November 10, 2015 Interview – New Politics
Artistic expression should not be definable, and most of all, it should not be predictable. That is exactly what Danish-American band New Politics likes to think as they reach for new heights with their third studio album, Vikings. Coming off major success with the 2013 album A Bad Girl In Harlem, featuring the hit single “Harlem,” New Politics have been heard everywhere from Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival in 2013, on the road with Fallout Boy in 2014, to on the mega-hit Disney film Frozen. Riding high and making big splashes, this success was only the tip of the iceberg for New Politics who now look to prove they will not stay confined within a corner as they explore new sounds. Recently we caught up with this upbeat trio for a personal look at the work behind Vikings, plans for the future, friendship, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – New Politics has seen a steady growth since their formation in 2009 over the course of three records. Tell us, what has the ride been like over the past couple of years?
Søren Hansen – It’s been crazy since “Harlem” started, and since that one did very well on the radio, everything kind of changed for us. I think the main thing for us is that we wanted to sound relevant to how we felt. All the three albums are very different, so we have gone through a lot of change as people and as a band. Even when we wrote the album, we didn’t think too hard, the stuff we were talking about, it’s all of these worlds; we always spoke about the whole revolution. A Bad Girl In Harlem, we have come to America and seen what it was all about. For us, we wanted to go to America really bad, it was one of our goals. Suddenly, we were in a situation where what we wrote about on the first album wasn’t as relevant then to when we wrote it. With Vikings, we have found a sound. New Politics has a sound that people recognize as New Politics. We had fun writing the album. We wrote most of it on tour while we were in the back of a bus with Fall Out Boy and Paramore. When it came to the songs, we didn’t try to write singles. The thing we were very focused on was not boxing ourselves in.
David Boyd – Yes, we did not want to box ourselves into a sound or a specific world.
Søren Hansen – As an artist, you have to try to stay relevant and true to how you are feeling to a certain point. Vikings came very easy to us and it was really fun to write that album. We are super excited, now a couple of months, so we excited to go on tour and play the songs.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, the origins of the band are in Denmark, but you decided to pick up and move to New York to further your career. Obviously, as you said, you wanted to make the move. It seems as though New Politics has really embraced the culture of New York City. Is that correct?
David Boyd – Yes, definitely. I think we have fallen in love with New York. I think that goes hand in hand with the experience of living here and everything we’ve gone through; just the roller coaster ride of writing Bad Girl in Harlem, and Vikings as well. America, in general, has a big influence on that. Looking back since we moved here five years ago, it’s something I cannot explain. When I go back to Denmark and explain to them the things we are doing, sometimes I have to stop myself. I mean, how can you explain to your friends back home what you are going through? That whole emotional process of living here, going through this and the experiences, is something you will cherish forever. There’s no way in fifty years, if we lived in India or wherever, there will always be a moment where you close your eyes and you look back, reflect, “This is the period when we lived in America.”
I mean the future is unwritten, not saying we are going to India, I am just saying the metaphor of what this means. It is like a scar, and I mean that in a positive way, it is like something in the heart that will be there forever. Whenever I hear something from Bad Girl in Harlem or Vikings, it is going to bring me back to a period when I was in America. This is what I reflect, what I went through with Søren and Louis. This is everything, being on the road 300 days, breaking up with girlfriends, being a wild boy, this is trying new things, this is everything. I think for us, that is something that will always be timeless. That is also what we want these albums to reflect; the listener listening from their stand point.
CrypticRock.com – That makes perfect sense. We all know the major success that Bad Girl in Harlem was for New Politics. Now you return with Vikings. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
David Boyd – It was amazing, we tried so many new things. Six of the songs we did to tape. I like that, we challenge ourselves. We compliment each other very well and we always push each other. We always try to be better and we always do it knowing that if it is something better for the band, or writing something, is going to better everything. We are very open to trying things, that you learn early on. It takes writing sixty songs before you get ten right. We tried new things, and it gives a certain sound to the album doing that. We worked with a few new producers such as Tim Pagnotta and Rich Costey, that was wild. It is so funny to see how everyone is so different, but in the end, it brings about a result, and now it is stapled. Like Søren said, we are super excited, we didn’t think too much, and we are in a really good head-space. Luckily there was no writer’s block. We are still kinda going through that right now.
CrypticRock.com – That is great the creative juices are still flowing, and you are still writing new ideas after the album so quickly. Vikings certainly sees the band reach a new level of maturity, and each strong is extremely strong individually as the record is as a whole. One of the boldest things about this record is the complementary use of electronics. Did you intentional want to go in this direction?
Søren Hansen – Kind of. The thing is, when we formed the band, we would write songs that were super Synth. At that point, I have not even played guitar for very long, I played a lot of synths. We were very synth heavy when we started. Then we wrote “Yeah Yeah” for the first album, and that kind of shaped the sound for the first album.
David Boyd – We were also playing live in that period. That also did something to the sound.
Søren Hansen – Totally, with Vikings, one of the main things was we were constantly telling each other and ourselves that we didn’t want to be locked down to a certain sound on the previous album. I think, especially me, it was very hard to break down the wall for the sound on the first album and to come up with something new. Finally, after a year, we did it, but it was really rough.
One of the things we learned from that was, we were going to go to the studio and we found a way to write. We would write five songs a day, and we don’t finish them unless something comes of it. As soon as the creative process starts halting, we move on to the next song and then we go back and listen to twenty-five ideas. We pick the ones we like and then we finish them. If they are synth, piano song, guitar song, Heavy Metal song, whatever it is, and we love it, then we are going to finish it. The main thing for us is we really learned the hard way, but at the same time we are very blessed to go through that whole process. We do not want to be locked down to whatever other people think we should sound like or what our brain is telling us what we should sound like. We used a bunch of synths, we sampled a bunch of stuff, and had a lot of fun doing that. A lot of the stuff is demo material that we took to the studio and worked around.
David Boyd – Yes, songs like “Aristocrats,” “Everywhere I Go,” “15 Dreams,” “Lovers In A Song,” there was a lot. It is almost like we’ve gone a full circle. When we first started, and when we met, we just wrote whatever resonated, whatever came naturally, we just wrote. We never thought how the production should be, how it should sound, how this, we just went in, and if it felt right, we went with it and we put our all in it. I think going through this process, New Politics as it started ,we didn’t know 100% what it was. Now we’ve come around breathing, living, dreaming, doing music, and having friends that are musicians. Doing this and what not, you just can’t help but mature, and you get involved in your music in a different way. Yeah, we matured as well, but at the same time, we applied how we originally started, which was just to not over think it. If it feels right, goes and comes from the right place, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a screaming guitar, a distorted synth, or a Spanish guitar, or a meat flute, I am joking (laughs), it got a little too serious there, I had to joke it up (laughs). It came back around, and we are in a really good place with that much more experience, which is exciting.
CrypticRock.com – It sound very exciting, and it obviously worked on Vikings. This was in fact Louis’ second full-length record with the band. How comfortable are you a part of New Politics now?
Louis Vecchio – Yeah, it’s crazy how comfortable I’ve gotten with these guys. It’s really weird because I’ve always played in a lot of bands and never felt a connection that we have working together, living together, and being friends. It is great.
Søren Hansen – Actually, our old drummer only did three tours with us. Louis has been the band’s drummer since something started to happen with New Politics. Also, he is our little brother, we tease him all the time, and he loves it.
CrypticRock.com – He is also your American connection, I remember David, you stated the culture in America is very different, even meeting up with a girl is different. Has Louis kind of showed you guys the ropes on how things are in America a little bit?
David Boyd – Definitely, we’re just swimming in women (laughs). He gave me my black belt yesterday and was like, “David you have become a Sensei Master.” He knighted me, he was like, the women are yours (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) My last question is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers a broad range of music and Horror movies. If you are fans of Horror movies, what are some of your favorite?
Louis Vecchio – I like everything. I am really into Slasher films, I like the Friday the 13th series. The new ones, I can’t really talk a lot. I saw It Follows, it was cool, but the soundtrack is what won me over. It was like A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) revisited.
David Boyd – I like Horrors that have a Thriller and Drama to it, like Orphan (2009). Types like that where you don’t know what’s going on, like The Others (2001) and The Conjuring (2013).
Søren Hansen – I’m not really into Horror movies. I stay away from them. I figured out this technique when I see them in the movie theater. It is, I look straight where this distance from me, where the entire screen is blurred out, and it looks like I’m still looking, where everybody thinks I’m cool. Now I just told you my trick (laughs). Where I’m just sitting, and I hear all of these sounds, where you know you should be terrified, I’m just sitting completely unaffected. I am terrified, I don’t like Horror Movies.