This April 26, Orange County hard rockers New Years Day will be releasing their fourth studio album Unbreakable. More than a decade into their career, Unbreakable is perhaps the band’s most accessible effort to date, though it hasn’t let up on the direct, hard-hitting metal songs that New Years Day is known for. A recent trip to New York to do press for the album had the band doing back to back interviews at their label’s office, all day long. “But it’s awesome,” vocalist Ash Costello assures. “We love that anyone gives a shit, because we spent so many years where people didn’t, so we’re happy to talk to everybody.”
To be unbreakable means to be vulnerable – “letting the crap show a little bit and knowing that you’ll never break, that you can take anything.” If anyone knows what that means, it’s Costello. Previous albums have seen her being honest in her lyrics, but this time, she’s empowered and ready to take back her life: on “Unbreakable,” she sings, “I am taking back my life / And putting myself back together / I won’t shatter.” This turning point came from the decision to be more literal with what she was trying to say: “instead of trying to paint my feelings in a poetic way, I just wanted to say what I was feeling.” Sharing what she was truly thinking and feeling took confidence: “Here I am – here it is. This is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m feeling; if you don’t like it, well, fuck you. And that’s kinda the attitude I had with it, and I just hoped that it would work.” A positive initial reception from the press “makes us feel really good.”
With electronic elements (“MissUnderstood),” and soaring, airy choruses (“Unbreakable,” “Shut Up,” “Sorry Not Sorry”), Unbreakable is either the most metal pop record or the most pop metal record you’ve ever heard. Sonic inspiration came from recording a cover of Kehlani’s “Gangsta” for Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 7. New Years Day has done a plethora of covers over the years (in 2018, they released a covers EP, Diary of a Creep), but Costello admits that the band didn’t initially want to cover the song. “I was like, ‘how are we going to turn this pop song into a New Years Day song?’ – I didn’t see it, and then we tried, and it’s better than I could’ve ever imagined. It’s one of my favorite New Years Day songs that’s not a New Years Day song.”
Discussing the vision of the record, lead guitarist Austin Ingerman says that inspiration “comes in many forms and is very random.” Sometimes a melody will come first; sometimes it’s lyrics; sometimes a riff or beat. Often, they’ll get a push of inspiration from hearing a new song they like. Guitarist Nikki Misery notes that the shift to a more pop sound after recording “Gangsta” was “really organic”; adding a metal spin to a pop song proved successful, and pushed the band to go for a pop direction on the record.
On its verses, “Unbreakable” features what Costello calls “the ugliest riff we’ve ever written… that’s an ugly, nasty riff; it’s meant to hurt your ears.” Producer Mitchell Marlow wrote “this uplifting, chord changing chorus” that didn’t match the verses, creating a track that’s “almost like a Frankenstein”; the band then sat on the riff for a year. Costello didn’t know how she’d write to it, and the band worked with various topliners to write melodies, but “no one could figure this song out, until the eleventh hour, when it all came to us. It almost didn’t make the record. We almost ran out of time for it. And then the lyrics just started pouring in and it was easy – then it all came.”
Another stand-out track is “Shut Up,” which Costello wrote about having a bit of a temper and letting her emotions “run away with me and they get a little out of control, and sometimes I get really angry.” Her bandmates have seen her get upset at personal things, and “Shut Up” was “just about everyone shut the fuck up and just do what I want.” “Shut Up” follows “Skeletons” – as the second song to be released from the album. Released last year, “Skeletons” was added to Spotify’s “New Noise,” “Today We Rock,” “Nu Metal Tracks,” and “Rock Hard” playlists.
Throughout 2018, New Years Day spent several months touring with Halestorm and In This Moment. Being on the road with so many women was an empowering experience, but for Misery, it wasn’t different from touring with anyone else they might share a stage with. “I just don’t look at it like ‘we’re touring with females’ – these are all artists, these are all people like one of us,” he says, but adds that “it is, in the same way, really awesome to see more women in this scene, ’cause unfortunately it is a male-dominated genre, and as stupid and as awful as that is, it’s really refreshing to see all of these women come out and especially to be so unified.” Bassist Frankie Sil also notes that women can typically hit a vocal register that men can’t, allowing them to dominate the higher notes.
Walk around Warped Tour – or any show in the alternative scene – and you can easily spot the New Years Day fans. They’re the ones with long hair dyed half red and half black to match Costello’s signature look, dressed similar to her and creating makeup tutorials to match her look. She’s “an accidental role model”, but now that she’s in this position, she strives to do the best she can and always share a positive message because “I know young girls are watching and I was that younger girl looking up to my favorite artists and following what they said – maybe at that age if they’d said [to] jump off a bridge I might’ve, so I’m always trying to be mindful of what I’m putting out in to the world.”
The landscape has changed, with more and more women getting involved in music and other traditionally male-dominated fields, but there are still a lot of young girls who are hesitant to go after their dreams or stand up for themselves – and Costello believes there always will be. Even this year, she had to learn how to be more confident in herself, as people tried to push her around, but she fought for herself: “I went through a lawsuit this year with a clothing company that thought they could take advantage ’cause I was just some dumb girl, you know, or old team members that thought they could push me around and take advantage of me financially and I just took it all back. I won everything. I won everything I wanted. Anyone that stood in my way got knocked down.” With themes of being strong and taking control of your life even through negative or stressful situations, Unbreakable is certainly sharing a positive message. No one can knock down New Years Day, and they’re ready for everyone to pay attention.
Unbreakable is available for pre-order through Century Media here. New Years Day will be on tour this year; visit www.NYDrock.com to see a full list of upcoming tour dates.