Given the huge success of 2002’s Sticks and Stones, the members of New Found Glory aren’t expecting to top their previous high mark with Catalyst, which drops Tuesday. At the same time, they’re not letting its first single, “All Downhill From Here” dictate their future, either.
“I try not to think ahead because I don’t want to jinx anything,” singer Jordan Pundik said. “I just want to let it ride out and see what happens.”
Sticks and Stones, NFG’s third and most successful album so far, sold more than 91,000 copies in its first week and entered the Billboard albums chart at #4. As guitarist Chad Gilbert points out, things are a bit different this time around, making it almost impossible not to have somewhat high expectations.
“When our last record debuted at #4, we didn’t have a huge radio push,” Gilbert explained. “MTV was just getting to know the band. That 91,000 was just our fans. This time, we’ve gotten some good airplay for the single and video. So it’s really exciting and scary at the same time, because we’ve never had that side of things 100 percent in line.
“But like Jordan said,” he added, “we’re trying not to think about it. [We’re] just doing what we’ve always done: playing shows and not caring too much about it. Whatever happens is just icing on the cake.”
The 10 shows the band has scheduled, a combination of small headlining gigs and radio festivals, should keep NFG preoccupied before hitting the road June 25 for the Vans Warped Tour (though it might prove impossible not to think about record sales when the band performs at Tower Records in Sherman Oaks, California, the day the album drops).
As the band gets more successful, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain personal interaction with the fans, but New Found Glory aren’t about to let their regular-guy reputation slip away easily. Even at the Warped Tour, you might find Pundik, Gilbert, drummer Cyrus Bolooki, guitarist Steve Klein and bassist Ian Grushka wandering around the grounds, checking out other bands and hanging with their fans.
“I think the reason why we can continue this is because we know how we’ve been treated by bands,” Gilbert said. “I remember going up to bands I’ve loved and tried to talk to them and been cold-shouldered. We played a show [recently] in D.C. We wanted to do a small club show, and they had a barrier up, and we took it down. We didn’t want a barrier [between us and our fans]. Our shows are more fun when there aren’t barriers.”
Having performed on the Warped Tour several times in years past, the members can’t say enough good things about what’s often referred to as punk-rock summer camp. While they’re eager to see scene veterans – like Bad Religion, the Bouncing Souls and the Vandals – and dues-paying newcomers – like Thursday, Yellowcard and My Chemical Romance – they’re quick to warn concertgoers about some prefabricated punk groups who shall remain nameless. The 37-second blast of old-school hardcore, “Intro,” that opens Catalyst also rails against those for whom “punk” is a look easily purchased at Hot Topic, as Pundik roars, “It’s more than a T-shirt/ It’s more than a tattoo /It’s more than a phase/ This is how I was raised.”
“For us, punk rock and even hardcore music was something we did because we didn’t fit in in high school,” Gilbert said. “We had nowhere to go, so we went to shows. And now record labels and these agencies are putting together these groups. They have catchy songs, but they don’t have a way to sell them, so they put an image to them. They’ll dye a girl’s hair and put a spiked bracelet on her and package her as a punk-rock girl.”