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Cyrus Bolooki of New Found Glory

September 23, 2006 by  
Filed under Interviews

newfoundgloryNew Found Glory (Jordan Pundik on vocals, Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein on guitar, Cyrus Bolooki on drums, and Ian Grushka on bass) have been pleasing their fans for years and with their newly released fifth album “Coming Home” they aren’t about to disappoint anybody now.  The new songs maintain their New Found Glory signature sound while exuding a bit more of a punch emotionally.  One thing is for certain, these songs definitely tell a story, stories that we can all relate to.  The first single “It’s Not Your Fault” has been teasing fans for awhile now.  It’s definitely a highlight among the new tracks but just a taste of what “Coming Home” has to offer.  This album is by far the bands favorite to date and they have every reason to stand behind it. Working with industry royalty Thom Panunzio they were able to record this new album in a way that was different than any before.  The songs range from relationship tales of love and hope to positive melodies of dealing with losing someone you love.  Oh and for those of you crazy diehard fans, never fear – there are plenty of sing-a-long choruses that you can help them out with during their live show.

It’s hard to believe that New Found Glory has been together since 1997, when they were just teenagers. This is one of the things that set them apart from the fleeting bands of today.  They grew up together as a band and at the same time their fans grew up with them.  The songs they write shoot straight to the heart, passion, and livelihood of their fans. Having been together for as long as they have and as young as they were is the cement that keeps them together as a band, as brothers, as family.  “Coming Home” is just the latest brick in the road that New Found Glory is single-’band’edly paving for their own musical legacy.

Getting ready to head out on tour to support “Coming Home”, drummer Cyrus Bolooki took some time to chat with TWRY about the album, the band, and all things NFG.

Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | September 2006

Congratulations on the new album.  Going into the release a few of the band members stated how important it was to go into this new album and write it exactly how you wanted to.  Do you think the finished product reflects that desire and do you think it was a huge transition from the New Found Glory of old?

I can say yes and yes.  One of the good things is that our band has always had that philosophy when we go in to records, we always want to make music that we want to make.  Nobody really forces us to do anything record labels and everybody that has worked with us know that’s our philosophy so they stay out of that and just let us do what we do best.  So for this record it was really no different as far as that is concerned.  What was different was that we’re a little older and we’ve had more time on the road, more time together and more importantly we actually spent a little time off of the road before we started writing this record and I think that was very important to the development of this record and the development of us as individuals and as a band.  Everybody in this band has kind of had new things going on in their lives…relationships, families started, stuff like that and I think all of that has brought us to a new level. We bring that to our music because it strengthens the bond that we have together and it just makes us work harder. With this record we took a lot of time writing it and we wanted to make sure there was no pressure with deadlines or anything like that.  So I think we were really able to take our ideas and just research each one and look into each one as far as we could, and the best ones came out and they came out the best that they could because we really did work on these for a long time.  That’s got to be, if anything, the transition.  It’s kind of a scary word to say because it can mean a whole bunch of different things, it could mean we sound like a jazz fusion band now or it could mean that one that little element has changed and with our band I think that there’s underlying elements that will never change about our band.  Jordan is always going to be Jordan, his voice may get a little deeper or less whiny, but he’s still going to be Jordan, and our music is always going to have this energy in it. Our live shows are always going to reflect that, and so the new music may be a little slower or have different elements but when we play these songs live in concert and when our fans hear them I think they really do identify with them in the same ways that they’ve always identified with our songs.

A lot has been said of your work with producer Thom Panunzio for this album.  From your perspective what do you feel he contributed to the overall album?

Well Thom Panunzio was one of the greatest people to work with for a lot of reasons.  One, if you just look at his resume, the guy comes stocked with some of the greatest musicians of all time under his belt, he’s worked with the best of the best – Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, you name it.  These are musicians that are timeless and its not necessarily a style of music that they all have in common it’s the fact that they all write very very good songs.  It’s all about getting the songs out when you’re recording it, translating it well.  I think that’s what Thom brought to this recording.  He made us really not worry so much about making sure that we spent tons of time getting the guitar tone.  When you think you have a good guitar tone you do, and you just start recording.  A lot of things on this record was just how stuff felt.  It was a little different for us because all of our previous records were produced by the same person and he’s an amazing person and he comes from a different school of thought than Thom Panunzio because he’s a little younger and has produced bands in different ways but Thom really brought that vibe element to the studio and I think that’s what bands have been doing throughout time, especially bands back in the good ole days, if you want to call it that.  Thom really focused on our songs.  He believed in our songs very early on in the project when they were not even completed yet and they were just ideas; he made sure we were comfortable in the studio and that these ideas translated on the tape.

Is it true that for the recording of this record you were all together basically 24/7 at a house in Malibu?

It was more while we were writing the album.  We recorded a lot of it at different studios, we spent a lot of time at our record label actually, there’s a small studio there.  The majority of the time that we spent writing and practicing and demo-ing the songs and that was all done in the Morningview Mansion in Malibu.  That was an amazing experience for us, it was totally different.  We’re use to writing records and having to get up in the morning, drive, fight traffic to get to whatever practice spot we have, play for a couple hours, leave at five or six o’clock at night, brave the traffic again to go home and then do it all again the next day.  With this, it was like ten o’clock at night and someone would say “Hey I have an idea for a song” and we’re like okay and we’d sit around to work the idea out.  That’s where a lot of the best ideas for this record came out, at those odd times.  Those were the times we didn’t have before.  So again, that’s another reason why this record was able to develop way past any of our older material.

What is the general writing process for the band?  It seems like Chad writes a lot of the material, does he come up with an idea and then throw it out to you guys or how exactly does it go down?

It can kind of be anything, we’re definitely open to anything.  Over time it seems that Chad will bring most of the musical ideas, whether it is just an idea or almost a full song in a rough structure.  No matter what it comes to us and as a band we work on it for awhile.  We try to play it out and on this record and the last record we try to record stuff to listen to it and see how it will come out when it’s recorded.  We’ll arrange songs then and make sure that they they are the right length, repeat choruses if we need to.  After a song has a basic structure, that’s when we’ll start worrying about the lyrics.  The lyrics tend to come from Steve, but at the same time on this record another difference was that everybody in the band took part in it because we were around each other so much, you almost couldn’t help it.  I would go outside to hang out and Steve would be there working on lyrics or Chad would be there writing a song.  It was just a good thing, everything was really organic but at the same time everybody was really involved and like I’ve said so many times already we took the time and made the effort to make these songs develop as much as we could.


Cyrus in Cyrusland

You guys have been together since you were pretty young.  Over the years do you ever find yourselves pulling in different directions musically and how do you think that plays into the direction of the band?
I think it’s actually one of the greatest things about our band and one of the things that really defines us as a group is the fact that we are different.  All of us kind of came from different musical backgrounds although there are some similarities.  We really do let that shine.  Even to this day, we were at a record store yesterday and just looking at the cds that we each bought you could tell the differences between us ranging from people buying stuff that sounds just like us to Ian buying the new Lionel Richie album.

Exactly, Lionel Richie’s “Coming Home”.  I bought E-40 the rapper, just random stuff.  But again that’s one of the coolest things about our band and that’s what makes us have individual sound and personality.

The one with the same name as yours?

Exactly, Lionel Richie’s “Coming Home”.  I bought E-40 the rapper, just random stuff.  But again that’s one of the coolest things about our band and that’s what makes us have individual sound and personality.

So the video for the first single “It’s Not Your Fault” is out.  It’s a great video but it doesn’t seem to follow the song.  Is that by design?

Every video doesn’t have to follow with the song, in this case we liked the idea and the concept behind the video and we thought it would be a cool thing to show.  On top of that we wanted to not have the song show in such a serious manner.  The message of the song is pretty general, its basically talking about relationships and taking responsibility and making decisions in relationships.  Another thing is that we really didn’t have any ideas that went with the song that worked as well as this one.  In the end, when you look at the video I think it serves its purpose because one of the things we wanted to have was a video that really appealed to a lot of kids and what better way to do that then to put two very good looking people in a video, one guy and one girl so you’re covering all of your bases.  They happen to be on an MTV show that’s pretty popular so no matter what people either like to look at them or want to look at them.

So, you mentioned that two members from the cast of MTVs 8th and Ocean star in the video, how did that end up happening?

I think that was a random casting more than anything.  We didn’t set out to get them but again we look back at it and it really worked.  The concept and all the concepts in our videos fall back on the philosophy of our band.  We take part in everything.  If we have an idea, then we’ll put the idea in there.  If someone else has an idea we’ll either change it or make sure that we know what’s going on.  It’s always been that way with us, we are very hands on.

One of my favorite songs on the new album is Boulders.  You can really feel it emotionally from start to finish and then at the end there are some beautiful backing vocals from the girls in Eisley.  Was the song written to have the female vocal at the end or was that something that evolved later?

I think that actually evolved later because that song actually changed three different times.  There was a slower version of that song a faster version of that song, there was a song that didn’t have the ending part, so it really was kind of a little bit of everything and in the end we have the version that we’re all extremely happy with. It’s almost a combination of the two, changing the speed of the song and also adding that end part.  That song is great because I think it’s out there and it’s a little different for a song from us but its pretty epic and I think it’s a very moving song and we’ve had very good feedback from the kids that have been able to hear it.
You recently covered Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” for Yahoo’s Music’s Cover ART.  NFG has a history of doing covers people may not expect to hear from you…how did you end up choosing this one?

That song is kind of funny how it was chosen.  It wasn’t purposely chosen by us.  We were given the Yahoo Music thing to do and they told us they wanted us to cover a song and they wanted us to cover a newer song and they gave us a list of songs to try to cover and we didn’t really like any of the songs on the list.  We decided we would pick our own.  We were throwing songs around and someone said, “Hey that Justin Timberlake song has kind of a cool beat” and it would be fun to try to do it in our own style because thats how we approach covers, we don’t just play the song we try to make it a little bit more like we would if we wrote it.  So after a couple of days of practice we had the “Cry Me A River” cover.  It’s funny, I think it went a lot further than we thought.


Coming Home – The new album.  Do you have yours yet?

My first exposure to NFG was many years ago and I saw you live before I ever heard any of your recorded material.  I was just sucked in automatically by the energy and the connection you have with your crowd.  I think your live show is definitely the bands strongest asset, is that something you consciously think about or does it just come naturally as a musician?  Are you constantly thinking of ways to improve the band live or does it sort of just work itself out?

I think it really is natural because that’s where we came from.  When we started the band we set out to just be a band, we wanted to write music that we loved and bring it to everybody that we could.  The way that we did that was by following the example of bands that we were into at the time (Green Day, Blink-182, MxPx) all of those bands, they didn’t worry about record labels in the beginning.  It was all DIY, playing shows and getting your music out to as many people as you could.  It was all about the live show.  That’s what we did, for almost a full year we played the same club in South Florida every other weekend, that’s how you start to build a fanbase.  I think we refined our chops in a live way the first coupe of years, and now that’s definitely our forte.  It doesn’t matter big or small what we love most about all of this is playing live.

Have you decided yet which of the new songs you’ll be playing live?

I can’t say that there’s a 100 percent decision on everything but I can expect us to play probably four or five new songs.  We definitely want to make sure that we include older songs in our set because we’re music fans just like everybody that comes to our shows and we remember times that we’d go see our favorite bands play and they’d have a new record out and they’d play the entire new record and that’s it.  We don’t like that because there are usually other songs that you want to hear.  Obviously we’ll play “It’s Not Your Fault”, and “Hold My Hand” is another song that we’ve been playing for a couple months now.  Maybe “Oxygen” and “Coming Home”.  “Coming Home” is a song that we’re pretty anxious to get out there and have live because it has parts in it that we can already expect kids to sing along to.  It’s a song that they are studying to sing along to.  It goes back to what you were saying, it’s not just us that think our live show is our forte, our fans do too. Our fans really love these shows and that’s one of the reasons that we love to play so much.  They feed off of us and vice versa.  Seeing kids go crazy and singing every word to your songs really charges you and makes you go off even more.

The first time I heard “When I Die” I literally got goosebumps.  I felt like I was being punched in the stomach, it’s so emotional. The lyrics are so beautiful and they really promote celebrating someone’s life when they are gone and living your life in a way that would make them proud.  I’m sure that with this song and with songs in the past, you have fans that come up to you and tell you how the song has affected their life which is pretty heavy thing to hear from someone.  How do you even respond to something like that and how does it affect you?

It’s definitely weird.  It’s very flattering.  You’re right, you almost don’t even know what to do.  I think it’s going to differ for each one of us individually in the band because certain people in the band have actually had a personal connection with the song or the lyrics with unfortunate events in our life.  I think all of us from being such good friends with each other we’ve lived the experiences as well.  The biggest thing for us is knowing that we’re touching people and knowing that they’re really affected by our music and our lyrics and a lot of it is very therapeutic.  It doesn’t bring them down.  Even though a song may talk about an event that they’re not trying to remember or go back to all the time, it’s therapeutic and they will feel better to sing it and listen to it, to go to our show and experience it.  So that’ the best thing.  It’s amazing for me to know that our band is moving people in that way.  I think that’s something that we never thought about when we first started playing music, we just wanted to make good music.  It’s amazing to see the reach that we have.

Okay, after that, let’s move on to a fun one.  Can you give me one totally random unknown fact about the band?

Something you don’t know.  Hmm.  I might have to think about this one. Here’s something that people probably don’t know.  Chad and Jordan have some of the biggest feet I’ve ever seen.  They have to be a size 14.

Both of them?

Yeah.  13 at least.  We’re all pretty tall and we noticed that with our fans, not that our fans are short, we’re just tall.  My shoes are nowhere near as big as theirs and I can’t believe how big their feet are.  They’re just normal kids with massive feet.  You can take that wherever you want to go.

Um..No comment!  Moving right along, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever received from a fan?

The other day actually, this is pretty recent, I don’t know if it’s going to be the craziest thing, it wasn’t given to us but we were at a signing and a fan came up to us with a fork that was framed in a picture frame.  The fork was stained and had been used.  We weren’t really sure what to do with it.  The girl was talking to Chad and she told him that the last time we played Chicago (where the signing was) she saw us in a restaurant and she didn’t want to bother us or come up to us but when we left she took the fork, and she saved it.  I’m telling you, this thing was discolored and there could have been mold on it.  It’s crazy.  There are fans that are very dedicated like that.  Usually it’s not too awkward or weird so that’s the good thing because I’m sure there could be some really random fans coming up to us.  It’s cool, I think a lot of our fans actually take the time to try to learn about us through interviews and then try to bring gifts that are custom to each one of us and not just random things.  That’s another reason why our fans are so cool.  A lot of them have been with us for a long time, they are like extended family to us.  We see the same kids at multiple shows and get to know them.

Can you tell me your favorite songs on the album?

I would have to say “It’s Not Your Fault” is a really good song.  I really like “Connected” towards the end of the album as well as “Coming Home” and if I had to pick a fourth song, I’m going to pick this one for it’s chorus – “Make Your Move”.

Any parting words for the NFG faithful?

The one thing is that you can always check out our website for info and tour dates.  Speaking of tour dates, we’ll be on tour this fall in the U.S. and we’re also going international with the tour.  In the U.S. we’ll be with Early November and Cartel.  We’ll be on tour for awhile with the new cd.  Thanks to everybody for your support.  If you don’t have the new cd go grab it and come out to see us play!


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