2007 is a special year for New Found Glory — it marks their 10-year anniversary. Over that time span, the band has released six albums, a pair of EPs and performed hundreds of shows all over the world. More importantly, they have become a staple to the pop-punk genre by providing a shining example of how to keep it real in the music industry.
The year was a prototypically busy one for the band, who embarked on a short stint with Fall Out Boy, took part in the summer phenomena known as Warped Tour for a third time, released a sequel to 2000’s movie-cover EP From The Screen To Your Stereo, and recently wrapped a co-headlining tour with Senses Fail.
What makes this so remarkable is that earlier in the year they parted ways with longtime home Geffen Records, granting them free agent status for the first time in their career. Despite lacking the support of a label, the band refused to slow down.
“Regardless of a label or not, we’re still able to tour, put out records and sell out shows — which is the important thing,” singer Jordan Pundik admitted to me over the phone. “We’ve always been a self-sufficient band, so we can work through anything.”
While their final record on Geffen, 2006’s Coming Home, failed to match the sales figures from their previous releases, Pundik remains more proud of it than any other.
“I think that that record came out when it was supposed to come out,” he explained. “Those songs came out for a reason… and it was a record that I think we needed to make to show that as a band we had progressed.”
That progression led the band, which also features guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein, bassist Ian Grushka and drummer Cyrus Bolooki, to capitalize on their label-less situation. As a result, they set to work on From The Screen To Your Stereo Part II, which was something fans had been hounding the band to release.
“We had always talked about doing it but we never could because we were stuck on Geffen… and they didn’t want us doing it,” Pundik pointed out. “What’s great about not being on a label right now [is that] we’re able to do what we want.”
In May the band holed up at Gilbert’s house in Texas to record the album. The writing process was a bit different from their usual routine, proving to be “a lot more laid back because the songs were pretty much done,” Pundik said. “All we had to do was make it our own style.”
This time around, they chose to cover everything from Go West’s “King Of Wishful Thinking” to The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris,” and again opted to put it out though Drive-Thru Records, who had released the first EP. In addition, the band called on several friends to help in the process, including Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy), Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), Adam Lazzara (Taking Back Sunday) and Lisa Loeb.
“It was just bands and guys we’ve been friends with for a long time… who used to be fans and stuff and still are,” Pundik said. “It was really flattering because they wanted to be a part of it.”
Next on the band’s horizon will be a new six-song EP, which will be released through Boston hardcore/punk label Bridge Nine Records. In a displaying of their hardcore influences, it is set to feature cover songs of Shelter and Gorilla Biscuits and three original songs, which Pundik described as similar to the intro song on Catalyst. The EP, which the band recently finished recording, will see a limited release sometime early next year.
Then in January the band will be heading overseas for a one-month European tour alongside Paramore. Once they return home, Pundik said they will focus on writing and recording a new album, which they hope to have out next summer on their new label.
When asked about what direction the band will take, he admitted, “It’s hard to say. We like to keep our fans on their toes.” Nevertheless, he alluded the few riffs the band have been working on have sounded “almost like a pop-punk snap kick.”
Meanwhile, in a time when bands seem to go through members like spare tires or just break up altogether, what has allowed New Found Glory to last this long?
“There’s no better job than what we do, so we don’t let the little things bother us,” Pundik replied. “The love of writing music and playing for kids all around the world keeps us going… We’ll try and keep putting out good records for them.”
Here’s to the next 10 years. May they be as memorable as the first.
This is a phone interview I had the huge honor of conducting with New Found Glory singer Jordan Pundik.
First off, I just want to thank for you taking the time to do this.
Yeah, no problem.
You guys were one of the first bands I started listening to back in the day that really got me into music, so this means a lot.
Thanks man. I appreciate that.
So you guys are co-headlining right now with Senses Fail. How’s that going so far?
It’s been going really good. It’s been a really fun tour. Probably one of the funner tours we’ve had in a while.
It seems like you guys are always constantly touring of some sort. What’s a typical day like for you out on the road?
A typical day I guess would be waking up at about… I like to try and wake up a little early. That way I kind of go exploring and stuff, you know? So for me, I’ll usually wake up around 11. Then I’ll kind of scope out the scene. See what’s going on. I’ll find like a coffee shop or something, which is not Starbucks… So if there’s a rad coffee shop or something, I like to go to that and just walk around and see if there’s anything cool. Then sound check at around three or four o’clock, and hang out by the venue and just wait for the show to start. Then get a couple glasses of wine, get me jazzed up, and then we play. So it’s mostly hanging out. It kind of gets boring and tedious most of the days, but I try and find stuff to do.
I heard about your little Warped Tour fiasco with getting pulled over. Have you had anything like that happen recently again?
No nothing, thank God. [Laughs] That shit sucked. You know what’s so sucky about it was that it was like they didn’t even — granted a couple guys had some stuff on the bus but nothing too crazy — and they totally blew it out of proportion. They brought the dogs in, brought us to the sheriff’s department, had our bus impounded and searched the whole bus. It was just a nightmare. The runner from the show in Indiana had to drive like an hour away to come pick us up in the runner van. We had to borrow equipment and stuff. Then seriously, in probably like 20 minutes it was on MTV News. So the whole thing was media bullcrap, so like the cops can get their names in some sort of thing. You know what I mean? They’re like, "Oh, band bust. Let’s try and milk it for whatever."
Now that you guys are a little bit older and some of you are even married, has it become harder to keep up the grueling pace?
As far as like…
As far as constant touring and stuff like that.
A little bit. I mean we still tour as much as we always have. Luckily now with iChat, cell phones, and visitation rights [Laughs] it helps out, you know?
The first From The Screen To Your Stereo came out back in 2000. Seven years later, what made you return for the sequel?
I guess the fans just saying, "When are you guys gonna put out a sequel? Are you guys ever gonna put out a sequel? You know the first one was so great. When are you gonna put out a sequel?" I think it was the fans asking us all the time. So I guess it was the demand for it. We had always talked about doing it but we never could because we were stuck on Geffen, and we weren’t allowed to do it. They didn’t want us doing it. So now what’s great about not being on a label right now, we’re able to do what we want. Drive-Thru said they would put it out, because they put out the first one, and I don’t know. That’s it.
Since it’s obviously all covers, what was the writing process like, and how did it differ from what you guys usually go through?
The writing process was a lot more laid back because the songs were pretty much done. All we had to do was make it our own style. We wanted to pick songs that could translate into the way that New Found Glory would write their own song. There were other songs that we tried to do that wouldn’t sound right and didn’t really work. I wanted to do "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel, and just a few different things, but some songs just didn’t work or sound like we were going to sit down and write that song ourselves. It just didn’t sound right. So I don’t know, just a lot. The environment we were in was a little different. We were in Tyler, Texas, where Chad lives — our guitar player — in a little small studio in a little town. It was kind of cool. We went swimming in Chad’s house, and we all stayed at Chad’s house for most of it.
Did you guys produce it yourselves then?
Yeah, with the help of our friend Paul Miner.
I noticed there are quite a few guest appearances on the album as well. How did you go about selecting them and deciding which people would sing on which songs?
We would listen to the songs and be like that’d be a rad part for Adam [Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday] to sing on because I can totally picture his voice. Or like the Madonna song, it’d be really cool for Max [Bemis of Say Anything] to sing on because he’s a little bit crazy and the song’s called "Crazy For You." So his voice would fit perfect in that song. It was just bands and guys we’ve been friends with for a long time, and it’s guys that have — even though we’re close in age to a lot of these guys — they were fans of New Found Glory from a long time ago. They all have From The Screen To Your Stereo — the first one — and used to be fans and stuff and still are. It was really flattering because they wanted to be a part of it.
So are you happy with how Part II turned out in the end?
Yeah, I love it. I love the way it’s recorded and the song selection that we picked. I don’t know… I like it a lot. Better than the first one I think.
Now Coming Home is a little over a year old. I personally loved it and thought it was one of your best records, but it never really seemed to take off like your previous work did. Are you a little disappointed with how that all turned out?
No, I’m not at all. I think that that record came out when it was supposed to come out. We were at a point in our lives where… Those songs came out for a reason. So I’m not disappointed because it was a record that I think we needed to make to kind of show that as a band we’ve progressed. We can write songs that aren’t a sheen of vocals and like chugga-chugga the whole time. It’s funny because it’s an album that a lot of our old fans came back — got that record and kind of came back for — as opposed to like… I can’t explain it. It’s like the older fans that we have kind of disappeared for a while from going to shows and stuff, and it’s a lot of the younger kids now. When this album came out, you started seeing those older kids, those older fans, coming back to the shows as well.
It seemed like Geffen kind of dropped the ball with promoting it too. Are you disappointed with how the label handled it?
I guess to an extent. I mean any label you’re on, you’re going to have some sort of problem with. We were a little disappointed, but at the same time we’ve always been a self-sufficient band, so we can work through anything. For example, right now we just put out the cover songs CD on a one record thing with Drive-Thru. We’re not on a label. We don’t really have anything going on. I mean we’re talking to labels and stuff right now, but we’re playing all these shows and the majority of the tour has been sold out. So it’s like regardless of a label or not, we’re still able to tour, put out records and sell out shows — which is the important thing. And every record we’ve put out — Sticks And Stones, Catalyst, Coming Home — there’s always been a different freaking label president. So we’re always having to reintroduce our band to these people.
Are you guys leaning towards going back to an independent label or staying on a major?
I kind of still want to be on a major… It depends. We’re talking to independent labels. We’re talking to major labels. It really, to be honest, doesn’t matter to me. I just want a label that’s going to back our band 100%. There’s pros and cons to each thing. Some independent labels are sketchier than major labels. The good thing about having a major label is that instead of like 20 people working for your band, you have hundreds of people working for your band.
I also noticed over the last few records your voice has sounded stronger and more improved. Have you been doing anything differently?
Ummm… No. [Laughs] Just drinking wine. [Laughs] I don’t know. No, nothing really. I think just from touring for so long and being in a band for 10 years, I think that gives you a little more confidence.
Have you guys already started writing stuff for the new record?
Yeah, our guitar player Chad has been working on it. We have tons and tons of riffs and different parts, but there’s not really any kind of full songs yet. We work here and there a little bit during sound checks and stuff, but it’s not really like getting into it. At the end of January, we fly to England with Paramore and Bayside, and we’ll be in England and Europe for a month. Once we come back from that, that’s when we’re going to start writing and really focus on writing a new record.
Do you have any idea when it’s going to come out?
I have no idea. Hopefully by next year. You know, middle of next year.
It probably depends on the whole label thing as well.
Yeah, exactly. Well fuck, who knows? Maybe we’ll get someone to fund us for the recording and put it out ourselves. Who fucking knows?
Are you going to stick with the Coming Home kind of sound, or are you going to go back to the more upbeat stuff?
Well, it’s hard to say. We like to keep our fans on their toes. But I can tell you that the few riffs I’ve had are really kind of… I don’t know… It’s almost like a pop-punk snap kick or something. Just like the lead parts.... The little riffs here and there that I’ve been hearing.
I also read on absolutepunk last week that you guys are coming out with a new EP. What’s the deal with that?
Well, basically since we’re not on a label, we’re able to do whatever the hell we please. So there’s a record label called Bridge 9 Records. They’re a very influential hardcore, punk rock label from Boston. We’ve been talking to them about putting out a six song 7" and CD. The CD is going to have three original songs on it, kind of faster, punkier. Like the intro song on Catalyst — that kind of style. Then we’re going to have three cover songs of hardcore, like old 7" songs. Like Shelter, Gorilla Biscuits and probably one other song.
And when is that supposed to come out?
Well, we’re going to record it this next week, so hopefully pretty soon. And it’s only going to be sold at Newbury Comics, the Bridge 9 website, or you can get it from us when we’re on tour. It’s going to be like a limited kind of thing.
You guys have been together as a band for a decade now, right?
That’s pretty amazing. It seems like recently there’s been a lot of bands who have either been losing members or breaking up, yet you guys have managed to pretty much keep the same lineup throughout. What has allowed you to be so different?
I guess that we don’t take anything for granted. There’s no better job than what we do, so we don’t let the little things bother us — like if a show’s not sold out or if we don’t have the bus we wanted originally. We’re just very grateful for everything and we don’t expect things. I think that’s the problem with a lot of young new bands. They see all their favorite bands doing well for themselves and being successful. Then they start a band, they start getting popular and they want that same thing, but they go about it the wrong way. They think that because they have a million hits on MySpace that guarantees their shows to be sold out. Or they’re on Warped tour so they have to have a bus, but that’s not how it is. You have to do your grunt work, start from nothing and get to that point.
Going along with that, since you guys have been around for so long, you’ve become one of the veteran bands of the scene that a lot of up-and-comers look up to. How does that make you feel?
It’s definitely flattering. What’s funny is that a lot of the bands out now are the same age. [Laughs] So we’re still pretty young. We just got a head start because we started young. We started the band when I was like 17. So I don’t know… It’s just really cool.
After all these years, what keeps you guys going and inspires you to keep making music and progressing?
The love for playing music and creating something that kids can relate to. The love of writing music and playing for kids all around the world keeps us going. We’re always constantly thinking and always constantly observing. There’s a lot of things out in the world that are very influential on us as people, so we’ll always have something to sing about and something to talk about.
It also seems like you have a pretty dedicated fan base, and you guys really seem to appreciate that. I saw a video on youtube where people were throwing up signs, and you would sing "Happy Birthday" to them or whatever. Has that been a pretty big blessing as well?
Yeah. It’s always kind of funny when that happens because it’s kind of awkward. You can’t ignore someone who has a huge poster which says, "Sing ‘Happy Birthday’" or "Play this song." [Laughs] So it’s pretty funny. It keeps us on our toes for sure. Especially when it’s like, "Hey, play this song," which we haven’t played in like six years.
Out of everything you guys have recorded, what are you most proud of?
I would say Coming Home for sure. Since we went about writing it and the things that were going on at that time… I don’t know. It all seemed to make sense at the time.
It seemed like you guys addressed a little bit more issues than your typical love songs.
Yeah, for sure.
Okay, one last thing. If you could sum up New Found Glory in a single sentence, what would it be?
Ummm… Let’s see. In a single sentence, huh?
Yeah. Or like a phrase or whatever.
[Pause] Superheroes of hardcore let ‘em see you windmill when you’re on the dance floor. [Laughs] Superheroes of hardcore wanna see you spacedive onto the floor… I don’t know.
I could see that song making the new record.
Yeah, yeah. [Laughs]
Well, is there anything else you’d like to add?
I always say this but I just want to give a shout out to all our fans everywhere for still sticking with us for this long, and thank them for still coming to the shows and seeing the same songs. We’ll try and keep putting out good records for them.