Interview with Steve Klein from New Found Glory: Pop-Punk Resurrection

In 1997, the pop-punk genre was nearing its prime, with Green Day riding on the commercial success of Nimrod and Blink-182 beginning to make headway with Dude Ranch. In the summer of this dynamic year, in Coral Springs, Florida, New Found Glory was born.

Known for their poppy, catchy melodies and fast-paced, punk-laced instrumentals, Jordan Pundik (lead vocals), Chad Gilbert (guitar/backing vocals), Steve Klein (rhythm guitar), Ian Grushka (bass) and Cyrus Bolooki (drums/percussion) have been deemed some of the founding fathers of the pop-punk genre. And with seven albums under their belt, the band shows first-hand that although the genre has evolved tremendously, and at an extraordinary pace, the culture of pop-punk’s roots is still alive and well.

The scene thrived off of a strong sense of camaraderie and brotherhood. Shows in churches, VFW halls and basements had limited space but nevertheless were packed to the brim—and the bands, friends and fans loved every second of it. Fueling their success with vivacious live shows with subtle debauchery and charming immaturity, the quintet has toured and recorded consistently since their inception nearly 15 years ago. Although the band reached mainstream success with tracks like “My Friends Over You,” “Head On Collision” and “All Downhill From Here,” the pure essence and spirit of pop-punk is still thriving in New Found Glory.

Proving their dedication to the genre and their enduring fan base, the band has embarked on the aptly-titled Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour with Set Your Goals, The Wonder Years, Man Overboard and This Time Next Year. Hot off the heels of their latest release, Radiosurgery, New Found Glory is geared to pass the torch to the latest batch of bands eager to keep the heart of pop-punk alive. Klein took time out of his schedule to discuss how the band is stronger than ever, their evolution of their genre and what they love most about the Garden State.

You guys just started the new tour less than a week ago. How’s everything going so far?

It’s been good. We started Oct. 6, actually, in [Santa Cruz] California and tonight we’re in Austin, Texas. We’ll be performing at Emo’s, which should be a good time. Everything’s been great so far touring with the new record. It’s been about two years since our last album, Not Without A Fight, so we have all of this pent-up excitement of recording and the wait after we were done recording. It’s always a lot of fun to play new songs for the first time for fans.

What’s the fan response been like to the new material?

So far the response has been strongest to the single, “Radiosurgery.” Kids go nuts to it every night and “Anthem for the Unwanted” also gets a big crowd reaction. But overall, we’ve been getting great feedback. The album just came out a few days ago so it’s a matter of kids being able to listen to it a bunch before they go to the shows.

It’s pretty undeniable that the name of the tour is what grabbed the most attention from both fans and the media. You’re also teaming with these bands that are sort of breathing new life into the genre. Overall, what was the inspiration for this tour?

The bands we took on this tour are bands we think are holding the torch of pop-punk and bands that have worked really hard to keep it alive. Pop-punk isn’t a fad for bands like us and the bands we’re touring with. Nowadays people are saying pop-punk’s resurging, but for New Found Glory, the pop-punk fans never went anywhere. It’s just that some bands have come and gone, and the mainstream radio has stopped playing it, but the fans are still listening to this style of music. By teaming up together, we wanted to create this fun package to show that this style of music is still going strong—and obviously to promote the new record, which is the most important thing for us.

How did you decide these were the bands you wanted to bring out with you?

We’re all friends with the bands. Chad produced This Time Next Year and I produced Man Overboard’s newest record, so it’s just perfect timing that all of these bands had new records coming out so we could all team up. We only go on tour with bands that we like because when you’re on tour with the same bands for two months you want it to be like a family. You want to hang out with each other on days off at the venue all day. It’s just a lot of fun.

To that end, New Found Glory has been around for nearly 15 years, so you guys have seen many genre shifts and trends come and go. What’s it like to tour in today’s pop-punk scene versus when the band first started? Is that sense of brotherhood and camaraderie still there?

Well, back when we started there wasn’t as much of an Internet presence. It was all DIY. It was about distro, booking your own shows and getting on other tours because of the people you were friends with. When we first started, Chad was in another band, so we would get on other shows because of that. It was just a different world back then. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier for bands to get out there because they can put a demo on Facebook and Twitter and get popular.

When I was growing up, you would go to the record store every Tuesday and get new music. Kids just download stuff now. And you know what? It’s good and it’s bad. For us, it has helped us reach out internationally, like going to South America, Southeast Asia and all of these places where you can’t really buy our CDs in-store. They obviously download it or bootleg, which is cool, because we obviously want as many people to get our music as possible. But it’s different now in terms of getting your music out there. Back then, it was all about touring—there wasn’t any YouTube or anything, so if people wanted to see you, they had to go to the show. Now, people can watch a show from their couch and even buy a record from their couch.

That’s a good point. It’s sort of like the tastemaker role has shifted. People used to go to shows first, become fans, then buy the CDs, make mix tapes, etc. Now, they see a viral video on YouTube and then decide they want to see a band live.

Yeah, it’s just different. For us, we’re lucky enough that we were able to adjust and change with the time period to stay relevant.

What advice can you provide to up-and-coming bands that aren’t used to the touring scene? How can they really learn to live and grow as a single unit and truly understand each other?

Basically, you have to be in a band for the right reason. If you’re in it just for the money or to be a star, it’s not going to work out—that all comes with luck and working hard. I think for a band, the most important things are your songs. Make sure your songs are good and everything else will come with it. You can get better at your live show and performing with time and experience.

Yeah, and obviously you’re no strangers to long, grueling tours worldwide. How do you all mentally and physically prepare for a tour of this caliber?

We usually get together a few days to practice before the tour starts to go over the songs and the changes between the tracks on the set list. Every night we want fans to come out and get a different and new experience, so, obviously, we wanted to incorporate new songs from Radiosurgery with our old format. That way, when kids come to the show they can really connect and relate to the new record.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Well, the day of the show, it’s sort of hurry up and wait since we only play for about 90 minutes during the whole day. But we set up and sound check, obviously, and we try to watch the other bands, too. A little less than two hours before our set we get together in the backstage area and kind of talk about the set, get stretched and get ready to play. It’s not too much of a crazy thing. We get into a routine after a while.

It’s actually cool to hear bands still come together before a show rather than show up separately, perform, then leave separately.

Definitely. I mean, we wouldn’t have been able to last this long if we weren’t enjoying it and having fun. We’re not in it for any other reason than playing for our fans and having a good time. If we weren’t, we probably would’ve said, “Okay, maybe it’s time to call it a day,” but it hasn’t been like that yet. Our fan base is growing and our shows are getting bigger so it’s a lot of fun.

Are there any specific areas of the world you guys all look forward to visiting?

I really look forward to going to Japan. It’s the one place we go to where we feel a bit of a culture shock because not that many people know English. But one cool thing about the shows there is that all the kids sing along to every single word of every song even though they don’t know a word of English. They’re also really quiet in between tracks because they want to hear you talk and they’re really respectful.

What about Jersey? Not to brag, but we did have a pretty impressive pop-punk scene back in the day that is still somewhat lingering.

When we first started, New York and New Jersey were two places where we were more popular than anywhere else in the country. It always felt like a home away from home for us, so it’s always fun to go back there. Plus, the shows are just crazy.

The band’s latest album, Radiosurgery, is out now. New Found Glory plays the Best Buy Theater on Oct. 28 and Starland Ballroom on Oct. 29. For more information, go to