new found glory
[Photo by Stevie Lowenstein]

On New Found Glory's Make The Most Of It, Chad Gilbert reveals how he nearly lost his life

For over 25 years, New Found Glory have remained one of the most celebrated modern pop-punk acts, thanks to their relatable lyrics, infectious hooks and resilient nature. However, if resilience was ever needed, it was undoubtedly in December of 2021, when guitarist and chief songwriter Chad Gilbert nearly lost his life. He was found unresponsive in bed by his wife, who quickly performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Shortly after, Gilbert was admitted to the ICU, where it was discovered that he had a sizeable tumor due to pheochromocytoma, a rare cancer of the adrenal gland. From that moment on, Gilbert’s journey to recovery was long and trying, consisting of multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and the overall emotional roller coaster of living with such a serious illness.

Even through the darkness, uncertainty and understandable fear, Gilbert knew that he needed to overcome the disease and wasn’t going to let it define him or take away his joy. Of course, Gilbert’s greatest joys lie within his family, including his loving wife and daughter, who was born just months before his cancer diagnosis. However, he also knew that he needed to turn to his greatest passion: music. With stunning bravery, Gilbert carried on with business as usual, albeit in a slightly different capacity, to begin the writing process for New Found Glory’s largely acoustic and most mature, vulnerable album yet, Make The Most Of it.

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Gilbert had more than enough serious subject matter to pull from but was admittedly unsure if he wanted his cancer story to be front and center on the release. “There’s a thing that happens sometimes with charities and promotions that feel self-serving or cheap marketing, and I have always been delicate with other people’s emotions and not wanting to cross any boundaries,” Gilbert reflects over a Zoom call from his home in Tennessee. “A lot of good acts can be done for selfish reasons, and I [didn’t know] if I wanted to be the face of it.”

While Gilbert weighed opening up about his story, he went on tour shortly after, and it was on that same trek that he began to feel a shift in perspective. He realized that being a member of a beloved band could help raise awareness for this extremely rare cancer that’s often “misdiagnosed or undetected” long before it is too late for many patients. “What I have isn’t a normal cancer, and a lot of the deaths are [because] doctors don’t know what it is — I would [even] end up educating the nurses,” Gilbert explains. As he too nearly lost his life due to a series of misdiagnoses, sharing his experience was of the utmost importance, not only for himself but many others. “I would think about how rare this cancer is and how the odds of my wife getting in a car wreck visiting me are greater than catching this cancer I have. So, whenever I started thinking [writing] might be a waste of time or energy, I [soon] realized, ‘Why am I going to punish myself?’ and take away the joy I have writing songs and doing music?”

From there, the diagnosis of cancer “did the opposite” of slowing things down and instead pushed him to carry on with his life with an unstoppable fighting spirit. “Even in the hospital, the day after my second spinal surgery, I walked around,” Gilbert says with pride. His constant “drive to do whatever he can, even if it hurts,” amazed everyone around him, including his surgeons, and this energy has since remained his guiding principle throughout his journey to recovery. “We all truly don’t know how precious our time is, and we take advantage of that, so I want to enjoy everything at all times, as much as I can,” he says. Gilbert assures that even when he does eventually beat cancer, he will “feel the same way,” especially now with what he has gone through. “I’ve been given the gift to make it through, and [those] who were misdiagnosed never had that gift, so that’s why I want to do [this].”

When it came time for Gilbert to deliver the new songs to his longtime bandmates, they chose to put them together collaboratively in the same room. The four members sat in a circle with nothing more than their voices and a few acoustic guitars to capture the intimate nature of the tracks and reflect on their deeply personal subject matter. “When you’re sitting in a chair with an acoustic guitar, you’re talking and really connecting. Everyone’s ideas and opinions are able to be heard easier and quicker — it [also] made it easier since everyone had the lyrics in front of them to connect on it on a different level.”

With the seven new tracks that are featured on Make The Most Of It, Gilbert doesn’t shy away from revealing his most personal fears and resists sugarcoating the severity of his situation, offering a truly candid look into a person’s unique struggle with the disease. Among the many heartwrenching moments on the record, “Watch The Lillies Grow” is by far one of the most intense songs, with Gilbert making peace with his own mortality while reflecting on his life’s greatest accomplishments and the legacy he would leave behind if he did pass from the cancer. “I don’t listen [to the song],” Gilbert admits, “I had to listen to the mix to approve it, but could barely get through that.”

During his various stays in the hospital, Gilbert had to “sign things about his death,” meaning that if something were to go wrong, he would need to be prepared in many aspects. “Being hooked to machines” for weeks on end lead him to have a lot of time to process, which included his “biggest dream” of having a daughter. “There’s never really been a Gilbert girl in my family, so thinking that God forbid I didn’t make it through those surgeries, [at least] I could go away with my dreams coming to true — that’s the positive thing to look at.” Gilbert references heaven and his own personal faith on the track and shares how proud he is of his daughter and the “friendship” that they have formed already, all while remaining aware that for some people, they don’t always get to experience that feeling of pride in the first place.

Another moment of lyrical bravery and inspirational optimism is “Kiss The Floor,” a track where Gilbert says that cancer “brought out the best in him” and even taught him a few important lessons along the way that he now actively applies to his life. Gilbert realized that “knowing his fears” helped him use the situation for good. “It made me want to try to be more loving, patient and slower to anger,” Gilbert says with confidence. “A lot of the things that we stress about in life, and the time we spend fearful of our future is not even reality — it’s just what ifs.” Gilbert instead chooses to take advantage of what makes “life worth living” because even with challenges, Gilbert firmly believes “life can be better than you expect.”

Now, with Make The Most Of It on the horizon, Gilbert and New Found Glory have many reasons to celebrate, as the new record will officially come out on the legendary hardcore label Revelation Records. Gilbert says New Found Glory, who have always had strong ties to the hardcore community, actually sent their 1999 debut album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, to Revelation Records to put out. However, they passed, with Gilbert joking that even years later they still joke about not signing the band back in the day. “With this record, the content and where we are at, it seemed like [Revelation] was the right place to do this one-off album with.” With Make The Most Of It, Gilbert is hopeful that it will help expose the next generation to the bands they used to listen to on Revelation Records. “Hopefully [fans] will go back and buy a Texas Is The Reason, Youth Of Today or Gorilla Biscuits record — it’s a cool tradeoff,” he adds.

Following the release of the new record, New Found Glory will also hit the road this winter for a special run of intimate and unplugged shows surrounding the release — as well as dusting off select cuts from their vast discography in reimagined ways. “We always love promoting our new songs in the set, but we always [make sure] to play our classic songs to make the fans psyched,” Gilbert says. “With this tour, you are going to get a lot of the songs you have [always] wanted to hear that you don’t get at our normal shows.” He’s excited to report that the band’s dynamic will not simply be chairs on the stage, pledging that there will be “other instruments and growth” throughout the set. “We’re going to try to make this [tour] our own little musical — it’s going to be a completely different show,” he says.

While New Found Glory’s dedicated fanbase will surely be on the front lines to purchase the new record when it drops, they will also be happy to know that they aren’t only supporting a group of hardworking artists, but their very purchase will go a long way in the fight against the rare cancer that Gilbert has. Proceeds from the record will go to Pheoepara Alliance, an initiative that aims to provide support for clinical research, awareness and the continued well-being of patients battling the disease — the latter of which has been a major help in Gilbert’s personal experience.

“I’ve been gifted this career, and I feel so lucky. Now that we still have those same fans after 25 years, I need to give back as much as I can,” Gilbert adds. Make The Most Of It is arguably the most important record of New Found Glory’s career thus far, and while it’s an acoustic album, it is most certainly their heaviest album to date emotionally. Even in the absence of crushing guitars and pounding drums, Gilbert and co. sound as raw as ever and have redefined the meaning of artistic transparency and vulnerability.