New Found Glory has been a band for 22 years, but they haven’t let that cement them into a boring routine. The pop-punk quartet still gets excited for little things like band rehearsals, and that energy is on full display through their latest video for “Eye Of The Tiger.” It’s a cover of Survivor‘s Rocky III classic, off NFG’s upcoming EP From The Screen To Your Stereo 3, out May 3.
Their trilogy of movie cover albums started back in 2000 and the series has become a fan favorite. This time around, they created their own DIY videos to accompany each track, with a feeling reminiscent of when YouTube content was still fun. It’s rare to see a band stick around with this kind of longevity, while simultaneously not reaching a point where they begin taking themselves too seriously.
After nine studio albums, three EPs, two splits, three cover albums, a live album, and a greatest hits album, not to mention endless tours and festival appearances, the band still shows no signs of slowing down. They’re already working on new music — including one track hidden in the iTunes release of their upcoming EP — and are still experiencing that “first day of school” feeling with every new album cycle.
Billboard chatted with New Found Glory vocalist Jordan Pundik and guitarist Chad Gilbert about covering soundtrack songs, taking creative control into your own hands, and keeping that DIY energy alive. Find that Q&A below, along with the premiere of the “Eye Of the Tiger” video.
From The Screen To Your Stereo 3 will be your third movie covers album. How do you decide which songs you’re going to cover for each of these albums?
Pundik: We kind of all talk about it together.
Gilbert: Yeah, I think the overall goal is about finding the songs that were clearly popular and played all the time on the radio. When we did the Titanic theme, that song was everywhere. At the time we did it, it wasn’t an old song. We didn’t really listen to that song. We’re not fans of the song. It was more about taking the song everyone knew and making it sound like a New Found Glory track. So fast forward to Part Three, that’s what we wanted to do again with tracks like “Let It Go” and “This Is Me,” these iconic soundtrack songs that are everywhere.
I love that idea, because it takes these songs that you get sick of hearing over and over and puts them into a style that you might actually enjoy more. Your covers are more in the vein of what I would listen to, as opposed to the actual soundtrack for some of these movies.
Gilbert: It’s kind of tough because we often cover songs we don’t listen to, really. There are obviously songs that we personally love that we have more fun covering, but that’s not the goal. It’s more of a challenge to cover something that isn’t normally you, you know?
Absolutely. With these songs, you also decided to create DIY videos for every track as opposed to creating a couple of more highly produced videos. What was behind the decision to do that instead?
Pundik: Just fun. A lot of it was inspired by [2008 film] Be Kind Rewind, just making our own twist on the movies that the songs are from. They show that we can do all the stuff on our own. It was pretty fun, but it’s also really tiring. We’d be in the studio and then be like, “Alright, tonight we gotta film this part and this part for these videos.” Chad was getting deliveries to his house from Amazon with all the costumes, we were getting stuff and trying things on and just like…watching [bassist] Ian [Grushka] put on dresses, it was really fun.
You’ve been an active band for so long that you’ve done everything by this point. It’s cool to be able to keep things interesting and fresh. Are you also working on new original music?
Pundik: We’re going to start to.
Gilbert: For the covers record, we actually recorded a new song. We haven’t really been promoting it because it’s more based on — I mean, it’s a legit song that we love and will go on our next record. It’s called “Puzzles.” It’s not on the physical release but if you get it on iTunes, you get the demo version. Why we love it is because you get the nostalgia vibe from the movie covers, and people that were listening to us for a long time love their From The Screen To Your Stereo records so they get that. Then on iTunes at the end of “Eye Of the Tiger,” the next track is a new song, and the new song is nostalgic as well. It definitely sounds like a song that could’ve been on [2002’s] Sticks & Stones, so we know our fans will freak out.
As a band that’s been doing movie covers albums alongside your other releases, do you have any personal favorite films you’ve seen lately?
Gilbert: I’ve been loving dramas, there’s this one that came out two years ago called Hell Or High Water. I love that movie. I saw Captain Marvel last week and that was pretty fun. I like that it was a prequel. I’m trying to go see Us tomorrow.
Pundik: I saw Alita the other night, that was fun.
Gilbert: The battle angel movie?
Pundik: Yeah. Not as good as Captain Marvel, though.
You’re touring this album, plus headlining Break Fest and playing Slam Dunk all within the next two months. What does the rest of the year have in store for NFG?
Gilbert: Well, there’s certain things we can tell you about, and certain things we can’t. We’re doing a lot with the new record on our tour, From The Screen To Your Stereo To Your Town, with Real Friends, The Early November, and Doll Skin. We’ll be out for a long time and we’re doing a bunch of fun stuff. I think that’s what’s so cool about the record too; it’s really easy to be creative because the content’s already there. We have an album release party in California. We rented a movie theatre. It’s going to be all the props from the videos, we’re going to do a Q&A, some other fun surprises.
From everything I’ve been hearing, it sounds like you still keep everything fresh and new for yourselves. Are there moments that you still get excited about that are similar to things that you’ve been doing all this time, or have the things you get excited about shifted over the years?
Pundik: For me, I always get excited right before a record. It always feels like a new start, you know? That’s the best way I can explain it. Like we have this cover record coming out and — I said it before but I feel like every time we release something new, it’s almost like…I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been a band for as long as we’ve been a band, if that makes sense.
Gilbert: I still get excited for band practice, like I love when we’re about to go on tour and we all get together and practice. I’m so excited, it’s like the first day of school. You check out everyone’s new backpack [Laughs].
Pundik: It’s just the first day of school over and over again. Every night we play for our fans who’ve been seeing us for years, maybe we’ll win over some new ones. It’s awesome. It’s so cool being in a band.
You’ve officially been an active band for 22 years, which is a long time to keep going without a huge number of lineup changes or hiatuses. How do you keep the ship sailing so smoothly for this long?
Pundik: I think it’s all about balance and also…you know, us being friends for as long as we’ve been friends, I think we take care of each other. Everything we have is because we’ve been in a band for so long.
Gilbert: Yeah, I think we all share a common goal too. We’re very different people, but we’re different people who share the same thing. We all want to play music. We all want to play real music. We don’t want to make decisions based on money. We obviously need to make money to survive, but we aren’t going to sacrifice our creative integrity to do anything that doesn’t feel like us. And because we played arenas — even a couple stadiums at one point — and because we played basements, we know that the feeling of having a good show in a basement is the same feeling as having a good show at a stadium. When you know that just playing music and performing and writing and creating is everyone’s common goal, there is really nothing…whether there is no one that shows up or tons of people show up, you still accomplish your goal.
And I feel like you’ve probably seen a lot of changes in the scene throughout this many years, just with the rise of social media alone and the new ways of gaining an audience. In your experience, have the changes made it better or worse, or just different?
Gilbert: Everything is better and worse, you know? There are things that are so much better, like before for us to share with our fans in a faraway state, we would have to travel there in our van and play a show. There was no Internet. Now you release something and everyone can hear it. But it also leaves room for people who aren’t passionate about what they do, but just put something together and throw it out there. Because of social media being such a marketable format, things are constantly being released, so people don’t pay as much attention because they have a million things being thrown at them. You reach more people, but now there’s more content. Before, it was harder to get the people but there was less content.
I think my main thing about the difference is the creative outlets. MTV doesn’t really play videos anymore. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all of these things give you the means to be creative and make your fans feel engaged. You don’t have this middleman. For a band like us that’s very “do it yourself,” you can show that through content.
Pundik: It’s more fun that way too because there’s no rules. We can do whatever we want to do and it doesn’t matter.
Should we be expecting more types of covers in the future like video game songs, TV shows…or are movies your thing?
Pundik: I think this is the finale. This is the third — the trilogy. So this is it. After this, no more pop punk movie covers. We have to settle for the originals.
Gilbert: Well, never say never. If George Lucas is now on…I know he’s not directing, but they’re at, like, eight Star Wars movies? You never know.
Jordan: We could go back and do all songs from prequels. Maybe that’s what we’ll do.
From The Screen To Your Stereo 3 track list:
1. “Cups” from Pitch Perfect
2. “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman
3. “The Power Of Love” from Back to the Future
4. “Let It Go” from Frozen
5. “Accidentally In Love” from Shrek
6. “A Thousand Years” from Twilight: Breaking Dawn
7. “Eye Of The Tiger” from Rocky III