The bad guys in comic books and Disney films have nothing on this fiery songstress. Just by listening to a single song, it’s made clear that the Gothic rock band, New Years Day, is heavily influenced by the dark side—something I can completely relate to. The lead vocalist, Ashley “Ash” Costello, flaunts her stuff on stage, electrifying her audiences with an eruption of spunky vocals and her infamous dual-colored hair—a tribute to her favorite Batman villainess, Harley Quinn.
Forget the typical celebrations that come with January first—don’t be fooled by the band’s name. These guys seem as though they’d rather a night of frights instead of a cozy evening in, celebrating a new year. Just take a look at their most recent music video, “Kill Or Be Killed.” Black roses, combat boots, and monsters usually reside only around Halloween—or Hot Topic. But why should these dark ideas be unleashed only in October?
Well, thankfully, they don’t have to be grouped into one month. New Years Day is setting out on an international tour—but there’s something different about this particular round of performances. This is the group’s first time headlining. So, in order to welcome them properly, pull on your best chunky boots and black t-shirt and celebrate the Halloween madness well into November. And, of course, being a fellow horror fan, I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Ash about New Years Day’s upcoming tour and newest album, Malevolence.
This is your first time headlining—what’s been going through your head?
I really didn’t want to headline. I mean, we’ve spent so many years as an opening, or a support band, so if something goes wrong, it’s not your fault. I’ve always been afraid, thinking, “Are we really ready?” That sort of stuff, but I was wrong. We’re playing so well and someone just told me that the New York show just sold out and I was not expecting that. So now I’m really excited. But now the thing that’s in my head is the pressure. I have to deliver now.
You’ll be fine! How do you usually prepare for a tour?
Uhm… You stress out a lot! You don’t really sleep a whole bunch—I’m just kidding. I have a list taped to my wall that I wake up to every day and we put a lot of thought into everything we do and we’re working on our writing, working on our props, working on our stage show, production… Working on the set that we walk out to and stuff like that.
Do you have a set setlist for the tour?
Can we expect some of your newer songs on it?
Yah! We actually are gonna mix it up with some of our very old songs and some of the songs that people have never heard.
You’re also touring with some other bands—have you toured with them before?
I’ve actually never toured with any of these bands before. But the thing that’s cool about this tour, and what generally doesn’t happen, is that we’re all really good friends. So, I think that adds a really special dynamic to the show when every band is like a family and it’s like you’re going to a club; it’s not like you’re going to see bands just drawn together. A lot of thought and love was put into this tour.
You’ve never played before and you’re friends…
Yeah; well, we’re friends through maybe have the same producer, or being at the same parties, or being signed to the same label, but we’ve never actually been on the road together.
That’ll be fun. Are you looking forward to any particular venue?
Uhm… Probably Chain Reaction because it’s in my hometown in California. I think that’s November fourth or fifth.
While on tour, what’s a typical day like?
Well, there’s lots of driving. We usually stay at a hotel until about 11, checkout, drive to the venue, get lunch, have our soundcheck and then hangout until we go on. It’s a pretty easy day.
Are you all crammed into a van, or do you have a tour bus?
This will be our first time taking a tour bus while not performing for a festival. So, we’re gonna have to relearn how to do this.
Have you ever tried to write while on tour?
Yah! We do a lot, actually. I distinctly remember “Bloody Mary” while driving through somewhere in Iowa. But yeah, we had actually written that one while we were driving. Pretty sweet, right? (Laughs)
Totally! So, who does most of the songwriting?
Mostly… Well, the dynamic has changed so much over the years. But it’ll be me and the bass player [Brandon Wolfe], or me and someone else. But right now, it’s me and our producer [Erik Ron].
Do you write the entire song? Like, lyrics, melody…
No—it’s a joint effort. Everyone pitches in when we’re in the writing room when they see fit. Like, sometimes, I’ll come up with a riff that’d be really cool on the guitar and someone will help me with lyrics. You know, we all really help each other. Like, with our new album, we all put it together.
What do you have more fun with, recording or touring?
Touring for sure. I hate recording.
It’s boring to me, you know? Singing the same line over and over, 30 times. And for some reason, it makes me very sleepy and I just do not like it. But I love playing songs live. It’s always more fun.
The band has been going for 10 years now, have you seen any change in your audiences?
Other than seeing that the numbers have grown, not really. But we’ve literally seen our fans go from junior high to graduating high school to graduating college, which is cool.
You have a Halloween makeup tutorial on YouTube; what inspired you to do that?
Well actually, AP magazine asked me to do that. They wanted us to do a Halloween look for them.
Awesome! But you’re known for your red and black hair—why those colors?
I’ve always been a fan of Harley Quinn and I don’t really like any other colors. The only colors I really wear are red, white, and black. I would’ve loved to have done white like Cruella Deville, but my hair is naturally black, so I couldn’t get it white.
Harley Quinn? You like the whole superhero world?
Ah, more like super villains. I’ve always been attracted to the darker characters. I never liked the Disney princesses—I liked the villains. I always thought they were much more interesting. I’ve just always been that way.
Me, too! But once this tour is over in the States, what’s on schedule?
We’re heading over to the UK! We have a big following over there, too.
New Years Day is pulling into the Santos Party House in New York on Oct. 16. Their new album, Malevolence, is available now on iTunes. For more on these Gothic rockers, check them out on their Facebook page at facebook.com/nydrock.