Guitarist Chad Gilbert gives a behind-the-scenes look inside the band’s new album Not Without a Fight, the music industry, producing, fashion, relationships, straight edge, and keeping it real with fans.
I hear it’s your birthday this week. Happy birthday, man!
Yeah, thank you. It was yesterday.
Did you do anything fun?
I went to Pizza Hut.
Nice. Anyways, you just got back from overseas a few days ago. How were the shows?
They were good, man. They were really good. We played Japan and Australia. It was awesome. The new album’s been out over there for like a week or two. It came out there early, so it was pretty cool playing these songs.
How many new songs have you been playing?
Like four or five.
So, the record drops today. Are you excited?
Yeah, really excited. It’s been three years since Coming Home. We’re siked, and fans seem to really like it. That’s also refreshing, to put out a record that our fans are feeling.
The video for “Listen to Your Friends” just came out yesterday. It looks like you had a pretty fun time filming it. How was the shoot?
It was fun. It kind of was playing a little fantasy, in the sense that I love mixed martial arts. I love UFC. I love all that stuff, so it was cool. It was almost like using New Found Glory as a band to get to meet Bas Rutten, and to get to stand in an Octagon and stuff. It was a one-day shoot, but the day before we had to go and learn some moves and stuff. So, we were actually in the Octagon with Bas Rutten for two days. We were in there training with him and he was showing us moves. It was pretty fun. It was a good experience.
Who would win out of you guys if the band did actually get in a fight?
Me, I’d win. Not that I’m the toughest, but I’m too stubborn and I wouldn’t give up. I’d keep coming until it’d just have to be over.
I like how you and Steve knocked each other out in the video.
Yeah, that was actually a rip-off. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but on YouTube that really happened in one of the Octagon fights. These YouTube guys knock each other out. It wasn’t in UFC, it was in a different league, but it was in an Octagon. They were fighting, and they punched each other. Right as it started, they both ran up and hit each other at the same time. Both of them passed out. It’s so funny because the referee didn’t know what to do because both guys got knocked out at the same exact time.
With the video and the artwork, it seems like you have a fight theme for this record. What’s your take on that?
Well, it’s kind of just an analogy. It’s metaphorical with the lyrics. With our songs, we don’t really write about politics. We don’t really write about government, and war and all that stuff. New Found Glory’s been a band for 12 years, and the biggest dilemmas in our lives are trying to keep relationships and all the times we pretty much fail at it.
When making the record, we thought it’d be cool to have a cover almost look political or look warlike, but it be about relationships. As you can see, it’s a guy soldier and a girl soldier, so it’s sort of a metaphor for our personal war and the wars you have in relationships with your loved ones. Sometimes, obviously fighting and that stuff takes a lot out of you. So it’s a metaphor towards that, and that’s where the Not Without a Fight thing plays into. The mixed martial arts was just a fun way to parallel the Not Without a Fight thing. But yeah, the cover and all that just goes along with relationships.
Also, there’s a more positive sense because it can be go both ways. It can be a negative connotation, or it can also be positive. When you want something bad enough in life, you have to fight for it. That’s like with our band. We love being in this band and we’ll do whatever it takes to continue, whether it be like what we did. We made this record on our own and then we went to labels. We got off our old label and started from scratch, and that’s a play on it, too. If you want something bad enough, you have to fight for it. So, it’s not as simple as it looks. It has a few meanings.
I know a lot of fans have noticed that you kind of went back to your Self-Titled style with this album. What led to that happening?
It’s funny because it’s not a throwback. This record to me does not sound like Self-Titled. It doesn’t sound like Sticks and Stones. It doesn’t sound like Catalyst. It might take people a few months to realize it, but definitely this record is its own entity. The reason why I feel people call it a throwback is because it’s energetic. Our old records were energetic, and that’s what we did. This record we went back to the energetic sound.
The reason why we did that is that Coming Home – we love Coming Home and we’re proud of it – but live, those songs were not fun to play. They’re just more mellow. Being the kind of person I am, and the kind of shows I like going to and the kind of shows we’re used to having, playing Coming Home songs – kids sing along – but we wanted to play songs that would translate better live, if that makes sense.
That’s what we do. We tour nonstop. We’re always on tour, and that’s our favorite thing. So in writing these songs, we’re like, “All right, let’s write some songs that live we’re going to have a blast playing that we know our fans are going to have a blast singing along to or being there.”
Do you think you’ll ever write another album like Coming Home, where it’s a little different for you, or do you think you’ll keep things fast-paced?
Who knows? Our next record could be a fucking disco record. I don’t know. It won’t be disco, but who knows? I think every album New Found Glory’s released is different in its own way. We’ll continue to keep people on their toes. We’re honest people. We’re genuine people. We’re real people. When we write albums, whatever comes out, comes out. When we were making this record, we were more driven. It’s almost like the Shai Hulud lyric: “Driven by suffering.” I wouldn’t use that, but driven by anger, you know?
We went through some weird struggles that we’d never faced before. We weren’t on a label. We got off Geffen. We left our management. We were on our own. No label. No manager. Touring on our own. It was amazing. Our fans would still come out on these huge tours, but we didn’t have a label and all these things. Personally, I was going through a huge break-up. I got a divorce. Jordan went through a divorce. We had all these crazy things happening that we’d never faced before in our lives, so that’s why this record came out energetic.
It’s wasn’t like, “Let’s sit around and write sappy songs.” It was like, “Let’s sit around and write some songs where we can get this shit off our chests.” You don’t get your shit off your chest playing little sappy songs. You write aggressive, energetic songs. You want to yell, or fucking whatever, and that’s why this record came out like that.
It’s not like, “Hey, we’re New Found Glory. Coming Home didn’t do well. Let’s try to get more fans by playing old style.” That’s not how it was. When we wrote Coming Home, we were in love. I was engaged. Jordan was engaged. Everyone was siked. The label was awesome. Then, everything went 360. When we were making Not Without a Fight, it was totally different. So, it came out totally different.
It was kind of like a response to the fall of all that stuff.
Yeah, so next time we make a record and if everything’s going great, who knows? It could be freaking acoustic pleasure shit. It’s just whatever comes out, comes out. We’re always real, and I think that’s why we still have the fans we do.
How much did you help with the lyrics on this record?
A little bit. Definitely this record was more stories told by Steve, in the sense that Steve wrote a lot of these lyrics. I can tell you there’s a lot of these songs about my personal situation. Steve saw what was happening with me in my life, and when working on lyrics with him, it definitely came out. But on this record it was definitely more split, kind of like some of our older records where I would write all the music and Steve would do the majority of all the lyrics.
You guys produced this one with Mark Hoppus. What was that experience like? Was it hard to be serious or did you joke around a lot?
Yeah, we definitely would joke around a lot in the studio. We’re professional. Well, we’re not professional, but we know when it’s time to be professional. The same thing with Mark. We’re all like big kids having fun, but when it gets down to it, we knew when it was time to get serious and when not to. It was a blast. Mark’s so funny, dude. He was fun to work with.
Did he give you any advice or anything like that?
I would say the greatest thing Mark did, besides getting some good guitar sounds and all that stuff, was really help us get back to the core of New Found Glory and that raw kind of energy. I remember there’s a song on the record that I now love called “Truck Stop Blues.” It’s a lot of our fans’ favorite song. I wrote it, and when we recorded it and were done with it, I remember being like, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know about this song. I kind of feel like it’s just a fast punk song. I feel like I don’t know.” Mark was like, “That’s what’s awesome about it. It’s stripped down. It’s straightforward. Kids are going to love this song.” I was like, “All right. I like it, but I’m just not sure about it.”
Mark was right. It’s like everyone’s favorite song. He was really good at that, pinpointing the songs that we needed to focus more on then others. As far as songwriting, we already had our songs done. Then we went to him and he tracked them for us. He definitely played a very big part in making the record sound raw and that kind of aspect, which was really cool.
Recently, you’ve been doing some producing on your own with bands like A Day to Remember and Fireworks. How do you like doing that?
Dude, I love it. I love producing. It’s so fun because you’re able to talk about songs and music that you’re not personally married to. I know for me, dissecting my own songs is so personal, so it’s nice to be able to give your musical opinion and it not be so personal towards yourself [laughs].
You can talk about other people’s music, which is really cool. It’s like in a friendship. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really see what’s going on, as opposed to your best friend who’s seeing it from the outside and really knows what’s going on. He’s like, “I don’t know, man. This guy’s kind of shady. You don’t see it because you’re in the middle of it, but this guy’s shady.”
It’s kind of like with producing. You’re apart and the band might not notice it, but you’re on the outside. This could be better this way, or this could be better that way. I just love all kinds of music, so being involved in it one way or another is awesome.
Do you ever think you’ll end up producing one of New Found Glory’s records?
No, I don’t. It’s not that I couldn’t, it’s just I don’t want to. I want an outside opinion. I think everyone should have that. You don’t get the best out of yourself or in life if you don’t have something or someone pushing you. So if I’m writing or producing my own stuff, it’s my own songs, so I’m not going to see what other people are going to see. I feel like I always want someone who’s not on the inside pushing me and challenging me, or you won’t get the best out of me if I’m not challenged.
I love the b-side “I’m the Fool.” Was that hard to keep off the record?
Yeah, it was. It was in between that and… What was the other song? Dammit, I forget what track, but we were in between the two. I think the deciding factor was that it was slower. We wanted the record to really flow at a good pace. It felt like the rhythm of the chorus – the [singing] “I can’t get enough of your touch” – when placing it with the rest of the songs when it got to that one, it didn’t feel like it completely fit. So, that’s why we picked that.
Was that the only b-side you had?
I personally love the band’s b-sides and think they’re some of the best out there. Do you have any plans to release a b-sides record at some point?
Yeah, man. We want to. It seems like it might be a pain in the butt because of all the different labels and stuff. Geffen has the rights to some, and now Epitaph has one. You know, all the different people. I think eventually, yeah, we’ll tackle that. We’ll get it all together and make one big b-sides record.
I remember when I talked to Jordan last year, he was still kind of thinking about signing back with another major, and then you guys ended up at Epitaph. What were the deciding factors in that decision?
The deciding factors were that we met with a bunch of different labels. We met with major labels. We met with indie labels. With major labels, you sit down with the manager or whoever, and they were already trying to figure out what they could do if it failed. All right, well, this record sold this. So, this does this and that means this, so we can give you this much money because of this and this.
It was just so much like a business deal. It had nothing to do with our songs. It had nothing to do with them loving our band. It was just stupid. It was like a failing music industry wouldn’t even sign a band, but knowing that the music industry sucks, it was already planning to fail. It was really weird.
We’ve always been on a label that loved our band and got what we did. That’s why we ended up getting off Geffen. The president who we used to work with ended up not being the president anymore. A new president came in and knew nothing about us, so that’s why we left.
With signing with Epitaph, Brett Gurewitz and all of them, they didn’t talk about money or a deal. They were like, “We love your band. With all the bands on our label, you’re their favorite band. The people who work here, you’re their favorite band. We love you guys. It would be an honor to have you on our label. We really feel we could blow you guys up. We feel like we could get you in the right set again. We feel like we could do this and this. Even if it doesn’t happen, we don’t care. We just want you on our label because you’ve inspired so many of the bands on our label.” It was really cool. What are you going to say to that? You know what I mean? They just wanted us to do our thing.
It was funny because you asked about what record we’re going to make next. That’s one of the things that Epitaph said. They were like, “We believe in your band, where your next record, we don’t care what it sounds like. You can make any kind of record you want. We know it’s going to be good, no matter what style. We really want you guys on our label.” That was really cool, you know?
Obviously, the whole music industry is changing with album sales declining and all that. How do you try and stay afloat amidst that struggle?
It’s a weird thing. With a band like New Found Glory, I don’t feel like it’s hurting us as bad as people would think. Yes, numbers. If you break it down, yes, our CD sales will be low in that sense because people download the records. People have it. People burn it, right? But, was does having big CD sales do? The only big CD sales do is open up other opportunities – opportunities that we would probably deny anyway.
Say we sell freaking a million records on paper, so everyone flips out. Oh, they did these huge numbers. Well, we’re going to get offers then from probably a TV show, some like Pepsi commercial, or some stuff that will probably be big, but we’re not going to do that shit, you know? That is going to hurt our fan base.
There’s going to be a day, like we’ve already experienced, where we don’t sell a million records. The only people who are going to be by your side are your diehard fans through thick and thin, no matter what size venue you play. So, we’re never going to turn our backs on our fans that way.
With us, if people download our record and people love it, that’s awesome because they’re going to come see us live. That’s what matters. They see us live. They buy a T-shirt. They support our band that way. Downloading in all honesty hurts some opportunities, but at the same time if some kid doesn’t have the money to buy a CD but he wants to spend his 10 bucks or 20 bucks to see the show and buy a shirt, then what’s the difference?
Some business guy who reads the paper might be like, “Oh, New Found Glory only did this many CDs.” But if you come to our show, we draw more than the band that sells that amount of CDs. You know what I mean? It’s like, “All right. Well, I’d rather be New Found Glory than fucking this band.”
Since you’re a pretty veteran band, what do you think about all the current trends like neon clothes, Auto-Tune and all that stuff?
That stuff’s weird to me. Here’s the thing – people need to dress however they want to dress. If that’s how these people feel they want to dress, who am I to say? I don’t know how to dress. I’m a fucking dork. I think people being who they want to be – that’s cool. My only thing about it is not the look, it’s that it seems like they’re taking too much time in the look and not the music. That’s the only thing I care about.
If a band comes out and they’re super tight. They fucking look crazy, have all these crazy sounds and all this shit, and their songs are horrible and the band sucks. Then it’s like, aw, man. What are you doing? You’re taking way too much time into the image than the music. That’s what I have a problem with.
I’m not going to diss a band for dressing how they want to dress. When New Found Glory first came out, we looked different than some bands. We were like, whatever. You know what I mean? There weren’t as many pop-punk bands then. There was barely any. We didn’t look like your West Coast punk dudes, so I’m sure there were people like, “Who’s this band? They’re weird.” We were from the East Coast. We were different.
So, I don’t want to diss people completely on style. People that make fun of bands on fashion, to me that means they care too much about fashion themselves, too. But if a band’s super fashionable, and their songs suck and they can’t play their instruments, then it’s embarrassing.
As far as your guitar playing, I love the little lead guitar riffs you come up with. Do you start with a basic chord progression and build off that, or do you come up with those things first and work the song around that?
Well, it depends on which riffs you’re talking about. As far as songs on the new album, like “Right Where We Left Off,” the first one, that riff I wrote first. Then, I wrote the song after the riff. Same thing with “I’ll Never Love Again.” That riff came first.
Then there’s ones like the single “Listen to Your Friends.” There’s the bridge with the lead, and that lead came second. So, it really just depends on which song and which part. If a song revolves around a riff, then usually I wrote the riff first.
You kind of touched on this earlier but I know your personal relationships have gotten a lot of attention, at least online and stuff. Is that surprising to you and hard to deal with?
No, I knew that would happen. Obviously, Paramore is a band that’s talked about on the Internet a lot. They tend to have some younger fans, and younger fans are the ones that really pay attention to that kind of thing. So, I expected it. I don’t really care or pay attention to it. It all blows away or all will. All the things that people say online are so not even close to the real story. If they only knew the real story, then they’d have something to talk about [laughs].
It’s funny reading things online, like people’s theories on what went down with my divorce and people’s theories on Hayley and all this stuff. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll write a book on how everything went down, not that anyone would buy it but maybe like five kids.
I don’t really care. I’m not a tabloid dude. If people want to talk about it on the Internet, that’s fine, if they’re that bored. In all honesty, it doesn’t affect me or Hayley. We’re going to date and be together, and not because if it’s accepted or not accepted. We don’t really pay attention to it. That’s why we don’t really ever even talk about it. I go places and people have no clue that me and her are dating because we don’t really advertise it. We don’t really talk about it. We don’t really do things together online, or corny things.
We’re kind of bummed because some people found out that she sang on the record and we didn’t even want anyone knowing. We didn’t want her on a part. Literally, she just does this one note, which was really, really high. We wanted the note, and she was there. It could have been anyone. It was like, “Hey, can you do this little note real quick.” That’s all it was. It was super high. Jordan didn’t do it because it sounded weird when Jordan would do it. It was really pinchy and weird, so we’re like, “Oh, you do it.” Then fans are like, “Hayley’s on the new New Found Glory,” and she’s not. She literally says like one word.
Yeah, she’s just a little bit in the background doing harmonies.
Yeah. It’s not even because of Hayley, and it’s no offense to Hayley. If we wanted Hayley on the record, we would have given her a part. We would have put a sticker that said, “Hayley from Paramore.” But, no, we just needed a little note. The whole Internet stuff is kind of funny to read about, to be honest.
It keeps you entertained.
Yeah, the fact that people think about me that much is flattering.
Do you still talk to the DuPrees at all?
Sherri emailed me the other day about something. She needed some kind of thing, like a personal thing or whatever, because she’s getting married again. So she called me for a favor, and of course I did her the favor, but that’s it. I talk to her, but I don’t really talk to anyone in the family. Our guitar tech, Michael, lives in Tyler, so he hangs out with them sometimes. I don’t know. I hope they’re all doing well. Besides hearing from Sherri every now and again, I haven’t talked to anybody in a while.
How hard is it to keep up, not just romantic relationships, but friendships in general when you’re in a band and constantly busy or on the road?
It’s a pain in the butt. It sucks, but at this point most people understand our touring schedules. If I don’t talk to anyone in a couple weeks or a week or so, no one really gets their feelings hurt. They know that things are going on with the band and things have been crazy.
It sucks the most overseas because phone bills are insane. Last time we went over there I didn’t use my phone at all, so I couldn’t really talk to anyone when I wanted to. It was so expensive the time before last, so this time I just barely called anyone. When I’m in the States touring, it’s not a big deal. Plus, there’s iChat. You can video camera people and see people.
It used to be worse. That’s what’s funny when I think about when I used to sing in Shai Hulud. I remember there weren’t cell phones. The only time I could ever call home or call my girlfriend at the time was if we stayed at someone’s house. Long distance back then was expensive at homes, and now long distance at homes is nothing. Or, I’d use pay phones and I’d have to get like hundreds of quarters.
It’s funny. I remember dating this girl who was older than me. I called her two or three times in one week, which is like nothing. In relationships, you usually talk to someone two or three times a day. So I dated her for a week, and I was only able to call her three times total in one week, in seven days. By the time I got home from tour, she was dating someone else. She dumped me.
I was like 16 and she was 23, so I was kind of cool for dating an older girl. Being 16 and touring, I didn’t really care. I was like, eh, whatever. She dumped me for an older guy.” It’s way easier now than it was back then. I feel like the grandpa stories: “I used to walk to school. Blah blah blah.” It’s true, man.
One of your nicknames is Captain Straight Edge. How did you arrive at being in the straight edge lifestyle?
Initially, I didn’t even know what straight edge meant or what it was. All my friends were alternative and punk, metal and hardcore. Everyone just hung out together. I listened to Earth Crisis, Pantera, Nirvana, Rancid, Operation Ivy, Sick Of It All and Fugazi. There was no difference, so I didn’t care. Metal, punk, hardcore – whatever it was – if it was wild and crazy, I probably listened to it. So did all my friends, but all my friends did drugs. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t even know what straight edge was.
I didn’t do drugs because personally in my family I had relatives that did drugs and it ruined their lives. My dad was an amazing father, but he did drink, and the alcoholism hurt my parent’s marriage and it hurt his business. I learned all these things. Smoking – my father had cancer, and I knew a lot of people that had cancer from smoking. So I didn’t do drugs, but I didn’t know what straight edge was yet.
I was in the fifth grade – I got into music really early – and all my friends were doing drugs, doing acid, and it was crazy. I would go out with them and everyone would think I was a drugee. I’d be like, “I’m not. I hate drugs.” Teachers would think I was on drugs, and I’d be like, “I’m not. I swear I don’t do it. Why do I have to do it, just because I look this way? Just because I look this way doesn’t mean I’m a drugee.”
Then one day I was hanging out with a bunch of my friends – we all had skateboards – and my friend, Wes, grabbed my skateboard. He had a rock and on the grip side wrote a big “X.” Then he wrote “SE.” I got pissed. I was like, “Why are you writing ‘sex’ on my board? What are you doing? What the fuck?” I was that clean. I was like, “That’s so stupid. Don’t fucking write ‘sex’ on my skateboard.” Then he goes, “I’m not writing ‘sex,’ stupid. This is straight edge. ‘sXe.’ Straight edge.” I go, “What the hell’s straight edge?” He goes, “That’s what you are.” I go, “What do you mean?” And he goes, “It’s like what you are. You don’t do drugs, and this and blah blah blah.” I was like, “Oh, OK.” Then I got Minor Threat’s CD, and it was on. I’m fucking straight edge! That’s how I discovered it.
I always hated drugs, but I didn’t fit in with my friends. My friends were punks and hardcore kids, but they all did drugs. So when I found straight edge, I was an outcast among outcasts. Does that make sense? That’s pretty much what straight edge initially started out as. Punks and hardcore kids were outcasts, but then kids that went to punk shows and didn’t do drugs, or didn’t drink and didn’t act like idiots, were outcasts too. That’s kind of like what I was.
I also heard you’re a Christian. Does that factor into it, too?
No, I think faith is a completely different thing than straight edge. People are like, “Oh, if you call yourself straight edge, then you’re a Christian.” Well, there’s lots of Christians that drink, do alcohol and are child molesters. They call themselves Christians, but they freaking beat their wives, you know? So, it’s two separate things.
My faith and my lifestyle, as far as straight edge, are different. There’s faith in God, and there’s certain religions that dictate your morals, but that’s installed by the Church. That’s put in by churches. That’s not my faith in God. The way a church tells you to act is not the way that God tells you to act necessarily.
So, what’s next for International Superheroes Of Hardcore?
We’re going to record a new record eventually this year.
I was at that release show in Hollywood last year. That was one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to.
Yeah, that show was fun, man.
Are you going to be playing more shows like that anytime soon?
We always throw them in now and again. We always do them randomly, like last time in England in December we had some random off show. Instead of doing a normal set, we did all requests. So, anytime we’re playing a smaller capacity venue for a special occasion, we’ll do request shows.
You sing in ISHC and you’ve done some singing in the past as well, as you mentioned. I imagine guitar’s your favorite, but how do you like singing vs. playing guitar?
Guitar’s way better. Singing, man, it takes so much out of you. I don’t know how Jordan does it. I get so damn tired singing, so I definitely like playing guitar better.
Do you have anything planned yet after your headlining tour’s finished?
We’re going straight to Europe after the headlining tour. That’s all we know so far. We should be finding out more in the next few weeks.
Since Mark produced your new record and now Blink’s back, is there any chance you’ll be touring with them in the near future?
I don’t know, man. We would love to, so we’ll see. I think it’d be awesome. We definitely would love to tour with them. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know what they’re up to. I don’t know if they’re dealing with their touring yet, but email them and tell them to take us on tour.
In a way it seems like with this record you have come full circle. Do you have any thoughts looking back on the last 12 years?
No. I mean, honestly, we take everything day by day. Whatever happens, happens. We love what we do. I can’t believe it took us this far. It’s pretty crazy how far we’ve come. So, that’s it. We just take it day by day. We try to have fun and not fall or get too involved in the bullshit of it all. We just like playing shows, and that’s it.
Originally appeared on Mammoth Press