New Found Glory defies music labels and critics

Adam Griffiths

Band to release cover album, perform at Warped Tour

New Found Glory (left to right): rhythm guitarist Steve Klein, drummer Cyrus Bolooki, vocalist Jordan Pundik, lead guitarist Chad Gilbert and bassist Ian Grushka. PHOTO COURTESY OF DRIVE-THRU RECORDS.

Credit: DKS Editors

Labels are labels.

And in the music industry, there are two kinds to worry about – the genre to which your music is pegged and the distributor who signs you.

The five members of New Found Glory know a thing or two about both. In its 10-year history, the band has struggled with breaking out of the punk-pop subculture, a movement they’re widely credited for jump-starting.

“There’s always labels on something,” said Chad Gilbert, the band’s lead guitarist, on the phone while driving around with his wife, Sherri DuPree, a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the Indie band Eisley.

“What I listened to in high school, no one really knew,” he said. “It wasn’t mainstream. I understand why we’re pegged like that, because technically I guess that’s what we are. We have our own niche.”

With New Found Glory’s fifth and latest studio release, Coming Home, the boundaries of that niche broadened and blurred. Gilbert said critical response to their albums has never been too important the band, and he believes that no critic “ever really explains a record.”

“I remember the first time we were reviewed by Rolling Stone,” he said. “They called us skate punk. I’m not a skater. I like Coming Home because it stands on its own. Whether you like it or not, it stands on its own.”

It seems inconsequential to Gilbert that songs from the latest release sit mainly unheard at radio stations across the country. On Coming Home, they did what Gilbert says they always have: write from the heart, not making an effort to change and do different things for the sake of doing them.

“We didn’t want to record the same album again,” he said. “We wanted to take a different approach. I’m happy we did. Coming Home is the album we’re most proud of because we pushed ourselves in a different kind of way.”

Gilbert said the band’s recent departure from Geffen Records was due partly to the fact that everything started feeling routine.

“A new president came on and he knew nothing about us,” he said. “This was our third or fourth label president. It’d be basically like starting over again, having to re-meet the same company instead of a new label.”

For now, New Found Glory is back home at Drive-Thru Records. The band will release the second edition of From the Screen to Your Stereo, a collection of cover songs from popular movies, on the label they started at 10 years ago. The first edition included covers of “Never Ending Story” and “My Heart Will Go On,” among others.

“We never do a set list without one of these songs,” Gilbert said. “People keep requesting it. We have to do this for our fans, but it’s super fun. Doing covers, there’s no stress, no writing. It’s trying to make someone else’s song sound like your band.”

The album is due out in September. Gilbert said the band is trying to set up a series of shows in old movie theaters to support its release. There is also talk of a set of shows in Florida near the end of the year to celebrate the band’s 10 years together.

So then there’s the question of why these five guys decided to head out on Warped Tour this summer.

“It’s Warped Tour,” he said. “You only have to play half an hour. All of your plans are going to be there anyway. You get to hang out and have fun, and it’s really good exposure for the new movie-cover record.”

The members of New Found Glory have firmly rooted themselves in the modern music scene, but staying down to earth has kept the guys together this long.

“The reason why we love what we do is because we’re not in it for the money,” Gilbert said. “We’re not in it for the fame. Whether we’re on or off MTV, we never expected it, and we were never really concerned about it.”

Contact features correspondent Adam Griffiths at [email protected]