Signs of success are everywhere for up-and-coming pop-punkers New Found Glory from the single "Hit or Miss" gaining radio spins and the increasing number of concertgoers who sing along to it, to the growing size of the venues where the guys perform and the increasingly comfortable modes of transportation that take them there.
One clue, however, is reserved for only the worthiest targets of admiration.
"We had our first crier at a Sam Goody in-store," guitarist Chad Gilbert admitted. Apparently some young lady was so taken with being in the presence of Gilbert, singer Jordan Pundik, guitarist Steve Klein, drummer Cyrus Bolooki and bassist Ian Grushka that she broke down in tears.
To hear the band tell it, though, they might have been the ones to open the floodgates at the New York signing session.
"When we go somewhere to sign autographs, we're as uncomfortable as our fans are," Klein said. "It's normal for Britney Spears to sign autographs for long lines of people, but for us it's really weird. We don't feel we deserve that. We don't feel we're on a pedestal above everybody."
New Found Glory had better get used to the attention. As their eponymous second album continues its steady rise up the Billboard albums chart (it's #107 after debuting a month ago at #170), the Florida quintet is poised to make the jump from one-hit wonder to bona-fide rock stars.
This summer's second-stage slot on the Vans Warped Tour and a subsequent jaunt with Blink-182 should help with the hurdle. For now, though, New Found Glory are simply content being themselves.
"All we do when we're not making music is play video games, eat food and see movies," Gilbert confessed. "We're nerds who live with our parents."
Sorry Mom and Dad, but that last part's going to change soon. The band intends to migrate to San Diego come autumn, except for Gilbert, who's opting for the Los Angeles party scene.
Leaving their Coral Springs hometown won't be easy. If it weren't for the early support they got there, New Found Glory might not be on track to claim the emo-punk prize dangling in front of them.
After building a local following, the group began touring incessantly up and down the East Coast, first in a Ryder truck, then in Bolooki's mother's minivan and finally in a beat-up van of their own each a step closer to the tour bus they roll in now.
Though the ride wasn't always sweet, the months of grueling road work paid off in a passionate and dedicated network of fans whose enthusiasm laid the foundation for MCA's acquisition of NFG's 1999 debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay, from indie label Drive-Thru.
"We have awesome and loyal fans," Gilbert said. "They'll buy our CD, then buy three more copies for their friends. There was a lot of word-of-mouth early on."
And the band is more than happy to unselfishly return the favor. "The kids love coming to our shows because they're so interactive," Gilbert continued. "They know they have maybe a 100-percent chance of meeting us because we walk around. We don't hang out backstage."
New Found Glory's band-fan camaraderie stems from the common ground the group shares with its audience. Both of their CDs speak volumes about teenage love gone awry, an all-too-familiar topic for the hopelessly romantic teen sect. This gives New Found Glory substance in an otherwise vapid pop-punk arena.
"Bands are more worried about their image than about the music," Klein said. "It's not coming from the heart, and our music tries to change that.
"I wish MTV and mainstream music outlets would focus a lot more on the real hard-working bands coming out of small towns," he added. "Some bands are so concerned with what they look like you don't feel the music."