By Lee Zimmerman
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By Liz Tracy
New Found Glory founding member Chad Gilbert has never seen Elizabethtown. He's not alone, of course. Plenty of folks have chosen to skip what may very well be the worst of all Cameron Crowe-directed movies. But Gilbert has another reason.
"I don't plan on it because it touches too close to home for me," the guitarist says.
Home, by the way, is the operative word here.
"A month before that movie came out," Gilbert says, "I experienced all of that, so I'm going to wait a little while before I see that movie."
You see, Elizabethtown centers on a son sent to claim his father's body after his death of a sudden heart attack in Kentucky. Like the father in Elizabethtown, Gilbert's dad died from a sudden heart attack. And like the father in Elizabethtown, Gilbert's father grew up in Kentucky. Now he's buried there.
Though New Found Glory's latest album, Coming Home, is a generally slick affair it's more pop than punk and heavily focused on teenage love the disc also presents variations on the theme of home. In a rare lyrical effort, Gilbert writes about his father's death in the song "When I Die."
So even though Gilbert's not ready to visit Elizabethtown, a trip to the Bluegrass State was in order... for the whole band. That's where NFG was the night before its current tour began. For Gilbert, it was a matter for both his family and his band.
"All my family's from Kentucky," he says. "My mom lives in Lexington. My brother lives in Lexington. We needed to do pre-production, so we found a studio in Lexington and we've been hanging out."
But Lexington's not the only home Gilbert has known and it's not the only home he's known for having, especially in these parts. Gilbert was raised in Coral Springs. His dad owned Gilbert Pools. Growing up, Chad worked at the General Cinema next to Coral Square Mall ("I ripped tickets, I was the usher, I popped popcorn, I worked at concession... I did it all.") and played in a number of bands, including the hardcore act Shai Hulud.
"He wanted me to do the band," Gilbert says of his father. "When I was in middle school playing in little bands, there was this old venue in Pompano called the Cell Block. They would have tons of metal shows there and hardcore shows and punk shows.
"It was a pretty legendary venue and I used to play there with my little band when I was like in the sixth grade, and my dad would come with his truck and load all of our gear in his truck and drive us. My dad was always supportive."
As a kid, Gilbert went to shows at Revolution's previous incarnation, the Edge including a Fugazi/Shudder to Think double bill when he was in fourth grade. Later he attended J.P. Taravella High School before dropping out when New Found Glory signed its first record deal.
"I left my eleventh grade year. Like I passed my 11th grade year and we got signed to Drive-Thru Records," Gilbert says. "It got to the point where I was the only one in the band who couldn't do it full-time, and the label came to my mom and was like, 'Hey, he's the only one who can't do it, but you know we want to tell you his band is going to make it. We're going to do this and this and push them.' My mom knew I always wanted to do music, so she didn't hold me back. It wasn't like I was just quitting for nothing, like we had the label deal and also we had tons of tours lined up. So once I left my eleventh grade year, I didn't come home."
When the band wasn't on tour a rare thing in those early, heady days of a burgeoning punk-pop career they found themselves in California.
"Nothing Gold Can Stay came out in '99, and once Nothing Gold came out we started touring nonstop, and we kept going and going," Gilbert says. "I eventually moved to California in 2000 because it got to the point where we were always in L.A. Our management, the label, everything was there. The whole band felt like we needed to kind of make a move to refocus at 100 percent and just do the band. Because when I was off tour I would still be doing band stuff, whether it would be interviews or meetings or things like that. So in L.A. I was able to do that. In Florida, you can't, you know?"
But Gilbert's California stay ended two years ago. After proposing to Eisley singer Sherri DuPree, who (along with two of her sisters) contributes backing vocals on Coming Home, Gilbert now resides in Texas.
"After living in L.A. for five years," he says, "and our band becoming successful and things like that, it got to the point where we didn't need to be in L.A. anymore. You know, we were able to be living wherever we wanted to do the band. We could fly or do whatever.
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