New Found Glory Guitarist Promises Less Whiny Vocals, Relaxes With Darth Vader

Chad Gilbert says band's new music very different from past work.

Coming soon to a New Found Glory album near you: Nigel Godrich, the Decemberists, Nellee Hooper, Björk and … Darth Vader?

Well, at least if Chad Gilbert has his way, that is.

Seems the NFG guitarist has been compiling a wish list of potential collaborators and guests for his band’s upcoming album, which the guys have been working on in famed Malibu, California, recording studio Morning View since August (see “New Found Glory Living, Recording At Incubus’ Old Haunt” ). Now, the only problem is trying to convince any of them to come and play with his band.

“I don’t think that a lot of my favorite producers or bands would produce our albums or even play on them, unfortunately,” he said. “And honestly, it’s just a wish list. When I say I listen to a band like the Decemberists, or love Nellee Hooper’s work with Björk, it’s just because that’s the stuff I listen to, and they’ve all inspired the songs I’m writing now. I mean, I don’t listen to the style of music New Found Glory used to play.”

The key phrase here is “used to play,” because, according to Gilbert, the new songs NFG have written are about as far removed from their old stuff as humanly possible. So much so that he even uses the dreaded “M” word to describe them.

“Everyone we’ve played them for says they sound more mature. Jordan [Pundik's] vocals aren’t nasally or whiny anymore, they’re more heartfelt. And our playing has never been better,” he said. “On the past couple of albums, we’ve maybe thrown a couple of songs on there at the last minute, even if they weren’t ready. With this new one, we’re actually throwing songs away. We want the record to be filled with seamless, complete songs.”

So far, NFG have eight songs completely demoed and ready to roll. And when they return to Morning View next month (they’ve all been taking a few weeks off to recharge), they hope to bang out an additional eight songs and then get down to the business of choosing a producer for the album. But is Gilbert worried that the new, “mature” tunes might alienate some of NFG’s young fanbase? Not really.

“Some of our most hard-core fans have heard some of the new songs, and they think it’s the best stuff we’ve ever done,” he said. “Even though the songs might be a bit more complex, they still have all the heart of our older music. So it’s like the next logical progression.”

And even if Gilbert doesn’t get anyone on his wish list to actually work on New Found Glory’s disc, he’s already managed to sort of secure the services of Darth Vader — thanks to a daring (and possibly illegal) midday heist from a Malibu-area Burger King.

“I’ve got this inflatable Darth Vader that I stole off the roof of a Burger King. I went in and asked the girl at the counter if I could have it, and she said she didn’t care, but she wasn’t going to get me a ladder or anything like that,” he laughed. “So I just kind of pulled myself up there, cut it loose and took off. And now Darth Vader is in the studio with us. And sometimes we play Wiffle Ball in the swimming pool, and Darth is brought out for that too. If someone hits Darth, it’s an automatic home run.”