Sum 41 carries on despite departure of lead guitarist

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Sum 41 plays the Kool Haus tomorrow night.

They miss their pal, but for Sum 41, the show goes on.

It’s business as usual for the natives of Ajax, Ont., as they tour last year’s critically panned and commercially successful Underclass Hero — which debuted at No. 7 on the U.S. Billboard Chart in July 2007, the band’s highest chart placement to date in that country — even if there’s a gigantic Dave Baksh-shaped hole in the lineup. The guitarist, a.k.a. Brownsound, left the pop-punk outfit in May 2006 to lead his classic metal project Brown Brigade, most likely never to return. Sum 41 filled the gap with Gob guitarist Tom Thacker for the world tour.

More than a year later, Sum 41 has opened up on what they still maintain is an amicable split with Baksh. Drummer Steve Jocz said in his closing days with the band, Baksh was growing distant.

“For sure we miss him, but it wasn’t a big shock to us,” Jocz says. “Towards the end, he really kept to himself. After a show we’d all hang out and he’d be off in a corner or something. He just wasn’t into it anymore.”

In an October interview with Metro, Baksh himself said he was losing his musical connection with Sum 41, saying its speedy three-chord approach was getting far too easy and boring to play. He added his desire to avoid getting caught up in the glamour and intense media scrutiny (front man Deryck Whibley is married to pop princess Avril Lavigne, after all) in part led to his decision to helm his lower-key hard rock project full time.

“It was a lot more fun writing the metal stuff and having riffs that make your mind concentrate and keep you more involved in the music,” he said at the time.

Jocz claims he expected a resignation from a reluctant Baksh, who said they “gave me their blessing as soon as I called.”

“He was nervous to tell us, but I knew he wasn’t happy,” says Jocz. “It’s like when you’ve got a friend who finally tells you after years of being friends with him that he’s gay and you knew the whole time. That’s what it was like when Dave told us he was leaving.

“We’ve got Tom from Gob now and he’s made the transition easy. He really wants to be here.”

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