This is easily the weirdest thing I’ve ever tried to write, so let’s start here: New Found Gory is to pop punk what Johnny Cash is to Country. The name is inseparable from the genre. Five years ago, I saw them play a nearly sold out show in Cincinnati celebrating the album’s 10th anniversary, but this last week, the band’s self-titled album, New Found Glory celebrated its 15th anniversary with a quiet nod to those paying attention. Any album will celebrate 15 years if someone is paying attention, but when a band is still together after all that time is when we should truly take notice.
A thousand people have written about this album, so I will keep it short and sweet. New Found Glory is the quintessential pop punk staple. It’s the album that dozens of my friends know word for word, despite the fact that they have long since stopped following the band. The self-titled album established what pop punk should sound like, despite the fact that bands like Blink-182 had been around years beforehand.
It’s hard for me to listen to New Found Glory these days all the way through; 15 years and half a dozen albums worth of work later, it’s hard for me to define New Found Glory by the songs that they wrote at 18 or 19 years of age. But this album means the world to millions of people, maybe half of which still actually listen to music. Even so, if one band were to have successfully defined their sound with a self-titled album, New Found Glory is the one.
New Found Glory is a timeless album. Pop punk has evolved over the years, but if the album was released today, it would still work , and possibly sound just as good for an up-and-coming amateur band. The songs are simple, loud and devastatingly memorable. It’s hard to deny that a thousand bands have grown up learning to play the songs on New Found Glory and the influence it has left on the scene, if not music as a whole, is incalculable.
This album landed just a year or two before Napster destroyed the music scene, and as such, was one of the last albums that needed to be purchased to hear the music on it. And people bought it. I found it through Adam Carolla. One random night, I happened to be listening to his radio show Love Line when the opening notes to “Hit or Miss” played over the radio and I heard who the band was. New Found Glory was the first band I discovered on my own, bought on my own, and told my friends about. This was the first album I lent to a friend, and one of the first bands I took the same friends to for a concert.
It would be easy to say that this album means the most to my generation, but it’s simply not true. Even now in concert, the band plays a good portion of these songs live.
New Found Glory is hard to describe, as it doesn’t age in the same way that Green Day’s American Idiot does, or differ in sound from how the band writes now, the way that Oasis did at the end of their career. New Found Glory was simply the start of an obsession that has lasted for decades, the spark of a central sound that hasn’t deteriorated. The only other band I can think of that has held up as well is Saves the Day, but even they have changed their sound throughout the years.
I believe that part of the album’s longevity is that the band haven’t particularly changed their core sound as much as they have evolved with the times. New Found Glory is pop punk in its infancy, Coming Home its awkward teenage emo years, and Resurrection the current, rebellious young adult form. Where most bands attempt a new sound so that they don’t write the same record twice, New Found Glory knew who they were in the beginning and wrote their music in a way that matched the maturity of their audience.
There are dozens of bands I listened to when I was fifteen, but nothing gets my blood pumping the way that “Better Off Dead” does. Friends of mine don’t listen to music anymore (literally, at all), but still quote “Sincerely Me” in texts and in inside jokes. And nothing, absolutely nothing, gets a crowd jumping or open a circle pit the way that “Hit or Miss” can.
Last year at Riot Fest in Chicago, I ran in a circle pit during New Found Glory’s set for almost 20 minutes with people ranging in age from their teens to people well into their 30s.
After this much time, I don’t know how else to describe New Found Glory in a way that hasn’t been done before. I can’t even say that it’s my favorite NFG album. What I can say is that this is the album that launched my love of music in a way that Blink-182 never did, that made me fall in love with their albums year after year in a way that Green Day never did.
Music changes very quickly (remember dub step?). Fifteen years later, I feel like it is safe to say that New Found Glory is the reason that pop punk has survived this long and the basis to which all of the current styles have evolved from. They helped launch the golden age of pop punk and the entire Drive Thru Records lineup. Their music is essentially untouched from what it was all those years ago, save for being louder and more mature than anyone ever saw it becoming. It’s more than anyone ever expected to see from a band all those years ago, especially when there were so many pop punk bands, and I can only hope to see where they land years from now.
All in all, this is an elaborate way to say, “long live the kings of pop punk.”
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and might be slightly biased because NFG was the first band he discovered 15 years ago. But that doesn’t matter because no one reads this lil’ bit anyway. Bwa hahahahaha!