20 years ago, A New Found Glory came together in Coral Springs, Florida. Their debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, was released on independent label Eulogy to critical and fan acclaim. After the success of the admittedly raw-sounding record, the band ditched the “A” in their name to avoid confusion among fans, and things skyrocketed from there.
The 2000 album New Found Glory, 2002’s Sticks and Stones and 2004’s Catalyst have all been certified gold in the United States. The band hasn’t slowed since—each subsequent record has cracked the Top 30 of the Billboard 200 charts. NFG has also released a pair of movie cover albums that showcase their passion for cinema, something that’s also reflected in the many pop culture references in their music videos.
Now, 20 years after their formation, the band is set to release their ninth studio album later this month. To celebrate, they’re embarking on a tour showcasing their classic records. Paste sat down with guitarist Chad Gilbert to talk about some of his more memorable onstage moments, the band’s songwriting process and his favorite kind of pie.
: 20 years. That’s more than half your life. Do you remember the band’s very first practice?
Chad Gilbert: Yeah, it was in my living room. I sang in the hardcore band Shai Hulud and our bassist Ian [Grushka] and our singer Jordan [Pundik] were fans of the band. They’d come to shows and sing along, and I met them at local shows. We had a mutual friend, and Ian and Jordan were looking for another guitarist. They knew I also liked punk rock. Me and my stepbrother would play punk rock songs in my living room. Ian and Jordan heard that and asked me to be in the band. That’s where I joined. We used to practice in our garages and living rooms and a place that you’d rent for an hour. We’d practice in my living room and it was awesome. Our parents were pretty supportive of it because they thought it was cute. I don’t think they ever realized how far we would go with it. We would have our practices and it just kind of went from there into house parties and local shows. It kept on growing.
: Your ninth studio album, Makes Me Sick, comes out later this month. Has the recording process differed over the years?
Gilbert: Technology has definitely changed it. Before, if you had a record deal you’d record in these big ‘70s-looking studios with carpet on the walls and big tape machines. Obviously, now you can record anywhere, so we did the drums in a big studio for this one and the overdubs in a little house in Franklin, Tenn. Creatively, one of the differences now is we always do what’s best for the song and not what’s best for anyone individually. There’s no personal gain from any of the songwriting. It’s just more contributing and doing what’s best for the song, so I think it’s way easier and more fun.
When you’re recording a ninth studio album, you can’t fail. You don’t really have any fears. You just make the best record that you like. You hope your fans are gonna like it, but if they don’t, they have eight other ones to listen to. I really think they’ll like this one, though, because we’re giving them something that’s very New Found Glory but it sounds very different and new. I think people are gonna be excited about it.
: The music video for “Happy Being Miserable” is inspired by the pie-eating scene from the film Stand By Me. Any good stories from the set?
Gilbert: When we shot the video, in order to make the vomit shoot really fast, there was a tube attached to this pump machine. They’d say, “vomit!” and then pressure-sprayed vomit would come out. It was kind of hard to get the right amount of pressure. The first time it came out it wasn’t as powerful as it should be. When it got to Ian, it was so extreme that it knocked the tube off. So his mouth was open but the vomit was coming out the top of his head. It was just spraying the ceiling of the building. Two of the ceiling panels were purple and it was just funny to watch him sitting there with vomit coming out of his forehead.
: What’s your favorite kind of pie?
Gilbert: I love pumpkin pie. If that was a pumpkin pie video I would have been eating it. In the video it was just blueberry pie mixed with water, so it wasn’t great.
: You’re going on tour this summer where you’re playing not one, but two full albums at each show. Has any album stood out as a fan favorite?
Gilbert: It’s great playing all the albums. It’s awesome. It’s flattering every night. We’re doing six albums, and people are pissed we’re not doing other ones. We’re very lucky to have this band and this following. It’s crazy and really cool. One standout set was when we did the Nothing Gold Can Stay album at The Stone Pony in New Jersey. You get the fans that say “play the old stuff” and then they only kind of know it. So I was like “are they really gonna want to hear this?” But when we played it, it was loud and so many kids were singing along. Even on later songs, like “The Goodbye Song,” they went crazy and loved it. It was special and cool to know they weren’t posers and truly enjoyed the album.
: What’s a deep cut that’s been a blast to play live?
Gilbert: There’s a song off Catalyst that’s a huge energy boost called “Your Biggest Mistake.” That song is crazy and the gang vocals on that are super loud. It’s not a song we ever play so it’s never in our normal setlist. That’s what’s fun about this tour. Songs that you’re maybe nervous about or didn’t know, we’ve gotten a chance to play them. Who knows, “Your Biggest Mistake” might be a setlist staple for the next couple of years.
: Have you forgotten any parts of some of the songs you don’t play as regularly?
Gilbert: We practiced a lot individually. I have a little amplifier setup in my living room. Every day I’d play music from the albums and play along on guitar. Ian would play by himself and meet up with [drummer] Cyrus [Bolooki], and Jordan listened to the record in the car. By the time we all met up and practiced we had already relearned all of our songs. There’s definitely a lot of stuff I forgot but once we got together, it was fine. It’s kind of remembering that muscle memory. Now when I play Nothing Gold Can Stay, once you gauge that lost memory, it was just like I wrote those songs yesterday.
: New Found Glory is renowned for their energetic, lively shows. How have you continued that energy over 20 years?
Gilbert: I don’t think it’s a choice. It’s sort of a weird thing that just happens. You play the songs, the crowd goes off and it makes you have the energy and adrenaline. We’ve never been like “we gotta rock out tonight!” And it’ll show—if a crowd isn’t that great, you’ll see us be not that great. It’s definitely a weird thing that happens, but it’s awesome. I never think that I’m gonna get tired. I wish I could just stand around because then I wouldn’t be as sore. When you grow up going to hardcore shows and punk rock shows, the music and all that stuff, that’s just what you’re raised to do. You wouldn’t play guitar and just stand there. You just all of a sudden have energy and lose your mind.
: What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained during a show?
Gilbert: I’ve been badly shocked before. I grabbed the mic to talk—it was near an outlet and there was water. I got shocked, and the jolt went from my head to my feet, shutting down my body and I just passed out. My friends woke me up and took me to the hospital.
: That doesn’t sound enjoyable at all.
Gilbert: No. It was weird.
: Where’s the strangest place you’ve played?
Gilbert: When we got our start, we played a lot of pool parties. As a matter of fact, when we were signed to Drive-Thru Records, Richard and Stefanie [Reines, owners of the Drive-Thru label] came down to see us play. The only show we had booked was just a sweet 16 birthday party. We played on a back patio while people were eating cake. They liked us and still signed us, but that’s pretty funny.
: How do you feel knowing you’ve inspired so many bands to start playing shows and making music?
Gilbert: It’s awesome. It’s really cool. Money comes and goes no matter what career you have. Whether you’re making music or working in another job, there are parts in your life where you do really well and other parts where you don’t. If you’re only doing it for the money, you’ll never enjoy it. We’re now more popular than most of the bands we looked up to. It was never the goal to be the most famous, but if we were to get people’s ears and attention, to talk to them about things we love and inspire them and show that they can do it themselves.
In our generation, bands on MTV looked untouchable. Bands that had music careers were larger-than-life characters. We wanted to tell people, “hey, these people up here that you’re seeing? They destroy that façade. They’re just everyday people.” I think we did that. When we hear bands named their band after us, or somehow our music makes someone take a positive step in their life, that’s the biggest paycheck you can get. Mission accomplished.
: You’re a big wrestling fan. What’d you think of WrestleMania 33?
Gilbert: I actually haven’t watched wrestling since CM Punk retired. He’s a good friend of mine. It would feel like I was cheating on my girlfriend, so I can’t watch it anymore. It’s funny, though, because I’ve recorded some stuff, and I see all the people I used to watch in Reseda all the time. It’s crazy that these indie dudes are now up there. I think that’s what’s probably even more frustrating, because that’s what Punk was trying to do. He was saying there’s this whole other world you don’t know about and it’s frustrating to see that they’re doing it now, but since he was there it’s gotten so much better. So there’s some wrestling talk for ya.
: Which cover off of the two From the Screen to Your Stereo EPs was the most fun to create?
Gilbert: I think the one that’s always been the hit is “The Glory of Love” from The Karate Kid Part II. That one always got our fans really excited when we played it, and it became a staple in our setlist for a long time. We haven’t done it in a bit, and I will go on record saying this is just the beginning of our 20-year anniversary. We have until Dec. 31, so you never know if you might hear that song again.