Last week our writer and photographer, Eric Riley, had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the guys from New Politics before their show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (you can check out Eric’s photos from the show here)!
See what the guys had to say about playing Firefly, signing to DCD2, and if fans can expect to hear new music soon! Check out the interview below!
DB: No, wait! laughs
Hey guys, thanks for sitting down with us! Hope you’re all well-rested from your day off in Saratoga. How’s Upstate been treating you?
SH: It was good. We actually had a real day off, which was nice. We saw all of those painted horse statues around the city, because of the racing track. That was … interesting.
Yeah! Actually a few towns over, Troy has a bunch of Uncle Sam statues all dressed up in different outfits, it’s cool.
LV: Oh, no way, was he, like, from here or something?
Actually, here’s a history lesson! When soldiers would get packages back during the war, the boxes would say they were from the US, and the code was that they came from “Uncle Sam,” and they got sent from Troy. Or, at least that’s how I always understood it.
LV: Aaahhhh. Wait, so Uncle Sam isn’t a real guy? He’s not an actual uncle or something? I’ve been duped my whole life like this?
DB: I was up in Lake George, and they had that fort thing, and I didn’t know that that’s where that whole Last of the Mohicans thing took place. Fuckin’ crazy. Serious amazing history. You ever see that movie?
LV: Yeah man, like millions of times. I’ve got that soundtrack!
to everyone: SH: Is that that big fight, that was here?
LV: That’s the sort of soundtrack where you just look at the movie and you’re like “makes ‘FUCK YEAH’ motion.” And someone’s always dying in slow motion, of course.
Aaaaanyway, tonight’s only the fourth show of this tour, so I can’t really ask which city has been the craziest or whatever, so how about this – is there a certain date you guys are looking forward to instead?
LV: Well we’re looking forward to all of the shows, but Long Island was a big show for me. I’m from Long Island, and we played the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach, and that was just awesome. West Coast is going to be really great.
SH: It seems to be the same type of vibe wherever – we’ve pulled together all of this recognition and no matter where we are, there seems to be a lot of people singing along.
DB: I’m just glad that these shows are so packed. I expected it to be a lot less packed, since we’re opening, I’m surprised at how many people there are. I definitely think I can’t wait to do Red Rocks – it’s sold out already, and we’ve missed that one twice, and I’ve just heard so many great things and I’ve seen pictures and the acoustics are just incredible. It’s one of those venues that you can just check off your bucket list.
Which one of you was the first to find out that you’d be opening for this tour? Did you all find out together?
SH: I think we all got a phone call while we were out on tour?
LV: I was shouting “Put it on speakerphone, put it on speaker!”
Who were you touring with?
SH: I think it was our headline tour, or – …
DB: – weren’t we in England? – …
LV: – I think we were at the end of a small run with Fall Out Boy, yeah? That’s right. It was pretty crazy, we freaked out. Our manager came out to the London show, we were playing Wembley, and he told us and we were just blown away.
After the first day or two of the tour, there was a rest day, but you guys didn’t get a day off because you went to Delaware to do the Firefly Festival – that’s a pretty huge one, how was that?
SH: Firefly was unreal. Over the last year and a half, we’ve really been able to see that we’re actually becoming a band who has a fanbase. So when we were playing, I mean, I don’t think you ever know what to expect when you play a festival. Because we’re used to playing festivals; last year, we were there, and we were completely unknown – our single wasn’t even on the charts yet, or it was barely out, and now we went back to do Firefly this time around and it’s such a big festival and we’re at the end of our set and we’re playing “Harlem” and there’s this crowd of 20,000 kids and they all have their hands up. It was a very touching feeling.
DB: It was great. When you get to go back onto the festival circuit again after you’ve been around or after you’ve gotten some recognition, it’s a totally different thing. It’s insane. It’s great to see – people, even if they don’t know our music or know of us, or maybe they’ve heard a song, now they’re at a point, or well it seems like they’re at that point where they want to give it a chance, they’re open to it and curious.
LV: I feel like it goes, like, the people know the song, and maybe they like the song. And then the next step from that is learning about the band, like they hear that we’re opening for someone and think “Oh, maybe we should go check them out,” and we’re at a place where kids are open to becoming fans. We can see already, after just four shows, that this one could be huge.
Once this tour is all wrapped up, you guys are hitting the road with Somekindawonderful and Bad Suns – this is not your first headlining run, right?
LV: Second one, ever.
Whoa. So how do you prepare differently for an opening slot on this tour compared to a festival spot at Firefly compared to a headlining tour?
SH: I think you just prepare keeping in mind that you know what your job is. Each time you play, your job is a little different. When you do a tour like this, you go out and you have maybe 10% of people who know who you are, and you prepare a set that’s the right length and that you know has to go out and impress people. I feel like for us, we’re going to make sure to do that no matter what. But for a headline show, the people are there for you.
DB: And they’re there for everything that the band is, besides just the music. It’s more personal, it’s what we work for. For this tour, it’s opening so many new doors and presenting us with so many opportunities that we wouldn’t have with a headline tour. It’s all the same – it’s all a performance, and we’re giving out heart 100%, but here, we’re not the focus, but we have an opportunity to be for that half-hour we’re on stage.
LV: Plus, at festivals, it’s about who you get to meet, too. It’s a crowd full of kids who are camping and listening to music who just want to go nuts and have a good time. There’s just a general vibe with a festival that’s just good times.
DB: Headline runs are almost more nerve-wracking than anything else. We, as a band, have to fulfill these kids’ expectations. They’re our fans, and it all falls on to you, and you want to give them everything that you can.
LV: But still, headline runs are the best thing in the world.
For the fall tour, you haven’t announced the full list of dates or cities yet – has your time spent with Fall Out Boy contributed to this secrecy?
SH: laughs Actually, yeah. Pretty much. If it were up to us, we’d announce everything right away. But it’s all politics. And sometimes I think, as an artist, there are some things that you don’t always need to know, ya know? It’ll just confuse you haha. Like, we’re playing here now, and we wouldn’t want to ruin that by saying we’ll be coming back again later before we play tonight.
DB: But it’s pretty awesome to see how people are flipping out about it – kids are asking when the info will come out, or they’re asking when we’ll be back around, or they’re looking on venue and ticket sites trying to see if stuff has gotten announced in one place that it hasn’t in another. It’s a blast.
Pete Wentz was teasing a “big announcement” last week, and it turned out to be the revival of Decaydance Records. Then it was revealed that you guys were on DCD2. Some bands can sometimes be wary or nervous to sign to a label, fearing that they may not have the total control over their work anymore. Being Pete’s label, did this help to ease this worry? Or was it not ever a worry and you were just focused on the chance to further grow as a band?
SH: I think, I mean, – okay, well first of all, Pete is a very, very cool guy. He’s also a very, very nice guy. And something that is definitely important to us is that we have full creative rights, and that means that he’s believing in us. Going into this, it was never an issue. It was just an awesome opportunity, and we were just lucky to be in that situation.
So you went in knowing that you’d still have total say over everything?
DB: I mean, it’s music: we write it, and we’re very open-minded, but with them being our songs, we would never do a song or release a song that wasn’t “us,” something that we didn’t believe is. I think that’s why our songs and our style of writing are so diverse. Like, on our albums, there’s so many different things happening, and we’re like that.
But it can be a plus or a curse sometimes. You’ll see bands, and they’ll find something that works, and they’ll take that one thing and stick with that. But with us, if we hear something or something touches us or sticks out, we’ll take it and we’ll do it. That’s something that our fans seem to be the most supportive about. And Pete has been really supportive right from the start, ever since we moved here a few years ago. And this kinda just happened sort of spontaneously – we left our label and we were free agents, and we were in a good place, and then with the timing of everything we were doing, this felt right. They’ve taken us on tour twice already, both in England and over here, so they must like what we’re doing and understand it, and that’s what’s most important.
SH: Funny thing is, when we first came over to America, we went to a Christmas party at our management’s place, and everything was so new and stuff, and I didn’t – … I knew Fall Out Boy, I knew their songs, but that was it. And I met Pete at that party, and I didn’t really knooow that he was this big celebrity here, and he sat me down and said *American rock-star accent* “Guys, I love your band, man. And if you ever need someone to play bass and come on stage and jump around, you let me know.” And that was really cool. It wasn’t until later that I realized, like, holy shit, that was probably important.
He’s always been so kind and down-to-earth, and that’s the type of person he is, and when that’s someone who becomes your business partner, that’s very helpful. You don’t need to restrict yourself with your creativity or how you’re feeling, because he makes himself approachable. The business part becomes second-nature because he comes from the same world that we do and he understands how music works and how to work around music.
You had just said that it’s all about creating “your own music,” but recently you leant your version of “Whatsername” to Kerrang’s American Idiot tribute album, what was is like to loan your own take to a song by one of the biggest bands around?
LV: That. Was. So much fun. We were nervous, but excited.
DB: We tried taking it seriously, but didn’t take it that serious. I think we stopped taking it so serious pretty quickly, when we realized that we’re never going to out-do them – it’s fucking Green Day. They’re legends. We love them, and they’re so inspiring, so how can you even try to beat that
LV: When we first heard that we were going to do that, to be honest, we were just shitting bricks. We were all just thinking “Oh man, oh man, what are we going to do?!”
SH: It’s pretty cool, because when you do something like that, you’re allowed to take it in a whole different direction if you want. So we started just fooling around with it, and didn’t necessarily care about genre or something and just focused on having fun. We recorded the thing in our tiny little basement in Brooklyn, and we had a blast doing it.
I think with every band, when you do a cover, what’s important is to not worry about being judged for trying to out-do the original’s version, but instead, you’re tributing to them. You’re saying, like, “This is what this band means to us.” I remember when Dookie first came out, and what that album did to me. And then we get a chance like this.
DB: But you also don’t want to mess it up! You think, like, “How can you beat it?” Well you can never beat it. You’ll always sort of mess it up, so we just decided to try taking it in a different direction and still show our love for it without totally trashing it.
LV: We’ve actually only ever done three covers – this one, “Territorial Pissing” by Nirvana and Bad Religion’s “Generator.” So it’s just our way of giving our thanks.
SH: And it’s just fun. I don’t care if people think if it’s right or wrong or whatever – it’s our way of telling these bands, “Guys, you’re the reason we do this, why we’re even on stage in the first place.” It’s the best way we can think to say that.
So, you’ve found a home with a new label, and it’s been a little over a year since A Bad Girl in Harlem came out. You’ve been touring pretty heavily in that time, has there been room in there for some writing or recording? Will there be new music sometime in the near future?
All: Yeah, absolutely. Planning on coming out with it in the fall.
You mentioned always trying to keep things new: any ideas on what this new stuff is going to be like?
SH: Probably a big-band/death metal/jazz record.
SH: I think the cool thing is, with a band, when you first start out, and you’re twelve years old and you’re starting your first cover band, you, as a person, have to find yourself. And like it is with anything, but especially with music, there’s a very certain thing, and it’s very hard to pinpoint what it is. But when you find it, you know it works, and you don’t know why, and you leave it and you come back, or you don’t come back and you just try something else.
But when you’re in a band, in our case, you’re three people that have to find that little thing that really works, and somehow, if you’re able to be open-minded and all come together and combine forces, you’ll come up with that one something that makes you who you are. And I think we found that little something to a pretty decent degree on the last album, and we’re so inspired and excited to start getting back to work.
LV: I feel like we’re just thinking less and letting the music happen.
Thank you guys so much, and we’ll all keep an eye out for what’s next. Have a great show!