No one can predict what the next 10 years will look like – all we can do is guess and wonder if we’re right. Other than the obvious reasons behind this fact, 10 years ago, there were many things that we couldn’t have been able to predict at a cursory glance – one of which being the future of California ska-punk legends Goldfinger. After the release of their then most recent album, Hello Destiny, the band’s future would remain a mystery. Though they would consistently play shows throughout the years, questions of new material lingered in the air for the longest time, until lead singer John Feldmann stated in an interview back in 2015 that he really wasn’t sure if the band’s future would extend beyond the occasional tour.
However, after years of producing and sitting on material he hadn’t used, Feldmann caught the writing bug once again and decided to pursue new material under the Goldfinger moniker. The Knife, the latest record from Goldfinger, is a record about a lot of things – about persevering through the hardships of life, embracing your past, and finding your footing in what’s yet to come. All of these overarching themes, mixed with the punk ethos and staggering reputation that the band
In our conversation with Feldmann, we chat about Goldfinger’s return, their new record, and bringing together one of the most impressive supergroups the punk world has ever seen.
This is the first Goldfinger record in 9 years. What made you want to pick up the band again after that long of a hiatus?
JOHN FELDMANN: You know, I had so many other songs ready that I’d been writing with other artists that would be better suited for my band. It had started with a couple of songs that I’d had from other people and I thought they would make great Goldfinger songs. I think it was in November that [I] started writing with a purpose. That, and after going to see bands that I loved working with, like Good Charlotte and 5 Seconds of Summer, it instilled my love of pop-punk records again, and I thought, “Man, I want to do my own.” Whenever I go see a band, I think to myself, “Man, I should be doing this too.”
Back a couple of years ago, I saw you mentioned in an old interview that you weren’t really sure of what Goldfinger’s future was looking like. What do you think changed in that time that made you want to pursue it again?
Part of it was that I had torn my ACL jumping off of a stage in Spokane, Washington, touring with Reel Big Fish, and I found out I had a herniated disc when I was at the Avalon in Los Angeles playing with Less Than Jake, and I realized that I didn’t want to be pushing a wheelchair around or have a cane when I’m 50 years old. I just thought that maybe those days were behind me, but they’re not! After a while, I realized that if you’re not hurting yourself by performing in one way or another, you’re probably not touring the right way.
The new roster for the band is quite impressive on this new record (Mike Herrera, Philip Sneed, Travis Barker). How did you approach them about wanting to record a new Goldfinger record and realize they were the right fit?
Mike Herrera’s played with our band in the past. When Kelly [LeMieux, bassist] went on tour with his new band, Mike stepped up and filled in for Kelly. Phil was always sort of a fill-in guitar player when we never had someone to play, so I called him up one day and said, “Hey, man, both of those guys are now dads and providing for their families, and they’re just mellow dudes.” When we were together and touring, none of us were mellow – we were all just fucking crazy dudes. And I was still kind of crazy.
So, I wanted a band that wasn’t. [Mike and Phil] are super great on stage, and they’re just really mellow guys. That, and Travis was my neighbor and I worked with him on the Blink record. I just hit him up one day and asked if he wanted to do drums on a new Goldfinger record, and he said yeah. When he came in, he was able to knock it all out in a day and a half. He’s just so good.
What was their input like on the writing/recording process? What do you think they added to the record?
Well, Mike is a punk rock bass player. We did a lot of touring with MxPx in the mid-90s. We met, I think in 1995 or 1996. He’s always been a bass player and singer. I wanted someone who could sing in the band. No one in Goldfinger could really sing background vocals aside from Kelly, so I wanted to find people that could do that as well. Phil was the lead singer of Greek Fire and Mike was the lead singer of MxPx and Travis is the best drummer of all-time, so I thought it’d be appropriate to ask my neighbor if he could come over and play drums for it. It was awesome to have him for a day. That was kind of the thought process behind it – just having great, professional musicians on it. It’s kind of a 2000s super group of sorts.
When you were putting the record together, how was the process different or similar to putting a Goldfinger record back in the ‘90s or ‘00s?
The first record we made was on digital tape, so we had to rewind it whenever we wanted to do something, so we had to do it in real time. Now we have the ability to capture different tones and get the perfect take by doing it over and over again. I also have my own studio, so if I’m not happy with something, I can redo it. It’s so much easier to edit things than it was.
I really wanted a record that really said, “This is Goldfinger.” I was always in a band with three other people that had different ideas – some thought it should be heavier, some thought it should be about ska, some thought it should be chill and acoustic, while others wanted it faster. This was a record that I realized that I could do whatever I wanted. It could be faster, slower, everything. It could combine everything Goldfinger has ever done – rock, punk, ska. We did a record that had everything I loved about Goldfinger.
Has writing for Goldfinger changed now that you’ve gotten older? Does the project hold different meaning to you?
You know, there are songs like “Skiers Must Perish” and “Spank Bank” – all these kind of goofy, adolescent type of songs, but they don’t fit who I am. But, on this record, there are songs about what it’s like to be a parent, trying to still be relevant, and wondering how I fit in as a touring band. And, don’t get me wrong, over the years, I’ve definitely earned my spot as a writer and producer, but as a touring act, what does that mean in 2017? These songs wouldn’t have made sense 10 years ago because I didn’t live through that kind of stuff back then, but now I am. That, and some older Goldfinger songs I’m coming back to and discovering new meaning – it is really cool. It’s all about perspective, and seeing what songs will stand the test of time.
You can check out Goldfinger’s new record ‘The Knife,’ out now on Rise Records.