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Glory At Home, Glory On The Road

(Interview With Ian Grushka Taken From Black Velvet 31 - Feb 2002)

By Dave Cook

Florida has always been famous for its great weather, huge beaches and alligators! It is now slowly becoming famous for its recent feed of young musical talent into the punk rock market and if we take a closer look at the map of South Florida, we notice a little old town called Coral Springs. Sounds like a nice place we say. Well that's not all this town's got going for it, for it is here that punk rock pioneers NEW FOUND GLORY were formed and still call home. A little background info and feedback from the band's bass player, Ian Grushka, and we can then put a scale on the impact they have and will have on the music scene for years to come.






It all started in 1997-2009 at high school when the five-some was at that time a four-some who became friends over a love of Green Day and a desire to play music for real. The original line up was guitarist Steve Klein, singer and Quentin Tarantino lookalike, Jordan Pundik, the now AWOL drummer Taco Joe and Bassist Ian Grushka. Chad Gilbert, the band's second guitarist and vocalist for another band, Shai Hulud (with which he was still a member), was recruited when the others learned he wanted to play in a punk band. Grushka's childhood in Coral Springs wasn't as great as the other members though.
Says Ian "I was born in Coram, New York, and lived there until I was nine. I moved to 'Springs in 5th grade and I always got picked on because I was the new kid in school and I was overweight. I had to ride my bike to school the first year too, so I hated it here. 6th grade was better because everyone started over in middle school, but I still got no girls at all and then it got better every year. I used to think I didn't like it, but it's nice here, it's a kinda small place to live, like a box; everything is parallel."
Now, A New Found Glory (as they were called then) had their line-up, all the youngsters needed now were some tunes. They had decided that their lyrics would be based on Steve Klein's unsuccessful relationships and this is still very much in effect today.
Nearly half a year later the group produced a five track E.P. 'It's All About The Girls' under punk label, Fiddler Records.
The band would now begin touring with a band called The Vacant Andys but only during school breaks and weekends as everyone but Ian was still at school and Chad would have to tour with Shai Hulud. This meant that a fill-in guitarist had to be called up. They didn't like it, but it was still tons of fun, and great experience for them. Shortly after this began, Cyrus Booloki replaced drummer Taco Joe as his priorities lay not with the band, but in the classroom and he could never make it to shows or practices. This made it clear that school was really posing a problem for the band. They couldn't thrive in a world where homework had to be in on time and tests were due each week. Despite this, touring was going well and the band would just about play anywhere and for anyone just to get publicity. They would cram themselves and The Vacant Andys into a small van and play at all the clubs and bars in South Florida that would take them. At this point Grushka had no worries about school
"Well for me, I was just working and I had already quit school but Chad was in high school, Shai Hulud and A New Found Glory at the same time. It must have been hardest on him.
"Cyrus was going to the University Of Miami and he missed a week of classes once to do our web site. So doing this was fun and other stuff kinda sucked, we never knew we would come this far though."

A year after the band was formed they released their first album, 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' under Eulogy Recordings, costing them a bargain $1200. This is nothing compared to the amount of credibility and respect it would earn the band however, as it won listeners over, in particular, Drive-Thru Record's band, Midtown. Midtown gave a copy of ANFG's album to the label's co-owner, Stephanie Raines who instantly knew that they were going to be big. Their music was something you could listen to when you were feeling low as it was just so uplifting and energetic, these winning formulas led to the band sitting down with Stephanie and having a chat and soon enough were offered a place in the Drive-Thru camp.
"We knew we were gonna have better distribution, plus coming from the east we now had more help with the west coast. We just wanted to play shows and have our CDs in stores."
The band now knew that education was worthless to them and that school and college could no longer teach them anything they could apply to the life they were about to embark on. They were told that they would have to tour full-time and they all dropped out of college with no fuss from either their teachers or their parents.
"They told us we had to tour full time if we wanted to get popular, so we did," Ian continues.

Things were going smoother than ever and they decided to change the band's name from A New Found Glory to just New Found Glory basically because the latter was easier to say and 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' changed hands from Eulogy Recordings to Drive-Thru to get the best out of it. Touring began with bands such as Fenix TX and ska legends Less Than Jake.
"Touring is our lives, we never get time off" Ian tells us. "It's hard to not be able to have your own bathroom, shower and bed. But not seeing my fiancée is the hardest part, but I love music and my band. I have one girlfriend and four boyfriends."
This kind of devotion must take a lot of work and can't be easy. Looking into the music world and dreaming about being part of it is easy enough but no one ever looks past all the glamour and sees how hard it must be to leave home for as long as NFG have done.

Although touring full-time hit them hard, it was all worth it as the band were finally establishing their fan base and were slowly being recognised as talented artists. People were now recognising them in the street: "It feels very weird, it doesn't happen that often. But if they just stand there and not ask questions I start to feel awkward. It's because I don't feel famous, I feel normal. If someone is just looking at you or knows my name and I never saw them before, it's just weird, but it's cool too. It's a good feeling if I'm not weirded out."

A two week break from touring in 1999 led to the band's recording of 'From The Screen To Your Stereo' which was a seven track EP of the band's renditions of movie soundtracks, this added to the band's credibility but was the last you would hear of NFG for a while. They began working on a new project.
And then 2000... After nearly nine months of touring, the band was getting tired of it and just wanted a break. They took six weeks off and hit the studio, there was still no rest for the band, but at least they weren't trailblazing anymore. Their touring experience had taken them to a new level of quality and song writing that would make the band's second album a total success. The 12-track masterpiece was full to the brim with cheery lyrics, uplifting melodies and an all round feel good factor, and it was going to be huge.
In September, the band released their self-titled album, 'New Found Glory' and along with it, the immensely popular single, 'Hit Or Miss', which was a re-worked version of 'Hit On Miss' featured on the 'Nothing Gold Can Stay album'. The band didn't believe they had achieved what they wanted to with the song first time around, but it appears that they did, with the song being near avoidable when it first came out on music television. The band had made their break, not only in the US but overseas too. The album was selling over 7000 copies a week. They began touring again, but it wasn't in the small clubs and parties they were used to, now they were touring alongside the likes of Blink-182 and playing such tours as the Vans Warped Tour and performing in front of massive crowds. Blink-182 and New Found Glory are no strangers to each other as they toured together for two months after the Warped Tour and formed a huge friendship.
Ian talks of Blink-182; "I met them when they were on tour with my friends Unwritten Law. They didn't know me then, but they knew us as the guys that always came to the shows. Mark (Hoppus) knew me and my brother more than Tom (Delonge) and Scott (Raynor) at that time. I was just a fan then with a dream to tour with either Unwritten Law or Blink. Half my wish came true, it's insane." They would become so close however, that they would always pull crazy pranks on each other during their sets. " Let me put it this way. The first show, I am in the shower after we play and I hear a voice. It was Mark who just decided to come say hello before they went on stage in the shower with me. He had clothes on though, so we had a lot of fun on that tour."
More recently, NFG were playing with Blink again and they showered the stage with ping pong balls and male strippers just to make their set just a little bit more interesting! That is why they are both so popular, especially with the younger fans as they are like kids trapped in men's bodies singing songs about high school romance and causing mischief. No-one's complaining however as they are both so popular, so something must have worked.

In their short and ever escalating career, the band have sold an overwhelming 30,000 units so far and toured over 50,000 miles, earning them the 1998 Slammie award for the best new band in Florida. Grushka finds it amazing that people in other countries have even heard of them.
"It is an amazing feeling to know that people overseas even know about our band. We just want to tour and play shows, if success comes that's fine, but we don't ever worry or think about that. Well I don't at least."
The UK is just one of many borders the band have ventured over and found their welcome to be a good one.
Says Ian, "We toured there once before. The food was different. I'm fat so food is a big deal and the kids were nicer. I thought they gave us much more respect and space than here in the US. I thought that was the best part that all the people at the shows were nice. Compared to Coral Springs, the UK is a lot different, so it was weird the first time, kinda like Canada. The second time wasn't weird so I'm sure that I know what to expect and I will enjoy the UK more next time."
"We just get on stage and play. We have an energy between us and we feed off the crowd. If the crowd gives a lot, we give a lot back to the crowd."
Touring has made New Found Glory what they are today; one of a few bands leading the pack in punk rock escalated by their fans support. The future holds great things for them. This just goes to show that touring is like the ying and yang of the music industry, it will bring you great things but at the same time take some equally great things away from you. In the long run, no band is complete, or successful without it.
Check out New Found Glory's official website at www.newfoundglory.com


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