New Found Glory has old school charm
By Naughty Mickie
Sometimes journalists have to work extra hard to get their stories and sometimes that hard work is actually fun. This was the case when I got the opportunity to speak with New Found Glory. The quintet is comprised of vocalist Jordan Pundik, guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein, bassist Ian Grushka and drummer Cyrus Bolooki. I had two band members, Pundik and Gilbert, on the phone (the group was on the road with the Warped Tour), with their publicist, Erik Stein, trying to keep them somewhat in line. What resulted was a wonderful talk, bouncing from subject to subject, that shed light not only into how NFG works, but into the personalities behind the tunes.
I asked them to take me back to the start of the band.
"In the beginning, my mother met my father-- no, just kidding," snickers Pundik. "We all pretty much met when we were going to high school. We met through all our friends and we were friends and we went to shows and we met each other at shows.''
"In a lovely little town called Cold Springs," Gilbert picks up. "Cold Springs, Florida is like 'Saved by the Bell,' everyone knows everyone and you just meet through friends.''
"I was living in a different city," continues Pundik. "Then I moved there and I met Steve, our guitar player, he was the first kid I met when I moved there. And Jordan met Steve one day at school and Steve came over Jordan's house one day and the first day I met him, we wrote a song together in my backyard. And then I met Ian and then I met Chad next. And then we met South through other friends, who was with our band for a couple months. He recorded the first EP that we did locally and he quit the band because he had to do a lot of things with school and re-tile the roof, so we got Cyrus to play drums.''
The both got into music as children.
"Music was all around," says Pundik. "My dad was in plays, he was in 'Funny Girl.' It was more for college stuff than anything. This is the truth, when I was little I would bring my family into the living room and sing to them. Later on I had this guitar and I would sing songs and play guitar. My mom would make me come down in the living room and play songs when family was over. It was kind of embarrassing.''
"My first band, I was in the fifth grade, it was called Backscatter," Gilbert offers. "(Then) I was in a metal band and I played bass for them and we opened for all these metal bands and all these metal bands hooked up with all these bars because we were like 14 and 15. Well, there, I was 13, playing bass in this band and they thought we were cool. We have all these videos and it's really embarrassing. Then I got in a band, my first kind of serious band, I played in a band called Shai Hulud and that was when I was in the eighth and ninth grade and we were an independent hard-core band and they're actually still together, still running strong. I played for them and we did a bunch of tours across the U.S. And I did New Found Glory and Shai Hulud at the same time for the first two years that New Found Glory was a band and I quit Shai Hulud because we grew apart, like you would grow apart with a boyfriend and I would grow apart with a girlfriend and Jordan would grow apart from his dog.''
"Very funny,'' comments Pundik.
"You see, Jordan loves his dog, he's got a pug." Gilbert goes on, "Basically, we just grew apart and I just did New Found Glory full time. I started when I was really young, I started when I was 13; my first tour across the country was when I was 15. I played out here in L.A., actually in Corona. We played the Showcase in Corona. The Huntington Beach Library, we played the library," he starts to sing.
"My parents like to say that when I was little that when I'd get baths and took a poop I'd be singing to myself. So I guess I was singing like when I was three,'' Pundik laughs.
"Can you believe that Jordan still does that?'' Gilbert asks.
"Yeah, I sing when I poop,'' admits Pundik. "I was in chorus for a year in my middle school days and then I was in band, I was in marching band.''
I ask him what his instrument was and he hems and haws at his response.
"Aaa, ummm, sousaphone,'' Pundik finally mumbles.
"Are you embarrassed?" I tease.
Pundik doesn't really answer, "It's like the tuba, but you wear it across your shoulder and it's really heavy and I'm fucked up from it in my shoulder, I have scoliosis now. But I like to keep it in my room and play it along with my favorite CDs."
Pundik graduated from high school, but Gilbert still does not have a diploma.
"I left my junior year because I had to go on tour," explains Gilbert. "We actually had to go on tour with Reel Big Fish. I started to be home schooled and that was the deal with my mom that I would get my diploma through home school. But then I started slacking off and I never did it and now I'm here in California and I still haven't done it.''
Both musicians have done time on day jobs.
"When I was going to college, I was going to the Art Institute and I was working at Walgreen's at the same time,'' says Pundik.
"He actually would steal and he had the mask," Gilbert confides. "He would steal the chocolate bars and pretend he was taking a poop. He would go in the men's bathroom and eat the chocolate bars sitting on the toilet. He wasn't pooping, he just wanted to eat chocolate. 'I have to go to the bathroom' and then he takes a Snicker's bar.''
"When I worked at Walgreen's I kept to myself and did my own thing and no one bothered me, so I was able to do whatever I wanted, like when I'd go in the bathroom and slack off all the time,'' says Pundik.
"I worked at a movie theater and I let everyone in for free,'' admits Gilbert.
"He got to fart in the popcorn buckets too,'' Pundik adds.
"People would come in, 'I want my Pepsi. Okay I want a third Pepsi, the middle diet Pepsi and the top Pepsi.' What the fuck does that do? How can that make any difference?" Gilbert says with disgust. "'Okay the bottom half has to be Pepsi, the top half has to be diet Pepsi.' What does that do? That's what people used to do to me because in Cold Springs, everyone's friggin' weird. I'd be like, 'Screw this,' when they walked away and I'd end up farting in their large coke.''
"Our bass player he used to work at Einstein's Bagels and he'd put boogers in the vegetable bagels," Pundik tells me more than I wanted to know.
"Look, he only did it to the people that were really really mean to him,'' offers Gilbert.
Pundik agrees, "Only the rude people.''
"And seriously, in Cold Springs, there are so many rude people,'' Gilbert sums up.
In their free time, most of the guys in NFG enjoy playing video games. But after checking their Web site, I ask Pundik about his bio, which states that he likes to read.
"Read?" Pundik seems surprised. "I read not really. I read sometimes.''
"He eats a lot,'' Gilbert says.
"I eat a lot though," Pundik repeats. "I just got done reading the Motley Crue 'Dirt' book. They spilled some shit in there that you wouldn't believe. I like hanging out at my house, going to movies, hanging out with my girlfriend, with my dog, friends--''
"I told you about his dog,'' Gilbert cuts in.
Pundik has a pug named Blondie.
"She's a hyperactive puppy. She likes to poop in the house,'' Pundik says.
On the Web site, it states that Gilbert collects Todd MacFarlane toys.
"I play a lot of videos games and watch movies, the same things as Jordan. I buy a lot of DVDs, I think I have about 500 DVDs. So many,'' Gilbert laughs. "I play video games, I collect toys.''
"Which toys?" I ask.
"I like the 'Nightmare Before Christmas' stuff,'' he says.
"Do you have a favorite character?" I prod.
"No, they're all pretty equal in coolness." Gilbert pauses and adds, "I don't really like Lock, Shock and Barrel though, the three little ghouls. I don't really like them. Everyone thinks they're cool, but I think they're stupid and they're little brats. Screw them, they messed up friggin' Santy Claus, dude.''
NFG shares their opinions with me on the music scene.
"I think the mainstream is getting a lot better, if you call it the mainstream," says Gilbert. "Like radio is getting a lot better-- bands like the Hives, Jimmy Eats World, Blink, Green Day and even a lot of newer bands like Save The Day. There are so many bands that have been working really hard and touring. I'm not really into a lot of the bands, but they're bands that have been working really hard and touring for many years and now they're finally getting credit; clearly getting a chance to play for the masses. When usually it's just bands that sound like Eddie Vetter and bands that go boom-a-a-a and stuff like that, it's all fake crap. It's stupid and no artists, it's just stupid. And these real bands that worked hard and devoted their lives to go on tour are finally getting some credit on MTV and radio and that's cool.''
We discuss the growing prevalence of Florida bands, including Matchbox 20, N'SYNC, Limp Biskit and Nonpoint.
"There's so many bands, there's nothing else to do in Florida, so if you like music, you start a band," Gilbert explains. "It's kind of cool because there's the New York scene and then there's California, but recently I think that Florida's third in line with bands.''
I muse that this may be fueling competition.
"In south Florida there were no bands. The only other band from south Florida that was huge was Marilyn Manson. We're not into that, it's a totally different crowd," says Gilbert.
I ask them about the Internet.
"I use the Internet and it's great," says Gilbert. "I think that, I mean some stores in the industry, a lot of stores, are getting screwed, a lot of people losing jobs in the industry, but as far as bands go, for us, I think that our fans are the kind of fans that want to own the CD, they don't just want a burnt copy. We're a touring bands, our record sales and our career doesn't rely on that, doesn't rely on a million Platinum record CDs. Our career is revolved around a lot of our touring, so when people download our CD, they may not buy CD, but they'll go to our show and buy a ticket and a shirt. That's cool, that's good.''
"Who maintains e-mail contact with your fans?" I query.
"Ian our bass player," responds Gilbert. "I'm a really slow typer and I go crazy if I stay on it for too long, but our bass player is on it. He e-mails about 400 people a day, no joke. I think it's rad that he does that. I couldn't that, but he does e-mail back.''
"Do you have a favorite site?" I want to know.
"It's called 'Barely Legal' dot com,'" Gilbert teases. "I'm not into that. My favorite Web site right now is just the Warped Tour Web site because I'm so excited that we're on the Warped Tour. I go on there and I click on touring and if you click on cities, you can see each band that playing in each city.''
Gilbert explains that he found out that there were bands playing on tour of whom he wasn't aware. Then, the "terrible twosome" spread the grief, telling me to check out Erik Stein dot net, "It's really cool, if you go on there.''
I steer them back, asking them to tell me how they write.
"In our band, and if anyone tells you different, it's really equal," Gilbert says. "It's not that it's equal, it's just that. Okay, here's how it works, we don't go, 'Okay one, two, three we're going to write a song.' I sit down and I write a song on guitar and I'll write the music for song because an idea comes to me. I'll come up with the whole song, bring it to practice, show it to everyone, we then play it and we say, 'We like this part, we don't like this part, this kind of flows good, this kind of flows weird.' Sometimes we'll change it, sometimes we don't change it. Sometimes Cyrus has a part or sometimes Jordan has an idea.
"If you listen to one of our songs, I can't say that I wrote the song completely because everyone has input," continues Gilbert. "We take the song, all the music when it's done, and we give it to Steve and we'll make copies for everyone. Steve will then write lyrics to the song or he might just write a verse and come back and be like, 'Here's my main idea, but I just can't get this part.' I'll go home, I'll write the part. Jordan will go home, he'll write the part. Steve writes the main ideas for the lyrics, he doesn't write the complete song. It's kind of like an assembly line, it's kind of like building a car.''
Since Klein is penning the words, I wonder if it's hard to for Pundik to sing someone else's lyrics.
"Steve and I have been friends forever and all our songs are about real life things that happen," Pundik asserts. "We've all been through everything together. Like, Steve was going out with a particular girl, but I was there the whole time and I understood what he was going through. And for me, the song doesn't say the one girl's name and so I can relate because it reminds me of my situation with my girlfriend.''
"The same thing for me," Gilbert agrees. "I'll play the guitar and get the emotion through the song. Steve writes pretty cool lyrics, we like his lyrics. Steve writes the better lyrics than me. Steve writes better lyrics than Jordan. Steve can write an idea and I can add on it, I can write a really cool part and I can write some cool lyrics and it's Steve's main idea. It just works that way.
"Jordan's voice is just fucking amazing, I love his voice, it's probably one of my favorite voices out there," Gilbert goes on. "I think it's rad and I think that that's Jordan's talent and I think that Jordan has written and contributed some really cool lyrics. And for me too, like you hear a song that Steve wrote and I'll add a part or Jordan will add a part, but since we're all close and for the past five years, all our songs are real and they're about things real things that happen. Everything that we sing about is about one of us. Like the song, 'Sonny,' that was inspired through Jordan's grandfather passing away. His grandfather didn't pass away, but Steve knew Jordan's emotions and what went on because Jordan talked to him about it. So Steve wrote the song about that and Jordan can super duper relate to that, super duper relate to that song.''
Pundik knows I am a fellow vocalist and hits me up for some advice, "What do you do not to lose your voice on tour? Because I always lose my voice on tour.''
"I avoid drinking alcohol before I go on stage because it's very drying," I say. "I also drink water at room temperature so I don't chill my throat."
"That's what I do, but for some reason, I don't know,'' says Pundik.
I then recommend keeping your throat warm and not overdoing the air conditioning in your car or room.
The clock is ticking and NFG has other commitments today, so I ask them if they have anything they would like to tell me.
"I want to tell you how I feel about you," offers Gilbert. "I think that you're beautiful. I think that you're sweet. Jordan, you're beautiful and sweet too. Tell everyone to look out for the new CD and come to the Warped Tour and that New Found Glory will continue to be the same band and believe in the same things as we blow up and, if we don't, we'll continue to be the same band and do the same things we always have and that's it. We love are fans, we're not above anyone, we're their equal. Keep real in '99."
"Have a great tour," I wish them.
"You too. I mean have a great day,'' laughs Gilbert.
Find out where New Found Glory is today by visiting www.newfoundglory.com
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