We interviewed American rock band New Found Glory to discuss their newest album Makes Me Sick, recently announced U.K. tour and the pop-punk revival.
Interview by Jane Howkins.
We hear you have a new album out for release called Makes Me Sick. We’re really enjoying it so far! What can you tell us about it, for people who haven’t heard it yet?
Thanks! We’re really excited for this album, as it has some of our best material to date on it! I think Makes Me Sick gives the listener everything they would love to hear from New Found Glory – catchy riffs and choruses, with lyrics that are easily relatable – yet also adds a few layers of sounds that were missing on the last NFG album – mainly extra guitar parts and cool synth sounds. Those help to take these songs to a level that will be a very welcome surprise for most NFG fans.
Resurrection was a bit of a musical departure for you, as you lost one of your guitarists. Have you thought about a second guitarist since then or are you staying as a quartet?
We haven’t really given much thought to a second guitarist, as we’re very comfortable with the four of us for now. On Resurrection, we did specifically write and record that album to showcase the fact that we went from two guitarists to one, and coming into the writing of Makes Me Sick we felt as though we had already proven ourselves with this change and therefore we didn’t want to place any restrictions on what we could record, which I think ended being a great thing for the songs as we were able to try out whatever ideas came to mind without feeling like we were being held back by anything.
We particularly enjoyed the first single (Happy Being Miserable), and we honestly love it. It’s possibly one of the best things you’ve ever done, and that opening riff is addictive to listen to. Why did you decide to release this song as the lead single from the album, and do you have any more planned?
I remember when we first started writing together for this album, which happened during last years’ Warped Tour in the back of our bus. Chad showed me that opening riff of Happy Being Miserable and I remember thinking to myself that it would easily be the first single because it’s so catchy, and there’s something that happens in the transition from that riff to the chorus that in my opinion is special and very New Found Glory sounding. I think it’s a perfect introduction to the album in general because it contains all of the elements on this record in one song…heavy riffs, catchy chorus, keyboard lines, and more! We also recently released the song Party On Apocalypse as a single with an accompanying video, and that’s another great song on this album that a lot of people are saying is one of their favourite songs from the record.
The video for Happy Being Miserable is themed around the movie Stand By Me, with the novella originally written by Stephen King. You’ve also previously referenced other famous films and books in your music, such as The Outsiders. Why are these elements of pop culture so important to you? There’s something rather nostalgic about those films, we love them too.
I think we were all fortunate enough to grow up in a time when movies and pop culture really exploded onto the mainstream (the 80s and 90s), and for us we love to reference that stuff in any way possible. We have released two albums full of cover songs from famous movies as well as all of these video references, and it’s just a nod to our past and the things that we loved while growing up.
Are any of you Stephen King fans, and can we expect any more references to his work in future songs? We’re big fans ourselves!
Out of everyone in the band, Chad is the biggest movie buff, so I’m sure he’s a fan. He’s constantly seeing whatever movies are released and can almost instantly recall any movie plot and/or dialogue without effort. With Stephen King or pretty much any movie, you never know when you might see us reference something in our work!
You recently announced a U.K. tour, set to hit our shores in September. It’s a special occasion for your 20th anniversary as a band – did you ever expect to be around this long when you first started out?
Definitely not! When we first started out we were doing what we loved – writing and playing songs that we thought were fun and taking inspiration from our favourite bands at the time – without thinking that it would turn into a career. I think we figured it would last for a few years tops, definitely not turn into a 20-year career that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight!
We know you’re playing a couple of different albums at each show to celebrate, but do you have any surprises in store?
You mean that’s not enough of a surprise? Just kidding! We just finished up this exact tour in the US and it was amazing; one of our best tours to date. Over the course of two months we played I think 78 different songs, so you never know if you might hear an extra song (or two or three) at one of these shows. It’s been great to be able to play two different albums a night (although it makes for a very long set), and the fact that we advertise this ahead of time makes it even cooler because the fans come into the show prepared to sing every word. Definitely looking forward to the celebration over here in the UK!
There’s been something of a pop-punk revival over the last year or so. What are your thoughts on this, and are there any up-and-coming bands you like? What do you think of the evolution of the genre over the last decade or so?
It’s funny when people ask us about the genre and a “revival,” because we feel as though we never went away or took a hiatus and have been going strong consistently for these 20 years. I do understand what you mean though, as it seems that there is a huge influx of pop-punk bands that are gaining popularity in the past few years, bands like The Story So Far, Neck Deep, State Champs, and more. Whenever people ask about up-and-coming pop-punk bands, I think an easy place to start is the record label we’re signed to – Hopeless Records – as their roster includes plenty of younger, great pop-punk bands (in addition to other styles too), and we’ve played shows with a bunch of them. It is cool to see how a lot of these bands come up to us and are very appreciative of us and what we’ve done for the genre, as that’s something that we never thought would happen when we first started out and it’s a very flattering thing to hear. I do think the genre is in a great place at the moment. Of course, there will be plenty of bands that come out and sound like every other band and won’t be memorable at all, but there will also be a number of bands that are unique enough to stand out and become the next big thing keeping this genre alive and well!
What sort of stuff have you been listening to recently, and what has influenced Makes Me Sick? Do you listen to much pop-punk, or do you have enough of that being in the band?
I try to listen to everything, from pop-punk to metal, to straight pop, and back. Although recently I’ve been listening to a bunch of the NFG back catalogue in order to prepare myself for these 20 year tours. Having to relearn some of our old songs has been taxing (yet fun), but we’ve all had to put a little effort in order to make sure that we can play the 6 different albums of material live. And to answer your question about Makes Me Sick, we take inspiration from anything around us, and one of the fortunate things about our band is that we can write pretty much anything and once you put Jordan’s voice on top of it, it instantly sounds like a New Found Glory song. So that’s why on this album you have songs with extra keyboard sounds that you haven’t really heard from us before, and even crazier stuff, with songs like The Sound Of Two Voices. That song came about after we heard the Paul Simon song Call Me Al while on the way to get food one day, and what initially seemed like a fun little challenge – to see if we could write a song with a similar vibe – turned out to be one of the most unique (and coolest) songs on the record.
We saw you at Slam Dunk Festival last year, and despite some technical issues you sounded great. Do you have any festival plans this year?
Slam Dunk last year was pretty amazing for us. I loved how huge the crowds were, and the fact that we were able to return to that festival for their 10th year, and the first time for us in years was awesome. It’s great to see how much that festival has grown over the years! This year we’re doing a few festivals in the US as well as the Summer Sonic Festival in Japan, but no plans for UK or Euro fests this year, unfortunately. Maybe next year??
Why do you think people should come and see you play, and what can people expect from a New Found Glory gig?
I think everyone should see us at least one time. I think attending a NFG show is a unique experience, and one where almost anyone in the audience can find a connection with us, our music, or other fans. Even if you don’t know our music, I think anyone can enjoy themselves at our shows, so if you haven’t seen us before (or even if you already have), you should see us next time we’re in your town!
Any last words for the fans?
At this point in our career I think it’s very important to make sure that our fans understand how much we appreciate them for how they’ve contributed to our success and longevity. It’s definitely cliché to say that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fans, but it’s very true at the same time. Having tours like this current 20-year tour proves to us and the world that we have one of the best and most loyal fan bases on the planet, and it’s because of this that we want to continue to play music for as long as we can, whilst continuing to release new albums like Makes Me Sick whenever possible, and just continuing on until we literally can’t play anymore. We’re very thankful for what we have achieved, and we’re super excited to see what’s yet to come in our musical lives!