Joel Madden on music, Nicole Richie and kids: 'I'm the best I've ever been'
Despite his same-aged rocker peers, Joel Madden has never really been trouble. No bad behavior with his band of almost 15 years, Good Charlotte; no rap sheet of Hollywood romances before settling down with Nicole Richie (whom he calls his "partner"); and no existential crises over music and how he makes it.
Now it seems the 31-year-old is in a class all his own. Poised to release a new Good Charlotte record and as enamored as ever with Richie and their two kids, he says he's in the best place of his life.
"I think people have an idea of me, but really I’m the best I’ve ever been," Madden said last week, spending the day with his brother and band mate, Benji Madden, at a recording studio in West Hollywood.
"I have two kids that are my life — they’re my entire world. I have an awesome partner who is really supportive. She makes me the best version of myself that I’ve ever been."
Madden and Richie, currently engaged to be married, have been an item since late 2007; their daughter, Harlow Winter Kate, was born in January 2008, and son Sparrow James Midnight in September 2009.
"I think you can decide to be the best dad and partner you can be, or you can run from it," Madden said about his family. "It’s a heavy thing when your life changes."
"But my kids make me feel good about myself; I’m not really worried about succeeding or failing."
Indeed, Madden and his band aren't the "Total Request Live" breakout stars they were 10 years ago — pumping out hits and pleasing record execs is not a priority. In fact, their new disc, "Cardiology," was technically complete six months ago, until the band decided to scrap the entire effort and start fresh ...
... "We listened to it and we were really disappointed in ourselves," Madden said.
The redo explores, "seriously and not so seriously," the mystery of the heart and its connection to our emotional and physical lives.
"[The earlier record] wasn't the record we wanted to put out for our fans," Madden said.
And speaking of fans — Madden's got one in his eldest child, whose job is quality control when her dad introduces new music.
"My daughter, she says yea or nay when I record a demo. She gives me the honest reaction," he said.
The first single from "Cardiology" is due in May. The album's release will mark the 10th anniversary of Good Charlotte's first major release, "The Young and the Hopeless."
— Matt Donnelly
Photo: Joel Madden and Nicole Richie on the Academy Awards red carpet March 7, 2010. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.