Hours before their show under an overcast Vancouver sky, New Found Glory singer Jordan Pundik is walking up to the Rickshaw Theatre, looking every bit as weary as the venue itself.
"This is our last stop in Canada," he says, adjusting his blue mesh Vans hat. He squints at the sun trying to break through the clouds. "Fuck…yeah, we've driven a lot this tour, but seen a lot of the country."
The band is celebrating the 10th anniversary of their third album, Sticks And Stones, by touring Canada and the States, playing the record in its entirety. During the soundcheck of the opening band Cartel, Jordan sat down with Punknews interviewer Gen Handley to talk about the popular album, who he thinks are the true pioneers of pop punk and how New Found Glory fits into it all.
What are your best memories of when Sticks And Stones came out 10 years ago?
That album was big for our band, like a pivotal record because it kind of got us to that next level. I just remember all of us had moved out to California, we recorded in San Diego at a place called Signature Sound – it was the place where like Blink-182 recorded and a bunch of other bands we were into as kids.
Yeah man, and that was the first time not living with our parents anymore – I think I was 19 or so when we did that record.
Do you think that record helped define the band at all?
Yeah, I think it definitely did. I mean that was a big record for us and for a lot of our fans too. For a lot of our fans, that was the first record they ever heard from us and it's stuck with them until now. And not to sound whatever…but a lot of bands cite that album as an influence on them, which is really cool.
How do you feel when you hear that from other artists?
I think it's really flattering because when we were recording it we never knew that's what it would become – we were fucking living with our parents up until then [Laughs].
So yeah, it's cool to hear that. I'll, like, hear from random people who you wouldn't think would be into our band, who say they like us and our music. I remember hearing an interview not too long ago with a guy from Mumford and Sons, on Matt Pinfield's podcast, and he was asked who he'd like to collaborate with and he said New Found Glory. See, I never would have expected that.
Was there any pressure on this album? Because the one before that was pretty popular…
No man, I don't think there was any pressure. We were coming off of the self-titled record and that was doing pretty well and we just wanted to step it up a little bit; make it a little more aggressive sounding. Between the self-titled and Sticks and Stones, we had been touring a lot so we were getting better. And we met a lot of cool people along the way in other bands who came and did guest vocals (Matt Skiba, Toby Morse, Dan Andriano, Mark Hoppus) and that was the first time we'd ever done that.
So, from what I remember, I didn't feel any pressure. Like, "My Friends Over You" was one of the last songs we wrote. A couple days before we were done with the studio, Chad (Gilbert, guitarist, backing vocals) was upstairs in lounge hanging out and he said, "Hey, listen to this riff I came up with" and he sang to us and then it turned into a song.
Did you ever find it hard trying to win over the punk community? Like, were you trying to prove yourselves to the traditionalists in the scene?
I think at a point we were because there were a lot of people who didn't know who we were. Like, before we had a big song on the radio, we were a band since '97, touring in shitty vans, playing in front of two people. It wasn't really until Sticks and Stones it became popular, that people were like, "Who's this band New Found Glory?" I think at first we were trying to prove that were actually a credible band and now I just think all that stuff's, I don't know… [Laughs]
I was reading somewhere that referred to New Found Glory's as a pioneer of pop-punk. How do you feel about that?
When we first started we were all hardcore kids and grew up with that. We started a pop-punk band because it was fun, but we wanted to throw in that hardcore influence and make genre a little heavier, in a way. For me, when I think of the frontrunners of pop-punk, I think of The Descendents and bands like that.
[Leans back into the couch]
I don't know…when I hear that, I think it's cool. There are people who come to me and say like, "I saw that band, The Story So Far or The Wonder Years, and they kept saying how New Found Glory was a huge influence" and whatever. That's cool because it means we're still a relevant band and plus, those bands are doing well now – they're popular with the kids these days. [Laughs]
You mentioned The Descendents as a band who you see as a pioneer, who else?
I think a bit differently than most people. You know that band Wavves? I think they're a pop-punk band, but they've been embraced by a different community. Essentially they're a pop-punk band who has been embraced at Coachella and hipster kids – just fuzzed out, two-and-a-half minute-long songs, you know? But as far as influential bands it's The Ramones, and even bands like Screeching Weasel…Husker Du, I love. Definitely The Descendents though - two-minute songs about girls and super catchy.
I heard you guys have a live album coming out in the fall?
Yeah man, we're pretty much putting it out ourselves, on Chad's label, his imprint. There's going to be three brand new songs on there, studio recorded, and the rest are from two shows from a couple nights we played in Orange County.
Would you consider that a home crowd?
No, but the place we played, Chain Reaction, is smaller than this place and we purposefully played there because that's one of the venues that helped us get to where we are now. It was just cool thing to go back there, do it in a small room and everyone that came got their photo taken and they're a part of the (album) artwork.
Are you working on a new album at all?
No. I don't know when we're going to do a new one yet. We just want to put this live one out, and then we'll probably go overseas to Europe to do festivals and then we'll come back to do a fall tour – still working on those details. I don't know when we'll do a new record. I want to see how this live record does and see what happens with it. Who knows, it might be a record that we can tour off of like a normal record.
I remember there was some hiatus talk last year…
Yeah, yeah, that was my fault – I worded it wrong. I said we were going to take a long break…we take breaks after every record. But the guy kind of twisted it and made it seem like I said we were going away forever. Lots of bands take breaks…
And then people start to panic…
[Laughs] Yeah, they start to panic. It's so weird because we live an age where we have Twitter and Facebook and you can see we have all of these shows coming up, we have a live record coming and we're doing this and that, and yet people were like, "You guys are breaking up?" [Laughs] All I said is we were taking a break, everybody does [Shakes his head].
Will Catalyst get a 10-year tour as well?
I don't know. We haven't really talked about it. I can't picture doing this for Catalyst because those songs are more…I don't know how to explain it…there are so many deep tracks on that record that we don't really play. So I wonder how they would go over live.
Well it sounds like it could go over well – a lot of people like that record.
Yeah, that was another good record for us. I don't know man, we'll see.
You've been on a lot of different labels over the years. Why is that? Was it out of necessity?
Yeah it was out of necessity. We started off on Fiddler Records, then Eulogy Records, then we went to Drive Thru Records. Drive Thru at the time had this deal with MCA Records where if a band was doing well on Drive Thru, MCA had the first right to pick up the band and that's what happened. So we were on MCA for a little bit and then the president got fired and they hired a new guy and then it turned into Geffen Records and they dropped all of these rock bands except for us and Blink , Finch and Something Corporate and like, Semisonic, I think? So we were on Geffin and that president got fired so we decided to go back to an indie and see what our options were – Epitaph was one of the first to approach us. It was awesome to be on that label because I grew up listening to so many bands on there – Rancid, Bad Religion, all of those bands. And plus, to have a guy who owns the label and be in a band, he gets it more as an artist, as a band. I think it was a really cool experience for us. And we finished it out with them and we're doing our own thing now, who knows.
You released an EP of Ramones covers a couple of months ago. Were you pretty happy with it?
Yeah, it was a lot of fun to do and it was kind of paying tribute to our roots, you know? To take those songs and stay true to them, but make them our own, was pretty cool.
What's going on with International Superheroes of Hardcore? Anything?
[Shrugs shoulders] Yeah…I don't know what's going on with that – it's kind of on the backburner right now. [Laughs] It was fun to do though…
Where did that idea come from? Was it kind of a message to the critics?
Well, we were doing demos for the Coming Home album and we were living in this house in Malibu called Morningview. We were there for two months almost, just trapped in the house – like being in rehab or something. [Laughs] But there were the hills of Malibu Canyon and the ocean view, but nothing around so you're outdoors a lot. It was just a cool vibe man. [Said in a "hippie" inflection] But we would lose our minds working on songs all day and one day I picked up a guitar and started playing three chords really fast and Cyrus (Bolooki) started playing drums and like, Chad took his shirt off, running around in his underwear screaming nonsense. From that, it just turned writing songs and we were like, "Dude, it would be awesome to record these and put them out under a different name and not tell anybody who it is."
So it was a product of cabin fever…
Pretty much, yeah. [Laughs] And it's not making fun of hardcore at all – we were just having fun.
You guys have been together for about 16 years. Do you think you'll make it to 20?
It's definitely possible. We can still tour all over the world and still have big shows; I don't feel like we're a band that nobody cares about, which is cool. We owe a lot of that to our fans who stay with us. I don't know if you'll be here for the whole show tonight, but there'll be a lot of older people and younger kids too. It's cool because those older fans that were there when this record came out passed it along to their younger brothers or whatever – it's a cool mix coming to our shows. To some people, we're a new band and I think it's because we bring out cool bands with us and helps us stay relevant. We're not old, jaded guys – we still love music and finding out about new bands.
The passion's still there…
Yeah, yeah. But I think it'll be weird if I'd still be singing "My Friends Over You" when I'm like 60 years old. [Laughs] But maybe, I don't know – in five more years, I'll be 35.
Is it kind of a trip seeing your band have intergenerational influence?
Yeah, it's super trippy. But I notice on tours, with the exception of this one, I feel like the kids are not aging at all, like they're the same age every tour. Because it's new kids all the time. I don't know, I think it's because we're just trying to stay busy and relevant and keep touring.
Do you think punk's stayed relevant? What does the genre mean to you?
Yeah. To me, it's everything. It's how I grew up; it's where I grew up. I didn't go to college – I grew up not going to frat parties and I grew up going to shows. And I'll always give credit to older friends of mine who got me into this music. If it wasn't for getting into this world, I would have never been in the band and I would have never known about a lot – and a lot of what I have now is because of it all. It's everything to me.
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