Interview: Nikki Misery of New Years Day Talks Oz Tour!

New Years Day look set to take on the world. The band’s fourth studio album, Unbreakable, described by singer Ash Costello as “the poppiest metal album, or the most metal pop album” was released in April, just after their Australian tour, and has been a huge hit with fans! Riding the waves of their successful stint with Download Festival early this year, as well as the hugely popular new album, the band will be returning to Australia as a headline act for the first time ever! And just twelve months after their first time here!

We got to chat with Nikki Misery about the tour, the album, the band’s dark days, and bar-fights with kangaroos!

SR: I’m going to jump straight into it, because I’ve tried to cram in a few more questions than we probably have time for.

NM: Woah, alright, I’m ready for ya! Let me buckle up my seatbelt!

SR: Okay, so you’ll be headlining Australia for the first time in March. Are you guys excited?

NM: Yeah. Oh my gosh, yes! Especially after just being invited to come over and play Download Festival. I mean Download of all festivals! And we all thought the show went really good. We thought everybody dug it. And then like a month later we find out “hey, you guys can come back for a headliner”. We’re like “Fuck! I guess they really liked us!” So yeah, more than stoked, and more than excited to play in intimate settings …

SR: And do you have any other plans for while you’re down here? Anything you want to see or do if there’s time?

NM: Yeah, so I want to hug a koala and I want to fist fight a kangaroo drunk in a bar. Now I don’t know if that’s a possible thing, or a reality, or just an American dream. And I want to be cool with the kangaroo after. Not like a mean fight, where I hate him and his family, but after, shake his paw-hand thing and maybe buy him a beer.

“…the main reason you pick up an instrument in the first place, to inspire people the way music inspired you, that made you stronger…”

SR: We’ll see what we can do. I’ll try and get a koala into a bar for you. Sorry, a kangaroo.

NM: The koala I want to hug. The kangaroo I’m gonna have to fist fight. And of course, I know I’m gonna get my ass beat, but it’s for the story.

SR: They can be pretty vicious, so be careful!

NM: Yeah, yeah, [laughs] I’ve watched those videos.

SR: And going back to the last time you were here: I have never seen a band rev up the crowd as much you revved up the Sydney crowd! It was the highlight of my day for sure!

NM: Right on! Thank you!

SR: You had everyone making sacrifices to the metal devil, you had horns up for an entire song. And you were welcomed at the airport by some of your fans. Did you expect such an enthusiastic reception?

NM: No! I mean, to be honest, every time we go to a new place in front of new faces, let alone in front a new country of people, you think like, “Do they even know who we are? Do they like us?” In a sense, me personally, and I know some of us, we have this mindset like we’re going into a fight. And I swear to God, we’re not fighting people, ‘cause I’ve been talking about fighting a kangaroo. But [laughs] it’s like you’ve got that mentality: I’m gonna fight for your attention, I’m gonna fight for you to just know who we are! And after watching us, you can love us or hate us, but you damn well ain’t gonna forget us! That’s one thing I always keep in mind before I play, I’m gonna make sure your eyes on us!

SR: Definitely true! When you first walked in to Download I didn’t know what to expect, because you guys hadn’t played here before. I was like “what if we’re not good enough for you to come back? What if there aren’t enough of us?” and I was completely blown away by the reaction.

NM: Yeah, we were absolutely blown away and not by just the people, but just the reception as well which was super insane.

SR: And Skeletons – that was huge!

NM: Oh my gosh, yeah!  

SR: Not as many people would have known it then [it was so new], but it went off! It was crazy!

NM: That was funny, because when they put that song out, before we knew it, we already had like a million streams! I was like “really, is that the song – the song you guys wanna put out first?” And … like oh, alright. Well, they know what they’re doing. And they sure as hell did! That song went over so great! And then Shut Up came out and like wow! I was even more blown away by that!

SR: How did Skeletons come about. Did it take a year to write? Is that true?

NM: Um … per say. I mean, it’s not just like sitting there for twelve hours three hundred and sixty-five days, ‘cause we we’ve been out on the road. We hardly are home long enough to even write a record as it is. So, a lot of these songs take a long time mainly ‘cause we’re always touring and we’re always on our grind. And when we have our little couple of weeks at home, [laughs] that’s when we get to work on something, so it just keeps going and going throughout time. And luckily with our new team behind us, they understood that touring – it’s what we do, it’s how we get out there, especially with this new radio world that we’re attacking. They even told us “Hey, you know, take your time on writing an album. We just wanna make sure everything’s perfect.”

SR: That’s really good! You always think they’d be lots of pressure and “now, now, now!”

NM: [laughs] Yeah, yeah, that’s how it’s usually been!  It’s usually been “Oh, you’re home for a month, we’re gonna need you right away and you’re gonna be here ‘til the end. And these are your songs and that’s it. And also, don’t get me wrong, we love the songs we did in the past, but we never got to really sit and obsess with them and really nit-pick everything. And it was really nice to have that this time. 

SR: Congratulations on the album by the way! It is really amazing!

NM: Thank you so very much! I couldn’t be more proud of it and more excited – of the songs, the reception and pretty much everything about it.

SR: It’s such a unique sound too! Ash [Costello, singer] has described it as “the poppiest metal album, or the most metal pop album” and I think that is the most accurate way to describe it!

NM: It is! And I actually really love that [laughs] description of the album.

SR: It seems that as a band, you like to take risks and do things your own way. Would you say that’s true?

NM: Of course! I mean, I was gonna say, I don’t know any musician who doesn’t want to do things their own way … but then at the same time I’ve lived in LA and I’ve watched all these people … I’ll just stop there. But yeah, we definitely do things our own way. We grew up with that Orange County punk-rock attitude and we definitely hold on to that.

SR: And as the title Unbreakable suggests, you’ve definitely come out stronger having made this album. You’ve come out unbreakable. It’s truly an album about fighting anything that tries to drag you down. What was the process of New Years Day becoming unbreakable?

NM: Well, definitely, you’ve got to go through your own absolute mental and personal hells. This actually all started before we did Malevolence. During that album cycle of creating it, the band itself was in the darkest times that we could ever remember; everybody individually in their own hell and just as a band itself. It’s almost like those times, in reality, you’re thinking is this band going to last another week? Or two? Every aspect was like a punch in the face from your professional, to your mental, personal … it was awful. But we stuck through it and we worked our asses off. And everybody who told us no and everyone who’s told us we can’t do it … we proved them all wrong. And pretty much making this album, we came in with almost like a revival of ourselves. And after everything we’ve been through, of course this band is unbreakable. Like, who’s going to try and stop us now? ‘Cause we’re ready! Like The Rock says, “just bring it”, you know? 

SR: And it seems like you’ve become a lot closer as a band as well. Would you say that’s the case? I know you were always close, but it seems like your bond is just getting stronger.  

NM: Yeah, yeah, we’ve always been close but definitely! Yeah, yeah, definitely! Especially with – I’ve mentioned going through Malevolence. We all came out with a tighter bond. And definitely the main three of us who have been here the longest; Ash, Frankie and I. We’ve seen these people come and go and we’ve seen these people fall on their own awful decisions. And just see us here still grinding and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah, we’ve definitely grown a lot closer! Sometimes too close, you know? [laughs]

SR: I’ve heard you were the one giving the pep talks. How did you manage that while battling your own demons?

NM: My dad is the most positive person in the world. And if you ever picture the little angel and devil version of you on your shoulder – the little devil one is me and the little angel one is my pops. And I just hear him, you know, [laughs] I’m trying do it in his Colombian accent … “hey dude, everything’s cool, man. You ain’t gotta worry. Just breathe!” That’s how you know … me as a person I constantly hold on to anger and negativity, and it’s hard for me to just snap out of it but …  And a lot of these things I say, I’m sure he’s told to me before. It’s definitely my pops that’s been the angel on my shoulder that’s given me the pep talks.

SR: It sounds like he’s been a really good influence then!

NM: Yeah! And at the same time, look where you’re at. People would kill to be here. What are we doing worrying about nothing for? Shit that ain’t even hurting us, bothering us, what are we worrying about that for?

SR: And on the subject of demons and fighting your own fight … While all your albums are quite helpful for your fans, I think Unbreakable is such an empowering album that continues to help so many of us find our own strength. What are your thoughts on how your music helps others fight their demons?

NM: It’s still so amazing to see and hear that. That’s something that will never get old. That’s the main reason you pick up an instrument in the first place, to inspire people the way music inspired you, that made you stronger. And the fact that our songs are doing that to other people, I mean … to me that’s the real success. I don’t need fancy cars or a million dollars or anything … the fact that we’re adding on this bit of strength to anybody else … worth it.

SR: New Years Day is inspiring people musically too. I went to Download festival with a friend. She is now writing songs that have a little bit of New Years Day in them.

NM: Oh, that’s rad!

SR: It’s really amazing to see how much of an impact you’ve made on everyone.

NM: It’s absolutely insane. Like I said, I’m still in this disbelief of it. I always say this every interview … I always think that one day I’m going to wake up and be like thirteen again and my entire life has been a dream. You know, it’ll just be my mom waking me up, trying to get me to go to school … like “nooo!”

SR: It’s not a dream, I promise.

NM: [laughs] No, no, it’s not, it’s not. I get the headaches from it quite often [laughs]. I’ve got the scars to prove it.   

SR: [Laughs]. I think My Monsters is probably my favourite track on the album because it’s got everything; it’s got the melody, it’s heavy, you can dance to it. Is there a story behind creating it?

NM: Oh, yeah! Yeah! The story behind that is … the lyrics and stuff, that’s all Ash. Musically, I know that’s the one she was kinda bruising for. It was just working around that. And with the way she’ll sometimes create music, it isn’t like … the way she does it is really fun and really cool. And it really challenges you. ‘cause sometimes she’ll have just full-blown lyrics … “that’s how the song goes” … and sometimes she’ll just have these melody ideas and sometimes she has inspiration boards and all these feed how we create the songs. How certain songs start, are written, it’s always hard to tell. ‘cause after a while – it’s like years of working on the song – it becomes a jumbled mess. I guess the real person to ask on the story behind that one would be Ash. There’s always some [story], it’s just hard to remember [laughs]. 

SR: I heard that before writing the song Skeletons, you already had a whole album worth of songs and then threw them out.

NM: Yes.

SR: Is that as daunting as it sounds?

NM: No, it was actually … we were working with our old producer who was helping us with it. And we just weren’t feeling it. It just wasn’t there. And it finally got to a point where like “dude, this is not us. This is not us at all.” I don’t want to say anything bad about it, but it was just not us. To be honest, the real feeling of it was relieved. “Okay, now we’re doing what we wanna do … this wasn’t us; this isn’t the direction we’re going … we tried it, you know”. ‘cause every now and then as just one person, you only have your own ideas. So, it’s always nice to have somebody else help pull these ideas outta you. And these were just not our ideas that were getting pulled out of us. It was more like … non-relevant sounds being shoved in us, if that makes sense.

SR: So sometimes you have to have the wrong songs to know when you’ve struck gold?  

NM: Absolutely. And it goes more into the unbreakable-ness of it. That ain’t gonna stop us. That whole album sucks … you think that’s it? Nuh uh. 

SR: Do you have any final words for the Australian fans eagerly waiting to see you?

NM: Oh my god! If I can have my last little bit for ya: buckle your seatbelts, Australia. We coming and we ready for this one!

SR: This has been very exciting for me!

NM: That’s awesome! The fact that you guys wanna talk to us and like us, that’s more than the gift itself!

SR: We’re really looking forward to seeing you guys in March. You’ve got a million shows to play before then though!

NM: We’ll get there. This is the warm-up for Australia!

TOUR DATES

LIONS ARTS FACTORY, ADELAIDE
THURSDAY MARCH 19*

170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY MARCH 20

FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY
SATURDAY MARCH 21*

THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE
SUNDAY MARCH 22

For complete tour and ticket information, visit: livenation.com.au.

Don’t miss out on New Years Day’s headline tour.
Grab your tickets from www.livenation.com.au