New Found Glory reflect on life, music ahead of Garden Amp acoustic shows

Life has moved pretty fast for pop-punk band New Found Glory.

After releasing its debut record, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” in 1999, the Coral Springs, Florida-based group was fast-tracked to being one of the second wave of pop-punk’s most widely known acts, while other rising bands in the genre like Something Corporate, The Starting Line, Sugarcult and The Story So Far rapidly followed suit.

In the early to mid-’00s, NFG could be seen jamming out on MTV’s “Total Request Live” or causing havoc as staples on the annual summer-long Vans Warped Tour, headlining its own massive tour dates and the band put out almost a dozen more records over the span of two decades.

It was a wild ride that’s still very much in motion. However nowadays, the quartet prefers to move at a more glacier pace. Everything changed for the group in December 2021 when guitarist and songwriter Chad Gilbert was found unresponsive in his bed at home. He was rushed to a local hospital and doctors found an 8-inch cancerous tumor.  He was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma, a rare type of cancer, and after a stint in the hospital and surgery, Gilbert said in January 2022 that he was officially cancer free.

During Gilbert’s recovery, NFG was forced, for the first time ever, to take things slow. That moment allowed the guys to take a deeper, more retrospective look back at their lives and career. NFG’s latest album, “Make the Most of It,” mirrors a bit of that. Released on Jan. 20, the acoustic offering features seven brand new songs and seven unplugged versions of classic NFG tracks including “All Down Hill From Here,” “My Friends Over You” and “Hit or Miss.” Though the new content primarily reflects on Gilbert’s near-death experience, the decision to go acoustic was ultimately encouraged by its fanbase.

“We’ve always had acoustic things here and there but never a full-on record with the intent of writing songs that way,” frontman Jordan Pundik shared during a recent phone chat, ahead of the band playing back-to-back nights at Garden Amp in Garden Grove Feb. 3-4. “We would put YouTube videos up of older songs done acoustically and fans would always comment ‘Release an acoustic record already.’ And right around Chad’s diagnosis, we were obviously on a break, and I think it just came together naturally to finally put it together.”

“Chad wanted to turn this really hard situation into one that was heartfelt and relatable for fans,” he continued. “Basically, just taking something bad and turning it into something good.”

The record was released via Revelation Records, a label the band tried to send its first album to back in 1999, but the company ultimately passed. This time around, it was a flawless fit as Pundik notes that working with Revelation all these years later felt intuitively right and, in many ways, full circle.

“I don’t think it would have worked before, but now it just fits,” he said. “We’ve been fans of the label for so many years since we were teens, and the fact that we finally get to work with them is so cool to me. So many bands influenced us when we first started like Texas Is The Reason, Iceburn and other cool bands. It’s amazing to be a part of that and associated with that world.”

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To support the album, NFG is hitting the road, but trading its typical fiery moshpit energy for a more intimate acoustic experience. On top of the content off of the latest album, Pundik shares that the set will also include tracks fans have been eager to hear acoustic versions of through the years.

“We wanted to make sure the stops were at all seated theaters, where we could produce a great light show with some other elements,” he said. “For this one, we just wanted to pour our hearts out there.”

Pundik said an intimate, yet outdoor venue, like Garden Amp is ideal for this jaunt. A stop in Orange County has always been included on NFG’s tour schedule since the band garnered tons of diehard fans in the area in the early days of its career.

“We’re so used to playing in Orange County, it’s always crazy shows with fans and even ourselves stage diving, so this time it’ll definitely have a warmer feel,” he said.

Later this year, NFG will hit Las Vegas for the second edition of the When We Were Young Festival. After all three dates sold out in record time in 2022, the emo and pop punk fest, reminiscent of those early-to-mid-’00s Warped Tour lineups, will return on Oct. 21 with an all new roster of artists. Pundik describes the bill like getting a gang of friends you haven’t seen in years back together. That includes Green Day, Thrice, Blink-182 and Good Charlotte, all bands Pundik considers good friends.

Though life has thrown NFG a couple of tough punches, Pundik said they’re ready for whatever the future holds and they’re going to continue to enthusiastically move forward.

“After everything, we’re still going full steam ahead this year,” he said. “At this point, anything can happen, but that’s what makes it so exciting.”

New Found Glory: Make The Most Of It Acoustic Tour

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 3-4

Where: Garden Amp, 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove

Tickets: First night is officially sold out, but night two tickets are available starting at $39 at gardenamp.com.

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