CHAD GILBERT doesn’t know the meaning of the word “break.” His main gig playing guitar for New Found Glory has kept him busy for the better part of 15 years, culminating in the band’s first-ever live album, Kill It Live, out Oct. 8 on Violently Happy/Bridge Nine. But with what little time off he gets from his day job he spends working on WHAT’S EATING GILBERT, his retro-rock solo project that’s loaded with nostalgia for the ’50s and ’60s. The band—Gilbert on vocals and guitar, keyboardist/vocalist Honor Nezzo, bassist Audelio Flores, Jr. (also of Set Your Goals) and NFG drummer Cyrus Bolooki—will be hitting the road alongside an assortment of bands throughout the next two months in support of their new EP, Cheap Shots. So before Gilbert’s cellphone went into roaming mode, we caught up with him to talk his new band, his old band and just what it’s like to be electrocuted.
Bonus: AP and What's Eating Gilbert are currently hosting a tweet-to-win contest to win the WEG jacket featured in the video. Be sure to check it out and tweet before the September 17 deadline!
INTERVIEW: Scott Heisel
Let’s start with the obvious: What is eating Gilbert? What’s on your mind right now?
CHAD GILBERT: I don’t know what’s on my mind right now. I’m just excited to leave on tour. You know, whenever my girlfriend’s gone, its definitely—you know, she tours as much as I do, if not more. When I’m home, I just feel like I’m kind of wasting away, so you know, she’s gone and I’m like, “I want to be on tour!” so I’m just excited. I’ve got those tours with Tegan And Sara and I’ve got some shows with Chris Carrabba, I’ve got some Motion City Soundtrack and Bayside shows and I’m just excited to get out there. Most of all, I’m antsy. At every What’s Eating Gilbert show, they’ve all been shows where I’ve played last. So I’ve never really played for anyone new. That’s no slight to anyone at the shows; they just sort of heard about it through me and my associations and they were things that they’ve already known about. So this is going to be cool because I’m going to be playing in front of a couple thousand people with Tegan And Sara. They have no clue what it is. So, its going to be fun, being able to have some sort of semi-fresh start at playing a show, playing for people who have actually never seen me play before.
It has been a while since you’ve actually opened for somebody, even in New Found Glory. You’ve been a pretty consistent headlining band. Is it a different mindset from New Found Glory opening for the Honda Civic Tour versus What’s Eating Gilbert opening for Bayside or Tegan And Sara? Do you view the two as the same? Do you have different pressure on yourself because you’re the frontman now?
Yeah, with What’s Eating Gilbert, it’s definitely different. I have a whole new respect for Jordan [Pundik] with singing and how important it is to hear yourself. Because when I play guitar, I’m like, “Who cares! Let’s just play!” And now, with What’s Eating Gilbert, I definitely take care of my voice, warm up and warm down and watch what I’m eating. And it’s like, because there’s so much on me, that yeah, I try to really take care of my voice way more. If you’ve seen New Found Glory, I do a lot of the talking onstage and I used to sing obviously for Shai Hulud. I’m comfortable being a frontman. I’m not afraid to talk in front of anyone. That’s not a fear of mine. I don’t get nervous that way, but I definitely want to be good.
You’re also in an interesting spot with Chris Carrabba’s new band, Twin Forks. You’re both doing this new stuff away from what made you both the most famous. Obviously, the two of you go back a long ways, back to the Florida hardcore scene about 15 years ago. It’s been a while since you two toured together as Dashboard and New Found Glory. So when you do a tour like this and you’re meeting up with people when they’re in new bands, is there any sort of different feeling-out process to see how they’ve changed as a musician or do you just pick up where you left off?
Well, when Chris started this project, he sent me some of the songs he was working on a while ago, after Further Seems Forever’s California dates. I thought it was kind of cool. We sort of just kept touching base and talking every once in a while about stuff. I think the cool thing is that we have known each other for a long time and we are starting up [new projects], so I feel like these new shows are more comforting and less pressure on each other. You get to see two cool new projects, but at the same time for us as artists, I think there is sort of a comfortable thing going on. It’s nice having a familiar face while you’re in this growing period.