New Found Glory: Moment of Glory
Originally published in Guitar World, June 2004
With a prime spot on the Warped 10th anniversary tour and a hot new
album, New Found Glory appear ready to rule the pop-punk landscape.
"It's time for a change in music,” says New Found Glory guitarist Steve Klein. “That’s the reason why our new album is called Catalyst. All the bands sound the same these days, so it’s time somebody started doing something different.”
But don’t expect too radical a departure. Catalyst sticks close to the pop-punk infectiousness—compounded by a dose of hardcore fury—that made New Found Glory’s self-titled 2000 debut album and 2002’s Sticks and Stones (both MCA) big hits with the Warped crowd. This time out, however, NFG have allowed themselves more stylistic latitude, embracing everything from retro Eighties New Wave (“Failure’s Not Flattering”) to plush, violin-upholstered balladry (“I Don’t Wanna Know”).
Solid tunesmithing is what holds it all together. Klein and his coguitarist, Chad Gilbert, make up the songwriting nucleus of New Found Glory. Gilbert mainly writes the music, while Klein is the principal lyricist. Both are keen students of pop songcraft, as Catalyst’s first single, “All Down Hill from Here,” handily demonstrates. It kicks off with a meaty chordal riff set to a skewed hardcore beat, then segues to an adrenalin-rush verse that finds Gilbert floating flangy chord shapes over Klein’s solid, muted downpicking. From there, the band power-shifts into a classic, half-tempo pop punk chorus guaranteed to have the kids in the nosebleeds doing the wave. The third time around, the chorus even breaks down to a lone guitar and singer Jordan Pundik’s plaintive whine—a move aimed straight at the hearts of teenage girls and their moms—before roaring out on a full chorus refrain.
“The parts build off each other,” says Klein. “They build into this epic thing. What’s cool about ‘All Down Hill from Here’ is that it definitely bridges the gap between our last album and the new album. It brings together what we’ve done before and what we’re trying to do now. That way, kids won’t think we’ve changed too much. But at the same time, I think the album shows we’re a real-deal band. We’re not just some pop-punk band.”
Now that pop punk has long since exceeded the media’s saturation point, many of the genre’s foremost practitioners are beginning to broaden their scope. It’s tempting to compare Catalyst with Blink-182’s recent self-titled album bid for artistic maturity. While New Found Glory started out in Florida, they’ve since relocated to Blink’s Southern California backyard. The two bands even share the same management. But Gilbert sees a marked difference between the recent Blink opus and what NFG have done on Catalyst.
“There’s a difference between progressing and changing completely,” he says. “Blink progressed but at the same time they changed their sound a lot. We weren’t ready to make that kind of change. Blink were tired of the stuff they were playing. We weren’t. So we kept the same style but progressed in it.”
GUITAR WORLD Do you think the whole pop-punk thing has peaked in the mainstream?
STEVE KLEIN I would say that pop punk has had its heyday. But I wouldn’t say it’s dying or going away. I just think that the mainstream chewed up and spit out so many bands that all sound the same, so people can’t tell one apart from the other anymore.
CHAD GILBERT But I think [pop punk] will always be around. There have always been popular punk bands. Right now there are so many of them on the radio, and I don’t think there will ever be that many again. Everything goes in cycles and everything gets old to people.
GW Thanks to things like the Warped Tour, I think there will always be an audience for that kind of music—an entire subculture.
KLEIN Definitely. Since we’ve built up our fan base through touring, it’s not like the kids are gonna be here today and gone tomorrow. It’s not like the radio crowd. Those kids hear a song they like on the radio, but once the radio stops playing that song they’re no longer a fan of the band. Whereas we got our fans from touring for such a long time. They come to sing along. When we play, it’s not just us up onstage; it’s people getting involved in the music—us being integrated with the crowd. That’s what makes a show for us.
GW Do you have any pre-show rituals?
GILBERT I go to the bathroom, like, eight times. I really don’t have to go that much. It just feels like I do. My mind is playing tricks on me.
KLEIN I definitely try to stretch a lot. I hurt my shins because I jump around so much onstage. So I try to stretch my leg muscles, like I’m gonna play football or something. Also, we really try to get the band all alone together five or 10 minutes before we go on—just to shut out whatever’s been going on all day, focus on the show and give each other knuckles.