Often considered pioneers of modern pop-punk, Florida’s New Found Glory have been playing their infectious brand of energetic rock since 1997. Headed our way in November/December as part of the Vans Warped Tour, we chat to Chad Gilbert about their connection to Australia, The Ramones, and seminal album Sticks & Stones.
New Found Glory just got announced as part of the Warped Tour lineup over here for later this year. You guys have become fairly frequent visitors to Australia – what draws the band down?
I think the style of music is obviously still really popular over there. This kind of music – punk rock, pop-punk, post-hardcore, whatever – there’s a really big scene down there. I also think with Australia, I feel like there’s a lot of places in the world that we don’t really get to go all the time so they haven’t really grown with us in the same way.
You feel like there’s a bit more of a connection to Australia?
Yeah. I feel with Australia, we’ve been going there since like 2000, 2001 so we have fans that are like “Man, I saw them ten years ago!” So we have this real fanbase that know how long we’ve been going over there.
New Found Glory have headlined Warped over in the US a few times, and you’ve also played as part of Warped in Australia in the past – are you looking forward to seeing how it’ll translate here in 2013?
Yeah, we did it in 2001 in Australia and it was awesome. Back then, it was really different because there were the two main stages and one was only Australian bands and the other was American bands. I think it used to be a law down there where it had to be like, equal Australian and international bands. But yeah, it was really fun and I feel like this one will be even crazier. The Warped Tour in the US has gotten so big and it has become such a staple, and I feel like this style of music is so big in Australia that kids see Warped Tour going on in the States and so you finally get the “experience” of the Warped Tour.
Definitely. So you guys have announced you’ve got a live album coming out in October called ‘Kill It Live’. You’ve never done that before – is there a reason you wanted to put it out now?
I feel like we have such a long catalogue, and so many different types of fans that like different types of records more, but one thing that they all consistently love is seeing us live. People that love New Found Glory, they’ve always said to other people “Oh man, they’re great on record but you’ve got to see them live”. We have this sort of ‘live family’ kind of fanbase that come to all of our shows. Sometimes it’s like a punk rock Grateful Dead where I know people that’ll follow us and do like 20 shows in a row, you know what I mean? So I kind of feel like this record needed to happen so people could hear the sort of energy of our live shows.
Absolutely. I feel like a good live record really captures that atmosphere of the live shows, that kind of feeling that’s in the air. You guys have definitely garnered a pretty strong reputation as far as being a live act.
For sure. We did it in really small venues so it wasn’t like when bands put out these live records captured in massive arenas and stuff.
It was recorded at Chain Reaction [in California]. right?
Yeah. We picked Chain Reaction because it’s such a small venue and you can hear everyone losing it – it just sounds like a party, you know? The record sounds like the shows were a lot of fun.
You also recorded three studio tracks for the album, right? What can you tell us about those?
Yeah, those are really fun songs. I feel like we wrote music that would fit alongside the songs on the rest of the album. They sound good, they were recorded really well, I think Jordan [Pundik, vocals] sounds awesome on them, and I think our fans are gonna flip over them. I wanted them to be songs that would be fun live – they’re very energetic, “classic” New Found Glory songs.
Awesome. I think your last release was a Ramones cover EP called ‘Mania’ – what sort of influence did the Ramones have on the band, and you personally?
It’s funny. I’ve always liked The Ramones but I definitely think it was more of a later discovery. I’m not going to claim to be some hardcore fan from back in the day. Early on, The Ramones were a band I knew but never really listened to all that much. I started getting into them a lot later, and then our booking agent asked us to play a show in New Jersey where we would play all Ramones covers and Marky Ramone would play the drums. We thought that was awesome, so we did it, and in writing the songs I became an even closer fan. What I realised is that what we do know, is sort of what they were doing then, you know?
It’s interesting you say that – I guess I just kind of assumed they would have been an influence as there’s some pretty strong similarities.
Sure. I mean, I’ve always liked them, but I’ve definitely been diving into their catalogue deeper. But yeah, I mean, they were a bunch of awkward dudes that started writing punk rock songs about girls. When we came out, punk rock was definitely more like a lot of songs about being political, a lot of kind of bratty songs, so when we came out and started writing songs about girls I felt like there was a little bit of judgement back then. Delving further into The Ramones it’s like, that’s all they were doing too – just writing songs about not fitting in, and girls. [Laughs]
You’ve been celebrating the tenth anniversary of ‘Sticks & Stones’ – you’ll be playing it in full over here for Warped. When you think back to the recording of that album, what sort of memories stick out?
I guess not really knowing what we were doing. We wrote songs, and they sounded good, so we recorded them. We weren’t trying to record any singles, we were just having fun and making music and by doing that it turned out to be an important record for a lot of people, which is really cool. Looking back on it, I think one of the things that made it special was that it wasn’t meant to be that, you know? It was just us writing songs from the heart and wanting to play music.
It’s been about sixteen years now since you guys started – you were saying how you guys didn’t really know what you were doing earlier on. How do you feel like you’ve grown since then?
I think with us a big thing is self-awareness, in a sense that I feel like a lot of bands going through growing pains and sometimes never come out. They don’t know what to do. They change their direction, and get lost. I don’t blame them, it’s definitely tough to be in a band for a long time, but I think one thing we’ve always done is known our fans. We’ve found a way to feel productive in writing songs, to feel like we aren’t cheapening ourselves, but at the same time giving the fans what they want. I think that’s one thing that we learned and what I think is great about New Found Glory. I can write a song and push myself and be creative, but in doing that, making sure I know that our fans are gonna be psyched. It’s okay to know your fans and want to play for your fans. I feel like sometimes bands can be selfish and change for selfish reasons.
Absolutely. I think that’s definitely something you’ve managed to maintain a good balance with. Just lastly, you’ve said that for the immediate future you guys are playing it by ear – any kind of vague plans for a new album anytime soon?
I think for right now, no. I really love these three new songs, and we’re going to promote them and the live record for a while. There haven’t been any talks or plans about when we’ll start on a new record.
New Found Glory will tour as part of the Vans Warped Tour lineup this November and December. ‘Kill It Live‘ is scheduled to hit shelves October 8, while ‘Mania’ is out now.