New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik On 20 Years Of Pop Punk & Bringing Their Anniversary Party To Australia

Hookups, breakups, kickflips and endless summers – for many of those coming of age at the turn of the century and towards the first half of the decade, New Found Glory was the ultimate soundtrack to youthful exuberance and reckless abandon. As the years have gone on, many have rediscovered the band and returned to their music as adults; with all of those memories flooding back while new ones are made.

Meanwhile, a whole new generation of teenagers will chance upon them. The cycle continues. Things come and go, but true friends – and bands like New Found Glory – stick around forever. That’s just the thing: New Found Glory have never broken up. They’ve never cashed in on a reunion tour.

Even when news broke a few years back that could well have destroyed the band, they bounced back with one of their best LPs in years. In 2017, they celebrate a full 20 years since forming and changing the face of pop-punk as we know it forever. To coincide with this anniversary, the band are in the full swing of a tour in which they are playing several of their most popular albums from start to finish; tearing through two a night.

In August, that will bring them back to Australia – a country they visited very early on and one that has given them some of their most attentive and enthusiastic crowds ever.

Ahead of this massive tour, Music Feeds spoke with the band’s leader, vocalist and lyricist Jordan Pundik. From fatherhood to ‘My Friends Over You’, Pundik remains as forthright and honest as he’s ever been.

Music Feeds: Amidst all of this looking back and album retrospectives, New Found Glory has still found a way to stay contemporary. How has the response been so far to Makes Me Sick, which came out back in April?

Jordan Pundik: It’s been really great. We’ve only really had time to properly play two songs off the record when we’ve been doing shows, but the reaction has been awesome. People have been surprisingly great about the new record. [pauses] Well, maybe not “surprisingly”. Maybe that’s the wrong word. I only say “surprisingly” because we’ve been a band for so long. Every time we put out a new record, people still latch onto it.

MF: It really does speak to the longevity of the band – which brings us to the anniversary shows. Commemorating 20 years of the band is one thing, but how have you handled having to play all of these records in their entirety? It’s quite an ambitious project to take on.

JP: [laughs] Yeah, it really was. I have trouble enough remembering lyrics from songs we did a year ago. To remember songs from 20 years ago was crazy. I remember being in my bed in those weeks before the tour started, listening to [debut album, 1999’s] Nothing Gold Can Stay. Then the next album, then the album after that… I’d just keep going and then I’d start again. It’s been a lot of work, but I think it’s really cool. At these shows, it’s been awesome to see the age groups of all the people coming to see us.

You could see all of the people that were a little older that would have gotten into us back in the early 2000s – and they’ll often be bringing their nephews or even their kids along to the shows now, as well. They’ve been passing the records down. It’s cool to be able to play those songs – it reignites those albums for us. That was one of the main reasons that we wanted to do it.

MF: You mentioned listening back to those albums again after what can safely be assumed as years. What did you get out of doing that personally? What kind of memories did it unearth for you?

JP: It totally takes you back – you remember all of the different times associated with those albums. I think that’s one of the cool things about this band, and one of the reasons people can relate with us so well. The records we put out are these tiny time capsules of what was going on in our lives at that time. When I was listening back to the self-titled record [second album, 2000’s New Found Glory], for instance, listening to songs like ‘Better Off Dead’, I remember what we were doing in the studio. We were on a major label, even though we were 19-years- old that were all still living with our parents – it was ridiculous. Having all of our friends show up to the studio, hanging out in the lounge… all that stuff. It all comes back. It’s the same for [third album, 2002’s] Catalyst. When we’re playing these songs live, it’s almost like we’re back in that moment. We’ll look out and see people just losing their minds, singing every single word. We’re hoping that’s what will happen when we come play in Australia, too. We just want this tour and these shows to be a big party.

MF: A lot of the songs that are being played on this tour have either never been played live or have not been played since the initial touring in support of said album. How have the rehearsals gone insofar as pulling these songs, in particular, out from the depths?

JP: It was definitely stressful. [laughs] We had a few days before the tour, and everyone did their part practising and listening to the albums before we got together. Once we got everything going, we realised how fun these songs are to play. It’s been awesome to go deep on Catalyst and play the songs we never got to before, in particular. That one seems to get the best reaction a lot of the time.

MF: One of the other things that must have come up during the rehearsals is the issue of guitars. For nearly all of its lifespan, New Found Glory was a two-guitar band. You’ve spent the last couple of years with just the four of you, with Chad Gilbert taking on all guitar duties. Did you consider bringing in a touring guitarist to play these shows, or perhaps even playing rhythm guitar yourself?

JP: No, not really. It’s just Chad doing everything. He’s a good enough guitar player that he can work his way through both lead parts and rhythm parts pretty easily. Take a song like ‘My Friends Over You’, for example. That starts off with a pretty distinctive riff, so he’ll obviously kick off the song with that. He knows how to get to the crunch part, hit the lead guitar part and then get back to the crunch. There’s not really that big of a difference in the live sound. The only extra pair of hands that we have is Justin, our guitar tech, and we’ll get him to play keyboard parts if there’s anything like that we need – he’ll play on ‘Failure’s Not Flattering’, for instance. That, kind of, helps to fill in some gaps, but apart from that, we don’t have another guitarist. Chad has his guitar going through two amps now, with one on either side of the stage. He also bought a couple of new pedals that allow him to do a little bit of extra work on-stage.

People have been pretty positive about it – it all reflects on how good a guitarist Chad is. Maybe he’s too good. [laughs] I will say, we did have a couple of kids that were talking shit online. They were saying that he was playing to a backing track – we saw some comments on Instagram, and we were just dying laughing.

MF: There seems to be a real bond and a real trust that keeps the four of you together. All four of you have played on every single New Found Glory record – a lot of bands have come and gone, or changed their line-up entirely, but there’s a real consistency to this band that many strive for. What do you think it is about you and the other three guys in the band that has kept this whole thing moving along?

JP: You said trust there, and I think that’s a really big part of it. I also think we don’t take anything for granted. We’re appreciative of where we are. It could all end tomorrow – Cyrus [Bolooki, drums] could lose a hand. I could lose my voice. For us, we take it one day at a time. We’re so appreciative of where this band has taken us. It’s baffled me. This is all we want to do, so we’ve done everything within our power to keep it going as long as we possibly can.

MF: This is also a band that started, as you mentioned when you were teenagers. Do you feel like the motivation to start playing in a band and to make music when you were starting out is the same drive that keeps the band going? Do you feel it contextually shifts as the band grows and you get older?

JP: I think it’s a little bit of both. I speak for myself here – I’ve always wanted to be in a band and to just play fun, three-chord songs like Billie-Joe [Armstrong]. When I was a kid playing guitar, it was easy to learn those songs. I wasn’t good enough to learn My Bloody Valentine songs or Slowdive songs – so I just started playing in pop-punk bands. Just because it was fun to do. With that, I wasn’t thinking of anything past that. I wasn’t thinking we were going to be on MTV one day, or that we’d be touring in Australia one day. I was just stoked to get out of my mum’s house and be in a van with everybody. Now, this is all we’ve ever done. I had shitty jobs when the band was starting out, but thanks to this band I was able to quit those jobs.

We’re in our mid-30s now. I have kids, and so does Ian [Grushka, bass]. There’s a lot more at stake now. It’s not just a passion of ours now. It’s… I don’t know what the word would be to describe it.

MF: Your vocation? Your job?

JP: I guess it is a job, in a way. It’s a really cool job, but it’s also one that you have to make a lot of sacrifices for. There’s a lot that goes into allowing this band to continue. It’s weird – it’s kind of somewhere in-between for us, I think.

MF: You mentioned never dreaming of coming to Australia, and yet it would have to be one of the band’s biggest markets outside of North America. You were even a part of the Australian version of the Warped Tour very early on if memory serves?

JP: That’s right, yeah. I think it was maybe 2001 or 2002 when Warped was doing its thing over there. It was nothing like the way we tour Australia now – everyone flies to shows now, but back then we were travelling around in this bus. Not like a tour-bus in the States, but kind of like a big van with a shitload of seats in there.

We were sharing a bus with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and ALL – maybe Pennywise, too. We were just the dumb young kids that all the older guys would make fun of. It was crazy to us – the Bosstones were one of those bands that we used to just go see all of the time when we were kids. The whole thing was such a surreal experience. To be able to still come there… hell, to have people still want us to come there. Man, I can’t tell you how cool that is to us.

New Found Glory will celebrate two decades as a band by bringing their ’20 Years Of Pop Punk’ tour to Australia this August. See details here.

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