NFG Interview

When you’ve been in a band as long as New Found Glory has, it’s likely that you develop a unique perspective of the music scene. Despite a horrific beginning to 2014, the band re-emerged as a four-piece to relesase Resurrection, an album teeming with the positive pop-punk you’ve come to expect and love from the band, this time with a focus on self-improvement rather than the run-around of relationships. The Garden Statement was able to sit down with the band’s drummer, Cyrus Bolooki, to talk about their whirlwind of a year so far, their run as headliners on the Glamour Kills Tour, the 10-year anniversary of their breakthrough release Catalyst, and much more. Check out the interview below!

 

The Garden Statement: You’re listening to 91.3FM WTSR on the campus of The College of New Jersey. This is Donald Wagenblast with The Garden Statement, and I am joined today by the drummer of New Found Glory, Mr. Cyrus Bolooki. Cyrus, how are you today?
Cyrus Bolooki: 
Doing great.

TGS: You guys are out headlining The Glamour Kills Tour, with We Are The In Crowd, Fireworks, Candy Hearts, and Red City Radio and Better Off rotating in. How has that been going so far?

CB: The tour’s been great. Candy Hearts has been on it since the beginning, which has been about two weeks now. Candy Hearts has a few days left, then Red City Radio Comes on, and then Better Off towards the end. It’s been awesome. All three of those bands, we’ve actually played with before on other tours and stuff like that, so it’s great to be back out with friends. We’re having a great time. For us, it’s awesome. We have a new record that just came out, so we’re showcasing some of those songs. Just great responses throughout.

TGS: That’s great, and you mentioned the new record. How has putting the songs in from Resurrection changed your setlist?
CB: 
Well, obviously, with every new release you have a bunch of new songs that you can put into a setlist. With us, we already have eight full-lengths, so it’s not easy to create a setlist. We’re not going to sit here and play for four hours. We physically can’t do that. But it’s been really cool, because I think in the past, when we would release new records, we might put maybe two or three new songs, but you really want to make sure you play a lot of the hits. This tour, we’ve actually put in–we started with four, but actually now it’s five new songs. We’re still playing over twenty songs, so we play a lot of material, but it’s a really cool setlist. It has new stuff, it’s got a lot of the hits on there, but it also has some songs that we consider “gems.” Songs that we don’t necessarily play, some of the older songs in the catalogue. So it’s a nice, eclectic setlist. Everybody’s really enjoying it. For the new songs, the response has been amazing, so we really have no complaints there.
TGS: And how have fans reacted to the “gems” that you were talking about, because when you put maybe an older song from Catalyst in there that people may not know, or maybe they knew it well back then but don’t remember it quite as well now, how have those songs been going over?
CB: 
Honestly, they’ve been going off awesome. Part of it’s probably where we put those songs in the set, what songs are before and after, so they’re kind of sandwiched in between two more well-known songs. I think the idea of putting them in there, yes it was to let that fan who knows a lot of our material, but hasn’t seen those songs live. It’s to really reward them, but it’s also to reward us. You know, after playing some of these same songs live for so many years, it’s nice to go back and revisit some of the songs you don’t often play. So we’ve had a great time playing them.
TGS: Yeah, you guys deserve a little bit of self-indulgence. Like you said, eight full-lengths is a lot. Have you guys experimented with switching up your setlist at all?
CB: We’ve done it in the past. On this tour, we really haven’t. I mean, we’re still on show 12 out of thirty-something. There’s still room to change, but I think we’re ones that do like having the same set from night to night. Although it is fun to vary it, you also get into a rhythm, not just playing the songs, but also the order of the songs. We organize out set into blocks. So it’s like three or four songs, and then we’ll stop for a few minutes and talk. You get used to how those blocks flow. Changing things up, sometimes it throws you off everything.

TGS: You guys are touring with Fireworks, who, especially early on in their career, their big comparison that people made to them was you. You’ve also toured with bands in the past like The Wonder Years and Man Overboard, who have also been compared to you. Is that a strange dynamic for you guys, when all these bands have been heralded as “The Next New Found Glory,” and then you’re taking them on tour with you?
B: I think if anything, it’s very flattering. Obviously when we started, we had bands that we looked up to that we would go on tour with. Those were bands like  MxPx, and Less Than Jake, and even blink-182. And a band like Less Than Jake, you know, we don’t sound like Less Than Jake, but we did grow up going to their concerts, and looking  up to them as to how to be a band. So in some senses, the same thing is happening now, where a lot these bands, yes they may sound like us, but they also look up to us for influence and just in general. For us, it’s nice to be in that position. I think we do feel a little bit of responsibility to be that band for these other bands, and to really show them what you can, and what you should or shouldn’t do in a band in order to try and have a long career. It’s pretty amazing, because these are things that we never necessarily set out to do when we started, you know? We didn’t set out to become this influential band. We just set out to write songs, and play them, and try to continue on tour. It’s really neat. It’s really neat bands like that are out there. It’s neat that bands that we do get to take out on tour. It’s also neat that you have bands that are arguably the same size or bigger than us. You’ve got bands like All Time Low, and even Fall Out Boy, that will give credit to us for some of the reasons why they maybe started their band, or obviously a band like All Time Low, their name comes from one of our songs.
TGS: Yeah, The Story So Far, too.
CB: 
And The Story So Far as well. So it’s really neat to have bands like that out there, and for them to at least tip their cap to us, that’s icing on the cake for us.

TGS: This Glamour Kills run is I believe your first official US headliner as a four-piece. Has it changed the way you guys have approached your live set at all? Has anything been different compared to when you guys were a five-piece?
CB: 
Well, when all that stuff went down, it was in December, and we had this Parahoy Cruise, a cruise that we did with Paramore. It was like a weekend, 3 shows. We had that booked already, so going into the Parahoy Cruise, we had to figure out what we were going to do. Obviously, much like everybody would think we had questions:  do we need a second guitarist? What are we going to sound like  without it? We went into rehearsals with just the four of us, not knowing what it was going to sound like, played a few songs, and honestly, we looked at each other and our crew that was there, and everyone was like, “This sounds great.” And in some ways, people on the outside were saying  “This actually sounds better than it has before.” So I think pretty early on, we were like, “Alright, I think we can do this as a four-piece. There’s no real reason to involve anybody else.” The dynamic has changed in the sense that, yeah, there’s only one guitar player, but for the most part you don’t really hear a difference. So live, it’s cool, because even our older songs, songs that would have a rhythm and a lead guitar going at the same time, just the one guitar really hasn’t changed much.
TGS: How would you say fans have reacted to it?
CB: 
I think everybody’s cool with it. When you go to a show, it’s not about one instrument. It’s about the whole experience. And I think that whole experience hasn’t really changed. With the new songs, a lot of the new songs, the way that we approached the writing of them was keeping in mind that we were a four-piece. So we didn’t go out there and put out 40,000 guitar tracks. It really is just about a guitar riff, and that’s it. There’s a couple spots on the record where there’s a guitar lead, but there’s no rhythm guitar behind it. We’re not the only band to be like that. You’ve got great bands like Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, there’s lots of bands out there that only have one guitar player. A lot of times on record, even though you wouldn’t think it would be as powerful, they just would have the guitar lead going with nothing underneath it, and just a bass line or something. We did things like that, and I think on our new songs, it was written knowing we were a four-piece. But again, even with the older songs, having two guitarists on record, it still doesn’t sound that much different with only one.

TGS: That actually leads me right into what I was about to say next: your eighth album, Resurrection,  came out last week. It debuted at number 25 on the Billboard chart, congratulations!
CB: Thank you!
TGS: It’s so strange for me to say that this was your eighth album. It doesn’t feel like you guys have been around that long, you’ve just been so prolific with it. What was it like recording Resurrection? Obviously, with the line-up shift, it was very different to begin with, but were there any other little intricate differences that you noticed with the recording of Resurrection?
CB: You know, it wasn’t really that much different, it was just very relaxing. Especially given the circumstances we had gone through with the line-up shift, most people would think that it would be a very stressful time for us, it’d be a very questionable time as to how are we going to do this. But everything was very natural for us. The writing process, what we did was Jordan, Chad, and myself all lived pretty close to each other in California, and we’d meet up once or twice a week at Chad’s house. I’d bring a little tiny recording setup, Chad would play some guitar, I’d record it, I’d bring those recordings back to my own home, add drums to it at my own leisure, give them back to everybody. We’d kind of craft songs like that. We’d even have Jordan sitting at a dining room table, just singing vocals on top of it and recording it. By the time we went in the studio, out of the thirteen songs on record I think we had eleven of them fully written, fully recorded almost as demos. So we had this total template of exactly what we needed to do in the studio, and it made it so easy for us to record.
TGS: I was going to say, the way you’ve described it makes it seem like it was a very easy and organic process.
CB: Everything just came naturally. It was really easy to do. Basically, what it did was it made the album flow, and we didn’t have to worry about any of that stuff.

TGS: You guys actually had another little change that I’d noticed. This was one of the first albums that you guys actually had some say in the production of it. You worked with Paul Miner, but you guys also had some hands in the production as well.
CB: Yeah, in the past, we’ve worked with Neal Avron a whole bunch, on a lot of our other records. I think over the years we’ve learned a lot about production, but yes, going into Resurrection, coming from the writing process and how far we got before we even entered a studio, we knew exactly what we needed to do. We had a clear-cut idea of what we wanted it to sound like, what we wanted to have on the record, and all that. Paul’s a great guy, we’ve worked with him in the past, we know that he’s a very capable engineer. We work well with him, which is important, and that’s why we went with him. We went in there and produced it ourselves, and obviously Paul helped us, and I think the end product was an amazing result.
TGS: Yeah, and I think with how hands-on you were with everything else, it makes sense that you would know exactly how you wanted the final product to sound. Since you were so involved with every other aspect. 

TGS: You guys landed on Hopeless Records this time around. You were on Epitaph, previously you’d worked with Geffen and Drive-Thru Records as well. What kind of differences have you noticed working with Hopeless Records?
CB: Well, going into the decision to work with Hopeless, we’ve worked with a lot of labels, both big and small, we needed to find a label that would understand us. What I mean by that is, we have eight studio albums now. We’ve been around for a little while. We’re not a new band. So as far as marketing goes,  you kind of need to treat a band like us a little differently. You don’t have to throw all this stuff at our band to get people to notice us.
TGS: It’s almost like the marketing is built in to itself already.
CB: Yeah, but there’s other ways to put spins on marketing, to get people to remember who we are. Or maybe that fan who’s known us forever, who just doesn’t know that we have a new record coming out. Hopeless is really good at doing that, and if you look at their roster right now, they have bands like Taking Back Sunday,The Used, even Bayside who’s been around for a little while. They obviously know what they’re doing with those bands, and they’ve had a lot of success in the last few years. On top of that, they’re very good internationally. They have a nice foothold in huge markets: not only Europe, but also southeast Asia, Australia, South America, and all that stuff is very important to us. As our career goes on, we want to make sure that it’s not just America, that we really go worldwide. We’ve been doing that for years, so we didn’t want to have any drop-off there.

TGS: Another album that hit a big milestone this year, your album Catalyst came out in 2004, so it turned 10 on May 18 this year. Have you guys been able to take some time and look back on Catalyst at all? Now that it’s ten years after the fact, what kind of legacy does it hold with you guys?
CB: It’s crazy, because Catalyst is one of our highest-selling records to date. To me, I’m a guy who is really into the whole recording and production side of albums. I just took to that from the very beginning. I feel like the production of Catalyst is the most involved we ever got. That was the third record in a row that we worked with Neal Avron, and we really started to get to know each other. But at the same time, that was I believe where as a band, we really started to broaden what we could try to do on a record. We recorded seventeen songs for that record, although not all of them came out in the US. Those seventeen songs just cover the entire spectrum. From the first song on the record, which was a thirty-second super-fast intro-
TGS: That fans are still demanding for you to play.
CB: And it’s crazy, because we literally recorded that with a tape machine, hitting record and one take all the way through, to songs like “All Downhill from Here,” which are still some of our biggest songs to date, with a lot of production going on. We had a choir on one song, and there’s just some really neat things going on on the record. Looking back on it, I’m really proud that it’s part of our repertoire. Some of those songs are songs that we literally play every single show. Obviously, we wouldn’t be here without it. I have a lot of appreciation for it.
TGS: Another big part of that was, “All Downhill” was the number one video on TRL for a few days, it got retired, I remember watching that day.
CB: Yeah, I have that plaque hanging up in my house!
TGS: That was unbelievable. It kind of, to me, seems like that was your big break-out album, where you broke out of that scope of the underground, and you guys became a household name, with Catalyst and Coming Home. Is that how you guys view it? What was it like to have the “All Downhill” video on TRL, and you guys were on Madden, and all these other video games. What was it like to have that, to be able to see that happen to your band?
CB: Yeah, I mean that stuff is insane. Growing up, we grew up watching MTV, we grew up playing, and still to this day playing games like Madden. To have those things happen is just mind-blowing. I think luckily for us, it was a natural progression. Catalyst wasn’t our first record. We had already been a band for years. We had already put out a couple of CDs on our own.
TGS: And with a lot of positive momentum from Sticks and Stones.
CB: Exactly. Sticks and Stones did amazing. When it debuted, it debuted at #4 on the charts, I think it sold like 91,000 records in one week, which is pretty amazing, and obviously “My Friends Over You” did very well on the radio. That was where we really started to see some momentum shifts in touring and everything. When Catalyst debuted, it debuted at #3 on the charts. That’s the thing for me that’s the most mind-blowing. If you look at the charts from that first-week sales, I think we sold 137,00o copies, which of course now if you sell 137,000 copies, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be number one. Back then, that wasn’t enough, because I think there was a small artist named Eminem that sold more than us. I think Korn was above us, too. These are all bands that are still massive today. For us to get ourselves on that chart, I could run down the street and go to anybody, you don’t even have to know anything about music, and they’ll understand what that means. Whereas if I’m like “Oh, I’m on Madden,” well there’s a lot people in this world that don’t even know what that is. TRL, there were still people back then who didn’t watch that show.
TGS: There are kids now who haven’t been alive when TRL was around.
CB: Very true. All that stuff is just insane for us. I think one of the greatest things about our band is that we have always play live shows and gone on tour, and really focused on that aspect of it as the most important thing in our band. So yes, those crowds have gotten bigger, smaller. They go back and forth still to this day. But the fact that we’re able to continue to play shows, it never allowed us to only get wrapped up in all those accolades. Because if those are gone, who knows if our attitudes would change, or whatever. We’re just very happy to continue to be able to play those live shows. That’s the most important thing for us.

TGS: We talked about Catalyst, which came out in 2004. Sticks and Stones I think was in 2002. You’re one of the many bands in this scene who has a lot of fans calling for songs that you did record 10, 12 years ago. It’s a really tricky sea to navigate. How do you guys feel about the clamoring for older material? I know it can be tough, especially with a new album out. You guys have released 3 full-lengths in the last four or five years now. Is that a difficult stigma to overcome, when fans are always going to be chanting for “My Friends Over You,” or “All Downhill From Here,” is that tough for you guys?
CB: I don’t think so. I think if we look at ourselves, and the bands that we love, we probably feel the same way about them. A lot of times, when you get into a band, whatever record you get into, or the records surrounding that first introduction, that’s the records that you always love by that band. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what they release, they will never top it. You kind of have to understand that, and we’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to continue this career, and just be able to play all the time, and whatever people want us to play, within reason, we will. That being said, with us it’s been great to be able to have new records, and introduce those songs in a set, and even if those records are a little bit of a different style shift, like Coming Home, we have songs that kind of fit into it. For instance, tonight, we’re going to play a song “Oxygen,” the first song off of Coming Home. We don’t often play that, but it works in the set. If it’s a slow song, fast song, it doesn’t matter. It still works. I think we’ve been fortunate that even with new songs, our fans are very  open to it and appreciative of hearing anything from us. And of course, you’re going to hear most of the songs that you probably wanted to, or at least the big bangers. There’s no way we’re going to go a whole show without playing “All Downhill From Here” or “My Friends Over You.”

TGS: That’s awesome. So that’s actually all I have on my end, is there anything else you’d like to add?
CB: 
I mean obviously we’re just very happy that Resurrection has come out, and that it’s been doing well. The reception’s been great. The response from the fans has been awesome, to really hear people say that this is one of our better records in some time, and/or it’s right up there. We say it every night on stage, and I think we really stick by it: the whole theme of Resurrection, there’s a lot of songs that deal with facing struggles, and what to do to get past struggles. That is a parallel of what has been happening with our band, and just the fact that we are here, that we have a record that just came out, that  we’re on stage playing these new songs is a testament, not only that we’ve been able to do it, but I think to almost anybody. You can get through stuff like this. Life gives you challenges, that’s just what life does,  but it doesn’t mean that you have to just run away from them. You can persevere, and get through them and come out on top.

 

The Garden Statement would like to thank Cyrus Bolooki of New Found Glory for taking the time to talk with us. You can still catch New Found Glory headlining the Glamour Kills Tour with We Are The In Crowd, Fireworks, Red City Radio and Better Off now, and Resurrection is available everywhere! Always remember to make a statement and open your mind!