- Gilbert (second from right) and New Found Glory are seasoned couch surfers.
New Found Glory's 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 movie Cameron Crowe has yet to direct. But the guitarist 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 he has suffered a fatal 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 New Found Glory 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. He was raised in Coral Springs, Florida. When he was growing up, his dad owned a local business, Gilbert Pools, and Chad worked at a movie theater. "I ripped tickets, I was the usher, I popped popcorn, I worked at concession," he explains. "I did it all." He also 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 [Beach, Florida] 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 also went to shows at a place called the Edge, including a Fugazi/ Shudder to Think double bill when he was in fourth grade. And by high school, punk and hardcore meant more to him than hitting the books.
"I left my 11th-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 11th-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 -- it found itself 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."
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 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," he says. "You know, we were able to be living wherever we wanted to do the band. We could fly or do whatever.
"I got engaged after our last tour, and I moved to Tyler, Texas. [Sherri] has a huge family. I tour so much, and she tours too. It was just the best thing to move there. So when we have children and get married, you know, she'll be able to have her family to help her out and everything."
So between south Florida, northern Kentucky, metro Los Angeles, and Tyler, Texas, where exactly is home for Chad Gilbert?
"When we use the term 'home' on this record, it isn't so much the location," Gilbert says. "Home is the person. Really, we've kind of learned [this] from touring so much and not really having a set home.
"You know how people always need their home? They need their spot? Their set location? Well, for us it kind of just became our loved ones, you know. Like Sherri, my fiancée, that's my home. Like, I could live anywhere. I could live in Tyler, I could live in Kentucky. I don't care. As long as I'm hanging with her, you know, that's all I care about. And that's my home."