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New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert: 10 albums that changed my life

(Image credit: Mike Lewis Photography / Getty)

Since the release of debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay in 1999, New Found Glory have stood out as one of pop-punk’s leading lights, bridging the gap between the early 90s post-grunge wave and the more emo-tinged sound that followed in the early noughties, NFG’s influence has remained a constant.

In 2020, the band finds itself ready to release its 10th studio album, Forever + Ever X Infinity, held back due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, with the added pressure of it being leaked…by the band’s label. 

“You know, it’s frustrating, especially when your own record label is the one who leaks it!” Guitarist Chad Gilbert tells us. “You spend all this time in meetings talking about creative ideas and then they leak it. That was kind of like ‘Huh, ok…’

“But I’ve gotta tell you, a band like New Found Glory, our career has always been driven by the fans. I remember the first Warped Tour when we were on the side stage and no one could really get hold of our music. 

"We played Minneapolis and this kid came up to us and said ‘I got all your music off Napster!’, and we were like ‘Really?! That’s insane, thank you!’ We were so excited that people just wanted it enough to seek it out. We have the kind of fans who love buying our records. Even if they have it already from a leak or whatever, they still want the vinyl.

“We pushed the album back because in the US it’s going to be sold in Target, which hasn’t happened for us in three or four records. The date it was supposed to come out, we felt like we couldn’t ask people to go to the stores and buy our new record. It seemed insensitive to promote a new record, we wanted to be sensitive to everything that’s happening.

"With the videos and live streaming thing we did on YouTube, we’ve been able to keep our fans interested and excited. We love the record so much that when you feel really proud of it, you’re not really thinking about who’s downloading, who’s whatever. It’s frustrating, but I really do believe that everything happens for a reason, and it’s given it its own life, it’s own thing.

"When we record guitars, we use heavy amps but maybe more of a more classic style guitar. And that makes it sound really fat"

Anyone familiar with NFG’s guitar sound will recognise the guitar sounds on Forever + Ever X Infinity: Gilbert’s trademark thick, almost-metal chug mixed with a biting attack and clarity that is difficult to replicate. So where exactly should we start?

“It’s awesome that you noticed that. When we record guitars, we use heavy amps but maybe more of a more classic style guitar. And that makes it sound really fat. 

"Half of the rhythm tones are tracked through a VHT Deliverance - we have this modded-out head - which is maybe something you might expect more of a metal band to play through. When you throw a classic 330 or a Telecaster, or even an older Les Paul through that amp it just sounds awesome.

"You get those full chords where you can hear the notes, but also feel them in your gut. We basically use those guitars for most of the sounds, but if we ever need to beef up a part of a song, I have an old Les Paul Studio with EMGs in it. 

"The end of the song Himylaya we wanted it to sound even chunkier, so I busted out my old Les Paul Studio that has EMG pickups. We’ll sneak that in there, just one track of it, so that when that part comes in you can feel it lift and you don’t know why. Like ‘Why does this part make me want to punch somebody in the face even more than the part before? Why does it make me want to drive faster?!’ You know? 

"That’s sort of the trick, and I do that a lot with a baritone guitar too. Sometimes on the halftime breakdown parts you hear, I’ll do a track with a baritone an octave below and we just barely put it there, but when it hits you kind of feel it in your gut and again, you don’t know why.”

There is a final piece to the tone puzzle for the band’s latest release, though, and it starts almost at the beginning of Chad’s guitar-playing pursuits. “When I was a kid and I wanted to play the guitar, my dad built pools.” says Chad. 

“So one way I’d earn money to buy gear and earn my keep or whatever was to go with my dad and mix cement and do tile work and stuff like that. The first proper amp I ever got was a Marshall JCM 2000. This was in the mid-'90s. I never used it on a record because we ended up getting into Mesa-Boogie, and none of the producers we worked with ever wanted to use it.”

"We were going in to make this album with Steve Evetts, who is someone we’ve wanted to work with for a while. It’s our 10th record and we were like ‘Man, we really like the tones on this record you did, and this record you did’, and he goes ‘You know what that is? It’s a JCM2000. But it’s a specific year, and it’s got to be one of the older ones.’ And I go ‘Dude, I think I have that!’. 

"The other half of the guitar tracks on the new record are the JCM 2000 that my dad bought me in the mid-'90s"

"I brought it in and he goes ‘Yeah, this is the one’, so the other half of the guitar tracks on the new record are the JCM 2000 that my dad bought me in the mid-'90s. There was something really special about being able to put that to use after all this time.”

It’s a fitting anecdote, as we’re about to delve deep into the records that influenced Chad as a musician - and in turn shaped his band’s influential sound - a list that Chad selected carefully and honestly, and which makes perfect sense when viewed as a collection. With the exception of his unexpected first choice…

1. Various artists – La Bamba Soundtrack (1987)

"The first album that got me into music was the La Bamba soundtrack. The Ritchie Valens story. I saw the movie, and I just loved the music. It came out in 1987, it was my favourite movie at the time and I had the soundtrack on cassette. 

"I remember being on the bowling team at the time - that was my thing, you know, you have sports and stuff as a kid, and I was on the bowling league! I remember my mum driving and me and my friends listening to La Bamba. So that cassette tape and that movie is what got me into music in the first place. That soundtrack started it all!"


2. Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction (1987)

“I remember laying down in front of the tv watching MTV and - I’m pretty sure it was the premiere - for Welcome To The Jungle came on. I just thought it was the craziest song. When it hit, and the vocals come in, it was like ‘Oh my god, what is this? This is crazy!’. Especially because at the time, everyone was listening to New Kids On The Block or whatever, and then all of a sudden there’s these dudes who just look wild, playing loud crazy music. I just loved it. 

"I’d say that was the first record that I asked to go and buy. My mum took me to the store and bought me Appetite For Destruction. Now, the only song that was out at that time was Welcome To The Jungle. When you listen to that song, it’s not dirty. It’s just an aggressive song. So I get home and I’m listening to it and my older brother can hear it from the other room. 

"So it goes from Welcome To The Jungle to ‘So fucking easy! Why don’t you just…Fuck off!’ And I’m 7 years-old."

"It’s So Easy comes on, which is track two. So it goes from Welcome To The Jungle to ‘So fucking easy! Why don’t you just…Fuck off!’ And I’m 7 years-old. So my brother comes in and goes, 'You can’t listen to that. You can’t. You’re too young’ and took the tape and told my mum. 

"So my Guns N’ Roses tape was taken away from me. But I got him back because he had this 2 Live Crew tape, Banned In The USA, which had a song on it called Fuck Martinez. Martinez was the Governor of Florida at the time. So my mum took away my Guns N’ Roses tape but then she took away his 2 Live Crew tape!

"I feel bad for kids now because they’re surrounded by this stuff before they can even understand what half of it means. And they don’t even have a chance to avoid it because it’s on their phone, or Netflix show or whatever it is. You’re going to be exposed to stuff that you’re probably too young to understand.

"Mr Brownstone is definitely my favourite on Appetite. The whole ‘I get up around 7, get out of bed around 9” I loved those lyrics, even at 7 years-old. I didn’t know about the drug part, I was just like ‘I want to sleep in! I don’t want to go to school, it’s a waste of my time!”. I think I can hear Slash’s influence in [my playing]. 

"If you listen to songs like Story So Far that have that mid guitar solo part. Because punk bands when we started didn’t do a lot of guitar solos. NOFX did, they had some of that thrash thing going on. But I feel like our ability to write some slower ballad type stuff, and then hearing some of those solos - even though they’re way shorter and less complicated - I think some of those are inspired by Slash. Who knows, you can’t pinpoint it, but when I look back I’m like ‘Oh!’."


3. Fugazi - 13 Songs (1989)

"This was the era that I really started to develop into different styles of music. My older brother started going to high school, so through him and his friend I started getting exposed to crazy music. At the time there was no social media, there was no online, so you liked music that was loud and crazy. It didn’t matter what sub-genre it was from. That’s really important to point out. 

"13 Songs was the first time I heard more of a creative loud music"

"So the first band I discovered from an independent, weird sub-genre was Fugazi, 13 Songs, believe it or not. And when I say that, at the time I didn’t know they were a cool band! We didn’t know who was hip back then, to me Fugazi could have been the same as Pearl Jam, I didn’t know. It was like ‘I like this band, they’re loud’. 

So 13 Songs was the first time I heard more of a creative loud music. Kind of singing, deeper lyrics. I was just really, really into that album. That was my first concert too, my brother took me to see Fugazi at this venue called The Edge when I was in fourth grade. It really wasn’t about it being punk or anything, it was just that it was loud and had cool words, like Bad Mouth, ‘Always talking shit now!’ 

"It had that rebellious thing that made me go ‘This is cool!’. But I think I liked the bass guitar in Fugazi more than the guitar. The bass and the lyrics. I didn’t know their history, yet. But I’ll get to that!"


4. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991) 

“Nirvana, Nevermind ended up being my favourite record, it just blew everything out of the water. I remember being at summer camp and just listening to it constantly. Drain You is my favourite Nirvana song. 

“That record was everything, and I think what was so cool about Nirvana to me was - again maybe it’s the rebellious side of Kurt Cobain - but everything that was happening with them in the mainstream and he’s there breaking guitars. He didn’t play by any sort of rules and that was cool to me.

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“And just the songs, the songs are incredible. I already had Fugazi and other loud albums, it didn’t feel like I was into mainstream alternative music. It was just like ‘Here’s more great, loud music’. Nowadays with music, if it’s mainstream then it’s not cool. 

“Back then [mainstream rock] music was so few and far between, you didn’t have as many loud crazy albums, so when there was a good one you didn’t care how you took to it or how you heard it. It was more like loud and crazy music vs non-loud and crazy music. It didn’t matter what the sub-genre was. I feel like it was this general term which was ‘alternative’. 

“Nirvana was also my first crowdsurf"

“It wasn’t necessarily alternative music, more an alternative person. Anything weird or loud, whether you wore boots or had dyed hair or whether you liked Fugazi more, or Pearl Jam or Metallica more, you were just a weird person or a not-weird person!

“Nirvana was also my first crowdsurf. I went and saw Nirvana and The Breeders in Miami Bi-Centennial Park. When Kurt killed himself, I made a sign that said ‘Honk for Kurt’ and stood on the corner of the street to get people to honk. I was a huge fan.”


5. Primus - Pork Soda (1993)

Les Claypool interview

“The record that got me into playing an instrument, believe it or not was Primus, Pork Soda. I originally started as a bass player and I remember hearing Pork Soda and not understanding what the hell he was doing, but wanting to figure that out. So I picked up a bass and started playing and I just loved Primus and Les Claypool. 

I got really into that album and then discovered the album before - Sailing The Seas of Cheese. So that was a big record for me that made me want to pick up an instrument. It made me want to slap, for sure! I had a bass teacher, and years later we found out that Ian [NFG bassist] went to the same bass teacher. 

"I learned the tapping part of DMV. So I had a big Primus obsession which made me want to be a bass player. Then being a bass player led me to my next choice…"


6. Rancid - Let's Go! (1994)

“Rancid Let’s Go! - the basslines on that were just incredible to me. I just loved it, I’d never heard punk like that driven by bass. 

"I’d bring in songs to my bass teacher, like specifically I remember bringing in As One and my bass teacher taught me how to play it. I still know how to play it to this day. I think Matt Freeman does a little bit of both [pick and fingers].”


7. Green Day – Dookie (1994) 

"They were four-chord songs that just sounded so fat and powerful"

“This is where I started transitioning to guitar. Once Dookie came out and I heard those riffs and the way Billie Joe was playing guitar - before that the guitar stuff I’d heard was more intricate and technical and I was like ‘It’s too much, bass is awesome, I can just rip the bass’. 

But once I heard Dookie and how powerful those songs were and how interesting his riffs were - you could sing the riffs but also play them. They were four-chord songs that just sounded so fat and powerful, and once I heard power chords played in that way - that’s when I picked up the guitar.” 


8. Sick Of It All - Scratch The Surface (1994) 

After Dookie I discovered Sick Of It All, Scratch The Surface. Again, before that album, heavy music to me was just heavy music, but when Scratch The Surface got big and the songs got on MTV and it became a little bit more mainstream, it opened up the door to hardcore for me. 

Through that record I learned about Earth Crisis and Minor Threat and whoever. That record was the one that made me go down the hardcore road in ’94. I was used to hearing metal music and hearing lyrics one way, but I’d never heard a style of heavy music played that way. 

"At the time metal music was like, seven-minute shreds. Most metal bands had really long songs, like Justice For All. Pantera and all these other heavy bands were more like party bands - ripping, getting drunk, partying. 

"Their songs were only two-and-a-half minutes long, but they had structure"

"Then I heard Sick Of It All and it was just aggression. They were pissed off about something, you didn’t really know what! Their songs were only two-and-a-half minutes long, but they had structure. They had verse/chorus/verse/chorus/halftime… whatever it is. 

"But they had those riffs, almost like Green Day: powerchords, barre chords. They’re just awesome. It made me learn about all the genres of hardcore, and then made me discover that the singer in Fugazi started straight-edge in Minor Threat and I was like ‘Wait, what that guy from that band that I used to listen to?!’. 

"I remember going on tour with Blink in 2001 and Tom was like ‘Have you ever heard of this band Fugazi?’. It was when he was working on Boxcar Racer and I was like ‘Yeah, I remember them…’ [laughs]. He was like ‘I’m doing this side project, it kind of sounds like Fugazi’, I thought ‘I don’t know if it does…’. But I was still just psyched to be going on tour with Blink so I didn’t want to say it like that."


9. CIV – Set Your Goals (1995) 

"Wow, this has the energy and intensity of Sick Of It All, but it has the melody and catchiness of Green Day"

"The next record that had a really big impact was the band CIV, Set Your Goals. Looking back you can see how big an impact it had on New Found Glory. That record did a lot for me because it combined Sick Of It All with Green Day. 

It was like, ‘Wow, this has the energy and intensity of Sick Of It All, but it has the melody and catchiness of Green Day’. It was like my two favourite things in one. Looking back through these records I can really see how New Found Glory was birthed. 


10. The Get Up Kids - Woodson EP

I remember going to Uncle Sam’s, which was a music store in Fort Lauderdale and buying the first Get Up Kids 7-inch. It had four songs, Woodson, Second Place, Off The Wagon and A New Found Interest In Massachusetts. And that’s where we got “A New Found” from, that song. 

They re-released it in 2001, but the original release was mid-90s. I remember hearing that and having never heard anything like it before, like “What is that, these are love songs!” It was so melodic. Especially when you’re just getting into high school because you’re like ‘I can put this on a mixtape for that girl I like!’ And it had way more of an introverted style of writing I guess. It was more self-expression that wasn’t driven by rage or rebellion, it was just driven by emotion. 

The music of that style was way different [to punk] too. It was more emotional, more sombre. It had this sad noodle-y picking. It’s what eventually turned into soundtracks, these moody, emotional riffs that you hear in the background of a movie. But yeah, I’d say all of these records birthed New Found Glory as a band.

A combination of the melodic and rebellious energy of Green Day, the speed of some of the Rancid songs, the energy and the rhythmic beefiness of Sick Of It All, and the emotional, lyrical drive of The Get Up Kids. 

"I feel like everyone in my band came from the same place"

"Some of the older music, I feel like the lyrics of The Get Up Kids really related to people, they were less anthemic and more personal. Whereas I feel like we walk that line where we have songs that are more like anthems, and then others that cut a little bit deeper. Each New Found Glory fan relates to different songs: some fans love the anthems, other people only like the other songs. 

I feel like everyone in my band came from the same place. Ian and Jordan both listened to some hardcore, they all listened to some West Coast punk. Jordan in particular got really into the emo side of things. He brought that to the band more than any of us. So all of those records really impacted me in different ways. " 


New Found Glory's new album Forever + Ever x Infinity is released on 19 June via Hopeless Records. They are celebrating the relase with a Song-a-thon livestream playing over 40 songs on the same day. Head over to newfoundglory.com for more details.