New Found Glory have been kings of the pop punk scene for over 14 years now. Constantly releasing records and relentlessly touring, their music has inspired tonnes of bands and won them legions of fans.
The boys (well, men now) are on the eve of releasing their seventh album, Radiosurgery, so we caught up with the band's frontman, Jordan Pundik, to find out all about the new record, how the band have managed to stay together for so long, and what it's like to be an inspiration for big name acts.
You guys have been together for 14 years, how do you explain the longevity?
I think that we’re just kind of a no bullsh-t band as far as how we communicate with each other. When you’re in a band that long, you’re together all the time and we fight like we’re brothers - where we’ll want to strangle each other and punch each other and there are times when we do that. But then 10 minutes later we’re like, “Hey man, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have said that and I shouldn’t have done that,” and I think that really helps. Especially not holding anything in because I feel like that’s the demise of a lot of bands because they’re jealous of the singer or everyone’s jealous of the guy who writes the songs or the guitar player or whatever. No-one speaks their minds and I think that really helps with how we have been a band for so long and I think if anyone had an ego in this band you’d get made fun of and everyone would talk shit about you and would try and beat you up.
If you guys don’t have a driving ego in the band, does that mean you also share a common sense of drive to succeed?
Yeah, I definitely think so. We all grew up going to shows together and we have been friends since high school. We all had the same goal when we started the band, which was to be as real as we can and just write the best songs that we can and go on tour and play shows.
What’s your fan base at the moment – is it punk fans, younger fans, older fans that have followed you throughout your career?
Yeah man it’s crazy. You’d think that because we’ve been around for a while we’d be one of those bands that only have old fans with everyone just drinking at the bar. But I feel like our fans are getting younger and that’s cool because our fans that have grown up with us, because they have such a love for our band, they want to spread it to their friends and give our records to their younger brothers and in turn those kids start coming to the shows and it’s really cool how this music is so accessible. Our fans are what make us do what we do.
Do you get some of your older fans bringing their kids to shows these days?
That has definitely happened where it’s like, “Holy sh-t!” kind of thing. They’re younger kids, like nine or 10 years old. It’s awesome, I really think that that’s why still are able to do what we do.
What can you tell me about the new album, Radiosurgery?
I don’t wanna sound corny or cliched but I really feel like it’s one of our best records. With that said, as far as what we put into it, we really demoed for a long time and we worked with (music producer) Neil Avron again who we haven’t worked with in five years. Neil did our three biggest records [New Found Glory, Sticks And Stones, and Catalyst) and between that Neil has done so much stuff, but it was really awesome to work with him. We just kind of went back and looked at all the bands in our genre, all the pop-punk bands we used to listen to and take those influences from that and kinda mix it with what fans know and love from our band and bridged the two.
So it’s kind of a return to your roots?
In a way, but not making it sound dated or old or anything. It’s definitely new and fresh sounding but as far as you listen to old Ramones or old Descendents or even old Green Day where you put on the record and from track one to the end, non-stop, it’s upbeat and straight forward. That’s kind of what we’ve tried to do with this record.
How would you compare it to your very first record – how are you different as a band now as to when you were a band way back when?
When we recorded our first record, we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. I think we’d record every Saturday and I remember borrowing money from my sister to pay for the recording. It’s funny because it was like only every Saturday we could record and it was Saturday nights we kind of got what we paid for but now we feel we’ve been able to embrace what kind of band we are and who we are and we’re not trying to do anything avant garde or weird. We’re embracing just what we do and as far as songwriting goes and recording it’s definitely a quicker process now, where before we were still learning and trying to figure out what kind of guitar tones we wanted to have established.
For me, I know what I can and can’t do. Before I would just try and push myself to the limit where I would lose my voice and wouldn’t be able to sing and now I somewhat know how to do that.
You guys have a pretty faithful Aussie audience, do you guys like coming out here to play?
Yeah, for sure. I actually look forward to it. Everytime we’re there there’s amazing weather, I have tonnes of friends there from over the years, I even had an Australian girlfriend for a while but that didn’t work out (laughs). Yeah man, it’s awesome, our shows there are insane and our fans there are insane as well.
The new film clip for 'Radiosurgery' is a homage to the Ramones ‘I wanna be sedated' clip and you guys played a Ramones cover set with Markey Ramone a few months ago, what kind of influence have the Ramones have had on you guys as a band?
Definitely, as far as like the way that Ramones made records and how they made themselves as a band. If you ever see old Ramones documentaries it’s like all they wanted to do was tour and write the best records they could and for us that’s kind of what we want to do and what we’ve always tried to do. They were the first legit pop punk band that had pop melodies and wrote songs about girls and every song they wrote was f-cking catchy as f-ck. So, we tried to take a little bit of that - there’s still the New Found Glory in there, there are the songs with breakdowns, so nobody has to worry about that (laughs).
Who do you see as the better punk acts going around these days – what new bands are
There’s a band called The Wonder Years that’s really good. A lot of people either love them or hate them because of his lyrics and I really love them because he’s honest.
There’s another band called the Andrew Jackson Jihad and they’re f-cking awesome. They’re kind of like a pop punk band but without heavily distorted guitars. Lyrically they’re awesome – really gut wrenching, kind of like Violent Femmes.
You guys have also been a successful music act in one of the most confusing and turbulent times in music and record company history – how have you guys survived the move to the digital age and do you embrace the change or do you long for the old days when kids were out buying records and CDs?
We’ve definitely embraced the age that we live in. But there’s still a part of me that’s like, man, I used to love going to the record store on a Tuesday and I remember, when there was a record that you really wanted and you could only pre-order it, you couldn’t go into a store and just buy it. It was like Rancid Let’s Go or one of those records where you had to go to the record store, order it and then they would call you when the record came in. Where now it’s like, you can type in anything like ‘New Found Glory Download’ and then it will just bring up all of our songs.
When we formed and started touring a lot that was kind of at the start of all that with like Napster and Limewire and all of those things in 2000, 2001 and it actually helped our band. I know a lot of people hate downloads and talk about how it’s ruined the music industry but they really should just embrace it because that’s the age we live in and it really helps.
I remember playing shows where we didn’t think anybody would show up and we’d pull up in our van and there’d be a lot of kids – 100, 200 kids and half of them would be like, “Yeah man, we heard you guys because we downloaded your record.” Then there’d be these kids in the front row singing along to every song, which is unreal.
You guys have been cited as one of the most influential pop punk acts in the last few decades, do you see any of your influence popping up in bands these days or have you been thanked for your contribution by anyone you were surprised to hear from?
Yeah, that’s happened a lot. That’s even happened with our peers, with bands that we take on tour, even with bands that have surpassed us and gotten bigger than us. There’s been numerous times where bands like Fallout Boy and even bands that took our lyrics and got their band name from it. Like, there’s a band called The Story So Far and obviously All Time Low and there’s another band called So Many Ways – they’re kind of hardcore with pop punk parts too.
It’s really cool to me because I feel like we’re a new band because growing up, when we were younger; everything happened so quickly, where now it’s like, being little older and cool things happen it’s still exciting. When kids come up to me and guys in bands come up to me and say -bigger bands, bands that I wouldn’t expect - come up to me and say “Man I used to see you guys play all the time,” it’s awesome, ya know?!
If you could create your own line-up for a festival featuring any band around today, who would you pick?
There’s so many. This band called the Candy Hearts, they’re awesome, Andrew Jackson Jihad, there’s a hardcore band called Let Live that’s pretty rad, another band called Dangerous, a band called Front Bottoms.
And finally, do you think New Found Glory can do another 14 years?
We’re going to definitely try to. If Bad Religion can do it, why can’t we?
New Found Glory's latest album Radiosurgery is out October 4.