Chad Gilbert discusses his bands new album, his connection with fans & his belief in the butterfly effect
Pop-punk legends New Found Glory are preparing to release their ninth studio album, Makes Me Sick, and are currently out on tour. The band are gearing up for the release buy playing two of their classic albums every night for fans across the country – crafting the album choices to where they are.
It has certainly been a rollercoaster ride for the Florida-bred band, but it looks as if all things are going in the right direction. The band is certainly grateful for their fanbase and couldn’t be more excited to be releasing the new record. On it they take a look at accountability, but manage to still concentrate on having fun.
ARTISTdirect’s Christopher Friedmann caught up with Chad Gilbert just after New Found Glory had finished up eating at their favorite Cleveland sandwich shop and discussed his nerves around the upcoming release, what his relationship with fans means to him, and what his relationship is with the band’s old material.
Christopher Friedmann: So we are talking because you are about to release a new album, Makes Me Sick, and head out on tour. Just to start how is the mood in camp?
Chad Gilbert: The mood is awesome, especially with the new album stuff, it’s so fun because the fans, they really like “Happy Being Miserable”, they love the new song, so when we play it, it fits into the set perfectly. They are singing along going crazy to it and that’s always refreshing because normally it takes a little bit of time to make your fans believe in the new stuff, but they love the new song and, you know, it’s still like, even with this tour, in the shows and playing the albums, the vibe is really good for the new record.
I feel like we have this surprise under our belt, because we’ve obviously hear our album and know it, and it’s cool to know what we have that our fans are about to hear. Based on the reaction and this tour, it’s a perfect timing with it. I’m so excited for the fans to hear the new album. I think they’re really going to like it.
CF: This is your ninth studio album – can you speak a little on the difference between any nerves that you feel now, as opposed to the nerves that you experienced in the days before “Nothing Gold Can Stay” was released?
CG: It’s funny because, honestly the way the nerves are now are more like when we recorded Nothing Gold Can Stay, we had no expectations. We didn’t know what we were doing, so when we started writing that’s why this sort of new sort of style came out and was born because we were all kids getting together writing this music and it just so happened to work out, where all of our personalities coming together made this sort of new kind of thing, but we didn’t have anyone with any expectations. It was just sort of like, “Whatever we do, we are doing it because we love it,” and I think through the course of our career we got on major labels, we had massive shows, we had fallen off a little bit in the later 2000s and then ramped up again, after all these sort of ups and downs of our career, going into this album more than ever, I feel like we have that freedom again that we did on Nothing Gold Can Stay, where the way the music industry is and the way our fans are so loyal, we have all this freedom.
We know that if fans hate the album, we will still be a band. We know if they love the album, we’ll still be a band, so really it’s about diving into how to come up with something that feels good and refreshing and fun and new for us to play, and so I kind of feel like the nerves are more like when we first started, which there weren’t any because we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves. We just made the album we wanted to make.
CF: The new record seems to deal with accountability. How do you use your stage as an artist to bring awareness to your audience, especially self-awareness?
CG: For us I think it’s the human side of our band. I’ve been around a lot of bands and artist that stand for all these sort of politics or things and then you watch them live and they have this sort of arrogance to them on stage, so when it comes to this sort of this level they put or arrogance or even like the distance they put between their fans. I’m not saying you have to be your fans’ best friend, but I feel like for me I’ve always been most impacted by the way people just live because I think when you start to yell about everything all the time, you can’t really live up to that.
We all have problems, we all struggle with different kind addictions, we all struggle with different kinds of insecurities, and I think, for us, we’ve always been able to just sort of live and sort of talk to our fans, onstage and in the crowd we never create this thing where we feel better or more deserving. Through that I think it’s always where we connected with our fans where they’ll hear the message and the lyrics but they will also be able to experience it through us whether it’s a meet and greet or whatever, and it’s funny like, I’m straight edge. I grew up straight edge and I still am straight edge, and I’ve never once pressured, talked about it. I’ve never once thrown it down our fans’ throats.
My bass player in the 2000s was in High Times magazine. I never really loved that. It sucked, but that’s him, and I can’t change who he is through demanding things out of him. But through me just talking or being asked or whatever, somehow most people know I’m straight edge. To this day, I have fans coming up to me saying, “I don’t do drugs because of you” and it’s cool because I’ve never sort of pushed that. I’ve never had that personal agenda to conform anyone.
To answer your question, yeah, the accountability side, I think the best way for anything is just to live and to listen, to listen to people and to treat people kindly. I think that’s what we’ve always done with our fans and I think that’s why they are so loyal.
CF: You seem to be balancing your message with having fun. Can you speak a little on how you weigh both of these ideas when writing a new record?
CG: I think that the best way to explain that is you have to enjoy each day. You have to, in my opinion, you don’t want to look like an idiot, you want to value each day, and it’s not the way of, “Hey you only live once, I’m going to destroy my life and party because you only live once, it’s my only chance.” It’s to ship that and say, “Hey, you only live once, so I’m going to value my day, take care of my day because it might not be here tomorrow,” but know that while you stand, you have this accountability, you stand for all these things, to not forget about all the great things we do have.
I talk about this onstage, on this tour, but I think a lot of people focus on how different they are from each other and I think more needs to go in on how similar we are to each other, and I think that’s the thing with the fun aspect is that although we might have different opinions on matters, we probably like all the same bands, which means we are more similar than we think. Which is sort of the fun aspect in why fans love coming to New Found Glory shows is you don’t have to fit a genre, you can go see a band sometimes and you know the kind of fan that is going to be there.
If you go to a New Found Glory show, it’s seriously so many different types of people because we’ve never put, “Hey, you have to be this kind of person, look this kind of way,” it’s never been about a style, it’s just about accepting people for who they are,what they are and I think with our band, with the record, while we have always had this sort of serious… we take our music seriously, we take our band seriously, but we always include that fun message because music is how we connect with other people.
I’ve been to Russia. I’ve been to Southeast Asia. I’ve been to everywhere, every country that you can think of, every country that the news says is gonna kill you, you know what I mean, and it’s all the same people in the crowd, the fans in Russia are the same fans that are in New Jersey, all going crazy, singing along, smiling having a good time, so that’s the fun aspect. The fun and the happiness of our music is what brings people together.
CF: You are currently on your 20th anniversary tour. Can you speak a little on how you build a set list that includes both your classics and the new record?
CG: Well we are only really playing “Happy Being Miserable”, since that’s the only song that fans have, and we don’t want to play more new songs till people have the record because we have such a large catalogue.
Basically what I did was, I looked at the map and I thought about the history of our band, and so where we got our start, New Jersey is where Nothing Gold Can Stay got discovered, so when we played The Stone Pony, I made sure we played that album, there was a lot of history there. I kind of just look at the market, the city that we’re playing, depending on how many nights we’re playing divide up the albums, and instead of doing from the first song to the end, because we are doing two records per night, I took the two records and mixed them up, so you don’t know when your favorite song is going to come up. What’s cool is it makes fans surprised.
There are a lot of these fans that maybe when we announced the tour, went back and revisited some of their favorite albums from us, but when they come to the show they don’t when they are going to hear them. So every night it’s really exciting to see the surprise, maybe they are waiting for this one obscure one and they don’t know when it is going to come up, and then we play the riff and people are excited.
CF: Since you first hit the road back in 1997, what has changed about the touring experience? And what have you learned that you would most like to relay to bands just starting out?
CG: I think one thing I’ve learned about touring is that you need to enjoy the moment you are in always. And I think, not just people in bands, but people in general, are focusing on that next step because we think that’s exactly what we want and sometimes you miss a moment because you are so worried about what the next step is.
I think with bands it’s really focusing because you do get a lot of expectations put on you when you are a growing band, like what’s next? When are you recording your new record?” So you get to this point constantly, where you’ll be like on a tour and you’ll be getting phone calls about what tour you’re doing in the fall. So you get this thing where you are constantly having to plan out what’s next, and even yourself and your sort of pride, you’re like, “Oh man, I want to go on this, this what’ll be bigger, this, this, this…”
I guess the advice would be live in the moment and try to focus on what you are doing right then and there. Be the best band you can be. Worry about your music, worry about being tighter, worry about writing, all the other bull crap that comes like worrying about where you are going to be next, if you are going to be more successful or less successful, that’s all irrelevant.
If you are a great band and you love touring and you love doing it, you can still do it regardless. I would advise bands to focus on the day that they are in and not worry about next week, next month, just worry about that show, worry about that day, and play the best you can.
CF: Can you speak a little on how your relationship with your material has changed over the years, as meanings have evolved and your fanbase has matured?
CG: I have said this before, I’ve used this analogy or metaphor before, but the best way to describe it is how you would look at an old photo of yourself. You look at an old photo and you say to yourself, “I remember then, that was a lot of fun. Why did I do that?” I learned that. Man I looked kind of weird, but I loved that moment of my life and I appreciate it for what it is and what it was and what I meant. You just enjoy it and I think that’s how we are with our old material.
Of course, there are songs like when I played “Boy Crazy” from our self-titled album, I was supposed to be a senior in high school, when we wrote that song. We recorded that record the year I was supposed to graduate, so obviously I’m not going to connect on it as I did when I was a senior in high school, and I’m gonna play it and go, “That riffs not very good,” but I get while people like it, I still appreciate it for what it is, I love it, and it’s awesome. Same way as I look at an old photograph.
That’s kind of the way I relate to a lot of the old albums, like, “Oh man that was such fun, such a fun time,” because I know there are people who feel above their old music, or feel like they are, “No I’m a different person.” But it’s like, no one is asking you to try and pretend you are something you are not, everyone knows, no one thinks I’m an 18-year-old kid – some people might, but who knows.
When we play that song, no one is like… your fans know what you are doing, they are enjoy it for the same way, so I always wonder why fans get so butt hurt about old material, you know, you put it out there in the world, people enjoy it and live with it and it’s fun to see them appreciate it. They are thinking the same things we are, “Oh man I remember when I heard that song,” they are thinking of their memories with that music. As far as newer material, we’ve never been a band to try and construct a song for people to like us.
We’ve always written songs that represent where we are at place and time. We never think, “What did kids talk about today? What are some slogans? Let’s write some songs that fit.” We’ve never been that band, and maybe that’s hurt us, maybe that’s helped us, who knows, but we’ve never been that band to construct a song to make it fit. We just write from the heart and that’s it, and that’s why I feel every record evolves in a different way because we personally are evolving in different ways. You really are hearing and reading, whether it is lyrics or listening, you know, to us growing up and evolving in this band, personally and stylistically.
CF: Over the course of your career you’ve have had a fair breadth of experiences, but I was wondering if you could tell us of the most grounding moment that you’ve had so far, a moment that reminds you why you do all this?
CG: We always listen to our fans, and I think that meeting people that met each other at a show and then got married, five years later, and they have kids, and then they bring the kid to the show, I think those kind of situations are awesome because I think about what if we weren’t in that equation, where these two people met at our show, got married, fell in love, had kids, seeing these relationships that are built around us playing our songs in our personal lives and things that happened to us, which led us to go on tour.
I think about all these little butterfly effect things, and it just makes you feel and remember how whatever we do at our jobs, whether it’s your job what you’re doing, the publicist that connected us, us getting on stage and playing the best we can every day, there is a big thing, there is a bigger picture going on, and if we do what we do because we believe in it and we are passionate about it, and we do it for good and not for greed, there is good that comes from that, and I think that is what’s awesome, to go on tour and do these thing.
That’s why we are doing two albums per night. That’s why we are doing 26 songs. If we are going to do this, we want to do this and blow people’s minds, not because we want to sell more t-shirts, but we really love it. We really believe in what we do and we love the feeling we get when we hear those stories, so I’d say that’s just a constant reminder of the bigger picture. It’s thinking about what can I put into this, not what can I get out of it.