last I heard he was at the bar doing himself in/I know I got
that same disease, I guess I got that from him"). Such deeply personal songs have earned them a devoted fan base and driven
their sophomore disc, The Young and the Hopeless, to a platinum status. And then there's All Things Rock,
the band's popular MTV show about, well, all things rock. These days, things don't sound so hopeless after all....
You guys put out your first record three years ago,
but now you're bona fide stars. What's fame like? Are you hitting lots of Hollywood parties?
Benji: I've actually never been to
one. I've been to bars that are hard to get into. We'll stand there for a half hour looking at our shoes. I don't like places
where you have to "be someone."
Joel: And then you'll get these famous
people who try to be down.
Benji: Sometimes you'll watch [a famous
person] be totally stuck-up, and then they'll walk over and be like, "Yeah, bro." And you're like, "If you didn't know who
my band was, you'd be treating me just like you treated that person!"
You guys have also become heartthrobs...
Benji: Yet I still don't hve a girlfriend.
Can you help me out with that? It's funny when I get a letter from a girl saying, "You're so hot." I always think, "Oh
they just like me because I have dyed hair and tattoos. They haven't looked close enough."
So you don't buy it?
Benji: I don't think I ever will. When
I was 16, my best friend and I were sitting in his room, listening to music, and from out of nowhere, he looked at me and
said, "You're ugly." I didn't say anything, and we just went about our day. But it will never leave me. Ever.
Joel: Everybody has body issues ---
no one's comfortable in their own skin.
Do you want a girlfriend?
Benji: There are times when I would
do anything to have someone to share this with, besides my brother.
What about you, Joel?
Joel: If I liked a girl, she would
never know it. I could meet you and like you and you would never know, ever.
Benji: I put my vibe out, but I don't
make the first move, and I won't be the first person to call. I'm afraid of the shott down. I might say, "I don't know. Maybe
we should, like, kiss or something."
Joel: That's romantic.
Do you have a romantic side, Benji?
Benji: I'm romantic, but I save it.
I can definitely hear my insticts calling me, though: I haven't had a girlfriend in three years....
Joel: ...and he talks about it all
the time. I think he's ready to settle down.
Are there wall-to-wall groupies backstage at Good
Benji: We would definitley disappoint
Joel: The kind of girl we end up hanging
out with is the chick who's normal, who likes music. It's not the girl looking to hook up.
You're really into punk music. What do you think of
someone like Avril Lavinge, who wonders why she should know who the Sex Pistols are?
Benji: She's a pop singer. It's not
the most profound music ever, but she's just having fun. Why should she know who the Sex Pistols are?
Joel: I'm not even going to get into
what's punk, because that's such a dumb coversation. Usually, I'm like, "They're cool, they're doing what they love." But
there's something about her that's really annoying.
What pop acts do you listen to?
Benji: I don't like pop music. There
have been certain songs where I'm like, "That's pretty cool." Like the T.a.t.u. song ["All the Things She Said"]...
Joel: They're disgusting.
Benji: Can I finish? Every now and
then, there will be a pop song that's catchy, but the rock world is 180 degrees from pop. Rock is less about what you look
like and more about the content of your lyrics.
Joel, what's your problem with T.a.t.u.?
Joel: They're being exploited. It's
some old man saying, "I know what will sell! We'll take these innocent girls, write songs for them to make out with each other."
When you're young and struggling, you'll do anything to make it. It's a new low.
Benji: Don't let me near them. I'll
make out with one and break them up.