New Found Glory Guitarist: 'I See Coming Home As Our First Record'

artist: New Found Glory date: 10/19/2006 category: interviews
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New Found Glory Guitarist: 'I See Coming Home As Our First Record'
There has been plenty of buzz about how New Found Glory has opted for a more mature sound on the latest album. Taking a break from the usual pop-punk anthems, the band is now exploring music and lyrics that emphasize the emotional experiences of the entire band. To write the material without distraction, the band lived at a Malibu mansion called Morning View and for the first time did not have to worry about deadlines from the record label. With producer Thom Panunzio (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan) at the helm, the September 19th release Coming Home took a more daring approach than previous records with its "less is more" approach. Coming Home may strike some as too big of departure from other albums like Sticks and Stones, but guitarist Chad Gilbert says its his proudest work yet. While Gilbert was always the go-to guy for riffs, this time around he was also given a chance to delve into writing lyrics as well. Gilbert recently talked to Ultimate Guitar about how Coming Home was New Found Glory's way of breaking out of the mold and allowing each member of the band to play a key role in the songwriting process. Ultimate Guitar: There has been a lot of talk regarding the departure that New Found Glory has taken with it sound. How did the new musical direction come about? Chad: When New Found Glory got its start back with Nothing Gold Can Stay, our first full-length, back then there wasn't really any pressure. We were just like a garage band, playing songs and writing music and whatever came out came out. Things kept going and we kept touring. Then this whole genre of music really started growing with more bands and more bands. It just got to the point where I think what New Found Glory has to offer the world is way more than just what we've been doing. We love what we've been doing in writing records, but we just kind of like were like, "You know, we have the time now." All of our other records we recorded were really kind of rushed - well, not rushed, but we couldn't take as long as we'd want. We'd have like a timeline and deadlines to meet for the album releases or the tours. With this record, because we've had the success with the band for so long, our label kind of gave us however long we wanted, till we thought we were ready. Going into there, we just knew that in order to really give our fans what we think they deserve, and even ourselves, we had to really just challenge ourselves, to make music, not just to fit a certain genre because that's not what we did in the first place. On our first record, we didn't write music for a genre. We just wrote music. And we never wrote music for the genre, but it just kind of turned out that way when things started coming about. So the band's view of music was changing? This time when we were going in we were like, "You know what? We need to do something that's really gonna stand out amongst the pack because there's a lot of bands that kind of sound similar these days." I think there are certain bands that kind of look at New Found Glory as like a band they're influenced by. We just kind of have to take the role. We've got to really push ourselves and really make this thing better than it's ever been, in our opinion. Just really, really go for it. So I think that thought was in our minds.
"We had to really just challenge ourselves, to make music, not just to fit a certain genre"
Was making the change in your music a scary undertaking? Yeah, it definitely was scary. Everybody in my band, we're fans of music. I'm not saying this in a conceited way, but we can write straight-up punk records all day. So going into this, yeah, it was more of a challenge. It is a scary thing because honestly it's kind of like our first record. Coming Home I see as kind of just like our first album because of that, because it's something different. Like Catalyst and Sticks and Stones, we knew that they were different, but they still were similar enough. Where you're like, "Yeah, if you like Sticks and Stones, you're gonna like Catalyst." I was extremely scared. To me, it was like starting over again. And I only think that's right because if you're a band for so long, you've got to be something a little different. You can't just keep writing the same record. Because if you write the same record, your old fans are gonna get bored and new fans aren't even going to care. That's why I think our fans are loving it. It's because it is something new and fresh. We're actually offering something new and a different sound, and not like giving the same New Found Glory record. How was the approach to songwriting different on a song like "It's Not Your Fault," which doesn't sound like any of your previous releases? You're like, "Wow! This song right now doesn't have the typical New Found Glory breakdown and it doesn't have this. But man, this is cool." It's different. We've never done that kind of picking in the verse and certain things, so it was all these new things going on. On our self-titled album and our Sticks and Stones album and these records, I know I can write a fast punk song. But what I didn't know is that I can write this kind of song. My favorite song on the record is this song called "On My Mind." I love that song because I kind of feel like it has this modern New Found Glory twist on a classic rock song. I love that feel because I think that Jordan, our singer, really proved himself as a vocalist on that song. The guitars aren't overdriven. We use like a Vox amp on almost this whole record, so on that song the guitar is very overdriven. And then we used like a Rickenbacker guitar and just different kind of classic-sounding guitars. What was it like working with producer Thom Panunzio? Thom Panunzio, he's worked with people from Bob Dylan to Tom Petty to everybody, Bruce Springsteen. He engineered U2's Rattle and Hum, and he's been a part of all these big classic records. He's sort of been a part of these classic records, so I think that's what he really brought to the table. His process is that less is more. Back then, they didn't have all the crazy sounds, the crazy production as we do now in our time. Now you can record a record anywhere, people do all these crazy sounds, whatever. But his things and the bands he's worked with before, it was all about the song. It was about making what's best for the song. This whole thing wasn't about noises; it wasn't about tricks. All that doesn't matter if you don't have a good song. When you were deciding on the sound, did the "less is more" aspect come into choosing the instruments? Instead of having a super-huge and overdriven, crazy, noisy-sounding guitar, it was like, "You know what? Let's go simpler. Let's plug in the Vox and get a Telecaster, a Gibson 335, a Gibson Custom and a Rickenbacker." That's pretty much what we recorded with this whole record: a Fender Tele, a Les Paul, a Gibson 335, which was the Spanish-looking guitar, and then the Rickenbacker. It was just simple. Then when we wanted to make it a little dirtier, we would turn it up a little bit more. Or if we wanted to get another dirty sound, the Bad Cat amp. We'd just run distortion through that. So that's what Thom brought to the table, this cool, clean kind of classic guitar sound. What's funny is that I think it sounds bigger. It doesn't sound wimpy; it sounds huge. When you put our old records on and our new record, there's actually less guitars on our new album, but it sounds bigger.
"We're offering something new and a different sound, and not like giving the same New Found Glory record."
There is a lot more piano and organ on this one as well. Who was playing those parts? When we wrote the songs in pre-production, a couple of songs started out on piano, like the melodies. So in pre-production, I did the piano. But I'm not very good, honestly - at all! I can write melodies, but I just use two fingers, my pointer fingers. I mix and match and point and whatever, but I'm not very good. But with what we ended up doing on the record, there are two people. One of my favorite bands out right now is this band called Eisley. Stacy, the singer and piano player, plays the piano. The coolest thing about the record is Benmont Tench. He is the piano and organ player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He plays organ on the entire record. It was like the coolest experience! It's like any time you see Slash from Gun N' Roses doing a guitar solo, that's how Benmont Tench is with the organ. He's got these pedals all over it. He's in the studio and we're in the control room, and he's like blasting out songs. Our producer would play the song and Benmont would have a piece of paper and he'd write. Then it would be like, "All right, now go!" He'd be like, "I'm ready, I'm ready." Then he's writing the notes down as he's hearing it. He gets up there, he plays the song there, and he just records it right away! Bam! He's got these guitar pedals and noise pedals strapped all over his organ. He's just like banging on the pedals as he's playing, switching knobs. It's like a mad scientist! Seriously. It was like the coolest thing. He played on every song on the record. If you look up Benmont Tench on Google and look at the records he's played on, it's like holy cow! That guy played on our record! And he loved the songs. He was really, really into it. I heard you wrote more of the lyrics on the new record? Yeah, which is definitely new for our band. Steve Klein usually does a lot of it. I've always been a part of the music and I've always written the music of the band, but I've never been a part of the lyrics. This time I just kind of felt like in order to kind of have the best record, we had to do things different. If you look at everything, from having a different producer to taking more time, we really did this record completely different than any other record. That's what made it stand out like that. I'm used to, and all of us are used to, kind of just getting in a routine. You'll be in a band you and then you get to be on this routine of how we made a record. We just did it typically: work, pre-production, go in, and record. But this time, we didn't want to record anything unless it was completely finished, unless we knew it couldn't get any better. We were in the routine where it was like, "I'm the music guy, he's the vocal guy, and we respect that." But this time it was like, "Man, we really need to make this good. You know what? I can't just let it be the simple routine anymore." I was involved. I was on Steve's butt! He would write words and I'd go in and be like, "This sucks. Change it." Then I would write words and lyrics, and he'd come in and be like, "This sucks. I hate it." Then we'd be like, "Ah, this is amazing." Or I'll come up with a chorus and a guitar part and he'd be like, "This chorus is amazing. Because you wrote this chorus, I can write the verse." So we just kind of bounced ideas off of each other.
"I'm not saying this in a conceited way, but we can write straight-up punk records all day."
Did the new process work well for everyone? Steve was way more happy about it because I think in the past he's kind of been pressured. Same thing with me musically. He was kind of pressured lyrically to kind of be where it's on his shoulders. But this time it was kind of like we wanted to make this happen more than ever. I remember working on a song all day that I wrote musically, like two or three songs. I'd go get food and come back and everybody would be like, "Chad, um, we want to talk to you." And I'd be like, "What?" And they're like, "Well, we like this one, but we're not really into these two." I was like, "It's gonna be good! I swear!" We just lived in this house and got on each other's cases. I mean, we had tons of fun. It was just awesome. Why did you select the Morning View mansion for recording the record? Basically we've always wanted to do that because every time we've made a record before we were always on deadlines and timelines, being on tour, then have the record turned in. This time we had the time. We always wanted to go to kind of a location where no one would be distracted by anything. I remember one time we talked and were like, "Let's go somewhere that we'll never be distracted. Let's go to Iceland!" We were trying to think of these crazy places to record and then we're like, "Well, maybe that wouldn't be a good idea. It's kind of far." Then it got to the point that we knew about Morning View, obviously because of Incubus (the CD Morning View by Incubus was recorded there and took its name from the mansion). Then our friends in the band Less Than Jake recorded their album at Morning View. And we're like, "Well, it seems like people have been doing good things at this house and it's close to LA So if we need instruments or anything like that we can go into LA" So it was like the most remote location near something. It's kind of weird. When you hear Malibu, you kind of think of LA With Malibu, it really is kind of like a small-town vibe. There's not a lot there. If you want to go to a movie or if you want to go somewhere, it's a 30-minute drive. All the restaurants around Malibu close at around 9 'clock. There's 1 market that's open till like midnight. It's not like LA, where you can just go somewhere at all hours of the night. So it was really cool. We bonded as a band even more. We wrote a lot of music together. We'd play wiffle ball, pool, work on music, go get dinner, and then come back for more of our music and play poker till like 5 in the morning. We just hung out. I heard there was even a Darth Vader mascot of sorts? There was a Darth Vader. It was a Darth Vader that I got off of the roof of a Burger King. I hope I won't get arrested for saying that! When the last Star Wars came out, they had the big blow-up inflatables like Darth Vaders. I climbed up there and I got one, and I brought it down. When we were playing wiffle ball baseball in Malibu, if you hit Vader in the head it was a homerun. I've heard that one of the songs you wrote, "When I Die," is about the death of your father. Yeah. Was it sort of a healing process in writing the song? It was definitely a pretty crazy thing. The thing about the song, it's not something that's a sad song. It's not supposed to be a song that says, "Feel sorry for me." It's not that song. It's not a song about death and how like stinks because people die. That's not what the song is. The song is that everybody dies. We're all gonna die, accept that fact and move on. Look at it as a positive thing or try to find a positive in the negative. My dad had cancer. He was supposed to die of terminal cancer. My dad beat it, lived for 7 seven years. When there was a chance that he might have cancer again, he said to me, he said to my mom, "I never want to go through cancer again. I beat it. I was here for 7 years longer that I was supposed to. I never want to get cancer again. I won't be able to take it. I just want to die like everyone. I just want to go to sleep and die." That's what happened to my dad. After he told my mom that, he woke up the next morning and had a heart attack. When you have a massive heart attack, you just go. You're heart just stops and you don't feel anything. So my dad got what he prayed for and what he wished for. On Saturday he had to go to the dermatologist because he had this mark on his cheek that he had for a few months. We found out the following Wednesday that it was cancer. So that's what that song is about. It's about being positive. You're like, "Thank you, God, for not putting my dad through torture." Everyone is gonna die. We just pray when it does go down that it's a good and happy life. That you've been good to your family and that you go out peacefully, and that's what happened to my dad. That's what that song is about.
"There's actually less guitars on our new album, but it sounds bigger."
It must have been extremely difficult to write. I remember when we were writing in Malibu, there was a time it was hard in the bridge. In the bridge of the song, it just makes me real emotional. I remember doing it and being so embarrassed because my friend, Paul Miner (Death By Stereo) was there and he worked on the record with us. It was me and him, and I was doing the piano part for it. The song was pretty much finished except for this big bridge. I remember kind of getting upset and was like, "Uh, I'll be right back." And I ran and hurried to the bathroom or something. It's sad, but it's a good sad. It's not supposed to be like a "feel band for me" song. I think the world has way too many of those songs. It's like a comforting song and song that's like, "You know what? Because this happened, I'm not really afraid to die as much as I used to be." That song will probably help a lot of your fans through some tough times. We don't sing about politics. The band is not like that. We don't really know what is going on in our world. People might think we're a band that sings about whatever, but really we're not. We write about things that people go through 100 percent. We put ourselves in our songs. That's the whole point of being in a band. It's to kind of like tell your stories, influence somebody or help somebody. And yet, it may not be political. Politics you can get when you hear a song on the radio. With our songs, we're still saying something important - it just may not be about the government. I think sometimes people miss that in New Found Glory. You have some dedicated fans that discuss anything and everything about the band on various forums. Do you ever visit those sites? Our new website just got started and the forums got done last week. So I've been there and checked it out, and it's cool. It's definitely a growing community. Our fans - I always read what they say. What's cool about our fans is they do know everything about us. They know things before I do! I swear, it's weird. There's and there's also, which is like the fan site. If I need to know anything about a video or when I'm playing something that I don't know, I always go that site. That girl knows before I do! She knows where we're playing, what time our interview is going to be on TV. We have a lot of fans that we'll sign their arms or their legs, and they'll get it tattooed on them. They're super fans. They're just cool and I love they're support. Some of the fans were asking about a new DVD from New Found Glory. Are you planning on putting out another one soon? We recorded a lot of stuff in Malibu. I think that would be a cool little DVD thing. But there's been no talk about it. But I'm sure there will be eventually another DVD. We're not going anywhere! Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2006
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