This song is about lead singer Deryck Whibley's parents, who wanted him to be just another normal person. Deryck had other ideas: He wanted to do what he loved, not become another victim of conformity. At concerts, he explained that while the song was inspired by his upbringing and the travails of being a teenager, he encourages everyone to chart their own course and not give a damn about what other people think about it.
"Fat Lip" struck a chord with young people eager to break free from the shackles of their parents' expectations. The song comes off as very genuine because it was: Whibley was just 20 when he wrote it with guitarist Dave Baksh and drummer Steve Jocz, who were about the same age.
This was the first hit for Sum 41, who signed a record deal in 1999 and released an EP called Half Hour Of Power
in 2000. It was the last song completed for the All Killer No Filler
album; they had the song "In Too Deep
" slated as the first single, but bumped it because everyone loved "Fat Lip."
Dave Baksh, Steve Jocz and Deryck Whibley wrote the verse lyrics, which were influenced by hip-hop groups they listened to like Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C. They would sometimes write jokey raps, which is what they did here, coming up with lines like,
As a kid, I was a skid and no one knew me by name
I trashed my own house party 'cause nobody came
A "skid" is Canadian slang for a punk kid.
Baksh, Jocz and Whibley trade off on vocals during the rap parts and Whibley handles the singing sections.
The song's music video was directed by Marc Klasfeld, who has also worked with the likes of Katy Perry, Jay-Z, and Foo Fighters. Deryck Whibley told Kerrang! regarding the clip: "There was no concept - the only idea for the video was literally to show up, play and film a bunch of stupid s--t! We had to start at 6 a.m. and be really energetic. So we turned to booze, which always helps, and just spent the day having fun! There was so much jumping in that video, by the second day we couldn't walk! The crew had to put this icy cream on our legs to help and it smelled so bad."
The first line of the song was the first one written:
Storming through the party like my name was El Niño
When I'm hangin' out drinking in the back of an El Camino
Deryck Whibley came up with it after seeing a Chris Farley Saturday Night Live skit where he plays a professional wrestler called "El Niño" doing a promo on The Weather Channel ("All tropical storms must bow before El Niño!").
The phrase "Fat Lip" never shows up in the lyric, but it does in visual form: the album cover is a collage of kids with fat lips, and the single cover also shows a kid with a puffy pucker.
At 1:38, there's a false ending where the song stops before going into the bridge. Sum 41's record company asked them to remove it because radio stations hate dead air, but they held their ground.
The song came together in pieces over about a year-and-a-half. Whibley came up with the riff first, then hit on the chorus about six months later. Eventually, he and his bandmates came up with the verses and put it all together. Because it came from bits and pieces, the song changes up a lot.
"Fat Lip" was big in America, but huge in the UK, where Sum 41 played to much bigger crowds on their first tour there in 2003. The song reached #8 in the UK but only #66 in the US. Somehow, the band wasn't all that popular in their native Canada at this time.
They really are singing the word "kufuffin" in the line:
You be standing on the corner talking all that kufuffin
That's a word the band made up and used among themselves. It means "bulls--t."
This was used in the 2001 movie American Pie 2 and featured on the soundtrack.