When Goldfinger released their first record in over nine years in July, a lot of the ska-punk band’s diehard fans weren’t quite sure what to expect. With frontman John Feldmann acting as the only remaining member from 2008’s Hello Destiny (or any of the handful of other random tunes they’d put out in the years since), there was some concern as to whether the suit-wearing songwriter could still carry the load after his 50th birthday. But if you ask the veteran rocker, the biggest difference heard on The Knife is simply his knowledge of the band inside and out.
“I feel like I know who Goldfinger is more now than I ever have,” Feldmann says. “In 1994 when I started it, I had an idea that it was going to be Vespa scooters and Goldfinger named after the James Bond movie. It ended up being more of a punk rock band, and now — after playing 10,000 shows with my band — I understand what reacts and what doesn’t. I feel like I’ve made a record that encapsulates all of it.”
Of course, Feldmann got a little help from his well-known friends on the band’s seventh record. While it might not be the same lineup that created classics like “Here in Your Bedroom” and “Superman” (which the lyricist says barely made it on to 1997’s Hang-Ups before it became a massive hit two years later thanks to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater), there’s no denying that Goldfinger’s current roster — MxPx’s Mike Herrera on bass, Story of the Year’s Philip Sneed on guitar, and Travis Barker on drums — is the most talented group Feldmann’s ever performed with.
“I pretty much wrote the whole record myself and just brought in a few friends to help me,” Feldmann says. “Our bass player left to join Buckcherry, so Mike Herrera was my first call. Cherry-picking the musicians I got to make this record with was unbelievable, because I didn’t have that experience 22 or 23 years ago. Back then, I was playing with anyone who would take a risk and join a band with me because I was some washed-up dude who’d been in like four bands that never really connected.”
Aside from their contributions on The Knife, Feldmann’s new punk rock supergroup has given the 23-year-old band new life on the road. Appearing at festivals, Warped Tour dates, and dozens of shows in between, being able to rely on the talents of artists like Herrera, Sneed, and Barker has allowed Goldfinger to once again be more than just the occasional nostalgia act they’d been for the first half of the decade.
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“It’s the best to look over and see the most handsome dudes and have a guy who can sing better than almost anyone else,” Feldmann says. “When I feel like I haven’t slept well and my voice is roached, I get to have Phil [Sneed] from Story of the Year sing backup. It’s like I have three lead singers in the band, and it’s really nice to know that I’ve got all my bases covered.”
But that’s not to say that Feldmann isn’t still just as committed to the catchy tunes and fun atmosphere that made Goldfinger a fan favorite throughout the ‘90s and 2000s. Even though the songwriter is always pushing himself not to pen the same songs over and over after two decades of composing music, there are still times he catches himself reminiscing and enjoying something he wrote back in his 20s — occasionally with some new meaning and insight he didn’t have as a young man.
“Nostalgically, [performing old songs] brings me back to that moment when I wrote the song,” Feldmann says. “I like looking back on life to see how far I’ve come, and some of the songs have deeper meaning now than they did when I wrote them. Some of it stands up more than others — and there’s some stuff that I wish was different — but there’s some stuff that I still think is amazing.”