Goldfinger recently dropped their brand new album, Never Look Back (our review here) which marks the return of the band’s original guitarist, Charlie Paulson joining John Feldmann, Mike Herrera (MXPX), Phillip Sneed (ex-Story of the Year), Nick Gross and Travis Barker. In a year that’s been tremendously difficult on a lot of us, we can always turn to music to keep our heads up through times of darkness. That’s exactly what Feldmann wanted to do with releasing this album right in the middle of the pandemic.
He’s worked with everyone from Blink-182 and All Time Low to Australia’s 5 Seconds Of Summer and Scott Eckel (Makeout/Five North), so when it comes to writing music for his own band, Goldfinger, how do the expectations for Feldmann’s own band hold up? I felt incredibly stoked to grab a chat with the icon himself about how much of an impact video games have had on Goldfinger‘s success, as well as how, in between working on other artists’ music, he finally found an opportunity to work on his own material…
Congrats on Goldfinger’s newest album! How stoked are you on it?
I’m so stoked! We spent the better part of six months making this album. To have the album out there and people to judge it. I mean, I guess it could be worse if people were hating the album and people were like “what were you thinking?” you know, making an album that’s not true to who we are. But I think we made a very nostalgic, first album style Goldfinger record.
You’ve definitely kept the skate punk dream alive on Never Look Back. Why was it important for Goldfinger to keep that signature sound in 2020?
You know for me, I work with so many other artists as a producer. I’m always in the studio doing all sorts of different music and I just wanted to make a Goldfinger record as a fan of that style of music. The first show I ever went to was the English Beat, and that was an all ages ska show when I was 14 years old. I wanted to make a record that I knew our fans would be stoked on. I feel like there’s this resurgence of this kind of music with Tony Hawk putting out his new pro skater video game. It feels, I don’t know, fucking awesome.
I thoroughly enjoyed many of the songs on Never Look Back, and it allowed me to get into even more of your older stuff. Being a little young when Goldfinger was around in the early 2000s, I definitely have to give thanks to the video game platform for playing Goldfinger all those years ago.
Yeah, I mean I had no idea video games were going to be such a huge vehicle to promote my music. The first time we ever played in England, we played ‘Superman’. The whole place went ballistic and I’m like, “Why is everyone going crazy for a song off an album that’s not even a single?” It was then that I realised it was in the Tony Hawk game. After the show, someone said, “Oh dude. That song’s in the Tony Hawk video game.” and I’m like, oh shit! We gotta play that song later in the set because people are here to see that song. You know, I’m so grateful that Tony Hawk chose us to be part of that game.
Yeah, the game’s become a huge platform for music, even now with the re-release a few months back. And I gotta say, releasing music during a pandemic, that’s is a huge risk in itself… How did you come to the decision to release Never Look Back this year as opposed to waiting until 2021?
You know, they say an idle mind is the Devil’s playground and if I’m sitting around just waiting for something to happen, I’m going crazy. I’m overthinking, I’m miserable, I’m stuck in my own head and so I needed to create music and this is my band. It’s kind of my label, and I can do what I want. I made a decision because no one else wanted to come to the studio. Everyone was scared about Covid, so I just made a record on my terms that I wanted to make and I sent the files out to the guys in the band who all live in other cities. We just kinda did it and I know that it sucks that we can’t tour on it. It sucks we can’t play these songs live to an audience that I know exists. I know the fans will be stoked to hear these new songs.
We didn’t really think too much about what the results would be. I think that people just need positive music now more than ever and that’s what we are. We write uplifting, positive, happy music and I just felt like we needed to put it out during the pandemic.
Yeah, I 100% agree. Getting stuck in your head during a pandemic is almost like your own worst enemy so we definitely need a lot more happy, positive music today.
Yeah, 100%. My kids are studying all day long and I hear the kind of music that they’re listening to the background and it’s like elevator music with people rapping on top of it. That’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to do something that’s fully in your face and I made that album. Never Look Back is an upbeat, danceable, fuck you kinda record.
And because you’re a renowned and respected producer, does that mean your expectations for your own material are higher than that of the bands you work with?
That’s a good question you know! Sometimes I’m pulling my hair out when it’s just me in the studio. I’m recording my own vocals, I’m recording my own guitars and I’m like “is this good enough?” and I don’t know because I’m self producing so it’s a bit of a challenge to know if I’ve got the right take, or if I’m just kinda taking it easy on myself, but for the most part I think I pulled the right performance out of myself. I think I did well as my own producer.
You’re also considered the “godfather of pop punk” having worked with and mentored some of the biggest pop punk bands of the 2000s, like All Time Low and 5 Seconds of Summer. What’s the most important lesson that you taught these bands about creating music?
I don’t know, but I hope that I leave artists with the sense that song is key and the most important thing is having a good song. If you’ve got great songs, then everything else works out. If you’ve got great songs, you’re gonna get an audience that’s gonna want to come and sing along. If the songs aren’t there, then it’s not gonna work. You gotta have great songs. So I think that of all the wisdom that I impart on some of these bands that I work with is we have to have great songs.
Yeah, that’s it, I guess it’s like if you don’t have a catchy song with a catchy chorus, It’s probably not going to be a hit hey.
I mean look for me, I want a song that I need to be able to sing along. But if I’m writing a song in the studio with a band I’ve gotta be able to remember the song when I’m going to bed that night. It’s gotta be stuck in my head you know? It’s gotta stick there or else I didn’t do my job right.
Yeah, right on. Those are the best songs to get stuck in your head when you go to sleep at night. And are there any upcoming bands that you’ve got your eye on right now that you’d like to nurture further?
I mean, I’m working with this band called Fever 333. We just put out an EP with them and they’re like the best live band I’ve ever seen. There’s a band called Arrested Youth that I’m really excited about that are kinda like Twenty One Pilots. He’s kind of like a Post Malone kind of character more pop punk I guess, so I’m always working with new artists.
Yeah, we’ve been watching you work with everyone, even during COVID. But do you ever take a break for yourself?
You know, I do what I love for a living. I never feel like I’m having to clock in, and it doesn’t really feel like work. Once in a while. I’ll work with an artist and it’s just really painful and they wanna work 17 hour days. Then they’ll want to try a thousand different guitar tones, but usually it’s pretty easy. I just love what I do, so why would I want to take a break?
Spot on. It’s like, if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life!
Are there any established acts then you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to produce an album with someday?
I don’t know, I love Coldplay, I think Coldplay are the best. They are the best at what they do. Just that kind of ambient pop rock, I think that Chris Martin’s incredible. I listen to a tremendous amount of Coldplay. The drummer is an incredible sonic landscaper. He just gets these sounds that are just amazing.
But I’m working on making an album with Avril Lavigne right now who I just love. I love making this album, I love her and I’m having the best time.
Fuck yeah, love Avril! I for one can’t wait to hear that album. It’s been a long time coming, I reckon. Are you gonna be bringing back her pop punk roots next year with her new album?
So before we wrap it all up, John, you’re a fun loving guy who has a playful side we love to see. For Goldfinger’s last album, is it true that Travis Barker didn’t know he was recording the drums for it?
*laughs* Well, I think he knew half the time. I think I probably tricked him for about half the record.
And did you keep the pranks going with Never Look Back‘s recording sessions?
Oh no, look, I think I have the mentality of always looking at the next mountain to climb. I don’t really give myself a lot of opportunity to pat myself on the back and say good job. You know, I don’t really listen to music I’ve made in the past. I’m usually only listening to music that I’m making today. I’m looking towards the future.
Yeah, that‘s the spirit. Well, it sounds like you’ve got some big projects in the works for the year ahead. We can’t wait to hear more and hopefully see Goldfinger live in Australia once international touring reopens again. All the best, stay safe and we’ll see you soon!
Interview By Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Goldfinger’s new record, Never Look Back is out now through Big Noise Music. Purchase here
Goldfinger – Never Look Back tracklisting:
2. The City
4. California On My Mind
5. Nothing To Me
6. Good Guy
7. The Best Life
8. Careful What You Wish For
10. Golden Days
12. Standing On The Beach