It’s been four years since New Years Day, the female-fronted metal band from Anaheim, Calif., unleashed its breakthrough album Malevolence (2015).
Jam-packed with a series of dark and gothic hits, including Defame Me and Kill or Be Killed, the record landed the band in charting positions on a number of rock radio categories across the continent.
Equipped with lead singer, co-founder and musical mastermind Ashley Costello’s ripping vocals, an iconic gothic image and a backing band, it wasn’t long before the four-piece made a name for itself in the music industry.
After a short break and years of being on the road, New Years Day returned to the studio to record a brand-new album.
This April, they surprised their fans with possibly the band’s biggest, most emotional and ambitious album to date, Unbreakable (2019). The 12-track fury features two of the group’s biggest tracks, Shut Up and Come for Me.
Fresh off the release of the album, the band is returning to Canada next week as part of an extensive North American tour with In This Moment.
Amid the current tour, guitarist Nikki Misery took the time to sit down with Global News to discuss the band’s new album. He also touched on what the future holds for New Years Day and how it’s more challenging for a female-fronted rock band to break through in the music industry.
Global News: New Years Day gets a lot of praise for being so unique and experimental. Each album seems to be a completely different journey thanks to your genre-bending approach — especially with Unbreakable. Would you accredit this to the band’s collective tastes, or is it an intentional approach?
Nikki Misery: Yeah, man, it’s absolutely intentional. When we did every other album, we pretty much had only three weeks, or maybe a month, to write and record all of the songs, and that was all we had. It was just so we could release new music as soon as possible. We never had time to obsess over new tracks or even push ourselves on them in the studio — unless, of course, we already had them written and arranged. This time, though, we actually got to take our time because we had a four-year gap between albums. We really made it ours and pushed boundaries this time around. We have to tell ourselves as artists that it’s our job to push boundaries and break walls. F–k genres. Who wants to stick to one thing the whole time? Why don’t we just be artists and enjoy making music and not just be pigeonholed into one thing? We really let that idea take over this time around.
At this point, you guys have toured with some pretty huge bands. Does it ever start to feel real? Is it still gratifying to have that opportunity?
NM: It’s beyond insane. It’s one of those things where you pinch yourself every tour and you think, “What? Really? We get to do this again? With these guys? Awesome!” What still remains cool is that you just kind of learn — despite these people being in huge bands that get huge airplay on the radio — that all the bands are filled with such awesome people. Bands like In This Moment and Halestorm, who we’ve been touring with pretty much non-stop for nearly two years. It really makes it that much cooler and that much more fun. It makes you respect them even more, too. I always tell people this: I always think that I’m gonna play this great show with all these huge bands, then I’m gonna go to sleep that night and I’m gonna wake up and be a 15-year-old kid with my mom waking me up to go to school. I’d think, “Oh my God, it was all a dream!”
‘Shut Up’: New Years Day’s ‘American Psycho’-inspired music video
That passion obviously speaks a lot to New Years Day as a whole, too. It’s been about half a year since Unbreakable came out and it seems like fans are loving it. Have you guys noticed any difference since its release?
NM: Our fans have been picking it up in the best way possible. It has such a cool feeling, too, because you work so hard and for so long on these songs and you hear them so much that for you, it’s just a song, but once they actually start touching people … That sounds like the beginning of a Lifetime movie or something, but you know what I mean. When people can really rock out to your music and they come up to you and say, “Oh my God, I love this song,” it’s amazing. When you see how loud a crowd gets is incredible, too. That’s when you really see your songs come to life. They live and breathe. With the other albums, you know that people know and love the songs already, but when you preview the new stuff live, that’s a different thrill. You actually get to see if it translates well live, rather than just being played in the studio. So far, it’s been nothing but a pleasure. The fans have been an absolute pleasure.
You don’t see a huge number of female-fronted rock or metal bands right now. Though fans are opening their minds to the idea, and it’s finally becoming more of a standard concept, do you find that people treat you differently because of Ash’s presence?
NM: Yeah, they definitely have in the past, and some still do. Which is really sad. As much as I support the female-fronted rock movement, I still look at it as: “We’re just people playing music, regardless of our orientation.” It sucks that people have to divide bands based on the gender or identity of who’s fronting them. We’re all still people. It feels so backwards. But it has been really difficult at times. I remember when we were shopping for record labels … I can’t remember who it was or I would totally call them out right now, but they were like, “Oh no, it’s OK, we already have a female-fronted band.” I said: “What does that f–king matter to anything? We don’t sound like and we don’t look like them. Do you guys have only one male-fronted band, too?” So there really is a lot of stupid stigma and backwardness in this unfortunately “male-dominated”-seeming world. But I couldn’t be more proud to be able to stand with Ash — who is one of the hardest workers and the toughest fighters — because she doesn’t put up with that s–t even one bit.
With the new material and your first headlining tour underway, you’ve got a lot more room to explore with your set and the overall flow of the night. Can we expect to hear a lot from Unbreakable during this run? Or is there a method to the madness?
NM: With the set list? It’s crazy because we’ll get together with all these songs and we always try to make it like the crowd is riding a ride. Sort of like a roller-coaster. We want to come in hard, get their attention and then put them in an upward slope. It’s funny because once we get it, once we have our first idea of the set list, I’ll make a playlist and go to the gym, and if that whole set list keeps me rocking the whole time then you know it’s going to be a good one. But yes, this set, in particular, happens to have a lot of tunes from Unbreakable.
While your music is so unpredictable, are there specific plans you’d like to see come to fruition with New Years Day?
NM: I don’t think we really need a plan. Honestly, the only thing I want for the future is keep doing the damn thing, man. Keep touring, keep playing music, continue to inspire, and that’s really the dram. It’s no longer the 1980s where it’s all sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. We want to give something back.
What about a full Canadian tour? Could fans ever expect that?
NM: It’s too early to say right now. Usually, on every North American tour we’ve done, it’s only been one, two or three Canadian dates for the entire tour. We’ll do Alberta or Montreal sometimes, but that seems to be it. I’m like, “There’s more to Canada, right?” You guys have such a gigantic country! Why don’t we go over there? I’m sure they want to rock out, too!
Well, you sound excited about it so we’ll take that as a maybe!
NM: Yeah! I’m really hoping. Seriously! The last time we were in Canada, it was such a kick-a– experience. Everybody was beyond awesome, and like you, I’m ready for us to come back. Let’s go! The food is great, and the people are awesome. You can’t go wrong!
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]
Unbreakable is now available on all major streaming platforms.
The album can also be ordered physically through New Years Day’s official record label, Century Media.
New Years Day includes vocalist Costello, bassist Frankie Sil and guitarists Misery and Austin Ingerman.
Additional information and tour dates can be found through the official New Years Day website.
Remaining New Years Day/In This Moment tour dates:
Oct. 12 — Manchester, Tenn. @ Exit 111 Festival
Oct. 15 — Toronto, Ont. @ REBEL
Oct. 16 — Niagara Falls, N.Y. @ The Rapids Theatre
Oct. 19 — Philadelphia, Pa. @ Franklin Music Hall
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