Your music video for “Complaining” is really fun. There are so many videos nowadays with weird interlacing of performance footage and no one knows what’s going on. But “Complaining” is a very classically designed music video where there is a main character and you see what happens to him and you get a clear conclusion. It reminds me kind of what What’s Eating Gilbert is all about, in terms of it being a very traditional project where it’s not meant to be trying to reinvent the wheel, but its trying to pay homage to the nostalgic elements of your life.
Yeah, 100 percent. That’s the thing with this whole project: I really wanted to do a video with this band, and the look and feel of this video is important to the introduction of this band. It’s a big element, like, it’s important for people to see as well as hearing. The video pieces it all together for people. That era [of ’50s culture] is what I grew up around, my family, from the movies I grew up watching to the music my dad would listen to, and my mom would listen to. I got into music really young—I would bring the neighbors over and I’d sing “Tomorrow” from Annie to them. I’ve just always loved music. Whether it was Van Halen’s “Jump” to the Beatles. When writing these songs, it just came out. And when that came out I was just like, ‘Yeah, this is really cool music.’
Here’s how I see it: Music evolves, but it also comes back around. When I started writing, it didn’t feel like I was pushing something, it felt like, “Whoa, this is cool.” It doesn’t completely sound like Buddy Holly and these old bands. But there is that inspiration there and it just felt like sort of a weird natural evolution. It’s coming back in a weird and modern way and I didn’t mean for that to happen, but I guess you could say that I’ve played punk music for so long that having those other influences just sort of formed this.
What’s Eating Gilbert has existed concurrently with New Found Glory, and I totally hear some crossover between some tracks on NFG’s Radiosurgery like “Caught in The Act” and “Train Wrecks.” Those could easily be adapted into What’s Eating Gilbert songs, in my opinion. Were you aware of that when you were working on the New Found Glory record versus the What’s Eating Gilbert album? Did you know the lines were being blurred at all?
That’s kind of funny. In “Caught In The Act,” that guitar lead was my chance to do a New Found version of “My Brain Hurts” by Screeching Weasel. But you know, it’s definitely not like that. When I write a song, I immediately know exactly what it is. I don’t know why, it just feels completely different. And the big part about it comes with vocals. With New Found, there’s sort of a democracy. Where if I write a song for New Found Glory, I write a riff and some music and with the band it is everyone’s idea. I’ll have a vocal idea and then I’ll send the music to Steve and he will have a vocal idea and then we will come together and pick which one we like better or pick elements of both. But with What’s Eating Gilbert, I write immediately and honestly, its like I write before there’s even a guitar part. [With “Complaining,”] I was complaining and complaining, and I wrote it and I was driving around and didn’t have a guitar. So I went home then put it to a guitar. So I think with What’s Eating Gilbert, that’s the difference. It starts with words a lot of the times. And New Found starts with the riff and I want to get more of a group effort.
You’ve done some touring as What’s Eating Gilbert but this is going to be your biggest exposure to date. A lot of times, new bands that feature a member of another notable band tend to incorporate some of their back catalog, whether its Twin Forks playing a couple of Dashboard songs, or when John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday plays solo shows, he plays Taking Back Sunday songs even though he is not the primary vocalist. Is there any element of New Found Glory’s catalog that you would ever think about incorporating into What’s Eating Gilbert, or will it always be a separate band?
It will always be separate. I would never ever do that. Then it’s not a new project. I feel like when bands do that, it [can be] cool, but it makes sense when it is the singer. I can see Chris Carrabba is wanting people to hear his new music, so he gets people there and he will play a [Dashboard] song or two. Morrissey plays Smiths songs sometimes. So I get that, you know, when you’re the lead singer. But I’m not the lead singer of New Found Glory, and to me that wouldn’t make sense. And I do want What’s Eating Gilbert to be very different. I want anyone to listen to this band, and I don’t want them to relate it to New Found Glory. I mean New Found Glory is New Found Glory and What’s Eating Gilbert is What’s Eating Gilbert. And I would never, never want to try to do that.