New Years Day’s Nikki Misery On The Band’s Evolving Identity & Finding Their Way Through The DarknessWritten by Sean A Hearn on August 20, 2019
Californian rock band New Years Day incorporate elements of punk and metal to their sound with a pop sensibility. Their 2015 album, Malevolence put them on the map and they’ve since shared the stage with such heavyweights as Ozzy Osbourne and Nine Inch Nails whilst clocking more than 20-million views on YouTube.
Most recently, they played to rave reviews at Download Festival here in Australia which has led to the band being invited back for a headline tour in March 2020. Everything about frontwoman Ash Costello seems to define the band, which all begins with her striking red and black hair, never more present than on the cover of their latest album, Unbreakable.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though. Preparing for a follow-up to Malevolence, the band wrote a whole bunch of songs and then scrapped the lot whilst also stripping themselves of their business team.
Guitarist, Nikki Misery spoke with Music Feeds about this difficult period, the unity in the band and the new identity that emerged out of the darkness.
Music Feeds: The new album feels a band that has discovered its true identity. Is this a fair assessment?
Nikki Misery: I hope we never really find our true identity. That way we keep progressing, trying new things and evolving. So I guess, at the moment, it’s the true identity [of the band]. But we’re hoping that the next album will be a new step in a different direction. That way we’re not putting the same album out every time.
MF: It all seems to centre around [frontwoman] Ash Costello. Everything from the cover art, which showcases Ash’s red and black hair more distinctly than ever, to the dichotomy of pop and metal that are more present than ever, to the lyrics themselves, which are tough but vulnerable. Would you agree?
NM: Yeah, absolutely. We all completely back that. That’s one of the best parts. Nobody’s like, “Hey, how come we’re not on the cover?” or anything like that. We push for Ash to be up there. Especially with the dichotomy of the red and the black, the good and the bad, the heavy and the soft, the metal and the pop. Everything about her image just fits this band.
MF: Having said that, it also seems like the ‘boys in the band’ as you were, have emerged a little from the background, ditching the white make-up and seemingly becoming more of a unified whole as a band. You’re laying yourself bare in a way. Has this had an impact on the songs?
NM: Absolutely, especially in the emotional state of writing these albums. For example, when we did Malevolence, the band was in such a dark time. Financially, musically and in our personal lives, everything was dark. That whole white make-up and the undead, Mötley Crüe look that we had going on just fit that vibe perfectly. And with the way that the band is now through everything we’ve been through like our trials, our turmoils, all the obstacles, we really feel unbreakable.
We have a whole new breath of life in us now and it shows in the way we present ourselves. We don’t look like these dead monsters anymore, we look like living people but we still have that rock ‘n roll attitude of course!
MF: It feels more of a collaborative effort, would you agree?
NM: Yeah, I mean, I guess I’ve probably seen it ‘cos I’m in it. I just see what’s on the inside. I guess it could seem that way. We’re all showing ourselves a whole lot more, so I guess yeah.
It’s funny too, ‘cos going back, everyone thought Ash was making us wear make-up but it was me that pushed that whole look. It was so fun to have Frankie and when Jeremy was in the band, we were like THOSE people. Especially with the current album, the way that we are now, it makes more sense [to change the look]. It’s still cool that we had that unified look to us, but it’s almost like looking at two different bands, then and now, minus Ash.
MF: Ash had worked with Mitch Marlow and Scott Stevens individually before but tell me about how the creative partnership, between the two came about and what difference it made to Unbreakable?
NM: It was honestly a dream. You would never think so with two producers. It would almost seem like there are way too many cooks in the kitchen, but they pulled sounds and ideas out of us that seemed to be laying dormant forever. It was so cool what they got out of us. Obviously, it’s on the record now so you guys can hear it but it was one of the easiest recording processes I’ve ever been through. Usually, in the times before, you have one month to write the album and then that’s gonna be your album. We didn’t have time to sit and obsess with these songs and vibe with each other. This time we really got to spend that extra time and let these songs marinate, evolve and grow.
Me, I love to obsess over these things too. I wish I had the patience of a producer, to do that and understand that world. I just obsess over the sounds forever, we took 4 years to put this [latest] one out. They [Mitch Marlow and Scott Stevens] make sure that every chorus is what you want, the way it sounds with the tone, the meaning, the hit and especially working with those guys, brilliant. It was amazing to have this new team, fully support you and realise your vision.
MF: Take us back to that difficult period in 2017, when you wrote an album’s worth of songs and then scrapped them, and with it your management and label. Take us through what that time was like and how you’ve emerged from that with this new album, a new sound, a new vision and a new band, in general.
NM: That was still in that dark time. The band was trying to make its next move. We LOVED Malevolence and everything about it. Malevolence was awesome, as much of a dark period as it was. The whole next album writing process after that was just the same thing. I just remember sitting down, listening to the record with the old producer, and no disrespect to the band, but it sounded like a modern-day Depeche Mode. I love Depeche Mode but that’s not us. We were like, “where’s the wild energy? How am I gonna break my guitar over my body playing this? None of this screams anything that we have ever wanted to do.”
I remember our producer/manager at the time just seemed so frustrated about it, that he was like, “yeah, I can’t work with you guys anymore.” And we were like, “fine.” Pretty much right after that moment is when the whole world turned. We have this brand new, amazing team now. We signed with Interscope, Pinnacle and now with Sony Red. Since scrapping that album, the light came on and everything became great. It was almost like getting rid of dead weight.
MF: You toured Australia for the first time this year for Download. How’d you find those shows and what do you think of Australia and Australian audiences?
NM: To be honest I had one of the most amazing times in Australia. We got invited to Australia and not only that, we got to play at Download, one of the biggest festivals in the world. When we go to a new country we’re always like, “I don’t think anyone’s gonna know who we are.” I remember we got there a few days earlier, and there were kids with Ash’s hair roaming around the streets. We were like, “holy shit, you guys know who we are over there!” That’s not something I’ll get over. Somebody knows who you are, and you’ve just come all the way across the other side of the Earth. We played Download both days and both shows were amazing, the energy of the crowd was so insane.
And now we get to come back and do a headline show. I’m even more excited. With these headline shows, they’re more intimate. I can sweat on you. If I had any words for Australia it’d be, buckle up your seatbelts, this ride’s just about to start!
MF: Are you excited for your Australian shows next year and what can audiences expect from New Years Day and, in turn, what do you guys expect from audiences?
NM: I have no expectations just ‘cos I just like to go on stage like I’m going into a fight. I’m gonna fight for your attention, I’m gonna fight to make sure you remember who we are and that you’ll never forget us. What ya’ll can expect from us is one wild-ass rock ‘n roll show. We always get confused for these Warped Tour, scene people and then people come see us and watch a punk rock band play some metal.
New Years Day will soon to be returning to Australian stages, with the group announcing a brand new Aussie tour for March 2020. Dates and details below.
New Years Day Australian Tour 2019
Pre-sale tickets available from Wednesday, June 26th