meta-script23 Years After Forming, Pop-Punk Patriarchs New Found Glory Look Back On All 10 Of Their Albums |

New Found Glory 


23 Years After Forming, Pop-Punk Patriarchs New Found Glory Look Back On All 10 Of Their Albums

At this point, they haven't just amassed albums—the guys from Florida have a treasure trove of memories from the road, in the studio and beyond—including some with Mark Hoppus and '00s one-hitters Lit

GRAMMYs/Jul 17, 2020 - 09:30 pm

In 2000, New Found Glory—then a group of five friends from Florida with one local record release under their belt and a strong following on tour—launched their pop-punk sound into the world with their self-titled album. New Found Glory propelled them to becoming one of the most recognized bands of the post-punk emo era—a feat solidified by their friendship anthem "My Friends Over You" off their third studio album, 2002's Sticks And Stones

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Eight albums later, self-organized local shows are a thing of the past, and they definitely do not have to share one cellphone between them. They also don't have up-and-coming musician Chris Carrabba, now Dashboard Confessional, singing back-up vocals for them. But their recently released 10th studio album, Forever + Ever x Infinity, does make room for nostalgia after a lot of change.

"Now we've come full circle on the 10th album and did more of a straightforward pop-punk record," guitarist Chad Gilbert tells "It feels new, even though we're playing styles that we did in 2002." 

At this point, they haven't just amassed albums, the guys from New Found Glory also have a treasure trove of memories from the road, in the studio and beyond—including some with Mark Hoppus and rock band Lit.

In honor of Forever + Ever, we called up Gilbert and vocalist Jordan Pundik to look back on all 10 of their albums. In the conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, NFG also reflect on their growth as a band, how two of their biggest tracks almost didn't happen and throwback memories like working with GRAMMY-winning producer Neal Avron on their label debut.

Nothing Gold Can Stay,1999

You were in high school when you released Nothing Gold Can Stay. Was this the first time you ever recorded music?

Jordan: No, we had recorded a couple of little things beforehand, but we still didn't really know what we were doing, so we went to Nothing Gold Can Stay and it was a similar thing. We were all just kids in high school and we just recorded what we thought sounded good and that was it.

Chad: Yeah, we just all worked. Some of us in fast food. I worked at a movie theater. We all had different jobs and we just all pitched in $200 bucks each, $250 bucks.

Jordan: I worked at Subway.

Chad: Yeah. We paid for the album ourselves and it was awesome. We just figured it out as we went. We had no clue what we were doing, we were just a local band, and we knew like, "All right, you have to have a full length." We were like, "Oh yeah, we had an EP, now I guess we've got to make an album." So we wrote a bunch of songs and made an album.

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Where did you record it?

Chad: In '99, there weren't really any home computer studios really recording. [Laughs.] Because it came out in '99, but I feel like we recorded it before then because it was re-released. I can't remember when it was re-released, but we recorded a year or so before that and we recorded it at a studio in Miami. There was a guy that we knew that made records, so it was before computer home recordings. I don't even think I had the internet then.

Jordan: I think it was recorded to tape, too. Wasn't it recorded to tape?

Chad: Yeah, it was recorded to tape. 

I love the artwork. Who is on the cover?

Chad: It was my mom. At the time, there was all the other emo style bands back then, like the old term of emo, like the post-melodic style music. All of them had these covers with throwback photos and it was all emotional looking. So we were like, "Oh, we need one of those covers." So we did our logo in cursive, and I have this old photo of my mom on a beach. That's her on the beach. We were from Florida, so it tied in with that. So we wanted it to look like a little journal with a photo on the front. So we just found the picture and went to our friends house and laid it all out and stuff.

Jordan: I don't know if you know, but there was two, there was an original layout before the one that most people have, where the actual cover was a die-cut cutout cover, like a little window. When you open the first page, it was a full picture of Chad's mom under there.

What comes up for you when you look back on this album?

Jordan: We were still so young and didn't really know what we were doing. I think for a lot of people, that's somewhat the appeal of that album. I feel like, for a lot of people, especially younger kids, they could totally relate. Especially if they're somebody that's trying to start up a band of their own. They say like, "Oh, my favorite band was like this at one point and we can maybe do the same thing."

Chad: One thing that stands out to me is going off what Jordan said: We didn't know what we were doing. Then looking back, I realize that we were actually a part of something that ended up being way bigger. It's cool to know we didn't plan that out. So for instance, on the record, our friend was in this local band and he came and sang backups and did harmonies on this one song. That's Chris Carrabba, who later started Dashboard Confessional. We were already making music together back then at a local sort of thing, and then to see where both of our bands went over the years and things. So it was really cool, we were just being really creative and just making music and we took off.

New Found Glory, 2000

A year later you released New Found Glory. Here you drop the A in your original name, A New Found Glory. Why?

Chad: We dropped the A because after we released Nothing Gold Can Stay locally, we got signed to Universal and MCA. We were releasing our self-titled album [and] we were having problems with the first record when it got nationally distributed because some stores would put it in the A section and some stores would put it in the N section. So I remember riding my bike to the mall, going to buy my CD or whatever it was, getting dropped off at the mall by my mom or whatever and looking for the CD, and not being able to find it in the right section. Then when we started playing shows, our fans started writing NFG on stuff. They'd just write NFG, they'd never write ANFG. So since our fans were calling us NFG and the record label was having trouble cataloging it, we were like, "Let's just get rid of the A and just be New Found Glory, because that's what our fans call us anyway."

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How was releasing your first major label record?

Jordan: Pretty surreal I think, because still, we were either, I can't remember if we had just got out of high school or ... Yeah, we were just out of high school and we were still living at home and here we are recording a record for a major label. I think the fondest memories I have of that recording were not only how amazed we all were by the way it sounded after we were done with it, the first time having an actual really good sounding recording, but also I remember when we were at the studio and we were still living at home, we would just get picked up from our houses, we had a van and we'd pick each other up and go to the studio all together and we'd just hang out there all day long.

Jordan: We'd have our friends come over, in and out all day long and just hang out all day long until midnight or one in the morning and then go back home to our parents' houses. That's the fondest memory I have of that record. Then that record set us off to a whole crazy thing for the next 20-something years.

Chad: Yeah. Then the first time working with a real producer, our label was like, "We have this guy named Neal Avron." We're like, "Does he even know any punk rock?" They're like, "Well, he worked with Everclear and he worked with SR-71 on that song that came out. [Sings] "Whoa, why do you always kick me when I'm high?" [Editor's Note: The song is called "Right Now."] We're like, "Well, that's an upbeat thing. I don't know, he's never really done punk before and we're a punk band." We didn't really have much of a choice, we're like, "We'll work with him." He came down and met us and he was really nice, so we worked with Neal. Now, he went on to produce three of our albums, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and then on and on to Sara Bareilles, Linkin Park.

Chad: He's a massive producer now, but we were his first punk band. We were his first band. Then when Fall Out Boy worked with him, they wanted it to sound like the records we did with him. Then they're a massive arena band, so it's pretty crazy. So that was working with Neal, it was our first time working with a real producer. So that was interesting and we learned a lot from him. I was still in high school, I was a junior in high school at that time or senior. I think I was a senior. I ended up not finishing, because we had touring and stuff. But I remember making that album and all my high school friends were still in high school and I was going into the recording studio. It was awesome.

Nowadays, major labels catch new music on the internet. How did you get under their radar?

Chad: The tour.

Jordan: Touring and then at the time, there was streaming sites too. There was downloading sites like Napster and stuff.

Jordan: You want to give your computer a disease, go to Limewire.

Chad: The biggest thing for us was touring I think. Again, we were trying to figure it out as we went, and I think how it all happened was we just got on a computer, made some calls, called our friends in other states and booked punk rock shows. One time in New Jersey, we opened for a band called Midtown, and Midtown was on Drive-Thru Records and they thought we were awesome. So they played our CD for Drive-Thru Records and then Drive-Thru Records signed us and then that's how we got on Universal and everything. So I think touring, that's how we just did it ourselves and then we got discovered, so it was pretty awesome.

Do you guys miss that? Just calling people up to organize shows and stuff?

Jordan: No.

Chad: We still get that sort of thing because we still do our own, whether it's putting together a tour, album poster, album. Whatever it is, tour poster, touring merch, you still have that DIY element. But I don't miss making all the phone calls and worrying about if we show up, if the show's even happening.

Jordan: Yeah, with the one band cellphone that we had.

Chad: Yes.

You all shared one cellphone?

Chad: Exactly.

Jordan: Yeah, it was one phone. It was an old Nokia phone, I remember.

Those flip phones?

Jordan: No, not even a flip phone, it was like the bar, indestructible.

Did you feel any pressure in terms of making the music and writing the songs?

Jordan: I don't know if there was necessarily pressure from each other, because we were ... I feel like we just went into that record, even though it was our first major label record and we were in a nice studio and stuff, it was still just like having a good old time. I don't think we were really thinking too much into it. I feel like that's been, for a lot of our career, we just go into it without worrying about that stuff. We just write songs for how we're feeling and what is going on in our lives. I don't really think that there was a lot of pressure then. Obviously, as a band, more stuff was going on, there's, of course, going to be pressure. You're going to feel that pressure from yourself, even if it's not coming from outside. But I don't know, we were just, we'd go in and have fun and record songs and go home.

Sticks and Stones, 2002

Sticks and Stones came out two years later in 2002. The first thing I think about is "My Friends Over You." What's the first thing you think about?

Chad: I think about moving. I think about leaving our hometown. We all lived at home and I remember, didn't a bus drive us out there?

Jordan: Yeah.

Chad: I remember the bus picking me up and I was moving out and I was also moving there. Everybody in the band wanted to live out there after we were done recording, just because our manager was out there and we just got signed and self-title did well and now Sticks and Stones was doing well. So it was like this big thing, let's go for it, let's make it happen. We all moved to Southern California and I remember leaving home and my dad being sad. First time seeing my dad sad, because for me, it was like he was happy for me, but it was the first time I was moving away. That moment where for us, most kids leave and go to college, we were leaving and instead of going to college, we were going to make an album in Southern California, because that's the age we were at. We were young adults, we went out for the first time. So just fresh out of high school. That was a big deal. Moving into these apartments in San Diego and being like, "Holy crap. The record label's paying for these right now?"

That sounds dope.

Chad: Yeah, it was cool. That was a big tour bus picking us up.

Jordan: Fancy La Jolla, California, where they had us set up in these corporate apartments and we were like, "These are the nicest things ever." Probably going back now, they're probably kind of crummy. I do remember, I think we got a little bit of advance money to live or something and I remember, I don't know if Chad went too, but I remember some of us, we took some of that money and were like, "Let's go to Best Buy and buy TVs." So we all went and bought TVs for our apartments. I remember doing that and then buying this huge-

Chad: Yeah, I bought a TV.

Jordan: Was yours one of the big heavy ones too?

Chad: Yeah, this huge, it was before flat screens, they were those big boxy huge ones. It was like, "This is a huge TV." That you had to roll on the floor.

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I'm looking at it on Spotify right now, "My Friends Over You" is your most streamed, over 75-million. Do you ever get tired of playing the song?

Jordan: I don't really get tired playing the song because it's like kids at our show go ape for that song. They have the best time ever.

Chad: I think it's cool. It's cool because it's real. It happened before there was a fad or a thing, it was just like we moved to California. The crazy thing too is Sticks and Stones was already done, and it was the last day of practicing, it was the night before when I wrote that guitar riff and went in the next day and was like, "Come on, guys. One more song. I think this is going to be awesome." And everyone was like, "No, we're tired." I was like, "Come on." Luckily, our producer was like, "All right. Let's just try it." We did it and now it's our biggest song. That song was not going to be on the album. That was the last song we brought in, which is funny to think about how different things would be. So I just think it's crazy. I feel like when you make an album, you do have some sort of pressure, whether you believe it or not, subconsciously you just can't, you're human, you put pressure on yourself. Then when the album's done, you no longer feel pressure, so your best stuff comes out. Because you're like, "Oh, my responsibility's done." Now you get to be yourself and just relax, and that's when "My Friends Over You" came out is when we were done with the album and relaxed and thought we were already finished. So it's really cool to think about when we went and recorded it, it ended up being the first single and then that's it, that's history. So it really was a thing. "My Friends Over You" really was my band over you, because who's going to sing, my band over you? That's not relatable. It was a tongue-in-cheek, we just moved, like we said, to San Diego, and old relationships were ending between us and a lot of our old, whether it be girlfriends of friends or whatever it was. It was just this big transition in your life, and it was just a tongue-in-cheek sort of way to say like, "Yeah, I just moved. Sorry, I've got to leave this home. Though you swear you're true, my band over you." At the time, we were all best friends. Jordan's still my best friend. So that's how "My Friends Over You" came. So it was really not on purpose, it was just a fun little anthem for what we were doing. Making the record and moving to California, and then that's it. It clicked with people.

Any other song on the album that's a little bit more special than the rest for you?

Jordan: I'd probably say "Sonny." That was right around the time my grandfather passed away, so that song was like, not in a weird way, but in a way a tribute to him, but also for people that may have lost somebody or whatever. That song still to this day, people come up to us all the time and say that song has helped them through the loss of somebody. That was a big one for me.

At this point, you're a few albums in, what are you as a band? You have a super successful album here, how was it going through the success as a band, as a unit?

Chad: For me personally, it was tough, because at that time, it started getting tough because we also were away from family and friends, and we were constantly on tour and constantly playing. I think it was an amazing time, but I think it was also looking back, you're like, "Oh wait," this isn' fully normal. We started super, super young and we're already on tour for three years straight. We were only, we were just 21. I remember I was the youngest in the band, so we played Vegas and I wasn't even allowed in the casinos. So a lot of success and processing in that, it was crazy. But it was fun.

Jordan: It was definitely fun. It was also weird to think, because it goes by so fast. At the time, you don't really realize it. You don't even have time to really process it while it's going on, and the only time you ever get to process it is now when we're being asked about it. Because it goes by so quick, and you're like, "Wait, oh yeah. That did happen. Oh yeah, I remember that. That was crazy." In the moment, it's like, "Okay, you've got to go do the shows. You've got to go here. You've got to do this interview. You've got to go there." All this stuff was happening and you don't even really have a moment to enjoy it.

Chad: Yeah, that record cycle, you're in Times Square giving out cars to fans. At the time, it was like Times Square was still open, so they literally stopped traffic and put a Honda, New Found Glory Honda Civic, and it was us in the center of Times Square on TRL.

I was going to say, TRL.

Chad: Yeah. Giving out a car. I could bring that up right now, and people ... Again, this is before social media, this is before Twitter, Instagram, there was no shots on Instagram of this. Can you imagine right now you seeing New Found Glory in Times Square, shut down traffic with a car on Instagram? That didn't exist. It's almost like it never happened. It did happen, but when you tell people ... I meet bands that tour with us now, I'm like, "Oh yeah, on Sticks and Stone, we sold out PNC [Bank Arts Center] whatever, amphitheater, and did 17,500 people." They're like, "Wait, you guys are that big?" I'm like, "Yeah, dude. You don't know because you didn't have social media and you were young." But it's funny to just see, there're certain things we did, I'm just like, "Wow. I can't believe that happened."

How did you grow musically here?

Jordan: It was our second major-label recording, we had a little bit of experience now going to nicer studios and having that rhythm of how the process works. So we wanted our next record to be like a good record. So I think that at the time, there weren't many bands doing what we were doing also, sound-wise. So that in and of itself is really cool to think back to, because we were doing something really special.

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Did it get bigger touring-wise too?

Jordan: Oh, yeah. We were bigger touring than we were on record. That's the thing that was so cool, and that's why we never had pressure from our label. I remember Gary Ashley, our A&R guy, rest in peace, he signed New Found Glory to MCA, but that was one thing he would always say is people that saw us, it just never matched. We could sell out a 5000 cap room, but not be played on the radio in that town. So the people at the show would go, "Oh, my gosh. New Found Glory is so huge." But then the people on paper would go, "Oh, New Found Glory's not that big." Chad: That was our thing. Because the radio station would play the bands opening for us all the time. I remember when Lit, Lit had the song My Own Worst Enemy. "... With your clothes on." [Sings.] Lit had a giant hit on the radio, they were played every second, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing that song. Lit saw us on this radio festival and came over to us, and I remember, I think it was the guitar player or the singer, I can't remember. One of them said to me, "How did you guys do that?" I was like, "What do you mean?" They're like, "That was insane." They didn't know of us fully because we weren't all over the radio. But we had more fans at the show than all the people on the radio. See what I'm saying? So our touring was awesome because we created this place to go, this subgenre, this community of fans, and that's what the punk thing was. But we wouldn't get the love from the radio. Now because of Emo Nite, we get more play now I think sometimes than we did then for "My Friends Over You." 

Catalyst, 2004

Catalyst comes out in 2004. What stage was the band here?

Jordan: So Catalyst was the first record—I think that was the first one we did in L.A., right, Chad? What was that studio called?

Chad: Yeah. At Sunset Sound, famous studio.

Jordan: Yeah. Sunset Sound was the first time we ever recorded a record in L.A., we were all in Los Angeles doing an album, doing the band thing. Had Neal again on there, so our relationship with Neal was really good and we were really close, and we really wanted to ... I think with this record, we were trying to just, now after Sticks and Stones and there was a couple years, more and more bands were coming out sounding similar, getting signed to major labels and all these things were happening. We were like, "No." People were comparing us to those bands. We're like, "No. We are not that band." So here we go, going into Catalyst, and we're like, "We're going to make this like a different kind of New Found Glory record to set us apart from what's going on right now in our genre." And that is how that record started.

So would you say it was like a statement album?

Jordan: I would say so. Even from the first track on the record, we have a major label record coming out and the first song is a 30-second punk song saying the F-word.

Chad: Screaming.

Jordan: After we had sold so many records of our first two records, both records, Sticks and Stones and self-titled were gold records and here we are about to do the third record and the first song we put out is a 30-second hard screaming song saying the F-word in it. So that's what I think about that record, I think about. There were a lot of different styles on that record, not being just one style, like a punk song, but I think it was more like taking all the genres that we loved and meshing, melting it all into a New Found Glory song. A lot of interesting songs on that record.

Anyone that you have a memory of specifically?

Chad: I remember the similar thing that happened with "My Friends Over You" that happened with our biggest song on Catalyst, which is our song "All Downhill From Here." I was on my way to one of the last days of writing, and I remember driving there and I started going [playing a rhythm] in my head. And I was like, "Ooh, I love that riff. Don't forget that." At the time, there weren't any iPhones, so I couldn't record it on [my phone.] A lot of times, if I write a riff in my head or a guitar riff with my voice, I might write something and I don't even have my guitar near me. So I started driving and I started singing the guitar riff, and I was like, "Dammit, don't forget that. Don't forget it." So the whole drive I just kept singing the riff. "Don't forget, don't forget." So I ran in and grabbed my guitar and wrote the riff, and then we finished that song, which ended up being the first single. We have a TRL plaque, a retired TRL video [because] it was on TRL for so long that they had to retire it. It wouldn't leave the charts. It was pretty cool.

I remember this song being played on MTV a lot.

Chad: Yeah. It was because the video was animated, we got Buzzworthy, whenever the video was Buzzworthy, it would get lots of plays because of the production or the way the video was made. So pretty cool. Pretty, pretty cool.

Earlier you mentioned radio earlier, radio being a challenge. At this point, how was radio for you guys?

Jordan: It was still pretty much the same, still not really that great. It would be played here and there by KROQ in L.A. and some New York stations and stuff, but it was mostly at that time, I remember being it on way more on MTV than we were actually on the radio.

Chad: Yeah, definitely. We were not getting radio love as much. At the time, it was when all the "The-The-The" bands came out. The Hives, the Vines, this band, the that band, and the Strokes and the blah-blah-blahs. So it was that era where all the "The's" came out. So there was this sort of ... I remember when Jet ... So we sounded the way we did, but then the radio was doing all that '70s throwback rock. We didn't really fit in very much, and neither did alternative in general. It was all that style stuff. It would be that, and then the next song would be, "I don't practice Santeria ..." [Sings.] Then it would be another Vines song or Strokes song.

Jordan: I feel like radio became something that you had to sound like, so if you sounded like yourself, unless you were an old band from the early '90s that just had your staples, it just seemed like if you didn't fit into that trend, you didn't sound like the radio. If you didn't sound like the radio, you weren't going to get played on the radio, regardless of how good your song was, or even how big it was. As I said, we were selling out these giant venues and the bands on the radio were not, but it didn't matter. We didn't sound like the radio.

Is that a point of frustration? You obviously have an audience going for you, but you're not on the radio. Did that matter to you at all?

Jordan: I think because we never expected it in the first place ... If we started to think about it a lot, it was frustrating. Like, "Wait, I don't understand." Because all we could say was like, "Wow. If we think we're popular without that, imagine if we had that too. Perfect storm. Maybe we could get to the level of like the way Green Day was or something." But all of our favorite bands only played to 300 people. We grew up listening to these punk bands and we'd go see them and there'd be nobody at the shows and they were our favorite bands. So success, that level of mainstream success never was our reason for being in the band in the first place. But once you're in it and you're touring, you're releasing records, and your label's saying, "We just don't know why you don't get play. This should be on the radio." Then you start thinking about that stuff. But when it comes down to it, it would never be too discouraging because we were from the punk world, so it didn't really matter. We grew up like, if you're on the radio, you were lame. It was like this catch 22, we're like, "Eh. As long as we get to be on tour, as long as we get to play our songs, we don't care. We don't care. We just want to tour."

Chad: And now we can't even do that, because the world is closed.

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Coming Home, 2006

Chad: I think with [this] record, that was like our, I don't want to say experimental because it wasn't experimental, but it was a record that we felt like going into it that this was like we wanted to just present to the world something a little bit different and that New Found Glory was capable of writing songs that maybe have a different sound or element to them. It's funny, because when that record came out, it wasn't really accepted by a lot of our fans, and then now, however many years later, everybody loves that record, which is an interesting thing in and of itself. I like that record a lot, I like where we were going with that record. I was able to try different things vocally that I had never done before, I think musically too we were doing things that we weren't doing before. We wanted to just try and see what happens.

How do you navigate that? You're obviously a band, you're growing, you're not static. Obviously, fan support is important. How do you navigate trying to grow, but also trying to bring your fans along with you?

Jordan: It's a fine balance, you have to do what feels right for you. But also, you also don't want to alienate your fans either. I think with Coming Home, I think we tried to do that to the best that we could. But that record was also a very emotional record for us in the band. A lot going on.

Chad: We were just tired. We played, before that, we had no breaks at all. We did Nothing Gold, promoted ourselves, self-titled, Sticks and Stones, Catalyst, and here we were going into making another album off of three gold consecutive records. One side of us felt like we could do no wrong, three gold albums in a row. Then one side of us I think felt like if we just made another punk record, no one would care. We were like, "If we just do another punk album, it's just going to sound like the other ones." The music we were listening to was a little bit different at the time and we wanted to challenge ourselves and just do something different.

Chad: That's how that record came out. We wanted to go like, "Okay, we know we can write punk songs, but we also are songwriters. So let's write some songs regardless of the genre." Because I think we were just a little bit burnt, and it's funny because our fans did not love it at first. Now a lot of diehard New Found Glory fans are like, "That's their best album. That's the one." We were just laughing because we were like, "What?" And it was a really difficult time too because our record label MCA was going under, and Geffen, IGA, Interscope Geffen A&M, Jimmy Iovine took over and had to figure out what to do with all the bands. We were given to Geffen, so we had a whole new different staff, we had a whole new different world of people and the record just didn't get promoted like any of our others.

Chad: By the time it came out, we made one video. If you look at our albums before that, we had three videos every record. Even the ones after it, but that one album, they just made our video and they released the video, the album came out, we never heard from them again. It was a really weird record label transition time to where the impact of streaming took over, downloads, iTunes, everything. Where Geffen, all the major labels were panicking. This was before Spotify, this was before they figured out what to do. This was when it was just downloads, downloads, downloads.

Jordan: So weird. It was the pandemic of downloads.

Not Without a Fight, 2009

Then you released Not Without a Fight three years later. Chad, you told Louder Sound that this was one of your albums you were least attached to. 

Chad: Yes. Basically, with Coming Home failing in our eyes, our fans, I put a lot into Coming Home. That was one of the albums that I stepped in as a lyricist and melody writer, where on the past records, I did a lot of melody, I did songs here and there. There were a couple songs on Sticks and Stones where I wrote some choruses, a couple of songs on Catalyst. There were a couple of songs where I did a lot of the melodies in old records, but Coming Home, I stepped in and did a lot of the melodies. When it got rejected, I was like, "See, I don't want to do that." Then I stepped back and I just went back to writing the riffs. I wrote the riffs on Coming Home too, but I was like, "You know what? I'm so pissed at how much I put into this and how quickly it got thrown out," that I just went back to Not Without a Fight, where I just wrote maybe more what I thought our fans wanted to hear and had less attachment to it.

I just didn't really feel attached to it personally and I think the band was in a weird spot. We were signing to a new label, maybe less inspired. I don't even know. It was just a weird thing. But it turned out that Not Without a Fight ended up doing really well, a lot of our fans get mad when I say that I didn't like it. They're like, "That's my best record." If that's the best record and I know how little I tried, then man.

Jordan, what sticks out for you on this one?

Jordan: We did the record with Mark Hoppus, I don't know if you knew that part. He produced it, so that was a fun time just to be with him in the studio. We had worked together before on some [Blink182] and a long time before that. Being back together with him, it was kind of interesting. Just a lot of joke-cracking, a lot of poking fun at each other, so that was a fun time. But I do remember, I remember having some difficulty really getting into the record, as far as like in there recording because I was standing in the room with them, next to them, and I'd tried that in the past before, but before it was with Neal Avron and he had a certain way to make it feel good and make it sound good. He was like a cheerleader for you. In this case, and this is just my personal experience, with this case it was like I was in there and trying that same trick of singing in the room with everybody, and I don't know, I just couldn't sound good to me. So we ended up doing different things to make it better for me, but that's what I remember the most. Then, of course, you listen back now like, "Okay." When the record was done, you're like, "All right, this came out pretty good actually." There are songs on there that I listen back to now like, "Oh, man. I totally forgot about this song. This is a really cool song." I do think that there are some cool songs on that record, but I don't know. As Chad said, we were just kind of all in a weird place. I don't know. It was just a weird time. Coming off of a major label, going back to an independent label.

A lot of transitioning.

Jordan: Transitioning, yep. That's a transitioning record.

Radiosurgery, 2011 

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So then Radiosurgery dropped in 2011, who produced this one?

Jordan: We went back with Neal Avron for that one. We were pretty excited for that.

Dope. So you've worked with this producer before, how is it, because obviously he's probably growing as a producer and you've grown as a band, how is it reconnecting with a producer?

Jordan: For me, it felt very much the same as it did when we had first worked with him. That felt really good. There was like this comfort factor to it.

Chad: We knew we were going to have an interesting sounding album.

Jordan: The biggest difference was, for Neal, he doesn't have to go to a studio anymore, because he has his own studio at his house. That was the biggest difference, so we would go to his house every day. He had this backhouse that was like this really cool studio, so we would go to his house every day. 

Radio's been a theme in this conversation, and this is called Radiosurgery. Is there a connection there?

Chad: It was more about, it's just a play on words because it's real surgery, radiosurgery is real surgery. It's brain surgery. So it just had a fun ring to it, and we, at the time, a lot of the inspiration we were getting for that record was more like older punk, more Ramones era, a little bit more of the early '80s, '70s. Like when pop and rock and punk started combining, like [The Clash] songs, Ramones' songs, and even going back to some of our older Green Day roots. The term radiosurgery just felt classic and then also the double meaning. Radiosurgery is a brain surgery, so it was about forgetting the girl by getting surgery to remove her, and then also ...

Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?

Chad: Kind of, that's a great movie. But no, just more of like, it's a real surgery that happens, but then using a play on words. Radiosurgery, forgetting the girl through radio songs, using music as therapy. It just had all these meanings and it just fit, so that's why.

What was mindest for this album?

Chad: It was our first record as a four-piece and we really wanted to show the strength of us as a band. We stuck to that in tracking. Everything you hear was like older mid '90s metal and rock records, where it wasn't layering tons of guitars. It was like a guitar part and then when the lead would happen, the only thing there would be behind it was the bass guitar. So we really stripped down the production side and instead of adding a bunch of layers, we were like, "How do we sound powerful with just four people?" That's what we did. So that's why Resurrection has this more raw, gritty, straight up one guitar, one bass, Jordan belting, lyrics of conquering through hard times. It came out awesome, I love Resurrection. It really was the rebirth of our band. Almost like our new first album, I would say.

 I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the album name reflects that all.

Chad: Yeah, exactly.

Makes Me Sick, 2017

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This is the album before your Forever + Ever x Infinity, your 10th album. You've been making a lot of albums at this point. How is it getting inside the studio? What's the songwriting like? 

Jordan: With Makes Me Sick, that was the first one I believe where we all ended up going to Tennessee and playing at Chad's place, and just staying with Chad a few weeks and writing these songs, or going through the songs. That was the first time we used a different producer by the name of Aaron Sprinkle, who had done a bunch of records that we liked growing up. We were like, "Oh, man. Aaron could be a good mix for this." So we, like you said, at this point we have a rhythm of how we write songs. Then we finally just, when we get together, that's when it all comes together. So this was the first record we recorded in Nashville, or out in Franklin, outside of Nashville. That was a different vibe on its own. It was definitely a different experience, getting away from the craziness of being in Los Angeles or somewhere like that, and just being in a house and recording a bunch of songs together. I personally enjoyed it, I love that, being away from the crazy of everything and being able to really just be together and hang out. I don't know, it was this more homely feeling or something. I don't know. Getting coffee and talking about the songs and then going back to Chad's house and then going to the studio and then going back to Chad's house in the evening and hanging out. I don't know, it was just a fun experience.

Chad: I thought it was awesome. It was a way where we added some synths into the record and we recorded here in Franklin where I live. I love it. I think again, every record we've done grows in a different way, introduces new elements. Any time you record ... we add a little bit and grow in a different way. Every record, fans are expecting something different, which is awesome. I think transitioning that into the new album, that's why fans are loving the songs we're releasing, is that we've gone so far in so many different places, now we've come full circle on the 10th album and did more of a straightforward pop-punk record. It's refreshing for them. It's like we've taken our fans on such a journey that this album is refreshing and back. It feels new, even though we're playing styles that we did in 2002.

Why do you think it feels fresh?

Chad: We went back to the straightforward, every record, if you listen, expands in a different way. So this was about writing more straightforward what we're best at, as opposed to experimenting. When we're like, "Okay ..." Who we are is this band and we do this better than anyone else, because created our own little version of pop-punk or whatever you want to call us, so we went back to doing what we know the most and what we do the best. And it just came out. I felt like it was just so ... what's the term? In flow. Where you're just killing it. We were just riff to riff to song. It just felt so good and it just all came out really natural. I think fans are reading that and they love it.

I'm really curious your thoughts, not ever band stands the test of time, you're all still a unit, how has your relationships as band members grown?

Jordan: I think we have, over the years, have gotten closer than we were before, even when the band was doing more touring and always gone all the time. Now we're obviously not touring as much as we used to, because we don't have to ... But even now, even if we're not together all the time, I do feel like when we are together, we're closer than we have ever been. I think that attests to talking to each other and make sure we're all on the same page.

I've said this before in other interviews in different things, but I really think it's true, when something is up with somebody or there's something going on, we talk about it and we sit on the bus and have band therapy sessions in a way. Where we'll just hash it out and be like, "All right, are we all on the same page? Cool. Let's move on." Kind of thing.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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billy idol living legend
Billy Idol

Photo: Steven Sebring


Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage

"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP,  Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.

Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.  

Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face." 

But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life. 

His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves. 

Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)

Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") —  their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.

While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens. 

Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.

Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up. 

Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically. 

"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?

We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds. 

We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick. 

I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?

Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol. 

You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way. 

**Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about  freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?**

I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier. 

I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff. 

So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.

[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.

I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.

Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?

I did, yes.

You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?

I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.

It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.

But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is]  informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.

Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.

We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.

It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].

We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.

You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.

It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.

When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.

You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?

Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."

We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.

You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.

With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.

Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.

You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?

I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.

But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.

I remember when you went on "Viva La Bamback in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.

Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?

In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.

We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.

The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.

There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.

It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.

It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.

Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?

Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.

The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.

The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?

Yeah.  Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].

Living Legends: Nancy Sinatra Reflects On Creating "Power And Magic" In Studio, Developing A Legacy Beyond "Boots" & The Pop Stars She Wants To Work With

Graphic of 2023 GRAMMYs orange centered black background
2023 GRAMMYs

Graphic: The Recording Academy


Hear All Of The Best Country Solo Performance Nominees For The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Best Country Solo Performance highlight country music's newcomers and veterans, featuring hits from Kelsea Ballerini, Zach Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris and Willie Nelson.

GRAMMYs/Nov 23, 2022 - 03:01 pm

Country music's evolution is well represented in the 2023 GRAMMY nominees for Best Country Solo Performance. From crossover pop hooks to red-dirt outlaw roots, the genre's most celebrated elements are on full display — thanks to rising stars, leading ladies and country icons.

Longtime hitmaker Miranda Lambert delivered a soulful performance on the rootsy ballad "In His Arms," an arrangement as sparing as the windswept west Texas highlands where she co-wrote the song. Viral newcomer Zach Bryan dug into similar organic territory on the Oklahoma side of the Red River for "Something in the Orange," his voice accompanied with little more than an acoustic guitar.

Two of country's 2010s breakout stars are clearly still shining, too, as Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini both received Best Country Solo Performance GRAMMY nods. Morris channeled the determination that drove her leap-of-faith move from Texas to Nashville for the playful clap-along "Circles Around This Town," while Ballerini brought poppy hooks with a country edge on the infectiously upbeat "HEARTFIRST."

Rounding out the category is the one and only Willie Nelson, who paid tribute to his late friend Billy Joe Shaver with a cover of "Live Forever" — a fitting sentiment for the 89-year-old legend, who is approaching his eighth decade in the business. 

As the excitement builds for the 2023 GRAMMYs on Feb. 5, 2023, let's take a closer look at this year's nominees for Best Country Solo Performance.

Kelsea Ballerini — "HEARTFIRST"

In the tradition of Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini represents Nashville's sunnier side — and her single "HEARTFIRST" is a slice of bright, uptempo, confectionary country-pop for the ages.

Ballerini sings about leaning into a carefree crush with her heart on her sleeve, pushing aside her reservations and taking a risk on love at first sight. The scene plays out in a bar room and a back seat, as she sweeps nimbly through the verses and into a shimmering chorus, when the narrator decides she's ready to "wake up in your T-shirt." 

There are enough steel guitar licks to let you know you're listening to a country song, but the story and melody are universal. "HEARTFIRST" is Ballerini's third GRAMMY nod, but first in the Best Country Solo Performance category.

Zach Bryan — "Something In The Orange"

Zach Bryan blew into Music City seemingly from nowhere in 2017, when his original song "Heading South" — recorded on an iPhone — went viral. Then an active officer in the U.S. Navy, the Oklahoma native chased his muse through music during his downtime, striking a chord with country music fans on stark songs led by his acoustic guitar and affecting vocals.

After his honorable discharge in 2021, Bryan began his music career in earnest, and in 2022 released "Something in the Orange," a haunting ballad that stakes a convincing claim to the territory between Tyler Childers and Jason Isbell in both sonics and songwriting. Slashing slide guitar drives home the song's heartbreak, as Bryan pines for a lover whose tail lights have long since vanished over the horizon. 

"Something In The Orange" marks Bryan's first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

Miranda Lambert — "In His Arms"

Miranda Lambert is the rare, chart-topping contemporary country artist who does more than pay lip service to the genre's rural American roots. "In His Arms" originally surfaced on 2021's The Marfa Tapes, a casual recording Lambert made with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall in Marfa, Texas — a tiny arts enclave in the middle of the west Texas high desert.

In this proper studio version — recorded for her 2022 album, Palomino — Lambert retains the structure and organic feel of the mostly acoustic song; light percussion and soothing atmospherics keep her emotive vocals front and center. A native Texan herself, Lambert sounds fully at home on "In His Arms."

Lambert is the only Best Country Solo Performance nominee who is nominated in all four Country Field categories in 2023. To date, Miranda Lambert has won 3 GRAMMYs and received 27 nominations overall. 

Maren Morris — "Circles Around This Town"

When Maren Morris found herself uninspired and dealing with writer's block, she went back to what inspired her to move to Nashville nearly a decade ago — and out came "Circles Around This Town," the lead single from her 2022 album Humble Quest.

Written in one of her first in-person songwriting sessions since the pandemic, Morris has called "Circles Around This Town" her "most autobiographical song" to date; she even recreated her own teenage bedroom for the song's video. As she looks back to her Texas beginnings and the life she left for Nashville, Morris' voice soars over anthemic, yet easygoing production. 

Morris last won a GRAMMY for Best Country Solo Performance in 2017, when her song "My Church" earned the singer her first GRAMMY. To date, Maren Morris has won one GRAMMY and received 17 nominations overall.

Willie Nelson — "Live Forever"

Country music icon Willie Nelson is no stranger to the GRAMMYs, and this year he aims to add to his collection of 10 gramophones. He earned another three nominations for 2023 — bringing his career total to 56 — including a Best Country Solo Performance nod for "Live Forever."

Nelson's performance of "Live Forever," the lead track of the 2022 tribute album Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver, is a faithful rendition of Shaver's signature song. Still, Nelson puts his own twist on the tune, recruiting Lucinda Williams for backing vocals and echoing the melody with the inimitable tone of his nylon-string Martin guitar. 

Shaver, an outlaw country pioneer who passed in 2020 at 81 years old, never had any hits of his own during his lifetime. But plenty of his songs were still heard, thanks to stars like Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Nelson was a longtime friend and frequent collaborator of Shaver's — and now has a GRAMMY nom to show for it.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List