Monday, June 10, 2013

An Interview with New Politics (plus album review)

New Politics: Louis Vecchio, Soren Hansen, David Boyd)
(photo courtesy of RCA records)

I’ve been a fan of New Politics since the fall of 2010 when I was able to catch them on tour as the opener for Neon Trees. They had just released their debut self-titled album and the lead single “Yeah Yeah Yeah” was featured on alternative stations and video game soundtracks. The band stole the show that night and continued to gain more fans as opening acts for other artists and on the festival circuit.

Fast forward three years and it’s a bit of deja vu. In March, I was able to catch them once again as an opening act for Twenty One Pilots on an MTV “Artist to Watch” tour and, once again, the band stole the show. “Harlem,” the lead single from “A Bad Girl in Harlem,” was on the charts and making appearances in commercials. That show came two months before “A Bad Girl in Harlem” was to be released and when they were announced as an opener for certain dates on Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock and Roll” Tour, I successfully attempted to arrange a sit-down with the band before the show to talk about the new album.

A fan's crowd shot from The Tabernacle in Atlanta
(photo courtesy of
Later in the night, the band would take the stage to warm up the crowd before Fall Out Boy tore the roof off. And as an opener, the band exceeded what was asked of them. That feeling was in the air again - the band had won over new fans who would go back and tell everybody else about what a great live act New Politics is - from breakdancing in the middle of the set to standing ON the crowd to getting everybody involved. I would highly recommend checking them out if you get the chance.

Below is a review of the newest album before going into a chat with the trio.

New Politics - A Bad Girl in Harlem (3.5 stars)

New Politics’ self-titled debut was a solid 3 star album and a perfect debut from the (at that time) full Denmark trio. David Boyd, Soren Hansen and Poul Amaliel made up an energetic band with energetic anthems such as “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Dignity.” The in-your-face feel barely slowed on the album and it was as great as it was raw.

A Bad Girl in Harlem was the band’s polished and refined follow up, with radio-ready singles (“Harlem”) and even re-edited songs (“Give Me Hope”). It’s the first release with Long Island drummer Louis Vecchio and it’s apparent the unit is acting as a whole on the ten-track effort.

In a bit of a double-edged sword, the album’s weakness is also a surge of personal strength. Unlike the self-titled debut, there are ballads (“Stuck on You”) and optimistic uplifters (“Overcome”). While the songs are good in their own right, and showcase the band's range, they do sap the energy found in the debut and it takes a bit away from the follow up.

The band at their absolute best is “Just Like Me,” a roaring track that never lets up from the initial press of play. But songs like “Tonight You’re Perfect” and “Berlin” show a band that’s ready to not only play loud and fast, but can write good songs that are ready to be heard by, and played for, many.

A Bad Girl in Harlem shows the progression of New Politics as a ride that’s going to go fast and slow, but will have a lot of twists and turns that keeps things exciting.

New Politics - The Interview 
(photo courtesy of
Q: How was the approach to writing the album different this time around?

Soren: Very different approach. It’s so easy to build walls around who you are as a band and we definitely had done that. It’s funny how you can think it’s so far away (from the first album), but it’s not. It’s us playing, it’s us recording, it’s us writing the songs. The main thing about this album... we wanted to write good songs and wanted to be really honest. David always says this and I think it’s a good point - the first album was a different time for us. We never really thought about all these things that happened since we moved to America.

Q: Did living in America play into the approach?

David: Absolutely. You’re equally inspired and influenced by your surrounding. It also has a lot to do with what you’re going through as an individual. That reflection of that emotion that goes out and then gets returned.

Louis: Like getting denied by all the American girls.

David: Or not (laughs).

Q: Talking about your surroundings, is that where the album title came from?

David: I think so. But at the same time a lot of it’s not thought out. It kind of just goes the way it goes and it becomes what it becomes. I don’t know if we’re 100% aware of what we’re doing when we’re doing it. It makes sense maybe after, once it’s done. But when we’re putting those pieces of the puzzle together you can’t see the whole picture until it’s done.

Soren: Do you know that feeling when you’re doing something and you know you have your hands on something real and it’s honest? We wrote so many songs that we could handpick only honest songs. If you try to write something and you’re head is in that process, you can be 100% sure that it’s not going to work. If you do it just honest and naive … then the song will write itself.

David: That was the first barrier we had to break when we started writing. How do we get away from our nest? You know, we wanted to recapture that feeling - making an honest song that you want to play for others. That reflects something that you’re proud of. We had that feeling when we made the first album. So we’re trying to capture that feeling again.

Q: Is that why you guys tackled the ballad (“Stuck on You”)?

Soren: We needed to be pushed to write this album. We sent that song to our management and thought “There’s no way we’re going to be able to do this” and they called five minutes after and were like “Are you ---- serious? That might be the next single for you guys.” And it’s so weird - creativity is something you can’t put your finger on what it is but you just know when it’s right.

David: From the first album to the second album, there is that difference. But I think it also had to do with us really pushing each other. We also have to develop and show new sides of us and go into different areas with our music. I think that’s very important for any artist.

Q: Do those songs give you a chance to slow down on stage? Because I’ve seen you twice and you are all over the place.

David: (laughs) I think they do.

Soren: I think that when you suddenly have two albums and when we have a chance to sit down and make a proper headlining set - which I can’t wait for - I think it’s going to be extremely awesome to make a set that is based on that production of us having a lot of choices instead of just going “1 2 3 4 AAHHH” and then we get off stage. Because we always do that - it’s our nature to do that. But it’s also going to be cool to show more sides. Because you limit yourself if you don’t allow other sources of creativity to be a part of your act.

David: But we spoke about that the other day. The more that we’re developing, we also have to develop the show as well and learn to use that energy in a different way. There’s only so many times we can throw a guitar in the air or stand on our heads, you know what I mean?

Soren: Here's a fun note that may answer some questions: on the first album, that was my first time ever playing guitar. I’m actually a piano player. So to be able use my main instrument on stage would also be really cool. That’s definitely going to happen. It would even be fun to do some piano stuff with songs from the first album.

Q: What made you guys want to re-edit “Give Me Hope?” 

Louis: That’s actually a funny story because “Give Me Hope” was before I was in the band but I know that what you’re hearing now is actually the way it was written before.

Soren: It just became more of a punky song on the first album because that suited that album a little better. But we always loved this version. It was just cool to give it another chance.

David: It’s also very relevant to today’s music and what’s happening with the scene. It’s done, it’s there - why not put it on and give it another chance.

Q: Any highlights from touring the states the past few years?

David: The thing that I find very interesting is the reality of moving from Denmark to here - when it all happened in Denmark it happened so quick. Going through what we went through in the past few years was so insane. We’ve played hundreds of concerts and we’ve toured America and really grown attached to it in a way.

Soren: Absolutely the most insane thing any of us have tried. This is a dream. It’s such an honor that we are able to live in America. It’s something that we always wanted to do. Our fan base is absolutely wonderful. We have so much positivity. It’s just the best thing that’s happened to any of us.
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