March 5, 2014 Interview – David Boyd of New Politics
Alternative rock has seen a new life in the late 2000’s with a list of talented young bands bursting onto the scene. Atop of the class are the energetic three-piece outfit New Politics; combining pop sense, punk rock aggression, and rock-n-roll attitude. Born from dreams and aspirations in Copenhagen, Denmark, the boys took a dive into the unknown in 2009 leaving their friends, family, and lives behind to pursue their career in New York City. With high risk comes even high rewardes for a band with a style and sound fans of all ages are hungry to experience. Their latest album, A Bad Girl In Harlem (2013), sees the band’s growth in popularity taking them into the new year reaching for the sky after a highly successful headlining tour. Recently we sat down with lead vocalist David Boyd on the unexpected formation of New Politics, their drive and love to create music, artistic expression, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – 2013 was a great year for New Politics. You had a successful tour with Fall Out Boy, you were featured on the Uproar Festival, played countless other big rock shows, and released your sophomore album A Bad Girl In Harlem. Tell me how you feel about the progress of the band in the past year?
David Boyd – Oh wow, it is so amazing. One doesn’t realize how hard it is to get the band standing on its own feet. I think it is one of the reasons why a lot of bands fail. It is because of that struggle. It is so hard to bring it to a place where you have enough fans to bring it to its own feet, which we are doing now on our headlining tour. It is such a relieving feeling; it is almost like a baby who just learned how to walk on its own. That is what “Harlem” and last year really did for us; it broke us out. We did so many things and worked so hard that now we have a fan base and all the foundations for making a band survive on its own is there and in the making. It is incredible; it is so surreal, and very humbling.
CrypticRock.com – Yes it has to be, and all the hard work and exposure in 2013 is paying off amazingly. Now originally coming from Denmark, upon signing with RCA records, you decided in 2009 to move to the USA. Was it a difficult decision for you to leave home and now being here 4 years how has your experience been in the USA?
David Boyd – It is funny because it was not very difficult when we had the opportunity. We were so into doing music that just the thought of being signed by an American major label was beyond anything we could have expected. We were so blown away by that and so excited that we just sold everything that we had, jumped on a plane, and moved out to New York not knowing anything or anyone and just left everything behind (laughs). We were just like oh my god this is crazy, it is over, we are done, we made it, not knowing that getting signed is one thing. That opens the doors and you have someone to push your stuff, and that is an advantage. We had no idea that this is where the work really started. I think the trouble and the hard part of it was when the first album didn’t do exactly what we expected, that was a hard truth to swallow. On the first album we never really stayed in New York, we had an address there, but we were on the road for the first year and nine months or so. When we wrote the second album we did the same thing, but the first album just did not have the same success as A Bad Girl In Harlem. What the first album did was open a lot of doors and put us on the map in some way so when the second album came out there were already so many people that had heard of us; radio and other places already had an idea of us.
What really hit us hard was when we started writing the second album, which was where the culture shock really hit. We lived in New York for about a year and two months, we were there writing the album, and had to start from scratch; writing that album with the new experiences and new life that was coming into play. That was what was really hard, almost giving up type of hard. We ran out of money, having no friends, you couldn’t just call friends to go get a beer, or do your laundry at your parents place; the smallest things, missing listening to the news in your native language or after dinner at home with your family or friends, from the food to even approaching a girl. Approaching a girl in American is so different than approaching a girl in Scandinavia or Denmark. There were just so many things we had to adapt to, then the whole process of touring on the first album with bands; we toured with Neon Trees, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Dirty Heads, Young The Giant and bands like that. A lot of those bands had a hit on the radio and you could really tell by touring with them the difference of what a hit does for them. A band like 30 Seconds to Mars toured for ten years and had a huge fan base. We learned so much and we put all those experiences into the second album. That is what the second album really is a reflection of. It’s of our whole journey of moving over here and that emotional rollercoaster ride.
CrypticRock.com – Yes it had to be difficult leaving home, leaving family and friends, but your took that leap of faith and it has worked out and you survived the hardships. Like you said, that is why a lot of bands break up even if they don’t leave their home country or town, because it is difficult to make that change and you did it.
David Boyd – Absolutely, that is also one of the biggest lesson I learned so far. I believe that anything is possible. I truly believe that the only thing standing in your way between your goals or dreams is time. The real challenge is how many stops, how much failure, and how many no’s can you take; how much patience do you have for that time between that distance. Art isn’t a philosophy or education, it is an expression; an artistic wavelength, it’s an energy. It’s something you can’t explain, it is something you do. It’s a reflection of a moment in time. To me it’s a mix of fantasy, true life experience; to the way I perceive it, see it, and do it; and it takes its time. You can write one of your biggest songs in three minutes (laughs), and then wonder why you can’t always do that. Then you can write your biggest song in three months. There is no system to it, it comes and it is just hard work and it is just how much patience do you really have for success.
CrypticRock.com – I understand what you are saying. There really is no formula to it; it happens over time. One of the biggest differences between New Politics and other bands is the amazing energy your music brings with a mix of pop, rock, punk, and even some hip-hop. You’ve played with everyone from 30 Seconds To Mars, to Alice In Chains, to Pink. Being that your music is so diverse how do you find the wide range of audiences you’ve played in front of responding to the band?
David Boyd – I don’t know, that is a really good question. One thing I do know is Soren, Louis, and I have one thing in common; that our core is really based off of rock and that we are suckers for music in general. We don’t really have or believe in genres; a good song is a good song. I think that is very common among the generation that we live in now. If you reflected on a generation you can really see that technology, the environment, and the way of life really reflects on the reality of the generation that it is at the time. In today’s generation we don’t really have genres. You have the internet; music is in such abundance and it comes so quick and leaves so quick, so a lot of it is based off what captures the attention of people. That’s what really did it; “Harlem” really captured people. It was a song that was really energetic, got you going, it helped you through one day, and you can use it for working out. It was also a song you can listen to in a pub, sports arena, or a commercial, and it was catchy for radio. It really had all those elements. You are absolutely right, we love all genres; a good song is a good song. I come from a dancing background; I never really bought Cd’s and stuff. I was living it like this generation; I would always have my DJ friends make mix tapes for me and DJs would take anything; the more odd and weird, but good quality stuff; it has to be soothing to the ear. Then they would make these mix tapes or mash ups of these songs. Until I got into music, I did not know that this was Rage Against The Machine or Justin Timberlake because it was just blended all in. I think that is what we have in today’s generation. In Europe you find that a lot. In Europe, the top ten is everything from electro songs to rock songs, dub step to pop songs; it does not make a difference. If a song is good and it touches you it has a place. People will find it, demand it and they will listen to it. So many other things go into account for what is popular now.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and I think that is a great thing because variety in music is a wonderful thing. It is great to be open-minded and it is good to see people are starting to adapt to that even more.
David Boyd –Totally, and it has also made the American alternate rock scene so healthy. The other day I was thinking how I cannot believe how many bands have crossed over from the alternative rock scene to the top 40. There are so many great bands from the past two or three years that have done that. There are so many that you can name from Foster The People, to Imagine Dragons, ColdPlay, Florence And The Machine, us at the moment, Neighborhood 1975, Trojans, and Atlas Genius. There are so many to name that have had success crossing over. They were all alternative bands but they don’t especially sound alike, but the alternative rock world has this element that we are so in love with instruments. We come from a background of rock, we love 60’s rock to 90’s rock; but then we are so inspired by the 80’s which are all digital and synth. Then we have the current scene of the electronic pop world that is happening now, if it is dubstep or Euro-dance. Then you have the hip hop scene which has been so popular since the 90’s, you can’t help but be inspired by it. You have all these genres in one genre and what it does it breaks rules. It totally takes down rules and gives space for creativity and new ways of thinking. I think that is what we do with our music. We are so proud to be part of this genre which is so healthy at this moment. I remember when the alternative rock scene you needs 1,000 plays a week to be number one, now with our second album you need almost 3,000 plays. That means the alternative rock scene has expanded and grown. It has really become a popular scene. There is actually a young audience in this scene now, when we play all age shows there are a lot of teenagers from 16-21 packing the house and singing along. They have a different fan approach than our older fans which are 21 and up. It’s really great and really healthy for music in general. I think it will inspire music in general; there is so much more than what we hear on pop radio sometimes.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to see alternative rock rived like this. Being that you and Soren are the core of New Politics how has the addition of Louis on drums affected the band?
David Boyd – It definitely made the band stronger and better, there is no way around it. Also the chemistry we have together is just so much better than our old drummer, not that our old drummer was bad in any way. I think when Soren and I were writing we didn’t even know we were a band. I remember listening to the songs and brought them back to the studio one day and said you know Soren “I have been listening to these four songs and they have a common thread, it is a great blend of both of us, isn’t this bad ass, we can do this on stage! We are a band and we don’t even know it, we have been writing for almost three years and we are actually a band. Why don’t we do that?” We originally wanted to do publishing, for publishing you need a network and we didn’t know anyone. So I thought why don’t we do a band so we can make some money and do publishing on the side (laughs). It was just one of those ideas and approached because we had been doing this so long and wanted to see progress.
We entered this competition and we did not know how we were going to do it. We play all the instruments, but why don’t we track everything on a hard disk and we just do live drums and synth in some of the parts, play guitar and vocals. That is very modern because a lot of bands can do that now, that is sort of like being a DJ; they have a computer on stage. We sort of blended that in, the way we looked at it at the time was its 2009, we can get away with it, people won’t make an issue out of it, plus we were playing the instruments. So we went to find a drummer, we had a mutual friend who was a drummer which was Poul Amaliel. We asked him if he wanted to be part of this crazy idea, we had no idea what he was going to do, or what it was going to be. We had these songs, he listened to them and he liked them. So he came and did the shows and we ended up winning the competition. We made this live video on YouTube and he was so blown away that he said next time you rehearse let me know I will do a rehearsal with you. The “Yeah Yeah Yeah” video got 300,000 views its own and created a hype. We said oh my god what is happening, then the major labels starting calling. They invited us out to America, this was all within six months of when we started our band and we had no idea it would take off like that. We ended up going with RCA because they gave us 100% creative writes to making the album. That blew us away that they believed in what we had and how crazy this was. At the time we had no fan base, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and we had zero experience. I think we played twelve shows live, we never played live before, we were just studio musicians.
So he came with us on this journey and after six months touring we didn’t realize how hard it was. We thought it would be a walk in the park; we would all become millionaires, and have a giant fan base. We did not realize this is where it really starts. He said he had not had a chance about and it was not something he really wanted. He was neglecting his own band, he had a girlfriend, and his own life in Denmark. It became all about us and it was harder than he expected so he told us he was not cut out for it and he needed to go home. While we were on tour we had a mutual friend of Louis and he sent us a tape of him covering “Back Da Azz Up” by Juvenile, it had nothing to do with rock (laughs), it gave him some definite points, I thought it was funny. So when we were in New York we rehearsed with him and we could tell instantly from the first song we played, OK this is it. We hung out had dinner and it was obvious, the chemistry was there. Louis is involved way more, he comes out to the sessions, he contributes, gives his opinions, and he is always involved. He has the exact same approach to music as us; he is a fan of all genres. It really helps out and we are very fortunate to have him in the band.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like a great mix and wonderful chemistry. Speaking of the energy you are quite a talented dancer making the live performance really something special to see. What I want to know is how did you get into dancing and develop your skills over the years?
David Boyd – Dancing was just something that caught me. It is kind of like all art, it is just that unexplained thing. If you are listening to it, watching it, if you are experiencing it, art has that effect to piece any armor. There is always honesty in art. If it is music, it will touch you emotionally, it will give you a certain feeling that you cannot experience. Dancing does the exact same thing; it is an emotional bullet that scars you in a positive way. I always had that with music, but I don’t come from a musician’s family. I was really born and raised in the city, the things that were available for me were BMX, skating, Djing, and dancing. That is what we did in our neighborhoods; a lot of the musicians were from the country. In my school there were almost no musicians at all. I always performed at home when my parents played Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson; I never had the means to practice it though because there was no one in my environment that did it. We did a lot of urban sports, you made the best of the tools you had in the city. Dancing was the one thing, I saw it, and said I want that feeling. I wanted that feeling of just moving in such a controlled way that you are expressing in movement the music you are listening to. That is basically like singing, you are expressing yourself with music and words. The rules are all the same and now I really know that doing music.
Dancing was something I could do because it was the one thing everyone was doing in my environment, so I really got serious in it. That is the same with music, it touches you, and you want to recapture that. I hear a song and it touches me, and I want to be able to give that feeling to other people because it felt so good to me. I want to share that with others, I want to share that idea of going crazy with the crowd. I want to share that feeling I had when I saw a band live for the first time. I am trying to capture that because I don’t understand it, I am searching for it and I want to make sense of it. Music came for me late. Dancing was something that I really took professionally and seriously. I practiced for five hours a day, I did street shows. I come from a street performer background, eventually went into theater, a little bit of T.V. and commercials.
Where the music came in is when I actually started dancing for other artists. When I went into that level of dancing then I met musicians, there were musicians for the artists performing in the theater. I became friends automatically with the piano players, bass players, and back-up singers. From that point on slowly picked it up and learned. I believed in myself when I could see I had an interest for it. Because I listened to so much music in throughout my life as a dancer, I had a vast library, and somewhat a natural experience for music. I remember being taught by other musicians I had a natural way of making melodies, melodies would just come so simply to me. They told me I had a natural ear for it and that is where I gained a belief for it. I just pushed it from there and I have been doing it ever since. Then I met Soren and we had a great chemistry. He had way more experience than me, he took piano lessons and he is sort of a jack of all trades. He is a real musician; it really helped, because he had that thing that I was missing. It worked out really way, now I can do basic stuff on guitar and do that all the time.
CrypticRock.com – It is great because now you can use the music and apply the dancing all in one, especially with live shows. Seeing that you are non-stop through an entire set with crazy dance moves, flips, standing on your head; what kind of conditioning do you do to keep your endure to sing and be so acrobatic on stage?
David Boyd – It is really hard. First of all, I have been putting all my concentration and energy into music for six years or something, so my dancing has become a hobby and reversed itself. I really hope to become a little more in shape, I am not out of shape but I am what I like to call a little rusty (laughs). Maybe it is not a condition thing but more about practice. It is really hard; you really have to breathe correctly. It is really tough, especially when you do not have your ear set right, because hearing correctly your vocals with music is one thing, then breathing, always being active, and dancing, that is just a different type of breathing. It is just constant motion, it is hard, but I have my ways of making it work (laughs). With the adrenaline you don’t really think of it, it is not a problem on stage when you have a crowd and you are on. You just kind of go with it, it becomes raw and natural. We are very much like that as a band from our writing, to performing on stage, to even talking with fans. We don’t really change; we are the way we are.
CrypticRock.com – It is obvious you feed off the crowd and the crowd feeds off you as well; even a crowd that may not be very energetic at first as soon as they see your energy they become hyped up.
David Boyd – Thank you. Absolutely, that is what we love. That is all we want to do is just right our songs, perform them live, and hopefully have a bunch of great songs to sing along with fans around world. That is the ultimate goal.
CrypticRock.com – New Politics is definitely succeeding at that. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
David Boyd – For me I am a fan of it, but I am not a fan of it in details. I never go into details, even with songs, I will say this is an amazing song and listen to it and that is it. I don’t study up on it or try to understand why. For me I use it as a tool of inspiration and that is the same with movies.
CrypticRock.com – That is understandable. Is there any particular film that sticks out in your mind as a favorite?
David Boyd – I am more into thriller and drama type things, that always gets my stomach going. Just plain horror is just kind more comical in way. One film that really touched me is Forrest Gump (1994) (laughs). That is the one film that I saw and it really touched me.
CrypticRock.com – It is a great movie, it has a great story. I think horror needs a great story too. A film like The Shining has that.
David Boyd – Absolutely. I don’t know if I would call that horror, that to me would be more of a thriller. There is also great acting, it is boarder-line insane. I also like the movie Misery (1990). When I think horror I think more Friday The 13th (1980), A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), or Child’s Play (1988). Those are more horror to me. One more that I saw that I didn’t know what I was going into was The Others (2001). I thought what kind of name for a film is that. I went into it not knowing what to expect. It ended up really getting me and I was totally blown away. I remember it was way better than I expected. There are a lot of great Japanese horror films that are really scary.
CrypticRock.com – There are a lot of influential Asian horror films.
David Boyd – They are great. I can see a lot of American modern horror films have been inspired by that.
Read the detailed review of A Bad Girl in Harlem on CrypticRock.com.
Check out the live review and more photos from New Politics sold out show in NYC At Bowery Ballroom on CrypticRock.com here.
Feature photo credit: Brendan Walter