Emerging as part of the second wave of pop punk in the late 1990s, music critics consider them a key pioneer of the genre. Labelled the "godfathers of pop punk", AllMusic credits them for "practically serving alongside the work of Blink-182 as the blueprint to the entire genre for the early 2000s." They are also renowned for their energetic live performances.
The origins of the band date back to 1997 when Jordan Pundik (vocals) and Ian Grushka (bass) played together in the band "Inner City Kids" and later "Flip 60". After disbanding "Flip 60", they recruited Stephen Klein (guitar), who Pundik met at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and had previously played with him in the band "Fallview". The threesome began to jam together. Practicing in Grushka's garage, they later invited Joe "Taco Joe" Marino to play drums. Shortly thereafter, Chad Gilbert (lead guitar), former vocalist of Shai Hulud, joined to complete the quintet.
Pundik later stated the band name was created while he and Klein were working at Red Lobster together; "We came up with A New Found Glory, we wrote it on a napkin. I think we pulled some of it from "A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts" by the Get Up Kids". The band recorded their debut EP, It's All About the Girls (1997) in a friend's apartment, and the EP was distributed by local independent label Fiddler Records. Soon after, Marino was replaced by current drummer Cyrus Bolooki after two rehearsal sessions. The band went on to tour up and down the East Coast and quickly sold out the entire pressing of the EP. The band's underground success soon caught the attention of Eulogy Recordings and the quintet subsequently signed shortly afterwards in order to increase distribution of their music.
Following the success of their EP, the band recorded their debut full-length album, Nothing Gold Can Stay (1999), initially selling one-page insert copies at their shows supporting MxPx. Richard Reines, co-founder of Drive-Thru Records had also noted their devout following and held talks with the band. Drive-Thru subsequently signed the five-piece and paid Eulogy $5,000 to license Nothing Gold Can Stay, which went on to sell more than 300,000 copies.
The five-piece signed their first proper record deal with Drive-Thru Records, and released an EP of cover songs from film soundtracks entitled From the Screen to Your Stereo in 2000. Drive-Thru's relationship with MCA Records ensured that the smaller label's more popular bands would be picked up by the major. Later that year, debut single "Hit or Miss" peaked at No. 15 on the US Modern Rock Chart, which helped propel the band to a mainstream audience. Subsequently, their self-titled second album New Found Glory (2000) reached number one on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and spent 21 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart. In a Kerrang! magazine article years later, they referred to the album as the band's Essential Purchase. They wrote, "marking one of the biggest and quickest improvements in alternative music, the major label debut hurled them to the forefront of the punk scene barely 12 months after its predecessor. Packed with infectious melodies and sing-along anthems, it would see them jostling with the likes of Blink-182 for the genre's crown." The album also marked the official debut of the band's new moniker, which dropped the indefinite article "A" from their original name due to some fans struggling to find the band's records in stores. The album was certified gold by the RIAA.