New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik Talks Early Days, Tattooing + Band’s ‘Resurrection’
Pop-punk icons New Found Glory have been around for nearly 20 years now and have influenced almost every band that falls among the genre's new generation.
Their first three records contained some of the most basic, yet infectious, riffs that have a lasting impact and never seem to get old. The South Florida-born rockers blend the hardcore punk they all grew up listening to with high-pitched melodic vocals that have always complemented their sound.
We were lucky enough to chat with frontman Jordan Pundik (shortly before he soundchecked in Des Moines while on tour) about everything from the band's precious early days, his tattooing hobby and New Found Glory's recent "resurrection."
From playing in your friend's garage to some of the biggest venues in the world, how would you describe watching your band grow into what it has become today?
Well, we started the band when we were young and we kind of did what young bands do; tour in a van, play small shows and work our way up. By the time we made our way up to that level, playing places like Jones Beach and Roseland Ballroom and all those places, we were still so young, and I guess I never really thought about it. We've never been one of those bands where we were like, "Yeah, we're going to be a huge rock and roll band and play huge places!" That was never a thought of ours, we just did what we did and appreciated where we were, you know? It's really cool, take [our current] tour for example, I think the biggest venue we're playing is Starland Ballroom in New Jersey, it's like a 2,000 cap. But everywhere else, we deliberately played small places with no more than 900-1,000 people and I think [big and small venues] both have their high points and low points. I think playing both sides of it is awesome.
Do you ever miss New Found Glory's Drive-Thru Records days and do you still keep in touch with a lot of those bands?
Yeah, we still hang out, I'm still really close with Randy [Strohmeyer] from Finch. We still see Kenny [Vasoli] from the Starting Line once in awhile, and his new stuff is really cool. Yeah man, sometimes I think about how fun those days were, getting in the van and touring with the band, making our way up to California to stay at Richard and Stephanie's [Reines, co-owners] house, sleep on the floor and whatever. It was a good time. We always reminisce about stuff, and I still see Richard and Stephanie from time to time. I think the last time I saw them was actually a year or two ago. I was playing in Nashville and they were there doing some stuff so I went to dinner with them and we joked and reminisced about stuff, it was fun.
You've influenced so many of the new generation of pop-punk bands. Were you aware that you were setting the bar so high?
[Laughs] No, we were just trying to sound like the bands that we liked, you know what I mean? We grew up in the punk scene and the hardcore scene in South Florida and all we did as teenagers was go to shows. For us, we just wanted to start a band that sounded like Discount and the Get Up Kids and Promise Ring, that kind of stuff. Mix in breakdowns like Earth Crisis and other stuff, but with me singing like a girl, you know what I mean? We never saw that taking all of those bands and mixing them together and doing our own thing, you know, we didn't know it was our own thing at the time. We just thought that we were sounding like these other bands, but if you actually listen to a Get Up Kids record from back then, like Four Minute Mile, it's totally different. They were way better [than us] back then, in my opinion.
Your song "My Friends Over You" erupted into becoming one of the most popular pop-punk songs ever made. Who invented that signature guitar riff and how did it manifest itself?
Actually, we were recording Sticks & Stones and I think it was the last song for the record. We had maybe three days left in the studio. Chad [Gilbert] was upstairs, hanging out, playing video games in the lounge and I was doing vocals for another song, and I remember him coming in, like, "Dude, listen to this riff!" It was a total, like That Thing You Do Moment or Back to the Future, "Hey Chuck, Chuck! I got that new sound you're lookin' for!" [Laughs] It was pretty funny. So he played the riff and we were all like, that's sick, and we recorded the song and built it around the riff and it just sort of happened naturally. It's just funny that it was the last thing we wrote for the record.
Is Chad the songwriting mastermind behind New Found Glory or is it a team effort?
It's usually a team effort but he does come up with most of the riffs and he'll play them for us and then we'll kind of know where to fit it in, with the verse or the chorus or whatever. So we'll do like little demos and stuff. When we did Resurrection, we did all of the demos sitting at his kitchen table with Cyrus [Bolooki] playing fake drums on his computer. I was sitting there with a s---ty microphone just singing whatever lyric or melody ideas we had over basic guitar, verse-chorus, no bridge demos. That's kind of how we've always written.
Chad dabbles in production and side projects, including his solo project What's Eating Gilbert. Have you had any plans for doing anything outside of New Found Glory?
Yeah, I tattoo on the side. It's kind of like a hobby right now since I'm so busy with the band. I'm working on opening up a shop in San Diego. I lived a Nashville a couple of years ago and helped open up a shop called Safe House Tattoo and that's actually where I learned to tattoo and everything. Ian White, he's a great guy and amazing tattoo artist. He's a very inspirational person in my life. Randy from Finch and I also had a weird thing going on where we actually wrote a few weird songs together, but it was a little hard to keep that going because we were both so busy, but you never know, maybe we'll get back together. It was a band that took influences from the bands we like to listen to, mixing some My Bloody Valentine in there. We only recorded like four-to-five songs together in 2009 and then we just got busy with our other things.
Where do you feel the band shows its strengths on Resurrection?
People are so used to New Found Glory being one way, with five people, and we recently went down to four people. I think our biggest strength, for me, was to really hone in on our sound, having just one guitar player. I think we just made a really fun, straightforward record -- and that was the goal. I know people were wondering how this record would be, and we're on this tour now and we just did the Glamour Kills Tour right before the holidays ... and people were singing the new songs louder than they were singing the old songs. To me, when I hear and see that, the new songs catching on and going hard, it shows that we did what we set out to do. Most critics are sitting behind a computer and critiquing stuff, but they're never going to come out and see us perform it live. We put our heart and soul into everything we do and 95-percent of what we do is for our fans.
New Found Glory's eighth studio album, Resurrection, is out now via Hopeless Records. You can pick up a copy here, and stay up-to-date with everything happening in the band's world at their official website.