Over the coming days and weeks, Already Heard will be previewing this years Slam Dunk Festival in detail through a range of interviews and features.
As one of the most influential names in modern pop punk, you would think New Found Glory were Slam Dunk Festival regulars. However you’d be wrong as this years appearance is only their second time at the late May Bank Holiday. Nevertheless with a Main Stage spot, the Florida quartet are sure to deliver a show-stealing set full of pop punk classics.
Having paved the way for many bands on the bill, NFG lead a wave of pop punk bands at this years festival and also one of many bands who will be heading out on the Vans Warped Tour this summer.
As they prepare for a busy summer, we caught up with Cyrus Bolooki to discuss their Slam Dunk return, the 10th anniversary of ‘Coming Home,’ and festival survival tips.
AH: So it’s been six years since you last played Slam Dunk. What are your memories from playing it in 2010?
Cyrus: I just remember the line-up being awesome. Lots of friends, lots of great bands and good music, and this year is no different. It’s like a reunion of sorts for us because we’ve toured with a large majority of the bands on the line-up this year.
AH: The festival has always had a strong pop punk presence and this year is no different. As “leaders” of the genre, why do you think the genre is so strong right now?
Cyrus: I think the genre has always been strong, but it’s great to see newer bands rising up and appealing to the next generation of fans and concertgoers. We’re very honored to be referred to as “leaders” or “influences” for a lot of the current pop punk bands and the scene in general, and we’re grateful that we’re still able to share the stage with these bands. We still love to do what we do and we will continue to create new music, and go out there and try and put on as good of a show as we can for whoever wants to watch us, for as long as we’re able to.
I think our approach and attitude towards this industry and music in general has been a huge reason why we had success in the first place and now why we’re still around, and I think there are a decent number of pop punk bands on the bill this year that either share the same down to earth approach as us or might have even learned it from us. We don’t view ourselves as rock stars or anything like that, and we’re just dudes that are stoked to be in a band, playing music that we love, day after day.
AH: For a lot of bands, including yourselves, Slam Dunk is considered as a warm-up for the Vans Warped Tour. Are there any bands you’re looking to seeing for the first time at Slam Dunk and at Warped?
Cyrus: You’re right, there are quite a few of the bands on Slam Dunk that will be with us this summer on the Vans Warped Tour! To be honest, I’ve seen most of the bands that will be on both Slam Dunk and Warped, however, I am stoked to try and catch our new label mates in Roam, and also I’d like to see Real Friends. I caught a few minutes of their set a few weeks ago at a festival in Texas, but I’ll be getting plenty of chances over the next few months.
AH: With this being Slam Dunk Fest’s 10th anniversary, they’re bringing back a lot of favourites from previous years. Who are you hoping to watch over the three days?
There’s too many bands for me to name here (or even be able to watch), but some of my highlights will probably be trying to catch Yellowcard playing ‘Ocean Avenue’, The Starting Line and Set Your Goals because they haven’t really played much recently, and then there’s The Story So Far, Four Year Strong and Hit The Lights who we’ve toured with multiple times even Zebrahead, because I think their 2002 album ‘Playmate of the Year’ is awesome! Hopefully they’ll be playing plenty of tracks off of that! Then there’s always Panic! At The Disco who I’m sure will kill it and I’m stoked to share the stage with them, and even heavier bands like Every Time I Die, who are awesome. See, I told you there’s too many great bands to name.
AH: For people who haven’t been to the festival or Warped Tour, what are your survival tips?
Here’s a few tips; be prepared for the weather, which means completely different things for those two festivals – obviously lots of sunscreen for Warped Tour, and for Slam Dunk be ready for it to rain because it always seems to rain in the UK, right?
Also, a newer tip; pack an extra cellphone battery/charger so you can make sure that you have enough juice to make it through the day/night. That way when NFG plays you can still take lots of selfies and Instagram videos of the show, that is what everyone does now, right? Lastly, make a plan either before you arrive or when you get there for what bands you want to see, when, and where. Nothing is worse than trying to figure out where a stage is WHILE your running because you didn’t realize that the set overlapped with another one of your favorite bands. And wear ear protection! It’s a long day, and as much as it’s awesome to “feel” the music for 12 hours, it’s even worse to have to live with the ringing in your ears for the rest of your life.
AH: 2016 marks 10 years since the release of ‘Coming Home’. Do you plan on marking the occasion in anyway?
Cyrus: If you’re asking us to play ‘Coming Home’ in full at Slam Dunk or Warped, that won’t be happening. I think people will riot if we don’t play ‘Hit or Miss’ or ‘My Friends Over You.“ We don’t have any plans yet for that, but I don’t think that you have to necessary do “10 year” tours or anything like that right on time any more. Look at Yellowcard, ‘Ocean Avenue’ is like 13 years old now but they’ll be playing it in full at Slam Dunk and I’ll be there to see it!
AH: Is there anything you would change about that record? I’ve always found its a record that split opinion.
Cyrus: I think all of our records have their own place in our history, and I don’t think I would want to change anything about ‘Coming Home’ or any of our releases for that matter. In hindsight I think one could say that many things could have changed, but it’s impossible to tell if any of that would have led to more success for us or if it would have possibly been a negative influence. There are still plenty of people who consider that one of our greatest releases because of the chances we took in writing a record that was a little more mature for us at the time. To this day we still have people constantly asking us to play songs from that record, and when we do I feel like those songs blend right in with our entire catalog, never seeming to be out of place or a dull moment in the show.
AH: Finally how would you define the Slam Dunk Festival?
I think it’s hard to really define Slam Dunk other than to say a collection of some of the greatest names in the genre, both new and old, light to heavy, and overall a great representation of how powerful this scene is in today’s world. And, it’s a festival that when NFG is on the bill, you know it’s gonna be awesome!
New Found Glory will be playing on main stage:
Slam Dunk North (Leeds) – 7:45 – 8:55pm
Slam Dunk Midlands (Birmingham) – 7:45 – 8:55pm
Slam Dunk South (Hertfordshire) – 7:45 – 8:55pm
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2016 here.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)