|When Florida-born punk stars New Found Glory roll into town, they bring with the blazing Strat attack of guitarist Steve Klein. Just four years together as a band, NFG has already spent much of that time logging hundreds of thousand of miles on the road, playing all over the country. Now, with their 2000 self-titled major label release, this quintet hopes to reach the masses. Recently, Guitar Center's Dustin Hinz got the chance to talk with Steve about their quest for musical glory.
GC: Tell me about your guitars. What do you use and why?
Steve: I use Fender Stratocasters, Big Apple design. The reason why I use a Stratocaster is because when I first started playing guitar I learned how to play on a Squier. Ever since then I tried different guitars, but I always went back to the Fender Strat because that's what felt right to me. Plus when I first started listening to music, Green Day was the first punk band I'd ever listened to. I really wanted to play guitar and be like Billie Joe (Armstrong from Green Day). So, I picked that up and learned how to play Green Day songs. Those were the first songs I learned how to play.
GC: Was that your first experience playing guitar?
Steve: I started getting into music and I really wanted to learn how to play the songs I was listening to. I asked my dad, "Can you buy me a guitar?" So he went to the store and bought me a Squier and then I just learned. I never got any lessons at all. I was never taught how to play guitar. I just picked it up, started playing it along to the music and learned how to play power chords.
GC: New Found Glory has a pretty straight -forward sound. Do you use any pedals or effects or do you just use the sound you get from the amplifier?
Steve: Well, I use a noise gate so that way it doesn't feedback really loud. When we first started, that was one of the problems. We would try to pause or something like that and all of us would (makes screeching sound) feedback and sound like shit. Me and Chad (Gilbert, New Found Glory guitarist) both use noise gate pedals and we both use EMG 81 pickups on our guitars so we can sound metal.
GC: What do you think of the guitar rig you have now?
Steve: I use a Mesa Dual Rectifier because I love the low ends and the chugga-chugga sound. I like the way it sounds with the EMG 81s. It sounds really full and really low endy. Crunchy.
GC: What's the coolest recent addition to your set-up?
Steve: I haven't gotten anything new in awhile. We just got all new cases for our stuff. That was pretty cool. We got cases for our cabinets and heads.
GC: Do all the new road cases make a big difference?
Steve: Yeah, it looks a lot more professional. Plus our stuff doesn't get ruined, like when we're loading out, everyone just pushes everything in there and gets all scratched. It starts looking like crap after a tour keeps on going. Now we have all these cases. We bought all new cabinets so it looks all pretty and nice on stage.
GC: What's the next thing on your wish list?
Steve: We just went to the Fender Custom Shop in Corona, California and I just designed two of my own guitars. That was actually the thing I really wanted to do, to design my own guitars. I got one red sparkle Fender Strat with a white EMG 81 humbucker pick up. It has star inlays instead of the dots. Chrome stars. That's like my dream guitar. I just ordered it and will get it in a couple of months. It's pretty sweet.
GC: Do you have a home studio?
Steve: I don't have a home studio. (Laughs) Cyrus (Bolooki, New Found Glory drummer) has kind of a studio running out of his laptop.
GC: Do you practice a lot?
Steve: I practice on my acoustic guitar a lot. Also, whenever the band practices. I don't really play our songs when I practice. I usually try to figure out other songs and maybe try to write some new stuff. That's the extent of my practice I guess.
GC: What is your most memorable studio experience? You guys just went in under your first big major label production, so it must have been a lot different than your normal stuff.
Steve: I think when we started doing vocals on the new record. I think that was the best experience. The first record, we basically produced it ourselves and we just like winged it. We mixed it ourselves and made it sound good. Following that, on the new record, we have this producer that's actually there to keep everything going and make sure everything is in the right key, make sure everything's in tune. And make sure all the harmonies are on, that everything's in time. I just think that being able to work with Neil Avron and being able to be in a nice studio is like the biggest privilege. That was the most memorable experience for me, being able to be in a studio and to spend as much time as we need to on a song.
GC: What about the songwriting process? Does the band have a songwriting routine?
Steve: Chad will basically come up with a riff and then he'll like show it to me, Cyrus and Ian (Grushka, New Found Glory bassist) and we'll just rock out with it. At a practice we'll record it on a tape. I'll bring it home to my house, put on my headphones and just write lyrics to it. Then, Jordan (Pundik, New Found Glory singer) will come over to my house and then I'll teach Jordan the stuff that I wrote. He'll put in his input and basically put his voice to what I just wrote. Then we'll just put it all together. When Jordan sings, that's when everybody will put their input into it.
GC: Say I'm an intermediate player and I already have the basics set up and I want to expand. What's the next thing I should get to improve my sound?
Steve: I think the best thing I did recently was buy that noise gate pedal because it makes it sound so much crisper. It doesn't make it sound like it's just standing by the amp. You don't have to hold your guitar. You can just hold the strings and it won't feedback really loud. I think that was one of the biggest things. It made us a lot tighter than we use to be.
GC: Do you warm up before a performance?
Steve: I stretch out a lot. In the beginning of our last tour, all of us started getting shin splints because we jump around, go crazy and stuff like that. After the show, all our knees, all our shins, would be killing us. So, now it's like a routine for us to do jumping jacks, try to stretch out on the stairs, run around in circles and try to get hyper before we play. We drink a lot of Red Bull, too.
GC: What advice would you have for a young player who might want to model their career after yours?
Steve: Just to stick to what you're doing. If you have it in your heart to be a musician, then don't let anybody tell you otherwise. There's a lot of obstacles that we went through as a band to have it how it is now. Everyone in our band quit school. Me and Cyrus had big scholarships to big universities and we decided not to fulfill that. Instead we decided to fulfill our music career because we feel like this is going to take us somewhere. This is going to bring us things that we can't experience anywhere else. We're going to see the world. We're going to play in front of however many people and our music is going to get out to however many people. That's our dream.
GC: Looking into the future, what's next for you and New Found Glory?
Steve: Just touring and writing new records. Hopefully keeping it together as long as possible. I want to be like Aerosmith. I want to be 40, still playing in a band and still writing good songs.
GC: And have 37 albums? (laughs)
Steve: Yeah. As long as people keep buying our records, we're going to stay a band. No matter what. If all of the sudden a major label drops us, we're still going to be on the road. We're still going to be touring. We're still going to be doing our thing.
GC: Who are some of your influences?
Steve: Green Day. I listen to Bon Jovi and a lot of '80s rock. I'm actually starting to get into a lot of Radiohead now. The Beatles, lyric-wise. I think the next record we record is going to be our best ever because I think we all know exactly what we're capable of doing. We're on the road and Chad already has 25 new songs. We're not even close to recording a new record. We're going to have a head start and write 30 or 40 songs. We will have that many more songs to choose from, that we know will be good on the record. The thing that I hate about music sometimes and about CDs is that you'll hear a song on the radio and you'll go buy the CD. Every song besides that song on the CD sucks. I think that's one of the things that people like most about our band. We work just as hard on one song as we do on any other song. People put on the CD and listen to 1 through 12 and they don't have to skip any songs because none of the songs are mediocre. That's what a lot of emails and people who come up to us say. They say, "It's so awesome, I can actually put your CD on and listen to the whole thing straight through without changing tracks."
GC: That tends to happen a lot these days. Finally, do you shop at Guitar Center?
Steve: Yes, I do shop at Guitar Center. I think it's really cool. I think it's good that we go in there and buy picks. Usually Sam Ash and those other places don't have the picks that I use. The people that work at Guitar Center are nicer than people at other places, too. I go any of those other places and those guys are jerks to me. People will be playing a guitar and they'll pick it up and start playing it in front of you. You're just sitting there thinking, "I'm buying that guitar. Why are you playing it?" I used to hate that. I live closer to a Sam Ash than I do to a Guitar Center and I would still drive to a Guitar Center farther away.
GC: That's it. Thanks, I appreciate it.
» Interview with New Found Glory's Cyrus Bolooki