Late last year, New Found Glory released their latest album, Coming Home and I had a chance to speak with guitarist Chad Gilbert about the new album, the last album and his other projects including some brief mentions of both Hazen Street and Shai Hulud.
You have been doing this for quite a while now, is this your ninth year together?
This is the tenth actually; we started in June of â97.
I think Iâm counting from Nothing Gold Can Stay. So how does it feel? Obviously you guys have come a long way.
But regardless if its 100 kids at our show or 10,000 we're still gonna do it. So I think the fact that we never forgot where we come from and we honestly do it because we love it and not because itâs a career and a way to make money, and I think thatâs why we do it.
It feels amazing. It feels amazing to still be able to release records and tour and have people care and come see you. So many bands in their careers have ups and downs, and theyâre really big and then no one comes see them again. I feel like I'm happy where New Found Glory is. Itâs kind of been this place where every record we put out people know itâs out there and they buy it, and we have our fans and we make new fans every record. And we constantly build our fans so itâs really kind of fun to have that fan base where we continue to just put out records and have people come see us play live.
Some of the first songs you released had a slower tempo, and some of the long-time fans got worried. Any reason you chose those to release first?
We kind of only wanted to release songs that show the change and growth in music and that also show the classic NFG melodies. The songs that have been released are more mid-paced, but still have the classic NFG vocal melodies. What I can definitely say to anyone who thinks this album is a slower record is- it isn't. If anyone out thereâs favorite record was Catalyst, if we released "I Don't Wanna Know" first, you would think it was a slow record, but Catalyst was our heaviest record. You just have to hear the new album, because the thing is our new CD is more like an album than just like a CD full of songs.
Every song really makes sense with each other. Especially the order you listen to the CD, the CD has a really great track order. When youâre listening to it, it will take you from an upbeat song and just kind of goes everywhere, shows all of NFG's writing abilities. Honestly, this record is more like Sticks and Stones and our S/T album. If your favorite records are the S/T album and Sticks and Stones, then this record is going to be your favorite. Itâs more going back to those. Itâs almost like melodically a step back to those albums and musically a step forward. I feel Catalyst had more of a negative connotation and the S/T had more of this energy to it, and vocally it was kind of more up beat. And thatâs how this new record is- way more vocally and all that kind of stuff. Itâs more upbeat and not as dark.
A year ago you gave an interview you promised that you weren't going to mature. Do you think youâve been able to keep that promise?
Well let me clarify that- I think thereâs a difference between maturing. Maturing to me is when you go see a band and they disown everything they've ever done and act this certain way. NFG has always done things that are natural and are real. Because we are fans of music, we still listen to current bands, we're not those kinds of people who go back to our roots and the roots of music and say "we need to be creative and look at like this amazing song writing rock band".
It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with a natural progression and I think of a band that matures as you go see them live they don't play any of their old stuff, they only play new stuff and they act completely different. That's not our band. On our headline tour with Cartel and The Early November and Hit the Lights, that tour is pretty much a lot of Sticks and Stones and S/T songs, a couple Catalyst and four new songs. You know, we're not coming out there completely changing.
I think thatâs what I mean by you don't have to worry about us maturing, If it means maturing in a sense of disowning everything we've ever done, we would never disown our records just because we write songs that maybe use the piano now, or just because we wanted try something a teeny bit different, just because we want to try a new guitar. If you listen to the new record when you get it, I think you are going to be really psyched and pleasantly surprised to see that is its just like classic NFG, it's just the production may sound a little different then our older records, that's the only difference. We just do natural things. Whatever we write we write. Itâs not a conscious effort to grow out of anything we've ever done itâs not like that; we embrace anything we've ever done and love everything we've ever done.
It's always kind of annoying to see a band disown their earliest material, particularly because some of the oldest fans discovered them that way.
We're fans of music. We're not trying to be big rock saviors of music- heck no, we just wrote a new record and what came out came out.
Now, one thing, and I don't want to bring up any painful stuff, but you obviously went through a lot in the last two years, family and personal stuff. I mean Catalyst was pretty dark, and you've mentioned that lyrically this new record isn't so dark.
I went through my dad passing away two years ago October 2nd, and this record is kind of a more positive record because when you have something so devastating happen to you and you can get through it, you try to find the best. Because there's so many things that people don't even realize you have to go through, when someone passes away in your family its kind of like you have to accept it immediately and then fix it all- not fix it all, but kind of take charge of the situation, whether it be organizing a funeral, itâs like the most insane thing, you have to completely forget who youâre organizing the funeral for and then organize it.
Itâs just the most insane thing. I think when you kind of get to a place when youâre like "man this is the worst Iâve ever felt" thereâs only one place to go and thatâs like happy. And what happened was the way my father died; he wanted to die that way. My dad had cancer and almost died like seven or eight years ago, well actually nine, it would be nine now, he was supposed to die and he actually lived seven years longer then he was supposed to. He beat cancer. So when he died, he died of a heart attack and he didn't feel anything. And that's what this song "When I Die" is about. Itâs looking at the situation like we're all going to die eventually and at least you got to die the way you wanted. And at least now when I die, there's someone there to see me through it. Thatâs kind of like what "When I Die" is about. I think thatâs why its a positive record because really I was sad because, like, I can't hang out with my dad anymore and he was my best friend and you know, for the past however many years I was on tour instead of hanging out with him, which is kind of like something that goes through your mind, but at the same time I feel like my dad got everything he wanted so it was kind of like hard to be angry at that.
Because you can die any way and you can die at any time and so I was kind of was grateful of how my dad went as opposed to being angry and bitter about it.
Sorry to bring that up.
No, itâs fine, thatâs why you write songs. If I didn't want anyone to know I wouldn't have wrote about it if I didn't want to talk about it. When you write songs you kind of know that if you write about it people are going to bring it up, so to me I just feel like the story of what happened with my dad, people can kind of relate to it and also people who are having some mixed issues about losing a family member can definitely use this song as somewhere to go to, so I don't mind talking about it.
What do you think of your former band getting back together?
Shai Hulud? Well Matt Fox is the original member and I think of Shai Hulud this way- Shai Hulud is no longer the original Shai Hulud. Shai Hulud is the band that can have any singer, can get back together at anytime as long as Matt's in the band. Theyâve had so many different member changes that as long as Matt's in the band then itâs Shai Hulud. I mean those songs that I sing on and the old releases are still special to people and people still want to hear those song and see them live and if Matt's there playing them and Shai Hulud is like, I think Shai Hulud can write a new album and it be the best Shai Hulud album, and when they play live they play old songs and its kind of like their covering the old songs. I think Matt is a good musician and guitar player and has a lot to offer, so as long as he's writing music whether it be Shai Hulud or whatever, that's cool with me.
Now back to NFG. Obviously you guys have been on a major label for a while now but I don't think anyone would accuse you guys of changing anything between the time when you were on Drive Thru and you signed to MCA. It wasn't really a formal thing, right? That just kind of happened gradually?
Yeah, thatâs a cool thing about our whole band and how we're still able to be the same band do and the same things as we've always done. We've always been in charge of our careers and are to this day whether it be the album packaging or whatever, we run everything, we do everything. Now we're not paying for it, which is like, a good thing. Now instead of us paying for it, we organize it and come up with the ideas and then the label sets it all up, which is awesome.
We went on tour ourselves we paid for our first EP and Nothing Gold Can Stay. We paid for those recordings ourselves, we saved up money by working at the movie theater or our local jobs or whatever we did and we went on tour and just booked our own shows. Because I was in Shai Hulud, I would call up these promoters who I met through Shai Hulud and be like "hey this is my new band, can you get us on the show you have" and they'd be like "sure". So we kind of set up our own tours and got our own fan base by touring. Then Drive-Thru came to the table and said "Hey we like what youâre doing". It was almost like "we want to take what youâre doing and bring it to California". At that time we'd only been through the east coast and built this whole thing.
So Drive-Thru signed us and we just kept touring and touring. And then Drive-Thru had a deal with MCA, and while we were touring MCA came to see us play and saw all these kids singing along and were like "What the heck? Who is this band? They have their crap together. Kids are singing along, theyâre selling records, they have good songs, what is this band?" So we became friends with MCA and then they picked us up.
When MCA folded and we got moved to Geffen and itâs just the same thing. Even our new album we co-produced, we write our songs a hundred million trillion percent. You know we're one hundred percent involved in everything from our songs to everything. We co-produced our album because our label loves what we do so much. They loved our new album; our songs worked so much they were like "we don't want to give this to other people to take charge of this cause theyâre going to mess up what you guys did". So thatâs when Tom Panunzio was like "I want to help you guys put it together" as opposed to doing things different, you know?
So it's a really cool thing to be able to be a band on a major label and to still make all the decisions. The creative decisions of course. Now marketing? I couldn't tell you how to market a CD or all that label stuff, thatâs what labels are for. But as far as creating and everything you see as NFG has always been the same. Because of our fans being so loyal too, the label never ever tried to question us or to try to change anything about our band. Because you hear horror stories all the time, Iâve heard horror stories about labels and bands and I can't even imagine that.
Itâs interesting that you have outlasted so many of the bands who came up around the same time. I remember seeing you playing with Midtown; you had a tour with Blink-182 pretty early on, and of those bands none of them have actually survived. How and why do you guys stay together?
I think the reason why NFG is still a band is- well there are a couple reasons. I think the main reason is because we love what we do and thereâs not one band argument, thereâs not one thing in this world that can make us want to do anything else besides play music. Thereâs not one band fight or situation that could make us be like "yeah youâre right. I don't want to tour and play guitar anymore because you know, I don't like you anymore". That could never ever happen to us. We love what we do so much and we've never forgotten where we come from. We were kids that wanted to play music in a garage that went from the garage to the local bar to the local club to touring across the country to doing whatever we're doing now, its all in one span. Itâs like we're still on that same path that we started from when we were playing in a garage and that is just we want to play our music and go on tour, its as simple as that and if we can be successful while we're doing it then so be it.
But regardless if its 100 kids at our show or 10,000 we're still gonna do it. So I think the fact that we never forgot where we come from and we honestly do it because we love it and not because itâs a career and a way to make money, and I think thatâs why we do it. And also to be honest, thatâs the main reason, no problem is too big to jeopardize what we love to do. And another thing is that I think our band has never worried about what people say from every album because we have NFG fans that are like "S/T is my favorite album, I hate this new record". But you know, then there are people who are like "this is my favorite and S/T I hate". We have all these people who like different things and different aspects of NFG and then thereâs people who have never even liked NFG and try to say whatever they say, but the truth of the matter is that we donât care; I mean we care what our fans think 100 million percent because we love our fans. But as far as people who hate on us- weâve never cared about whatâs trendy. I think thatâs the big deal about why we're still around we don't care about what is popular.
Our new album, if people say its different or whatever they want to say its like if we wanted to be a bigger band we would wear all black and have eyeliner be dark and scream in parts of our songs, you know like every other band there is. And thatâs totally cool if thatâs what those bands want to do but that is whatâs popular now, you know and we are not concerned about whatâs popular now. We are concerned about writing songs from our heart and being NFG, not the main stream and what cool is now, you know?
We're fans of music. We're not trying to be big rock saviors of music-
And being a band for nine years I've seen music change. When we first started it was a different kind of popular music and two years later thereâs another kind of popular music and then two years later thereâs another popular music and we've never tried to fit in and be a part of the trend. It was more like, we are NFG and we'll always be NFG whoever comes and goes whoever comes and stays its cool, but we will always write music that is NFG. You know, we were a punk band but we werenât NOFX, we were a punk band but we werenât Anti-Flag, we were a punk band and we werenât Blink-182, I mean we are a punk band, whatever you want to call us is what Iâm trying to say. We donât fit into one thing, we kind of have our place, and thatâs why I think weâll always be a band, because weâre not driven by a trend.
Now you obviously participated with that Hazen Street project, do you think that was a good way to get out some of your harder song writing ideas?
Actually not really, cause the songs arenât really hard, that album isnât really a heavy album, I would say it was more of an album of the Madball guys and H2O guys and Cho-Mag being able to step out of their element, Me, I loved it cause I just love writing songs, and the songs are still kind of on the poppier-side, still kind of catchy poppy stuff, so for me it wasnât even so much stepping out of my element as it was just a cool time, it was cool to play music and hear other people sing, it was different. It was just kind of a cool little neat thing and it was cool to get to play with one of my favorite bands, like Madball has always been one of my favorite bands, H20- Toby the singer is one of my best friends. So itâs kind of cool to be in a band with my best friend, and these guys that I grew close with who play in Madball and Dave Kennedy is now in Angels and Airwaves. So it was just a really cool project to be a part of, cause why wouldnât you want to write music with these bands?
So here is my last question: Any theories on why Jordan can sign so high? Heâs been signing at that pitch forever, most guys lose their voice after a couple of years, and that guy maintains that pitch
I donât know man; I think heâs no longer Jordan singing like Jordan, heâs Jordan impersonating Jordan. Naw, I'm just kidding, no I donât know, it baffles my mind, and you know whatâs weird he sounds high but sometimes heâs not even hitting high notes and he still sounds like he signing high, itâs a really weird thing. Besides Ian kicking him in the balls repeatedly before every take, I would say I donât know.