What started as a series DIY laptop recording sessions in a busy London share house …
The dust may have settled after Download Festival but the excitement still bubbles at the surface for New Years Day vocalist, Ash Costello.
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For the Californian rockers it was their first ever appearance in Australia, and as New Years Day rightly deserved, their crowds went off. “When you go to a new area you never really know what to expect,” says Costello. “I’ve noticed that sometimes every city has a different way of enjoying rock music live.
“After the first day [Download Sydney] I felt like I got my footing pretty quickly–the second day [in] Melbourne was epic!”
Reaching into new areas is a common ambition for Costello this year as New Years Day release their fourth studio album, Unbreakable. There are some pretty savage riffs running through the release with equal touches of sweetness and vulnerability, New Years Day style—but the general theme seems to be that Costello has a few gripes about some things. “Always,” she teases.
“A lot of this record was almost referencing the record before it [Malevolence, 2015]. Every song is a reaction to that album because they were such angry songs, and I’m not in that place anymore.
“These songs [Unbreakable] are finding a more positive place and being on the other side of that. It does touch on the gripes that affect me, but more so in a way that I can overcome it.”
Not being in the same pace as she was when Malevolence was released, and indeed, Unbreakable to some extent, doesn’t affect Costello’s live presentation typically because, as she says bluntly, she tends to check out anyway. “I really do, I check out completely, so I’m really not thinking too much about anything–which is maybe a good thing because maybe some of those songs could piss me off still.
I’ve always had a mindset of do what’s genuinely in your heart, and hopefully there’s a place in the market for it.
“I go to this blackout blank space in my head until the set’s over. It’s not something I do consciously, just when I’m on stage it’s really strange, having an out of body experience.”
Costello is the opposite of self-aware, and when it comes to how she connects with her fans during a performance, she’s disjointed but connected all the same. “Not keeping myself grounded actually makes it so that I can connect with everybody.
“I think if I was in my head, that’s where I would be, and not in the present enjoying everything with everyone in the room. Disconnecting makes it easier to be connected, if that makes sense.”
Confused? Yeah, Costello is certainly something of an enigma. “That’s kind of becoming my MO!” she laughs. But it’s working for her and for New Years Day, a success and adoration now enveloping the band that still hasn’t hit Costello, she says. Nothing’s changed for her, though. “I’ve always had a mindset of do what’s genuinely in your heart, and hopefully there’s a place in the market for it.”
“I don’t want to jinx anything but it feels like the stars are aligning in our favour. I think you have to wait it out until your time.”
Perseverance, Costello says, is key, and that’s very true given the year has brought her so many firsts already, with many more in the hands of the fates. “I hope this is the first year we get to say we’ve had a successful go on radio!” They’re not far off. On Spotify New Years Day appear in all kinds of playlists, while the lyric videos on YouTube for the new album’s lead singles, Skeletons and Shut Up, have just tipped the millions. “Things are looking pretty good so far! I’m a superstitious person, I really don’t want to jinx it!”
Tentatively stirring the pot, Costello is probed to share just what she thinks might happen if she said or did anything to jinx New Years Day’s chances of success. “I don’t know!
“I just try and do my best, write the stuff that I think is cool, that I want to listen to, and just hope the chips fall where they’re supposed to.”
Earlier in the conversation Costello had said how nice it was to receive positive feedback about Unbreakable from someone outside of the team–if she thought too hard about whether or not she has a hard time letting anyone outside of the inner circle hearing her work, she says it might affect her choices and that, in Costello’s mind, is another kind of jinx. “It’s nice for outsiders who aren’t on our team to check out the music and for [me] to hear everyone’s opinion on it.
“So far it’s [all] left me feeling really encouraged!”