Even if New Found Glory didn’t invent pop punk, they certainly have spent the past 11 years perfecting its formulas. We caught up with singer Jordan Pundik, guitarist Steven Klein and drummer Cyrus Bolooki in Orlando, Florida; the first home-state stop on the Not Without A Fight Tour to discuss everything from working with Mark Hoppus on the new record (out now on Epitaph) to “bro-ing down” on tour. Here's a little sample:
Rhapsody: How’s the tour been going so far
Jordan Pundik: Awesome!
Rhapsody: You guys glad to back in Florida? Last week you had to cancel a show in Denver because of a snowstorm right?
Cyrus Bolooki: Yeah. No snow here
Pundik: At least the sun is up, but it’s also kind of stressful because our families are here too. We are taking up every single guest spot imaginable.
Bolooki: This weekend will be crazy for us. But it’s always fun.
Rhapsody: So you guys have moved from south Florida to live out in LA correct?
Steve Klein: I live in San Diego. Chad lives in LA.
Bolooski: Seven years ago we all moved out to San Diego to record a record, and then after a couple of years, everybody sort of started spreading out from there. So two of us live back in south Florida: me and Ian, and the rest of the guys still live in California.
Rhapsody: How has the reception for the new record been so far?
Bolooki: It's been awesome. We’ve been able to play songs not just here, but also in Australia and Japan and everybody is reacting quickly and well to all the new songs.
Rhapsody: That’s crazy because the record has been out for exactly a month. But you were in Australia the week it came out.
Bolooki: Well it came out early in Australia compared to here.
Klein: And it leaked a month early.
Bolooki: Yeah it leaked a while ago.
Pundik: But it’s all good because you can get it for five bucks at our shows now.
Bolooki: It’s cool though because kids come out and support us and sing along so we don’t really mind.
Rhapsody: While you guys were writing and recording Coming Home, you spent a lot of time living in a mansion in Malibu. I think that record is one of your most mellow releases to date. With Not Without A Fight, you guys bring back the gritty, pick sliding pop-punk that is very similar to your older material.
Pundik: That’s all Steve: 'Weoooo-weooo-weooo! Punch me in dude. Punch me in!'
Klein: Yeah. I’m the pick slider.
Rhapsody: Was this because of events that happened in your life? Working with a new label, Epitaph, or working with Mark Hoppus producing the new record?
Klein: I think the aggression is there. It's whatever comes out. We don’t really sit there and say: "this is the way our record is going to sound."
Rhapsody: So it’s pretty much whatever you are feeling at the time?
Klein: I don’t think we wrote a “punk” record because we were on Epitaph.
Bolooki: Well we weren’t even on Epitaph when we wrote it.
Pundik: We finished the record before we even got singed.
Bolooki: We recorded and basically finished the whole record last summer, and then we got signed.
Rhapsody: And that period where you were recording, you guys were sort of just floating around without a label?
Bolooki: We didn’t really worry about a label. That’s the thing.
Pundik: We just wanted to put together a record.
Bolooki: We wanted to make sure we got the record done. We didn’t want a label to be telling us to do this, or have this kind of song, or any of that. We were just like, "lets get a record done."
Rhapsody: Is that something that happens with the major labels?
Bolooki: You can hear horror stories about that.
Pundik: They tell us to do this. And we say “Yeah. Sure bro. Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say.”
Rhapsody: You guys toured with Blink-182 years ago, in support of your self-titled record. How did you get connected with Mark again and have him actually produce your new record?
Klein: Cyrus brought him up actually.
Klein We’ve always been friends with him, but as far as producing…
Bolooki: I had an idea, and we called him up. Its not like we were only friends during that one tour, even though it wasn’t like we talked every day but we’ve had respect for him for a long time and I think it’s vice-versa for him. He was really stoked to be able to work with us on this record. Same for us. And it made it really comfortable, really fun, just a bunch of jokes, hanging out in his studio.
Rhapsody: In his house?
Bolooki: No. Him and Travis own a studio out in Hollywood. It was a prefect situation for us, because we didn’t have a label and we just needed to worry about a record, and he let us do that.
Rhapsody: That’s awesome man. I think it came out really sweet. This is one of my favorite records you’ve ever done. I really like it. I think you guys can be considered one of the forerunners of pop-punk. You’ve defined a genre in the nearly decade in which you’ve been a band. What is it like to tour with band like Set Your Goals, or to listen to bands like Fireworks! who take an obvious influence directly from what you guys have done. What is it like to hang out and tour with these bands?
Pundik: It’s cool. It’s flattering.
Klein: I don’t really hear the influence. Because for us, we are influenced by the same bands they are influenced by. It’s not like we are influenced by ourselves you know? I think they are influenced by hardcore music and melodic music.
Pundik: Hardcore music.
Klein: Yeah. Hardcore music. That’s what we are too so I think that why people make that comparison sometimes. But for us, I don’t really hear anybody whose voice comes close to Jordan's and sounds like New Found Glory. And when people say "Oh, that sounds like New Found Glory." It’s usually someone with a really whiney voice like "Eeeeeeh."
Rhapsody: I’ve read reviews that say Set Your Goals is New Found Glory after 2 cans of RedBull.
Pundik: Yeah. I’ve seen that review too.
Klein: I guess maybe they sort of have the breakdown sort of thing going.
Bolooki: Like Jordan said, that stuff is really flattering. It’s not something that we expected when we started.
Klein We didn’t make up the breakdown though.
Pundik: I know what you mean though.
Klein: Write love songs with a breakdown, mixing hardcore influences with melodic punk.
Pundik: When we first started pop punk bands weren’t putting breakdowns in their songs. If they did it was different.
Klein: But we all like bands like Lifetime and sh*t. So, you know.
Pundik: Then we add the china and get the breakdown going.
Rhapsody: You guys are pretty open about how you are influenced by a lot of hardcore acts.
Klein: Just the mosh parts basically.
Bolooki: Also one of the things we were really influenced by was the way that whole scene functioned was very DIY. You don’t wait for a major label, you don’t worry about MTV, or any of that stuff. You just do your thing and make sure you are actually trying to get your music out there. And that’s what we did when we started, and I think that’s really helped us stay here, and still be here now, 12 years after we started our band.
Rhapsody: And it doesn’t look like you are slowing down any time soon?
Klein: Our bodies are slowing down.
Rhapsody: You playing Warped this year?
Pundik: We will be overseas for a lot of Warped.
Klein: Have fun Warped Tour.
Pundik: Have fun Warped Tour.
Bolooki: Have fun Warped Tour.
Rhapsody: Jordan, when you were in Australia, you made a post on your blog about new bands that think because they have a million plays on MySpace and have one record out, they are entitled to things like tour buses and such. Is that frustrating for you to deal with things like that?
Klein: Only when the guys are dicks. We like cool dudes. We are cool dudes. We know cool dudes.
Pundik: I can probably speak for the rest of NFG too when I say that when I’m on tour I like to meet people and hang out and “bro down” with people. So just because you are in a band doesn’t mean that you can’t be human. Just be normal. Some people say band guys are fucking weird. And we are. Band guys are weird. But you don’t have to be.
Klein: When we are on tour with a band, we break the ice really quick and just say “Hey. This is how we are.” We make sure we get along with bands because we pick all the bands we tour with.
Rhapsody: You guys choose who you want to tour with?
Klein: Yeah. We pick the all bands we tour with because we know we are going to have a good time. When you are on tour for 6 weeks, you want to be on tour with bands you get along with and bands you respect. And bands that will put on a good live show for all of our fans and their fans, who spend a lot of money to see a show.
Rhapsody: How do you feel about people downloading your music? Do you have the Metallica mindset where you think it is taboo, and anyone who does it is a criminal? Or do you just think of it as another way to get your music out?
Bolooki: No. That’s half the reason why we are here. When we started there was really no downloading or any of that kind of stuff, but Napster came out and that’s actually how a lot of kids heard about us. They were in college and their friends gave them a CD or they downloaded a song or something.
Pundik: People used to always say "Hey I heard you guys covered back that ass up." What? No that wasn’t us man.
Bolooki: The cool thing is that kids come out and they support us. Coming to the shows, buying some merch, doing whatever. That’s all supporting. So yeah, maybe you didn’t buy the CD, but you bought something else.
Klein: Come to the show, buy a shirt.
Rhapsody: I’m gonna buy three shirts tonight.
Bolooki: There you go. That’s support right there.
Klein: We make more money off shirts than we do off CDs anyway. CDs are only like an industry thing where people say “Oh. How many CDs did New Found Glory sell?” No one can really tell how many CDs you sold. Its about how many people heard your song. It doesn’t matter how many CDs you sell anymore because people have that shit downloaded on their iPod or on a burnt disc.
Bolooki: If we ask tonight who has our record out there, maybe half the crowd won’t even raise their hand, yet every single one of those kids will sing every word to all of our songs. So that’s still cool.
Pundik: On this tour we are losing money. We are selling our CD for five bucks for all the kids who want something more. When you download, you just get like a freakin’ computer thing. Now you can get the layout we actually spent time doing.
Rhapsody: Did you guys do the artwork for NWAF?
Klein: We didn’t actually draw it, but we definitely came up with the general direction of the art.
Pundik: Pretty soon it's gonna be like come up with a cover for the album and that’s it.
Klein: I think vinyl will come back. I think vinyl is cool because nowadays you can buy a vinyl and get a free download of the record to put on your iPod. Then you also have something that has substance. You know you have a layout that actually goes with songs, the lyrics, a poster that comes with it to hang up on your wall or put into your collection.
Pundik: I think it would be cool if for the next record or something, when kids download shit, they have to come up with some sort of thing where, as they are downloading it on the BitTorrent site, a popup will come up and you will get the vinyl for free or something.
Bolooki: You could start that.
Klein: You can call it JP Productions.