Interview: Jordan Pundik of New Found Glory

Interview: Jordan Pundik of New Found Glory
September 27, 2006 01:59 PM
by Christina Fuoco
LiveDaily Contributor

New Found Glory fans who track down the band's members in Las Vegas to join them in some gambling should take one thing into consideration: their cash.

"Las Vegas is a crazy town," said Jordan Pundik, the Florida-bred band's singer. "Our fans know that when we're in Vegas, we gamble and stuff like that. They always know to look for us in casinos. It's pretty funny. There are times when I'll be hanging out playing blackjack or something and, like, fans will come up and play with me and I'll take their money."

(Fans might get the chance to play a few hands with Pundik and bandmates guitarists Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein, bassist Ian Grushka and drummer Cyrus Bolooki when New Found Glory plays the House of Blues Oct. 27, in the midst of an upcoming tour.)

"Coming Home," New Found Glory's second album for Geffen Records and fifth overall, takes fans on a journey that is musically simpler than the group's previous efforts. The album, which the group began writing in December in a house in Malibu, is a reflection of New Found Glory's work with producer Thom Panunzio, as well as engineers Paul Minor of Death by Stereo and Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals.

Pundik--speaking by telephone while driving from Fuse to MTV in New York to promote his band's latest album "Coming Home"--recently talked to LiveDaily about working Panunzio, New Found Glory's songwriting process and growing up with the band's fans.

LiveDaily: You recorded with legendary rock producer Thom Panunzio. Tell me about working with him.

Jordan Pundik: He's amazing. He's just a legend in himself. He's worked with so many classic bands, like, staples in rock music--Tom Petty and Bob Dylan and everything. It was really cool. Not that our record sounds classic, but he brought his classic [recording] ways and vibes ... to a modern band. It was cool to work with him.

The band has a markedly different sound on "Coming Home." Was it due to Panunzio?

I think because every time we recorded [before], we would [want] a bunch of guitars and stuff. Tom's theory is "less is more," which is true with all the sounds we have. Everything sounded so big and full without having to use tons of guitars and machine-gun vocals the whole time, like, singing really high over everything. A lot of our older stuff was a lot faster. [Panuzio's production] actually let the vocals kind of shine through.

So it was a conscious decision to make a simpler album?

I don't know. It's never like, "now's the time we have to do it this way." When we write songs, everything's real and everything's from the heart.

So it's more of an organic approach. Is that what's reflected in the album title?

Yeah, and it kind of reflects being away from the people you love and the people you care about and taking responsibility to those relationships. That's where we kind of got the name from. Plus, there's a song on the album called "Coming Home" and that song is actually speaking of those kinds of things. I think a lot of it came from that, being away, writing a record and being on tour

When did you start writing the album?

I would say--with ideas spreading around in our band--last December. I just remember we had a couple skeletons of songs that we would practice during soundcheck on the last tour we did. We had a little while off, then we met back up in August in a house in Malibu. We wrote the whole record there, pretty much. It was different for us because it was the first time we were able to really focus on the record, instead of writing songs on the bus or in the dressing room. We were able to live together and write songs any hour of the day. That's when a lot of the best things came. If someone had an idea at 10 o'clock at night--we were just hanging out eating dinner and somebody came up with a riff--we were able to work on it, as opposed to being in a dressing room or having to play a show.

That's cool to have that kind of vibe in which you can work whenever you want.

Yeah, we could stay really focused. Everything in Malibu closes so early. It's a small town on the edge of this huge crazy city.

How did you write the songs before?

It's never really a one-person thing. Every idea sparks from somewhere. Everything is written together. Chad will have some ideas for songs, some riffs and stuff, and he'll bring it to the band, and we'll all kind of throw in our two cents. Everything is collaborative. There's not one particular songwriter. Everything we do, we do together.

So it's a democratic songwriting process.

That will keep us together. That's what will keep us going for [a long time]. Not many bands last for that long. Everyone's open to everyone's ideas. Plus we've been friends for so long. That's what keeps it going.

What do you think about the buzz surrounding "Coming Home"?

I think it's pretty amazing. For example, we were playing a few of the new songs live [before the album was issued in September]. We played a couple college shows. Kids are already singing along to the words and the songs have only been out for a minute. I think it's amazing.

Why do you think your fans have stuck with you?

I think because they know we're a real band and we've been doing it for a long time. Even though we're still young, we started young. And I think our fans really connect to us because everything we've seen and done they can relate to--not just our fans, people in general. Everything we write is real, it's something that happened to every one of us.

In the early days, when success was still a pipe dream, guitarist Chad Gilbert had to drop out of high school to focus on the band. Drummer Cyrus Bolooki, turned down a scholarship and a chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, who performed the first heart transplant in Florida. All the New Found Glory band members had to make sacrifices along the way to make their dream a reality. All this comes to mind on a recent sunny summer afternoon in San Diego when singer Jordan Pundik confidently calls their fifth album "the one that will stand the test of time." And then again a few days later when Gilbert declares, "We've never been happier with any other record."

"Coming Home" was even written differently. Rather than the usual tour bus and dressing room pow-wows, the band moved into a house together in Malibu called Morning View (where Incubus famously recorded their album of that name), where they sat around the living room and wrote the best songs of their lives. With Paul Miner of Death By Stereo and Warren Fitzgerald of the Vandals and Gwen Stefani's band overseeing the demos, it was like music camp, with a mission.

It only takes one listen to figure out the album opener "Oxygen" is about not being able to breathe without that special person. And the first single, "It's Not Your Fault," capturing the essence of young love and heartbreak with lyrics like, "There were rapid statements about life commitments, A Sense Of Heat, That I Couldn't Bare To Touch…"

Even the album's most poignant moment, and the one song not all about the girls, has a simple message. On the guitar-driven epic "When I Die," Gilbert addresses the 2004 death of his father. "There are always songs about death that are really sad, and this is an uplifting song that gives me strength."

When it came time to record, the band met with all the usual suspects, but decided on producer Thom Panunzio, an A&R veteran at Geffen who has recorded some of the biggest names in music history. "Because he's worked with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, he brought this classic vibe to it, especially with the tones he got," Pundik says. "We learned we don't have to double-up 15 Mesa cabinets and make it all distorted to make it sound big."

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