If you’ve ever found yourself belting out a sneaky rendition “Hit Or Miss” or “My Friend’s Over You”, the man to thank is New Found Glory’s guitarist and lyricist Steve Klein. Steve was kind enough to have a chat with BLUNT about going back to basics for album number seven, the joys of taking to the road with your friends in Taking Back Sunday, and how he’s the band’s mediator. Care to guess who he pins as the asshole?
One of the most impressive things about New Found Glory is that you’ve kept the same line-up since you first started out. Do you think that’s something that would ever change? Or would that spell the end of the band.
I don’t know, it depends on how it goes. It’s kind of hard to think about as I’ve never really been in that position. For us, I feel like we started this band for the right reasons and none of us had egos or crazy weird things about us, so I think that’s why we’ve been able to stay together so long. This band for us is like a family and we all kind of keep each other on the same plane, we don’t let each other go too crazy. We all run the band together and I feel like we all kind of write the songs together and stuff like that. We try to keep it as a camaraderie rather than it be just about one person. That’s what keeps a band together. There’s one person that kind of takes on more responsibility than the others though, cos obviously, there has to be a chain of command in a band, you know, there has to be one asshole, one kind of mediator, and then the other people are the wheels that make the whole machine run.
Where do you fit in?
I guess I’m more of a mediator, I think Jordan’s [Pundik, vocals] more the asshole [laughs].
You’ve been hailed as one of the greatest pop punk bands in history. How does it feel to be the ones spearheading this revival of pop punk?
For us, we feel like we’re not reviving anything just cos we’ve been around, we’ve never gone anywhere. All these bands have come and gone, but for us, we kept on working and writing records and being a band, and now everybody’s like, “Oh it’s a revival cos there’s all these bands getting back together” but we’ve never gone anywhere. We’ve been the same band putting out records for our fans and just trying to be like a real band. For us, you know, it’s nice that people are calling it a revival, but there hasn’t been a weird attendance at our shows or anything. Our fans haven’t gone anywhere either. This is seven records for us now, so we’re very happy to still be relevant and still able to write music that people still enjoy.
Holding that title seems like an awful lot of pressure. How did you feel about approaching Radiosurgery? Does this sort of thing weigh in on your mind?
Those are things that other people say about you, so you don’t really believe the hype. It’s more like people use that as a headline, it’s not anything that we self-proclaim, you know? There’s not really that pressure where it’s like, “Oh my God, we have to write the greatest pop punk record ever in the whole world or else people are gonna hate us”. We stick to the formulas and just write songs that we like and it just happens that other people like them too. We kind of put together all of our favourite music and all our collaborative efforts and what we’re going through as people and in our lives, you know, growing up and becoming men [laughs]. That sounds weird, but it’s the trials and tribulations of growing up and being in a band and dealing with relationships and stuff like that, that’s what our records are about.
Radiosurgery is essentially a break-up record. Is it strange teaming these deeper lyrics with catchy melodies and a fun sound?
Yeah, I guess it’s kind of what makes it fun. You’re singing these sad songs, but they sound like they’re happy. It’s kind of like the yin and the yang. But for us, we always try to write songs that are relatable, that way when people listen to the record, they can instantly put it towards their lives and think, “Oh my God, it’s like he’s singing to me, this is exactly what I’m going through!” and stuff like that makes certain songs stick with you and it’s awesome that people say that about Radiosurgery or any of our records. We’re just five guys writing music and trying to have fun, so it’s awesome that it affects people in a good way.
Talk us through the album. Being album number seven for you guys, what were you trying to get out of this record? It sounds like you’ve gone back to basics, you know, straight-out no-frills pop punk.
I think for this record, we kind of wanted to go back to the roots of what made us get into this sort of music in the first place, like go and listen to the Ramones, old Green Day records and Rancid and NOFX and stuff like that. What were the special bands that got us into this music? We wanted this record to have that classic feel, so I’ve been listening to those records and having that in your subconscious kind of steers the direction of the record.
Are you still striving for the same things you were back when you started out?
For this record, I felt like we wanted to open up the vocals more and so in the past, Not Without a Fight and Catalyst are very guitar-riffy records, whereas this one is very vocal driven and anthemic. Just straight up and catchy right away. That was the direction we wanted to go in, for people to put on the record and to listen to the whole record all the way through and to enjoy every single song.
You can’t go past a good punk cover. How did you guys come to do the From The Screen To Your Stereo records?
Well, the original idea was, at the time, back in ‘99 all these movie songs were like the biggest songs at the time, you had Aerosmith, Celine Dion and Titanic, so when we first started, we thought it’d be fun to make punk versions of these songs, so we covered the Titanic song and Aerosmith and people started coming to our shows and were requesting those songs, so we decided to do a record full of them. We did the first From The Screen To Your Stereo and it became like a cult thing and we’d play those songs live and people were like, “When are you gonna do the next one?” and we kind of found time between our split from Geffen and going to Epitaph to put out From The Screen To Your Stereo Part II and it’s kind of all been movie-song-cover-related, so it was just a lot of fun and people like them and enjoy them. It’s better when people know us for our original material though. It’s fun to do the covers, but it sucks when people are like, “My favourite song that you guys wrote is “Kiss Me”!” Yeah, we didn’t write “Kiss Me”. It’s someone else’s song and we just covered it for fun, but other people know us for our original material, so that’s good.
Adam Lazzara actually provided some of the vocals for From The Screen To Your Screen Part II and in April, you’re on your way here for a tour with them. What’s it like taking to the road with old friends?
We’ve known Adam for a very long time. I remember getting a Taking Back Sunday demo when we first played Long Island and it was a black and white cover and people were like, “Oh you should hear Taking Back Sunday!” and since then, they’ve grown into this big band and we always kind of cross paths and we like to play shows together like the Warped Tour, so it’s nice that we actually have a tour with them in Australia cos it’ll be a lot of fun.
On the Pop Punk’s Not Dead tour, you’ve been touring around with a lot of younger pop punk bands. Do you prefer guiding the younger bands? Or do you more enjoy hanging with your contemporaries.
I think it’s good to be with your contemporaries. Nowadays, people are like, “Oh it’s just New Found Glory playing, I don’t really know any of the other bands”. People don’t wanna spend the money just to go and see one band anymore, it has to be a package deal [laughs]. So when you’ve got Soundwave and all these festivals and all of these bands touring together in packages, the kids come out more. It’s more justifiable for them to spend the money on the ticket because there’s so many bands they wanna see. It’s always fun to tour with your friends’ bands and it’s especially fun to go to Australia with your friends’ bands.
I know you personally tend to write from real life experiences, so what’s been happening in your life at the moment that could potentially end up on album number eight?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I feel like Radiosurgery is still a fresh taste in my mouth. We haven’t really been thinking about any new songs, we kind of put out the record and went straight on tour, so we haven’t really been able to take a breath and relax yet, I mean, I’ve only been home for two days before this interview, but I feel like when we get to Australia we’ll be nice and rested. For us, any time our record comes out, the next day I’m like, “Alright, I’m ready to put out another record”, so don’t worry, we’re thinking about it too, but it’s just hard to say when it’s gonna be or say when we’ll be doing it. It’ll be whenever it comes naturally.
New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday
feat. The Maine and This Time Next Year
Thu Apr 5th – The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)
Fri Apr 6th – The Tivoli, Brisbane (AA)
Sat Apr 7th – Big Top Luna Park, Sydney (AA)
Sun Apr 8th – Festival Hall, Melbourne (AA)
Tue Apr 10th – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (AA)
By Emily Swanson.