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A few good men: 'Punk' band Good Charlotte plays on despite labels

When the Vans Warped Tour rolled into Fargo last summer, the lineup reflected the range in contemporary punk rock. There were the crusty veterans (Bad Religion), the clown princes (NOFX) and, of course, the anti-establishment anthems (Anti-Flag)....

When the Vans Warped Tour rolled into Fargo last summer, the lineup reflected the range in contemporary punk rock.

There were the crusty veterans (Bad Religion), the clown princes (NOFX) and, of course, the anti-establishment anthems (Anti-Flag).

Relative newcomers Good Charlotte emerged from the tour intact, but not unscathed. The four-piece won over crowds but also got stuck with the "boy band" label.

"They're the band all the girls want to see," a Vans tour correspondent said at the time.

A year or two earlier, that claim may have caused a row, but now the band is too busy working to worry about labels.

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The group kicks off the Honda Civic Tour at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. on Tuesday. The tour also features New Found Glory, Less Than Jake and The Disasters.

"We used to be concerned with credibility, but now we just accept who we are," says Paul Thomas.

The bassist, along with guitarist Billy Martin, calls from a New York hotel, where they're doing interviews while founding twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden tape episodes of MTV's "All Things Rock."

The 24-year-old Maddens have become poster boys for a new wave of bands like New Found Glory that blur the lines between pop and punk.

The backbeat rhythm and infectious chorus of Good Charlotte's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" launched the song on FM radio and secured the Maddens' spot on MTV as vee-jays.

Things weren't always rosy for the twins, whose father walked out on the family.

The brothers openly talk about the tough times in interviews and in the song "The Story of My Old Man."

"They became adults at 18," Thomas, their high school friend, says. "I'd be too traumatized to deal with that every day. They're just good Christians, good people. They're good to everyone."

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Thomas clarifies that the brothers aren't punk rock proselytizers, but do hold on to their beliefs and values despite how others think they should act.

"Why do there have to be so many guidelines to be punk?" Thomas asks. "It's really ridiculous. Punk has totally turned into a state of fashion as much as a state of mind. Everything with a fast, one-two beat to it is a punk song. It's turning into mainstream."

Thomas' point is accentuated by his band's popularity.

The video for "Lifestyles" features a variety of cameos, including Kyle Gass of Tenacious D and flannel-flying Minutemen and Firehose bassist Mike Watt.

The clip's biggest casting coup, however, was landing 'NSync singer Chris Kirkpatrick as a snobbish neighbor.

Good Charlotte's friendship with Kirkpatrick and his boy bandmate, Justin Timberlake, formed out of a mutual tattoo artist.

"We've never really been into their music, but we really respect how hard they work," Thomas says.

They also respect co-headliners New Found Glory, who they spent time with on the Vans Tour last summer.

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Though both bands get labeled as punk, NFG drummer Cyrus Bolooki relates to the Thomas' views on being pigeonholed.

"We're not all just punk bands," Bolooki says. "There's no one label that really describes what our bands sound like."

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

If you go

Who: New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, Less Than Jake and The Disasters

When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday

Where: Alerus Center, Grand Forks, N.D.

Info: Tickets are $23.50. (701) 235-7171.

For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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