Interview: Nikki Misery of New Years Day
Written by Steve Jenkins
One year on from the success of their potent performance at Download Festival Australia, New Years Day will touch down for their first-ever Australian headline tour in March 2020. New Years Day, the U.S. metal five-piece lead by powerhouse Ash Costello, made their debut Aussie appearances hitting Download’s Avalanche Stage in Melbourne and Sydney last March, immediately setting about performing a killer set and forging plans for a return tour. The Australian tour announcement comes less than three months since New Years Day unleashed their fourth and current studio album, Unbreakable (out now through Sony Music Australia). We had the opportunity to speak with lead guitarist, Nikki Misery, as we talks about their first time in Australia, their return, the new album and much more.
Hey Nikki, how are you doing?
I'm just living the dream out here in Austin, Texas today my man.
Awesome stuff! Well thanks for taking the time out to chat today, I really appreciate it. Congratulations are in order on your latest album 'Unbreakable', it's been out now for a couple of months and everyone's had a bit of time to digest it and form an opinion. How's has the overall response been for you guys?
It's been awesome man, it's been very surreal you know, like everybody has been loving it. On this album we took different influences and we went in different directions, we took chances and risks. This album is completely different to most of our other songs that we've made on previous albums. It was a little nerve racking, I'll be honest, as much as I want to say it wasn't, but it was just really cool to see how everyone basically accepted these songs and have grown to love them. To see already what it means to them is pretty special, and what's even cooler is to see a bunch of guys in the crowd singing "Shut Up", especially on "Don't try to tell me what a girl wants..." That always makes me smile.
Was there more of a focus between Ash and yourself to create an album that was not only your strongest album to date but also gave a more positive message and direction for the band after all the success you've had?
Yeah, it's been awesome. It was definitely in different mindsets. Like when we were doing 'Malevolence' everything was very rushed, and we were told that we had a month to write and finish this, which sounds like a long time but in music terms that's like 5 or 10 minutes. At that time I remember that the internal morale of the band as well as everybody mentally, it was just such a dark era. Just to see this kind of breath of fresh air with this album, we were able to have a full year to write it, and our new time told us to take our time. Everything just seemed to be going great, so you can hear that happiness come through on this new record. It's still got those punches in the face in terms of heaviness, but you can hear that the band is in a more positive place and we have a better outlook on life and music now as well.
What was it like to play Download Festival here in Australia back in March?
That was so awesome! That was our first time in Australia, and it's always like so surreal when you're going to a new place, especially because we've always wanted to go to Australia. Then like just to play Download was just the coolest way to kick off our first time in Australia, and our team there was some of the raddest cats we've ever met. Honestly, it was one of the greatest weekends of our life, and we were only there for like 3 or 4 days.
Did you get a chance to catch any bands that you were keen on seeing at Download?
Absolutely. We saw Code Orange, and they were brutal! Those guys and Fever 333 were full of energy. We definitely had to go and watch some Slayer, because we don't know when the last time that we'll ever see them will be. We got to see Ghost, Behemoth and of course we had to watch the locals, Airbourne. They were kickass! There was just so much to see and so many things to check out, it was rad. Oh and how can I forget our brothers and sister in Halestorm! It's almost like this little high school reunion you know?
Now we can officially announce it. You're heading back to Australia for your very own headline tour in March 2020! Did you know back in March during Download that you'd be back so soon?
No, I think it was maybe like a week or two after? It's the funniest thing because Ash is super afraid of flying, so when she figured out that we had to go back overseas again, it's funny because you see the fear and pure excitement in her face at the same time. It's like a beautiful car crash if you can imagine that. But yeah I remember when we found out I was just so stoked.
Did you realise that New Years Day had such a big following here in Australia?
No, I'm still like very naive to a lot of that stuff man. I'm still surprised when people come to our shows back home and stuff like that. To me I'm just this kid from a small town in Southern California and you never really think that everyone wants to come and see you play, but every time it's always so surreal and so cool. I remember being in Melbourne, Ash and I were just walking around and all these people were coming up to us like "Hey it's Nikki and Ash." We were like, people know us here? But this whole recognition thing, it never gets old. I'll always be surprised by that and I'll always be very thankful.
Did you get a chance to look around much while you were here? Or perhaps is there something you'd like to try when you're back here in March?
Not too much, only because we pretty much had one free day while we were there. We just check out the downtown areas of Sydney and Melbourne. I mean it's cool just to be able to walk around, finding food, and just experiencing the town. That's always cool, but anything other than the show and waiting to play the show, we didn't get to do much else. But hey, we've got this next time to really explore and discover new things man.
Are there any particular bands or artists that had a hand in influencing your style as a musician and as an individual?
Yeah definitely man, for me personally I've always been a big fan of old school punk rock and classic rock of course. Bands like Kiss and Alice Cooper where it became more than just music but like the theme and the show in itself. More current bands like Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, and we even look for more current music like even pop music, such as Drake and Billie Eilish. We just try to get influences from everywhere we can just to create something new and unique. We always have our eyes and our ears to the ground, or the airwaves if you will.
Has that helped you grow over the years? Like when some people only listen to metal and nothing else, they become less creative and won't allow other influences when it comes to writing new music. Have you experienced that?
Oh my god, that's been my life. When I was younger, like I said I was really into punk rock. Up until I was 21 years old or something like that I was only into punk rock and that's all I'd listen to. If it wasn't super fast with screaming vocals I didn't want to hear about it. Then you start finding out about their influences, and you go back further and further. Back to the likes of Zeppelin or someone like Robert Johnson, and then you realise that other music is pretty darn rad. There's more to it you know? It's funny because we get a lot of that flack, because when we put out "Shut Up" it's very much a hip-hop kind of R&B vibe to it. Some people gave us some shit for that, but then we came out with "Come For Me" and people were like, "Oh OK, they're still a rock band." Then they come to the show and they're headbanging the whole time.
For those that perhaps didn't see New Years Day at Download, and are wanting to go see the 'Unbreakable Tour' when you come back here in March 2020, what can those fans expect to see?
It's very high energy. It has a very punk rock style of energy. Pretty much you're coming along to an explosive rock show that you won't forget. You might see some blood, you might see some action, who knows?Just buckle your seat belts because it's going to be one wild ride. You can love us or hate us but you're sure as hell not going to forget us.
Thanks a lot for chatting with us Nikki, we look forward to seeing New Years Day back here soon.
Absolutely man, thank you so much for talking with me, I really appreciate it.
Tickets for all shows go on sale at 11am this Thursday, June 27.
For complete tour and ticket information, visit: livenation.com.au.
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