Pop-Punk mainstays New Found Glory are back with their brand new album, Makes Me Sick (out April 28 via Hopeless). Produced by Aaron Sprinkle (MxPx, Anberlin, Acceptance) and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge (U2, The Rolling Stones, Blink 182), Makes Me Sick takes risks, introduces new sounds and proves that after 20 years, New Found Glory is here to stay.
In our new interview, guitarist Chad Gilbert discusses the making of Makes Me Sick, New Found Glory’s ongoing 20th anniversary tour, the time he met Tom Hanks, and more!
You guys are celebrating your 20th anniversary this year. How do you think the pop-punk genre has evolved since you started in 1997?
I think the difference is there is more of a sound. Which when we started and growing, I feel like bands strived a little harder to sound different from each other, you know. Like if you think about, you know, back then we started touring, if you were a punk band and you sounded really different from each other. Yellowcard didn’t really sound like New Found Glory.
And even Save The Day had their own thing going and not that Save The Day aren’t even a Pop-Punk band but were talking about where people call Pop-Punk, you know what I mean?
So that term, I think now when I put on a band it’s sad to say but sometimes they’re sort of now a blueprint, they’re sort of thing you expect which you know, I like being caught off guard and hearing something really different. I think that may be the only thing maybe stinks about or not stinks, it’s just sort of happened. Where anytime a scene gets big, if someone wants to make fans fast they emulate what’s already there. And I think the longer harder road is creating something new that’s sort of an addition than a recreation.
But what is cool is that there is a scene for it now. People who love it, and love every band. And I think that’s really, really cool. I think it’s cool that there’s these fans out there that sort of take ownership and all of it and they feel apart of it of this sort of sub-genre. That’s really cool too.
What sets New Found Glory apart is you don’t know what you’re going to get, you know from an album and there could be a style of music that is more popular at the time. We will sound not like that, you know and I think that that’s even when Sticks and Stones came out like people… Sticks and Stones is my favorite Pop-Punk record but you’re listening to it and “Sonny” and “Head On Collision” aren’t Punk songs. “The Story So Far” isn’t a Punk song. So I think that’s what’s important and it’s those songs that are different that really like give you that sort of that chance that you take to create, the chances you take creatively set you apart I think more band should do that, instead of playing what their fans are expecting them to sound like and try to take some chances and let it grow.
I think the big reason you guys have lasted so long is because you know you’re willing to take chances on each album, on this record it has different sort of, different rhythms, synth sounds, and that sort of thing. You know a lot bands just sort of try to stick to what’s popular.
Yeah, I think ultimately we’re lucky, we’ve toured and Jordan’s voice will always sound like Jordan, so he has so much character in his voice, delivery and melody so it’s like we have freedom to write any kind of song. Somehow you look at a song “Makes Me Sick” where the sound of two voices mixed on track five, which if it were any other singer on their it would not be a New Found Glory song. But because of Jordan he’s the thread, he ties it all together.
When prepping for the anniversary tour and playing albums like Nothing Gold and Sticks and Stones in their entirety live. What was it like to go back and learn those guitar parts again and rediscover those songs?
It was fun, I set up a little amplifier in my dinning room, set up some pedals and plugged in. And my dog chillin’ at my feet and we re-learned songs and new stuff, I think it was cool.
It made me proud of the older songs we wrote back then I realized, you know how kind of what we are talking about, those chances we did take. Like opening up “Catalyst”. You know having an album on TRL with the first song of the record being a Punk-Hardcore song you know if you think about it, it’s really different at the time. There’s Britney Spears, D12, and couple other of these like NSYNC all these other people on the countdown. And then you had “All Downhill From Here” which had a hardcore scream in it, so it’s just funny how we pulled that off, how did I make it on TRL, wow. So it’s really cool and really fun going back to those kind of memories. I think gives us a lot of confidence. And because at the end of the day like this is a 20th anniversary tour. It’s not so much a remember when, it’s more like this is us. I know that sounds weird but when we play it’s not like one album. You know we are playing six albums and then we play a new song and the new song gets a crazy reaction just like the old songs. And I think that’s what’s really cool about it that it feels like it’s a step forward, not just a throw back.
We’re not just phoning it in, like ‘Hey remember us’, like it’s tribute to our fans and the things we’ve done. And it’s us telling them like “Hey by the way get ready for the next 20 years”.
You worked with producer Aaron Sprinkle on this album. What did he bring to the table this time around?
Yeah it was awesome. I think the whole first record was, ‘Hey let’s bring in a producer”, we want our focus to be only on writing songs. And performing on the record, we don’t want to have to think about anything else. So that was the best thing for us to do, because you want to change things up and you want to mix thing up. And take you out of your comfortable element and for us producing ourselves was easy you know, like how do we make it. It’s those times that are challenging that makes you perform the best. So let’s get a producer and Aaron lived in where I live, and his records always sound super, super good. And they sound good because he always adds these other layers to these albums sonically, I don’t know if you’ve heard the new Acceptance record, but there’s always a lot going on and for us we haven’t had that in a while.
We have a very big musical background, you know. We have a very wide range of influences and we’ve been in music for a really long time. I took music in school, and when I was in High School and you know we are very creative when it comes to creating songs and melodies. And all that kind of stuff. I mean listen to some of the old records like Catalyst, and you can hear all sort of types of rhythms and things. But this time you’re like how do we take all the ideas in our head and make them come to life, because also from our first few records we recorded on tape. So it’s like, I don’t know how to work computers. I don’t how to get all those crazy sounds like I don’t know what they’re called, I wouldn’t know the first program to open. So for me I can manually create sounds but Sprinkle is the guy who I can literally tell him ‘Hey I want a keyboard sound and I want it to go (makes keyboard sound) and I want it to sound like the synth in “Cool Summer’ and he’ll be like ‘Oh that’s blah, blah, blah!’ Play it, done, it’s on the record. Literally within five minutes.
And that’s how Sprinkle is, I am able to like… you know Cyrus can say, I really want this effect on this drum at this time. And Sprinkle knows exactly what it’s called. Or what it is. And even himself, there’s a song that didn’t, that isn’t on the album that I love! And fans will eventually be able to hear and there’s a part on it that is very Cars, sounds like The Cars. And Sprinkle was like ‘Hey if you add this sort of part it’ll really bring the idea home.’ So that’s the kind of producer he is, he’s able to like make any idea come to life because he’s so educated. And he started making records in the 90’s. So he’s… I’m able to reference an old Sunny Day Real Estate sound effect and he’ll know what it is. What I mean by a reference is some, you know what I’m saying, he’s not genre specific and you know I think that is kind of like New Found Glory. If you listen to our albums. Sure, our albums relate to a specific to you know different kinds of people for different reasons but it’s not just one style of songs throughout the whole album.
What does the album title Makes Me Sick mean to you?
Well “New Found Glory Makes Me Sick”, it’s full of self deprecating fun. You know when you read it New Found Glory “Makes Me Sick” and you can look at, you know you can look at it in the literal sense or you can.. there are some many different meanings, for me in writing a lyric with all of us in the band looking at the lyrics that we wrote on the album. And it just seem like you know, in life you look back at certain choices you made and you’re like ‘why the hell did I do that?’ You can literally worry yourself sick. You worry yourself sick about the future, people can worry themselves sick about what’s going on in the world, about your own mistakes that you’ve made and it’s sort of just for us, like the bright sounds of the keyboards and other stuff… we wanted a fun title and we thought that was just kind of really like, you know really summed it all up. You know, it was sort of a fun, sarcastic title with serious meaning and I think that a lot of the songs… you know if you sort of listen to like “Party On Apocalypse” which is lyrically a very serious message. But in a fun way. Same thing with “Call Me Anti-Social” about feeling really lost where ever you are because no matter where ever you go, you can’t relate to anyone. Which should feel like a lonely place but could also be a freeing place. Because once you know you’re never going to relate to anyone you’d end up relating to everyone, I guess. I think so looking at the lyrics and looking at the, you know, everything is just sort of kind of made the most sense. It kind of brought life to it and you know, it’s fun when people say did you hear New Found Glory’s new album “Makes Me Sick”. It’s pretty fun to hear.
A track on the new album “Party On Apocalypse” details a pending apocalypse, but the self-absorbed millennial generation might be the cause. Is millennials and technology a recurring theme on Makes Me Sick?
I think the record kind of goes in its little story, kind of like track one is not the same fool you use to be. It’s talking about you know, yourself and how you use to be sort of. How you use to be guilty of just playing along to play along. And then after that song is when all the music starts to change and you’re looking at life and things differently. And, so that’s where the record sort of goes and ends with “The Cheapest Thrill” and songs a little bit later that are like “Yeah, hey I so focused on”, if you’re so focused on everyone else, you in turn start to head down a spiral yourself. Because you can’t compare yourself and make excuses based on how you’re treated. You know, you’ve got to really think with your head and that’s where the record starts to sort of go. So it’s a fun little journey throughout, so like “Party On Apocalypse” it’s not so much is saying, thing it’s saying is not so much totally dissing like you know, millennials because it’s not, it’s way deeper than that. It’s basically saying, here’s the slogans you live for and that you talk about and let me dissect the slogan you’re into. So if you’re someone and you are saying you only live once, so let’s get drunk and wasted. You’re upping your odds of dying and doing something stupid. So if you only live once wouldn’t you want to value the time you had alive?
As a opposed to wasting it. So you can look at it either way, you can agree with it on one side or the other, that’s fine. But that’s sort of what that song is about. Saying okay, if you believe in these sort of things, the thing about what your saying, you know what I mean. And just talking about the whole taking pictures of yourself, like if you don’t like a person that’s judging you why do you let them. Why are you giving other people pedestal, why you putting them in charge of your life. You know, why are you making decisions based on complete strangers. You don’t even know these people. So it’s just sort of like, it’s not so much like, it’s not so much like… and that’s what I like about the song it’s not saying ‘Oh I’ve got it all figured out’, it’s saying or that New Found Glory has it figured out. It’s like let’s look at the things you’re living by, and let’s like at what you’re actually saying logically. And that’s sort of what it’s about, you know. And it’s suppose to be in an encouraging way, you know what I mean. It’s suppose to be like ‘Oh hey, yeah that doesn’t really make any sense.’
I think with a lot of your songs like if you sort of take them on, or just as they are then they are just like fun Punk songs. But, you know, you guys focused on some serious themes and especially with this record. With “Party On Apocalypse”, you gotta look deeper, there’s some important issues and you guys deal with that in a satirical kind of way.
People want to have a good time when they’re at a show, people want to sing along. So it’s that balance of, why do you make music? Well we make music because we love it and we want to write the best catchy songs. It’s like, well why have we had a career for this long? We’ve had a career, it’s also because in the song, people can relate to the lyrics and apply them to their lives. So in making this record now, that’s what naturally came out with these lyrics and being a little bit older. And looking at the way people are treating each other in the world. It seems like it made sense to talk about so of this stuff. And offer our fans a little bit of some theraputic fun. Like let’s talk about the issues at hand or talk about some of the stuff we all deal with, our own demons, you know our own weakness, and how we relate to other people. But let’s do it and not forget that, you know we have to enjoy each day.
Makes Me Sick sounds like an album where a band is trying to challenge themselves by using different rhythms and different synth sounds, and not be stagnant. Was it important to you to force yourself to approach this album in a different way?
You know what’s funny is I don’t even think it was forced, it was more freeing yourself. It was going in the studio and you’re in a band… it was going into the studio and you know you’re getting ready to do a 20th anniversary tour., and you’re on your ninth album. Really lucky, what could stop you? So am I afraid that our fans won’t like us anymore? They are, they obviously might not like the record but they’re not going anywhere. There’s been records in the past that they’ve liked less or more than others. So I think it was more freeing by just going in there like what we believe at this point our fans are going to like what we do and most of them or some of them.
So instead of keeping ourselves in a box we want to do what sounds best for the song. Without worry or thinking someone else will or not. I know stories of bands that have an idea and literally will cut the idea because they’re afraid their fans won’t like it. Or they’re afraid it’s not Punk enough, it’s not this enough. But, yeah you have to set your own standards, we tell our fans what we think (laughs). They may not like it at first but eventually they be like ‘Yeah this is them’. Look at our Coming Home album, we made that album and it came out, fans were like ‘What is this? This isn’t New Found Glory.” And now that record has been out since 2006 and we play it, people sing it louder than some of the other records. You gotta lead the way, you can’t follow.
You guys released a coffee table book called “Stories of a Different Kind” last summer that detailed your rise from a local florida band to touring with bands like Blink-182. What was the process like to gather all those flyers, and posters, etc?
It was fun! We all had those boxes or tupperware full of stuff and we went through all of it. We picked out some shows in our heads, we remembered having some interesting and told little stories attached to them. Whether it would be a wild story or there would just be a point in our career where it made us want to do the band more or less. We just took and told the stories and they got transcribed in the book. It was really fun to do, I think it’s important for us to show all of our new fans because I love New Found Glory fans and there are a lot of fans who say they listen to us longer than they actually have (laughs). Based on age. Someone comes up to and goes ‘I’ve been listening to you for eighteen years’ and I’m like but you’re 21. If you were three when you starting listening, but there is defintely a whole… we existed before the internet so there is this entire era of New Found Glory fans. If you got into us post-2005 which is forever ago already… you don’t know about a lot of things. Because you found out about music through Myspace or you found out music through social media, whatever it is that you found out about us. So there are all these amazing shows we use to play where there was Maroon 5 opening for us in the parking lot or Coldplay, or you name it and the late 90’s early 2000’s these crazy shows where like us and Dashboard Confessional playing basements. You didn’t know that existed. So we just thought it wa sa good way for fans to see like ‘Check out these flyers’ this is how it was, you know like everyone played together. It wasn’t like based on how many likes you got on a photo it was like you’re in the street promoting, flyering and there was this sort of D.I.Y. scene that grew really big. And it was just nice to show people who different world that they didn’t get to experience back then.
Do you think there is still that D.I.Y. mentality in music now? Or is it mostly disappeared?
Yeah, but it’s just different. I can’t speak for the entire scene, I know Hardcore fans are really D.I.Y. There is all these small pockets of Hardcore scenes who build their own things and Punk too, you know. I can tell you for us, you know it’s pretty cool, you know because Makes Me Sick was the number one independent album last week. We as a group work together and we come up with our own videos, all our own ideas. All our own artwork, you know I had posters mailed out to this tour and I literally hung our album posters everyday around the venue. We are out there doing meet and greets and doing things. So it’s definitely D.I.Y. in a different way. We are as D.I.Y. as we can get.
I think it exists as much as it can, I mean with the internet, and social media, you’re going to reach a lot of people immediately with a post, but at the same time giving out flyers and stickers to your fans and doing a signing at your merch booth is going to stick with someone more than seeing just a little ad on their social media. So I think both elements are equally important and I know that because, you can look at New Found Glory’s Instagram and we’ve got like a hundred something thousand followers, and then you can look at another band that has two million followers, and that band with two million followers is playing in front of 400 people and New Found Glory is playing in front of 2,000. So relying only on that doesn’t mean anything, you really need to have a grassroots and you really need to be connected with your fans on a personal level.
In the same book, there’s a story about when you met Tom Hanks. Tell me about that.
The guy that signed New Found Glory lived in this neighborhood in Santa Monica, and his youngest son and Tom Hanks’ youngest son use to carpool together. And it was when our self-titled album came out and they would listen to that album all the time. The guy that signed us’s youngest son wanted to do play “Hit or Miss” in a talent show at his Middle school or Elementary school talent show. He asked Ian and me to come over and teach it, so we went over to his house and taught it to him and went in the other room and called his best friend from school, his dad is Tom Hanks and his dad drove him over, And we are in the room jamming and all of a sudden… Tom Hanks walks in ‘What are you guys doing? What’s going on in here?’ Umm good, learning a new song like teaching him what’s going on’. And he’s like ‘Oh let’s hear what you’ve got.’ The kids played him the song and they dug it, he was like ‘Oh that’s cool!’ Even though, you know, it wasn’t good they were like fourth and fifth graders. And, yeah he hung out, gave him a hug and then he left. That was it. Pretty funny. It was like pretty overwhelming, you know being in a room and all of a sudden Tom Hanks walking in to see what you are up to is pretty, pretty crazy.
At this point, like do you get star struck anymore?
Yeah, of course. I’m a fan, I’m a fan of everything.
Who is someone who you’ve met that you kind of just freaked out about?
I mean obviously Tom Hanks made me freak out. There’s this guy in a Horror movie called, one of my favorite Horror movies called ‘The People Under The Stairs’ by Wes Craven and there’s this dude that lives under the stairs named Worm. He has no tongue and he was on my flight, I freaked out and told him that ‘The People Under The Stairs’ is one of my favorite Horror movies. I like random things. Bill Paxton was on one of my flights too and I got to talk to him and he recommended some movies to me. Because Bill Paxton wrote and directed this movie called ‘Fraility’ and I talked to him about it ‘Dude, your movie is incredible’. If you haven’t seen it, you should see it.
Is that the one where he’s like super religious with his kids?
The twist is that he actual is an angel but he didn’t know. You know you think he’s like a psycho and then he actually wasn’t lying. Yeah, it was a good movie. He wrote and directed that. R.I.P. Bill Paxton. You know, I like a lot of, you know I met my favorite UFC fighter which was this guy named ‘Showgun’, ‘Showgun’ Rua and I met him, I was a little star struck. So I’m a fan, I think that’s why our band is still hungry, we actually geniunely love stuff. We love music, we love movies, we love everything in pop culture so we are just fans, you know. So I get star struck all the time.
But not in a way where I’m like, you know, but in like a fan kind of way. Like I have no problem with going up to someone and being like ‘Holy crap, I love your movie’. Or I love this, I have no pride in that sort of thing. But also not seeking them out and bothering them. I let someone know if I appreciate something that they’ve done. Although Robin Williams was another person who passed away, he was at a comic shop in New York and he walked by me and I was like ‘Hey man, thanks for what you do’. “Oh, no problem, big guy’ and patted me on the back and when we checked out at the register, me and him just started talking about comics and he went back and picked up a couple of the one’s I was buying and told him about.
Buy Makes Me Sick here.