New Found Glory reveal the songs that should never be covered
Grab your popcorn, no talking and silence your phones—unless you’re listening on them: New Found Glory released From The Screen To Your Stereo 3, the third installment in their series of hot pop-punk takes on tunes from popular movies.
This time out, NFG went way back (“Eye Of The Tiger,” the most famous song from the Rocky franchise and Huey Lewis’ “The Power Of Love” from Back To The Future) as well as staying in this century (tracks from Shrek, Pitch Perfect, Frozen, The Greatest Showman and Twilight: Breaking Dawn) for their new mini-LP. What started as a fun project turned out to be a massive fan-favorite series, based on guitarist Chad Gilbert’s childhood with movies.
“I was born in 1981, and I was in an era where [if] I was home from school sick, you’d go to the VHS store, rent five or 10 movies and watch them all day,” he says. “Then my brother got a job at a movie theater. Then he got a job at a VHS store, and I got the job at the movie theater. I was always surrounded by movies and film.
“It was a natural thing,” he continues. “When we were a local band, nobody knew our songs. We had a little demo tape. ‘My Heart Will Go On’ [Celine Dion’s song from the movie Titanic] was all over the radio, and we covered it to be funny. The next thing you know, everyone loved the cover and were coming to see our band. They’d come to hear the cover and then the originals.” He begins to laugh. “And here we are!
“Moral of the story? Have fun. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of people making fun of you for covering ‘My Heart Will Go On.’”
“You might get all of the hardcore kids piling up on top of you, singing along,” vocalist Jordan Pundik adds.
Gilbert says the series has taken a life of its own, and that’s solely because the fans demand NFG’s take on modern music themes.
“Why would I want to sit with my headphones on and a guitar listening to the piano lines in ‘Let It Go,’ over and over? [Laughs.] It’s totally the fans,” he explains. “We did the first one, and it was cool, and the fans liked it. So we decided to do the second one, and we thought, ‘Well, it’s not as good as the first,’ so then we never want to do it.
“But then, you look at culture. You look at movies, and you see all these part threes and the Avengers series. And then our fans react and go, ‘When’s part three of this?’ Fans kept bumping us all the time with comments at shows and at meet-and-greets. What do you think happened when Frozen came out? ‘When are you going to do Frozen for From Stereo To Your Screen?’
“The difference between this one and Part 2 is as a band, we weren’t as unified on Part 2 as we were Part 3,” Gilbert reveals. “We were all equally invested in Part 3. The vision, the imagery, the songs. If we’re going to do it, it has to be amazing on all fronts.”
Because Pundik and Gilbert—along with bassist Ian Grushka and drummer Cyrus Bolooki—have conjured three mini-LPs’ worth of over-caffeinated rehauls of classic movie songs, they have some solid opinions about movie music. We asked the duo to weigh in on certain kinds of songs.
THE SONGS THAT ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS TO SING.
PUNDIK: Yes. [Laughs.] Once we were able to establish what we were doing [in the arrangements] and I was able to do it a couple [of] times, it’ll be able to sit there and be a part of my voice.
GILBERT: Giving props to my man Jordan here. At the end of the original version of “Let It Go,” Idina Menzel sings [imitates hair-metal singer/leg-trapped animal screech] “Let the storm rage oooooooooon!” [Laughing followed by coughing fit.] I can’t even do it! It’s an insanely high note! So Jordan’s tracking vocals, and he gets up to the note, and everyone and Jordan knows that note is about to come. And we ask him, “Are you ready?” and he says [deadpan tone] “No.” [Laughs.] Dude, we know it’s high. Just think about Nothing Gold Can Stay days. Don’t worry about being perfect. Just rip it. Go for it. He’s like, “I don’t knooooow…” We hit “record,” and he hits it in one take. When you hear the record, remember, that’s one take.
That song will be in the setlist for the next tour, and you’ll have to hit it every night.
PUNDIK: I know. I’m having anxiety thinking about it. [Laughs.] If we’re ever in a radio station at 6 in the morning, that’s the one they’ll say, “Let’s play that one acoustic, everybody!”
THE SONGS THEY WON’T TOUCH.
GILBERT: We have to have self-control and say, “Even though I want to do this cover so bad, it doesn’t work for the vision.” Ian really wanted to do “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion).” That’s a really catchy rock song. “My Heart Will Go On” and “Armageddon” are songs we wouldn’t listen to in life. If you heard “St. Elmo’s Fire,” you would say, “Oh, I could hear how NFG would do that.” You couldn’t hear “Let It Go” and totally get how we’d do that.
What else didn’t make the cut?
GILBERT: “Time Of My Life” from Dirty Dancing [starts singing in woozy voice]. There’s two vocalists, and we didn’t want to worry about doing a feature. We always joked about doing “Kiss From A Rose” from Batman Forever. “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana is a sick song. A few songs from Coco. None of them were as iconic as “Let It Go,” so we just went back to that one.
THE SONGS THEY MADE BETTER.
PUNDIK: [Laughs.] Definitely “Let It Go,” for sure. There are so many kids who love that song, and I’m sure there are a lot of parents who want to kill themselves when it comes on. It’ll be a redeeming thing for them, and they’ll like our version.
GILBERT: I like our cover of “Cups.” Any of the ballads. Who isn’t going to like the punk-rock versions of these songs? [Laughs.]
SONGS THAT ARE SO PERFECT NOBODY SHOULD ATTEMPT TO COVER THEM. EVER.
GILBERT: I have a thing with middle-of-the-road songs being covered. When a modern rock band cover a modern rock song or an alternative song, it’s terrible. Anytime a rock band cover Nirvana, they just play “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It’s an intense rock song. There’s no way you can do it different. Now I could see Julien Baker doing it in a really cool stripped-down version. But anytime a rock band cover a rock song, it’s so weird to me.
GILBERT: I think they feel like, “Hey, we want to get sexy.”
Or they’re just playing it for laughs.
GILBERT: You would think that. You’ll see a band on Warped Tour, and they will cover those pop songs. They’ll do interviews and be like [hipster snob tone], “We’d love to meet Justin Timberlake.” They’re bands covering those songs because they want their band to sound like that cover. Not like, “How do we turn our song into that song?”
A lot of those bands come in through the entrance at Warped Tour, but they really want to be sitting in the green room on the set of The Voice. What other songs shouldn’t be touched?
PUNDIK: Um…Katy Perry’s “Firework.” [Laughs.] That’s a catchy-ass song.
THE COVER VERSIONS THAT ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
GILBERT: I think our cover of “Kiss Me,” probably. [Laughs.] OK, I’ll tell you now since it came out recently: The Weezer covers album.
PUNDIK: I haven’t heard it.
GILBERT: I’m disappointed because I think there were a lot of cool opportunities for Rivers [Cuomo] to do more of that Weezer/Rivers thing—I wish the songs sounded more like Weezer. They sound like a really good cover band you hear at a bar instead of sounding like Weezer. They’re all similar-paced, no big guitars, just pop…I wish it was more like Weezer. And I’m a fan: Do more of what you do, guys. Put your thing on there.
AND FINALLY, THE FUTURE OF THE SERIES.
GILBERT: [Laughs.] We never thought we’d do three, so I think we’d be speaking too soon about a fourth one. It’s up to filmmakers: If they make some great movies with great songs, maybe there will be a way. There’s not much left, you know? What’s left?
Forget movies and do From Your Stereo To The Dollar Bin: songs from used-CD stores. You can cover Limp Bizkit. I saw an inch-high stack of System Of A Down discs the other day.
PUNDIK: That’s funny.
How about The Way All Your Favorite Warped Tour Bands’ Songs Should’ve Sounded.
GILBERT: Oh, Jesus…[Laughs.] I’m not too worried about what other people are doing. On Warped Tour, I think about what I’m going to eat.
PUNDIK: [Laughs.] Where’s the air-conditioned mall?
From The Screen To Your Stereo 3 is available now. New Found Glory embark on the From The Screen To Your Stereo To Your Town tour at the end of this month. Real Friends, The Early November and Doll Skin are on as support with dates and tickets available here.