"Everything with our band is sincere. Everything about the new album really portrays what we are all about, from the sound to the press pictures."
——Chad Gilbert, New Found Glory guitarist


Time to run up the flagpole with New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert by David Jenison

As quickly as The Gilmore Girls can replace Felicity, maturing punk acts continue finding fresh-faced successors to deliver the type of vigor and vitality that only the pre-wrinkled can wrangle. The latest post-punk success story comes from Florida's New Found Glory, an exceptional five-piece act whose new MCA album, Sticks and Stones, puzzled the pundits with its Top Five bow on the album sales charts. The impressive debut was a testimony to the success of the group's radio hit, "My Friends Over You." For many, the handwriting was already on the wall, as New Found Glory had been tapped as a 2002 Warped Tour headliner well before the group started overheating the retail registers.

Though a fresh phenomenon to most, New Found Glory—vocalist Jordan Pundik, drummer Cyrus Bolooki, bassist Ian Grushka and guitarists Steve Klein and Chad Gilbert—actually launched as five high-school hopefuls back in '97. The group almost immediately put their amped-up, punk-smacked rock sound onto an EP, and local label Drive-Thru Records soon signed them up and dropped their full-length, Nothing Gold Can Stay, the following year. As the label partnered up with MCA for New Found's self-titled 2000 release, the FM dials lit up for the group's PoMo hit single "Hit or Miss," pushing the album to near-gold sales status. For those that missed rather than hit, Sticks and Stones delivered the late wake-up call that New Found Glory is about to live out their very namesake. Guitarist Chad Gilbert shares some of the Glory with HITS’ own old lost gory David "Colin’s Sleaziest Friend" Jenison.

What's the inspiration behind an album title like Sticks and Stones? Is it about taking flack from critics?
No, the title actually alludes to the way kids can resolve conflicts by calling names, fighting and then immediately making up as if nothing ever happened. When one gets older, there's so much more drama, and everyone has these emotional issues. The title reflects a wish that we could be kids again and solve all our differences with a wrestling match.

It's been a few years since you graduated from high school. What would you do differently if you could go back in time?
I honestly wouldn't do anything differently. I was 6 foot 2 in high school, so I stuck up for all the kids that got bullied. If I saw some idiot jock making fun of a little kid, I'd make the jock back off, and they always did. Also, I didn't hang out in any cliques because most of my friends were from the music scene and didn't go to my school.

What first interested you in music?
As a kid, I loved the musical Annie, so I would bring the family and the neighbors into the living room and belt out "Tomorrow." I got into different music growing up, and I learned about punk and metal bands from my older brother. In my elementary school yearbook, there's actually a photo of me as a fifth-grader tutoring a kindergartener, and I'm wearing a Danzig "How the God's Kill" T-shirt. In high school, when everyone started forming different cliques, I started going to local shows with my brother where it didn't matter what you wore or looked like.

What type of guidance do you give to your younger fans?
Like what you like, and be yourselves. Don't just like what's cool, and never let someone tell you that you're not good enough. I also stress that we’re normal kids just like them. Not enough artists do that these days.

Why is that?
They want to sell records, and they think seeming normal will limit that. These are the types of artists that don't even write their own songs. You know, our band and a lot of others out there weren't discovered in some talent competition. We busted our butts touring and building a fan base, and that’s how we got discovered. The same kids who were into the manufactured artists are now getting older and smarter and wanting bands that are more real. Some people just listen to the song, so it doesn't matter, but the real music fans want something honest that they can relate to and which puts everyone on the same level. To me, you're either a real musician writing about what's on your heart or simply money-driven entertainment that's no different than some Disneyland ride.

Haven’t the influences of packaging and imaging bled over into punk-rock?
Labels see Blink and Green Day, and then they put together these crappy bands with contrived lyrics about going to the movies and playing Nintendo. It's like they only care about selling records. Blink and Green Day both came up the hard way. I remember seeing them playing to an empty house and then crashing on my friend's floor because they couldn't afford a place to sleep. That's why everything with our band is sincere. Everything about the new album really portrays what we are all about, from the sound to the press pictures.

What is the worst part in dealing with the media, besides having to talk to HITS?
Photography stuff annoys me. "Be funny! Be silly!" It's like these photographers see Blink acting silly, so they want us to act silly, too. Not everyone in this band is funny, and I can't just sit there and act stupid for the camera. Blink hates all this "act silly" stuff now, too.

Since you’re from Florida, tell me a good hurricane story.
Sometimes the drains overflow down at the end of the street, and the water gets up to waist deep. It's cool to bring out the boogie boards and slide down the street.

As a Broward resident, any thoughts on last year's post-election mayhem?
My main memory is everyone thinking they were so original and funny by asking, "So are you a dimpled Chad or a hanging Chad?" It got old fast.