Lead singer Jordan Pundik discusses the band’s transition to becoming a four-piece, the cathartic nature of latest album Resurrection, and what still excites him about making music after 17 years.
Are you guys going to be doing anything do celebrate the release day today?
I don’t know. I’m usually the first to wake up and I kind of go off on my own, like an adventure, so I haven’t seen any of the guys today yet [laughs].
So the tour just started a few days ago and you’ve played a couple shows now. How have they been so far?
Shows have been awesome. It’s been really good so far. We did San Diego and then Los Angeles, and then Arizona was yesterday. It’s been really fun and all the bands on the tour are really great people, so the hangs are hard, you know what I mean? Like, in a good way, hard hangs.
What’s it like only having one guitarist on stage now? Has that been a relatively smooth transition?
Yeah, man. People have been coming up to us randomly, saying how great it sounds. I feel like, and collectively we all feel the same, it feels tighter. It sounds bigger, having one less guitar on stage. It’s funny, because I’ve had several people come up to me and say, “Man, it sounds so much heavier. Before, it just sounded like noise, but now I can actually hear what’s going on.” I’m like, “Oh gee, thanks [laughs]. So all these years…”
Yeah, I don’t know if that’s a complement or not [laughs]. So obviously the big elephant in the room is Steve’s absence on this record. Can you talk about what the decision making process was like in continuing on as a four-piece and trying to make the best of that situation?
We knew we were going to continue as a four-piece. We wanted it to stay that way, and we committed to that. Going into the record, keeping that in mind, we had a vision and a goal of how we wanted the record to sound. We wanted to stay true to who we are and how we write. It’s actually been a really great process. I feel like this record has been the easiest process, as far as writing goes and all of us being on the same page.
Once a week I would go to Chad’s house and we would sit down and write, talk about the direction of the record, and what we wanted to say and how we wanted it to sound. Going into the record to actually go record it, we had the confidence to know that what we were doing was the best thing.
Since Steve wrote a lot of the lyrics in the past, how did that change things? Did you all pitch in and take turns writing songs?
Yeah, we all pitched in. We all pitched in then, too. I know a lot of people like to assume certain things, but we all on past records have written for every song. With this one, now that he isn’t in the band anymore, it’s more of the things we want to sing and talk about.
We’ve always talked about life experiences and human experience, and I feel like with this new record lyrically we all were going through the same things together as a band. That was the catalyst to what the songs are about.
It’s having to deal with a lot of crappy situations, especially people listening to the record and with them going through the situations they’re going through. It’s a record lyrically talking about going through the situations and coming out stronger, dealing with them and rising above those things.
It’s no secret that most of your songs traditionally have been about girls, but on this one it seemed like there was more of a conscious effort to maybe be a little more outwardly focused on some of the songs.
Right. There’s nothing wrong with singing about girls. We’ve always sung about relationships and talked about relationships, but this one was a little more focused. There was a point where we thought this band wasn’t going to be a band anymore.
When you come to that point, where something you hold so close and love so dearly almost comes to an end, it puts things in perspective for you. That was a big thing, especially going into writing this record.
This record was a very cathartic record for us. As a whole, we wanted to come out and sing about things we were going through. All of us right now, being a little older and all that stuff, you kind of realize certain things.
The record is named Resurrection, which ties in with what you’re talking about and one of the themes on the record. Did that emerge early on as you were working on it?
Yeah, it totally did, especially when we were writing songs like “Selfless,” “Stubborn” and “Degenerate.” With those songs early on, it was definitely shaping what the record was going to be and have that underlying theme.
This record is coming three years after Radiosurgery, and looking back now it probably had more of a lukewarm reaction than your typical records have had. Then, you took a little bit of a break in between, doing the live record and stuff. Did that impact what kind of mindset you had going into this one?
It’s weird because when we go in and do records, it’s never a thought of like, OK, we have to make it like this record. We always want to make the record better than the last one, or at least try to, but we never go in and say, “Now we have to write the fast punk rock song. This is the love song.” It’s just whatever we’re feeling at that time and at that place. That’s what we write and that’s how it’s always been.
It’s funny to me because Radiosurgery is one of my favorite records that we’ve put out. It’s funny the reaction that it got. It’s kind of like half and half with our fans. We always try to make the next record better than the last one. I don’t know. We don’t go into it overanalyzing it.
Since this is record number eight for you, not counting the EPs and covers and live stuff, do you find that you’re still able to learn and grow on every record?
Yeah, totally. Especially with this one, going into the record as a four-piece and writing the way we’ve been writing lately, I’ve definitely learned that less is more. I know there’s people out there that have commented before the record came out, like, “Man, this record sounds weird. I listened to the YouTube stream and it sounded super weird.” It’s like, well, yeah. You’re listening on a YouTube stream through your computer. Of course it’s going to sound bad.
For me, popping that record in and actually listening to it for real, I definitely feel like we’ve learned less is more. Before, we would be layering guitars, and try to make it sound heavy by adding in all these guitar parts and all this stuff. To me, that was the biggest thing. Less is more.
Then on the writing side, lyrically, I feel like this record is the most heart on our sleeve record than any other record in the past. There are a lot of songs in the past that are taken from life situations that we’ve gone through, but sort of embellished a little bit for the sake of the story. With this one, it’s just straightforward and is what it is.
As you were talking about, there’s only one guitar track on most of these songs, and it was made very much with the intention of playing it live as a four-piece. Was there any point where you talked about adding another member or touring guitarist, or did you just like the way the four-piece sounded?
We had talked about it a little bit. What are we going to do? How are we going to figure this situation out? We were rehearsing for the Paramore cruse, the Parahoy. We all got together, and that was the first time we were playing together as just the four of us.
We got into the practice space and it was like, holy crap. This sounds really good. Let’s just continue and see how these shows go. That’s basically how it started and how it came about to realizing we’re just going to continue on as we are.
Do you at some point maybe you’ll add at least another touring guitarist, or do you think it’ll just stay the four of you?
At this point, I think it’s safe to say we’re going to stay a four-piece right now. A couple years down the road, you never know.
I wanted to ask about one song on the record, which is my early favorite and one of the new tracks you are playing live, and that’s “Stubborn.” Can you talk about how that one was written?
Yeah, that was a song that we wrote later during preproduction. Chad had written the riff. Like, “Hey man, I’ve got this riff. I want you to hear it.” So I was like, “OK.” I got to his house, and this was before we actually demoed anything. I was going to his house once a week, writing stuff, and he had this riff. I was like, “Man, that’s pretty rad.”
It was a little bit heavier, because the first few songs we were writing were more upbeat and that sort of thing. Lyrically too, and sorry I’m skipping around. My thoughts are all over the place.
I remember Ian was like, “You guys should write a song about me and my relationship with my ex-wife, almost sort of like me apologizing.” We were like, “Oh, wow. That’s really good and kind of goes with the whole theme.” So that song had more of an aggressive sound, and it was basically Ian letting everything out. It was his realization of his relationship with his ex.
Most of the record is pretty positive and about what you’ve been talking about, rising above these situations, but there are a couple songs, like “Worst Person” and “Angel,” where it gets fairly critical and more negative. Can you talk about those songs?
I feel like there are the positive kinds of songs, but there’s also a couple of the mean songs on the record. It’s mean, but with the outcome of the same sort of thing. There are shitty people in your life and there are shitty situations. It’s like the same thing, dealing with those situations, trying to be the better person, and coming out stronger dealing with those things.
I definitely feel like people are going to have their opinions about what those songs are about, but for us, again, we write about the human experience and what we are going through. I think anybody can relate to that song, especially “Worst Person,” and “Angel” too. “Angel” is definitely a mean song. “Worst Person” is definitely a mean song. Again, it’s dealing with those shitty things and trying to come out stronger.
Switching gears a little bit, you’ve done 10-year tours for Self-Titled and Sticks & Stones. Catalyst had its 10-year back in May. I’m sure the timing didn’t line up for you to do anything then, but do you have any plans to do anything for that record?
We’ve been trying to work on some cool vinyl things, but I don’t know if we’re going to actually do any sort of tour. We have this new record coming out, and we really wanted to focus on that.
It seems like with that record I haven’t seen quite a few of those songs live, so I’m assuming there’s several you have never played off that record.
[Laughs] You’re absolutely right. There are definitely songs on Catalyst we have never played live, but the same with Sticks & Stones. When we did the 10-year for that, and even the Self-Titled too, there were songs on there that we rarely would play. We just got together and practiced them all.
You never know. We always like to do surprise things and you never know if something will come of it eventually, even if it’s not directly on the 10-year anniversary of it. Who knows?
New Found Glory is now 17 years old and eight albums in. At this stage of your career, what excites you about still being in a band and making music?
Oh, man. The fact that we still can play big shows and people come to see our band, buy our records, and continue to support us this long is pretty amazing to me, even the last three shows on this tour. We haven’t done a long tour since last November or December. Coming back with a new record and everything, you’d think it’d be all old dudes drinking beer in the back or whatever, but it’s not.
It’s crazy seeing our fans getting younger, and all of them wearing Story So Far shirts and Wonder Years shirts. To me, it’s awesome. It shows me that what we’ve done is relevant and people still care. That’s what keeps me going.
Do you have any sort of idea as to how you’ve been able to continually resonate with people throughout the years?
Honestly man, I think it’s just how we are as people. I try to stay connected with our fans, and also the songs that we write I feel like people can relate to and take into their own lives.
There’s been so many times where people have come up to me after shows and said, “Hey man, that song has gotten me through this.” It’s really a cool feeling. Not only that, but seeing bands that are doing well that are named after songs of ours. It’s really cool and flattering, too.
Originally appeared on Absolute Punk