California rockers New Year's Day recently dropped a new single and wrapped up their 2022 touring, but the band is far from laying low. With new music on the horizon — as well as the tenth anniversary of their 2013 breakout album, Victim to Villain — the band is spending the holidays with family and friends before gearing up for the next big chapter. PopCulture.com spoke with the band's charismatic singer, Ash Costello, and she shared a little about what they have in the works, and also weighed in on why she feels The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Thanksgiving movie.
First, however, we asked about the band's newest single, "Hurts Like Hell," which debuts a whole new era of New Years Day. Interestingly, Costello says this was completely unintentional, "We didn't mean for it to be that way at all. I had been kind of lackadaisically writing music on and off throughout the pandemic with our songwriting team. And we've been experimenting with all kinds of stuff, experimenting with ballads, experimenting with songs that sound more like "Shut Up" where it's not as heavy, it's almost rhythmic and R&B influenced. I'm heavily influenced by Kehlani. And it just came to be very quickly and we didn't really put much thought into it. We weren't trying to write that song. That was our first step back out."
She continued, "We would turn in songs and you'd get the email chain back from the team. You got A&R goes, 'Great song.' And the manager goes, 'Good job.' But with this song, everyone chimed in, they're like, 'Oh my God, we need to roll. We need to roll now.'" She then joked, "I was like, 'What... I've got the pandemic 25. My roots are grown out like this... I'm not ready to roll." So we quickly got our butts into shape, so to speak, in many ways, and just closed our eyes and took a deep breath and just leapt off the ledge with it. And the response was everything I hoped it would be and more."
When asked if her R&B influences could signal a new sound for New Years Day, Costello confessed, "It's yet to be seen because we're only halfway through the record and I pick up again next week. So I have all these ideas in my head though of what I would like it to sound like. And I do want it to be eclectic, but just in the way where I have so many influences and I want to play with them all."
She added, "So I'm hoping it'll end up being very heavy on one side, very, very heavy. And on the other side, very melodic and R&B and Kehlani-influenced. And I would like to just straddle the fence right in the middle. I'm not entirely sure what that looks like yet on paper. I know what it sounds like in my mind, but that doesn't always mean it's going to sound good. So we'll see."
Costello later admitted, "It's a very strange job I have. And the thought is not lost on me at all. I think about it all the time. My job is to take whatever's swimming around in my head and put it on paper and then put it into song and hope that other people think it's really cool. I do, and that's literally my job. And when you break it down that, I'm like, 'I guess it's not that scary, really, when you think about it.'"
Next year, 2023, will mark one decade since the band released their sophomore record, Victim to Villain, and Costello told us that she certainly wants to find a way to "commemorate" the occasion. "One of our big biggest accomplishments is a song that came out on Victim to Villain called "Angel Eyes." And that's going to be 10 years old next year. And I would love to commemorate that in some way."
She continued, "I think it's at 12 million streams, something crazy like that and 15 million plays on YouTube and it really shaped a lot of people in that era more than I think I could ever even wrap my head around. So I definitely want to commemorate it in some way next year. I don't know what that looks like yet, but I love that song, I love the memory, I love the time, I love what it symbolized for me. And we're going to, hopefully, do something special for it."
While taking stock of New Years Day's past is important to Costello, she also is quick to clarify that the band's future is not predicated on that reflection. "It's always onward to the horizon because it's ever-shifting. It never stops. The goals I had five years ago are not the goals I had today. And collectively, as a band, what we want to accomplish has changed too."
She went on to say, "We're very lucky to have some of the OG members back. So we have pretty much our OG lineup minus our drummer who's brand new. He's already been in the band two years, but brand new compared to everyone else. And it is just always shifting. It really is always changing. And I'm sure the goals will change from this year to next as well."
Finally, shifting gears, we asked Costello — an avid horror fan — if she has any holiday horror movies she likes to rewatch this time of year, and she did not disappoint on her selections. "We definitely have horror Christmas movies we watch, like Black Christmas. And there was a new one... that was so good, I think it was called Better Watch Out... I don't want to give it away for anybody, but great Christmas movie."
She also noted both Gremlins and Jack Frost are great holiday horror movies, and then added, "But I think Nightmare Before Christmas is a Thanksgiving movie." When asked what sparked this opinion, Costello explained, "Because it's in between Halloween and Christmas... And we don't have really anything representing Thanksgiving. I think there's Attack of the Killer Turkeys or something, but we don't need to watch that."