“Not being able to shape my fingers into a chord… that’s when it hit me”: Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley on how being unable to play guitar led him to give up alcohol

Sum 41 are releasing their final album this year.

Deryck Whibley on stage. He is holding a mic stand and is leaning out to the crowd smiling.

Image: Sergione Infuso / Corbis via Getty Images

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Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley found himself unable to play guitar after he was hospitalised with severe kidney and liver damage due to alcohol addiction back in 2014, a time he describes as one of the “scariest” things he’s ever been through.

The vocalist and guitarist has opened up on his struggle a decade on as the band prepare to release their eighth and final album, Heaven :x: Hell this March.

Speaking to Guitar World, Whibley explains, “The mental aspect was the hardest. I finally got home from hospital feeling rough – I couldn’t even walk, but I thought, ‘At least I can play guitar!’

“When I picked one up, I just couldn’t. That was the final straw. My life was bad enough, but not being able to shape my fingers into a chord… that’s when it hit me.” He adds, “Trying to change from a basic A chord to a G was very slow. I’d be changing one finger at a time before I even got to the strumming. Then I’d struggle to hold a simple C chord.”

He didn’t give up on trying. At this point, Whibley says he “had to focus on getting back in shape, mentally, physically, creatively”, and went on to go sober. Of course, he made a return to music with Sum 41 back in 2016 when they released their album 13 Voices. They later released another (Order In Decline) in 2019.

Heaven :x: Hell, though, is the final offering from Sum 41: “It felt like the best musical idea we’ve had. It’s a double album which encapsulates the entire sound of Sum 41 from beginning to end. I love all the songs. This is the record to go out on! I can hang my hat on this record and feel ready for something else,” he states.

Sum 41 will be heading out on tour later this year. Find out more about Heaven :x: Hell via their official website.

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