For over 20 years, drummer Cyrus Bolooki has smacked the skins for pop-punk heartthrobs, New Found Glory. Following the release of the band’s newest record, Forever + Ever x Infinity (read our album review here) via Hopeless Records, we spoke with Cyrus about the band’s long history in the music scene and his time surviving quarantine as a musician.
First off, how’s life been in quarantine?
Cyrus Bolooki: “It’s been in quarantine, so very unique. And what’s the word everyone has used? The word is unprecedented. I am married with two small children, it’s great but it’s also crazy having young kids and trying to figure out what to do every day with them. Even when school was not really happening anymore, you know, virtual learning, just keeping me busy. It’s this weird irony, being a musician I am now at home which is the thing you always want to be because you leave so much. There’s this weird psychological yearning to get back out there and the fact that there’s no definite timetable, especially for the music industry. It’s kind of the worst, or at least the craziest part of this. But otherwise, I’m surviving. I’m taking this very seriously, probably more so than the average person. My wife is immunocompromised, so it’s something that’s made me have to step up and take no chances. I’ve spent a lot of time at home, honestly, just doing that for as long as I need to.”
Have you all found any interesting ways to pass the time?
“We’ve done whatever we can. There’s the usual stuff, watching tons of TV shows. My kids are obsessed with The Floor Is Lava, fortunately, the host of that show (Rutledge Wood) loves our band which is kind of a cool thing for me to tell my kid. I have a pool and we’re in Florida so there’s lots of pool time the past month or so. We went to a zoo… it’s one of those drive-thru zoos, it’s always like this and it just so happens to be the perfect place to be during quarantine because you can’t get out of your car anyways. It’s kind of a mini safari here in Florida. We’ve had family members visit but you know, not in-house. Just doing what people do.”
Congrats on the new record.
“Thank you very much, I do appreciate that. I could have told you that one of the unique things I did… A few weeks ago when the record came out, I did take part in a live stream with our band and played 40 songs.”
How was working on the record in the studio? Did you try anything new this time around?
“Yes and no. Going into it, the writing and pre-production was all the same. We write a lot of our stuff now on tour, because we all live in different spots. When we’re together on tour is when we’re really in writing mode. (Guitarist) Chad (Gilbert) will come up with stuff, he’s like the main riff guy, and he’ll come up with stuff whenever at home and bring it on tour, and we’ll all work on it together. We were just focused when we went into the studio and had a lot of ideas. That’s one of the reasons why there’s fifteen songs on the record. We let everything come out. The small difference this time around, I thought it was kind of unique, we recorded separately and then I actually left and went on tour with Goldfinger. The dates worked themselves out.
Once we finished writing and were ready to go in the studio, we kind of just split up and did our responsibilities New Found wise whenever we needed. We all came back together like the last week or so to finish up the record. When I left to go on the Goldfinger tour, Chad did almost all of the rhythm guitar and some of the lead guitars, and (bassist) Ian (Grushka) came in and did bass over that. It was neat because everyone got to go clear our heads versus being in Nashville which is near where Chad lives so he goes home every night, but for us, it’s like we’re on tour. It’s hard to be away from family for that long, or you know, stay focused when you’re not in your own home. That was unique, and I thought it was nice. It was a refreshing way to approach how we make a record.”
What’s your favourite track if you had to pick one?
“Man, it’s almost always hard to answer this question. But I think on this record, there’s a very easy favourite for me. It’s a song called ‘Himalaya.’ It has all these elements of NFG that so many people have been annoying us about over the last ten years, ever since Catalyst came out. Everybody is like ‘We need more screaming. We need more screaming.’ They want Chad to scream. Well, it’s got that at the end. Their number one question, ‘Why don’t you all play fast songs anymore?’ Well, if you go to any one of our concerts, we play fast songs right and left. We’re not gonna write only fast songs our entire career, but guess what, ‘Himalaya’ is fast… I cannot wait to play that in front of an actual audience.”
Are you planning to go on tour when everything finally clears up?
“One hundred percent we’re going on tour when everything clears up. That’s the million-dollar question right there. We obviously had a tour booked when the record was originally supposed to come out. It was gonna be us, Simple Plan, and Knuckle Puck. That tour is 100 percent happening. We’ve been in talks with Simple Plan ever since we first started trying to figure this stuff out. As of right now, it’s scheduled for next May/June. We’re still trying to figure out the exact dates right now. Before then, I hope we can find unique and creative ways to play whether it’s live streams or who knows, maybe we’ll try one of those drive-ins or maybe very small shows if they allow that.”
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
“I cannot answer that with one person. There’s the pop-punk people, Tre Cool from Green Day and Travis Barker from Blink-182, it’s a given what I do, right? Then there’s the ones people wouldn’t necessarily peg me for. I grew up in the early to mid-’90s and that’s the alternative guys. So, Abe Cunningham the drummer for Deftones, and Jose Pasillas from Incubus, David Silveria who was the original drummer of Korn, he had some major influence over the type of beats that I play. I began playing drums because of a band called Silverchair that a lot of people don’t remember from the ‘90s. I’m even into metal because I’m a guitar player before drummer. When I first got into drumming, I was a Metallica kid, I don’t care what people say about Lars, those are historic songs and you can’t help but know the beats if you know their music. And the legendary Vinnie Paul from Pantera. Add those people into one, and that’s my influence.”
Over the lifespan of New Found Glory, do you believe pop-punk has changed?
“Yeah, for sure. I mean it’s changed in a lot of ways. There was that little part of time where it’s like ‘is pop-punk dead?’ Then with the resurgence where the “pop-punk is not dead” term came from. It’s great to see how it did become part of the mainstream again, of course, a lot of the biggest bands are now just pop bands, like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco, and that’s great but as far as pop-punk is concerned, it’s changed only in the sense that there’s a new generation of pop-punk. I’m cool with it. I’m very flattered because a lot of those bands will point fingers at New Found Glory to say that we’re influences on them and that’s something we never expected to have happened.
It’s really cool to see bands tip the cap to us, and for us to kind of pass it on like that. I think there’s a huge testament because we’re still doing it alongside them, while having them on tour with us, it’s not like we’re just this band that everybody’s started to forget about. We’re still doing it. It’s changed, the sound has gotten a little different and whatnot, and the idea of getting out there and playing shows in sweaty clubs and enjoying yourself and writing lyrics that are kind of true to you-that’s always gonna be pop-punk, and I think that has stayed the same.”
What’s been the most memorable experience?
“It’s really hard to just pick one, so I’ll pick two or three but they really do encompass everything. The stages we’ve been on, whether it be the tours we’ve played or the people we’ve played with, or where we’ve played. I’ve played in front of like 60,000 people in a football stadium. When you start in your parent’s garage or in your bedroom, you watch TV shows and see this happening, and you don’t even think that one day you can do that. You think one day you can go play in that dirty club down the street, maybe, but to play in front of that many people, and we’ve done it a couple of times. That’s nuts. We’ve been on tour where you’re playing in front of 20,000 people a night, so yes, that’s insane.
Then there’s things like accolades. Just recently in the last few days, Sticks and Stones was just certified platinum. Like, I have a platinum record. In the ‘80s and all the bands were getting platinum records and all this stuff, but goodness that’s selling a million records. I mean, that’s insane. There are only, let’s say a couple hundred, maybe a couple thousand artists in history to have ever done that. You’re part of an elite club there, and it’s really awesome. And yes, it took us almost 20 years for us to get there, but we got there. That’s nuts. I will never forget where I was last week when I saw the email that said, ‘Congrats, you’re certified platinum.’ We’ve just achieved things I never would have imagined.”
Do you feel the internet has impacted the music industry positively or negatively?
“Both. Negatively in the sense that sales were way different and the way that people consume music is different. Yes, financially I guess it’s hurt the bands because there was a lot more money to be made when people had to buy physical products. It’s a double-edged sword because also now, people get their music out so much faster. We were on the very cusp of that. A lot of people only got into New Found Glory because of that thing called Napster, where people could download our music on, but honestly, that’s one of the reasons why a lot of people heard about us. I can’t really talk too much crap on it because it did help us. So it’s been good in that sense, and it’s good to get your music out to let’s say like Spotify, I can get numbers where we’re being played and you have people listening in other countries that would never be able to hear us if there was no record, that’s pretty awesome.
There’s also this other thing, where there’s so much music and information in front of people, they don’t have an attention span. So they don’t care about full albums anymore, they just care about singles and skimming tracks, or listening to playlists only. You just deal with it, you gotta embrace it.”
So back to the live stream…40 songs. How does that compare to a regular set?
“All in a day’s work. It does not compare at all to a regular show. Actually, if you really want to compare it to a regular show, we broke our record. And I can say that truthfully. We did have this long-standing record where one day we were playing a show, and we were like ‘this show is pretty awesome,’ and we were headlining, and it was not a big place, so we decided let’s just keep playing. So we played like 22 songs that day. We were like, ‘oh my gosh, we are never doing that again.’ Fast forward a couple years later, in London, we have a secret show, where we’re like ‘why don’t we open up for ourselves,’ so technically that day we played like 30 songs.
Fast forward a couple years later and the real record, or well the last one standing before this was in Seattle, we played Saturday and Sunday at the same club. Sunday was a matinee show because of the laws there, in order to have an all-ages show, you had to have it early on Sunday, so like 3 pm in the afternoon. It was weird, there weren’t really that many people there, so we were like ‘you know what, let’s just have fun today, so why don’t we not have a setlist?’ So we didn’t have a setlist. We walked out and played the first song, and then we stopped and let the crowd pick the next song. They started calling out songs and of course, you lose track of what you’re playing and the next thing you know, we were at like 32 songs, and one of our crew guys mentioned to us that we were at our record, of 32…so we played 33 and stopped. We decided if you’re going to do 40 here because if we’re going to break the record, let’s really break the record and then you want to be kind of cheeky about it, so you know 2020 (20+20) makes 40 so let’s break the record and pretty much make sure we’ll never do it again.”
Do you have a playlist, and what’s on it?
“I have multiple playlists that I listen to. I’m a Spotify guy, purely by choice. I bounce back and forth, and I don’t know what it’s called, a modern pop-punk playlist, it’s cool for me to be able to hear this new style of pop-punk and stay up on a lot of the newer bands. Every now and then, including this morning when I was hanging out, I threw on that ‘90s alternative playlist. I love myself some Silverchair, Third Eye Blind, some Rage Against The Machine, and Deftones.
That was me, that was the times, and I think a lot of the people in these times, at least our generation, it’s cool to go back whether you do it consciously or not, sometimes you want to think about fifteen to 20 years ago because you want to get away from how crazy today is. You’re trying to go back to when you didn’t have to worry about anything. However bad you thought high school was, it doesn’t compare to what we’re dealing with right now, currently. Right? It removes me from that. I catch myself every now and then dozing off, just kind of going back to those times when what was on the radio was Pearl Jam or Nirvana or whatever. I was 13 or 14 years old. The worst I had to worry about was ‘Do I have a pimple, I’ve got to go to the school dance?’ My guilty pleasure every now and then is turning on Top 40 and you know, whatever, Justin Beiber’s got some good songs. I don’t care, I’ll say it.”