The band New Years Day is transitioning into, not only a new album, but a new guitarist as well. Added to that a new book from singer Ash Costello and rock photographer Jeremy Saffer, the band is definitely keeping busy. New Years Day is gearing up for Vans Warped but before heading out, Costello called in to talk about the group’s future.
Q - The new album, "Victim to Villain," has a noticeably harder sound than previous ones like “My Dear” and “The Mechanical Heart.” Was that premeditated or did it just evolve into it when you started writing and recording?
A - It was definitely premeditated. With “My Dear” we were so young when we wrote it and it was our first attempt at recording music. Even back then we had a record label breathing down our necks, telling us how we needed to be and it was at the tail end of Paramore breaking big. We were pushed to be this certain thing but it wasn’t who we wanted to be at all. It’s not that I don’t love that album; it’s just that we were very young. I’ve always wanted to do things darker and heavier because that is more what I like so it was definitely done on purpose.
Q – Did going heavier change your writing approach to the new album?
A - We don’t really have a specific writing approach; it’s always kind of been where we are in the moment. The major difference we have in writing is we’re very protective of our music. We normally hate working with songwriters, we’ve never worked with a producer before, we’re really against anyone coming in and touching our stuff. We’ve always had this ‘we can do it on our own’ attitude. The biggest difference is we allowed a producer, this time, producer/songwriter and it made all the difference. It really made things so much better.
Q - Have you had a chance to play some new songs on tour?
A - No, we haven’t yet. It’s going to be our first time on Warped Tour.
Q – How much of the new album will make the Warped set list?
A - All our favorites; you know when you have a new song you like, it’s like the shiny new toy you want to play with the most? We’re all bored of our old songs but we understand we can’t just play all new songs. They’re not necessarily what everyone wants to hear but we’ll definitely play our favorite new songs.
Q – What are your favorite songs on the new album?
A - ‘Angel Eyes’ and ‘I’m No Good’ are my favorites.
Q - How do playing festival tours like Warped differ personally from individual dates with fewer bands?
A - There are pros and cons with both. The festivals are really amazing and I feel like I’m in a traveling circus, like a carnie, and I love that. You get to meet a lot more fans in one day than you do on a mini-tour and the camaraderie, the family and the atmosphere are really amazing. The mini-tour is really cool because it’s more intimate and you get to spend a little more personal times with fans. There is a little bit more down time and it feels a little bit more like real life.
Q – You guys have been together for about 8 years now. I can understand never getting sick of the music part of the business, but do touring, interviewing, traveling and so forth ever get to you and what do you do to offset those things to keep from becoming stale and routine?
A - You know, I’ve never gotten bored. I’m the type of person who wakes EVERY day REALLY thankful for what I get to do that day. We’ve always had that mindset and you really take nothing for granted and nothing is really boring.
Q – The band has had, for lack of a better term, bad luck with members coming and going and recently NYD had another line up change with Matthew (Lindblad) being replaced by Nikki (Misery). What challenges do you face with line up changes and do you approach music differently when new members come into the mix?
A - It’s really hard to find five dudes that you have to get along with every day. It’s hard enough to find one good boyfriend; try finding five. It’s so hard. And then all those boyfriends need to get along with each other. We’re really picky about who we keep with us. We tour a lot and some people just decide that touring life is not for them. Some people you don’t know who they are until you get on the road with them then you discover they’re really not good people. I feel like New Years Day has finally begun. All the rest was like practice and now here we are.
Q – Switching gears, you're part of a new book with Jeremy Saffer called "Till Death… A Guide to Love and Loss." How did you get involved with this project?
A - We met Jeremy when we did a photo shoot with him. We kind of bonded over all things dorky like comic books and horror movies. We just clicked. He started following me on Twitter and he thought some of the stuff I’d tweet was hilarious. Like ‘If you want a hot boyfriend then light him on fire.’ He thought all these ideas were so cool that he came up with a book around my tweets. Oddly enough, what if there was this girl who guided readers through a relationship that she puts this guy through just to be with her? And that’s how it came about. It was all Jeremy’s idea.
Q – The book is pretty much a guy trying to get you to like him, but you basically torture him throughout. With the general perception of goth/punk rock kids associated with incidents like Columbine, what kind of response are you hoping to get with the book?
A - I pay really close attention to what gets puts out there and I pay more attention to how people react. And the book already went out and it’s been nothing but really positive reactions except for one. There was one person who was like, ‘It’s a bit too extreme for me. I don’t like it.’ Well, that was kind of the goal and I’m happy at least one person… I wanted it to be too much and I’m kind of upset that not more people have said that. But for the most part it’s good.
Q - Do you think this lifestyle will ever be accepted in mainstream culture? Do you get stares in smaller cities?
A - Oh yeah. I still get stares every day. It never fails; after all these years. Just the other day, Nikki and I were going through a drive-thru and the guy was kind of startled and said, ‘Oh, wow, you guys are wearing crazy costumes.’ These aren’t costumes, this is how we dress, asshole.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.