GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With New Years Day’s Nikki Misery

After more than a decade of making music, New Years Day is still eager to take risks and play by their own rules. The band charts new territory on their latest album, Unbreakable, which sees them embracing pop metal. It may be their most accessible album yet, but still features the roaring riffs, fearlessness, and fierce attitude that makes New Years Day stand out. Taking a break from their tour with Falling in Reverse, guitarist Nikki Misery chats with GENRE IS DEAD! about making the new album, why pop music rules, and exceeding expectations.

GID: You guys recently premiered the video for ‘Shut Up’ on Youtube and it was an actual event, which is great! I miss the days of the music video premiere when everyone would see a video for the first time together.

Nikki Misery: Oh yeah! It’s kind of like Michael Jackson’s videos, like when he released “Remember the Time” and it was this event. You’d have dinner while watching this music video. So, you always want something like that.

GID: Yeah! During a time where things can be isolated because we always have a screen in our face, it’s great to have this collective experience and share the excitement of the premiere together.

NM: And share the excitement of watching Ash put an ax in somebody’s head too. A good healthy dose of murder.

GID: Just enough, but can’t go overboard! Speaking of murder, the clip is based on American Psycho. Can you tell me a bit about the making of it?

NM: Jose Mangin from SXM Octane on Sirius let us film the video at the Affliction Store and their studios. It was an all day process as any music video is, but it was so much fun! You walk into this giant clothing store and in the back are like these murder rooms. Everything was set right there. It was pretty easy and was seamless as hell. One of the more fun things was us sitting around watching American Psycho thinking “let’s do this scene and this scene!”

GID: It’s great! Even though watching Ash wield that ax is exciting, the business card scene is great.

NM: And it was so hard to do because you can tell by my face when I’m asking Ash if she’s okay I’m holding back laughing. I think I’m over accentuating the words. We’re usually sitting around trying to make each other laugh and we goof off, so when we have straight faces it’s on the brink of about to break. Whenever I watch it, I just think oh my god we’re about to break! And then we have a perfect straight face – nobody knows.

GID: You guys had good poker faces, but now I’m gonna go back and see if I can catch you about to break. Unbreakable recently came out and it sees the band taking a more pop-metal direction. This is a big change for you guys. Was everyone on board or was there some initial hesitation?

NM: There’s was a little bit. I know some people get a bit more nervous, but personally, I don’t because I think as an artist you’re supposed to push boundaries. Fuck these rules of how a genre is supposed to be. Why would I want to play one thing all the time? We want to take all of our influences and all the things we like and put it out there, push boundaries, and break rules. People don’t like it, they don’t like it. But for us, a good song is a good song. It doesn’t matter what genre it falls into. We’re still gonna do our own style, but we want to do more than what people expect of us. I don’t want to fall into this Halloween only kind of band. We want to think about other things and play other music.

GID: It’s great when bands experiment. It gives you a reason to keep being excited about their music. And you guys did a great job with mixing pop elements with your hard driving sound. It sounds like you guys want to keep pushing those boundaries.

NM: Yeah exactly and it’s never an easy road. I always tell people if you’re not pulling your hair out in the studio or about to kill your friends, are you really writing a new record? You have to get to those points and you have to push those boundaries. Can you imagine if [Marilyn] Manson put out Antichrist Superstar over and over again? Nobody would be a big fan. You gotta have this evolution.

GID: The pop direction was something Ash really wanted to do and she’s been talking more about her appreciation of pop music. What’s your history with pop music like?

NM: I met my buddy Jam when I went to Musician Institute out in Hollywood – he’s an amazing drummer and now he works with this big pyro company. When we first started hanging out, he would put on Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, stuff like that and I’m like what are you doing dude? Why are you bringing this in my house? And after a while, I’d find myself bobbing my head and singing these songs thinking god dangit! Then I started hearing these songs from the 90s and stuff and I realized oh my god, I’ve loved pop music this whole time! After a while, you get rid of that ego of trying to be punk and cool. You start realizing these are some kick ass songs.

Ash listens to a bunch of pop music. We like to do dance parties to get us amped up before we get on stage. Again, it comes down to it a good song is a good song. If you’re shaking your hips, bumping your head to pop, country, whatever, fuck it. As long as it’s something good to you, that speaks to you, it’s making you do something, it’s not hurting anybody else, bring it on.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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