New Politics is vocalist David Boyd, guitarist/vocalist/keyboard player Søren Hansen, and drummer Louis Vecchio. The band’s high-energy, guitar-driven blend of punk, pop, and electronically induced dance rock eventually caught the ears (and eyes) of RCA, who signed the group in 2009. Prior to recording they relocated far from their home in Denmark to New York City, or more specifically, the indie rock center of the universe, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their self-titled debut with drummer Poul Amaliel was released in July of 2010, followed by the sophomore release, A Bad Girl in Harlem, in 2013 with Long Island, NY native Louis Vecchio now helming the drum kit.
The Levity Ball caught up with the trio at this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival!
Levity Ball: So this is the first day of Uproar. Have you guys been on tour leading up to this?
Louis Vecchio: Yeah, we have. We’ve been out for like 6 months. We did a four month leg with Twenty One Pilots. And then we went out with Fall Out Boy. We’re coming off of a three week break, and this is the first day. It’s very exciting.
Levity Ball: The new album has a cleaner sound than your debut. What were some of the different goals or influences you brought in for that?
Soren Hansen: We’ve been thinking a lot about this and we’ve been coming up with a lot of different reasons. I think the main reason is we…actually, I’m kind of quoting David on this. But the first album was a reflection of what we were. That was us when we were in Denmark and writing most of the album, and this is a record of us being in America. We’ve been touring and seeing other bands and it’s kind of just happened that way, and whenever we wrote a song that was similar to the first album it was like it wasn’t honest or it didn’t work. So we just ended up always being a little disappointed with those songs, so it was just a natural development of the band, I think.
Levity Ball: Is the scene in Denmark a little punk-inflected like the first album?
SH: Not at all. Maybe it’s the opposite. We just wanted to rebel against everything so that was the album we wrote. We spent time talking about all those…it was just our life at that time, like the new album is our life. And the third album is hopefully going to be different, too.
Levity Ball: Do you now look at yourself as a hybrid Danish-American band?
David Boyd: Definitely hybrid. Louis is American.
Levity Ball: And you joined for the second album, right?
Levity Ball: Did you bring a different style to it?
DB: He wants to think that, but no. [laughs]
LV: [Laughs] I think, yeah. I think my drumming and stuff like that. But we all did everything collaboratively, and working with these guys in the studio was really easy.
DB: It also boils down to like: when are you not thinking anymore. When is it just an honest channel. Of course, you’re always going to have those things in your nature of “having the right sound” and “finding this lyrical content” and whatnot. But the core of it is just music. I think that’s just what we always did. When Soren and I met, I think that was one of our plus points. When it comes down to it it’s the fun and experience of music as music, without a genre or anything. I think at the end—it took us a really long time to write this album. A year and two months, we were putting some kind of work into it every day. It wasn’t until we got over that bump of “no more thinking, no more this,” it was like “What it turns out to be, it turns out to be,” you know? And that’s what this sort of honest outcome is. There’s probably a hundred other reasons as well, but just a whole general thing. I think we all have that with music. That respect and idea of music.
Levity Ball: Did you record the first album in Brooklyn?
SH: We did, we recorded four of the songs in LA, and we recorded the rest of it in Brooklyn.
DB: But the demos were more or less done. They were at least…like, 96, 97%, I think we wrote some verses there.
Levity Ball: And how about the second one?
SH: The second one we actually wrote everything in our apartment and in our studio. We had two small production studios where we wrote most of it. We have a little setup with a vocal booth, and we recorded the vocals ourselves.
Levity Ball: What part of Brooklyn do you live in?
SH: We live in Bushwick.
DB: We used to live in Williamsburg. We moved to Bushwick when we ran out of money. Then we moved farther out to Bushwick. But it’s not a bad area, we’re still on the L line.
Levity Ball: Have you guys tapped into the artist community in Brooklyn for inspiration?
SH: Not really, unfortunately. Because we’re from Denmark, and when we came over here we started touring right away. We actually lived with two Danish girls. So we were touring and started writing the album and then all these crazy things happened and we, all three of us, we lost our girlfriends…it was the hardest thing we’d ever done but also the most important, because of the fact that when you have nothing to lose anymore, that’s also when you start being yourself completely and you break down all the walls you’d created surrounding the sound. So, regarding tapping into the environment, we never really had time. We were always gone, and then suddenly when we were back we were so focused, and maybe a little too focused, on writing and writing and writing. I think we just never really tapped into…I love that when you walk out the door you see the whole vibe of the creativity, but you do that all over New York I feel.
DB: But New York is a funny place, because it’s like, everyone is so…everyone talks together in some odd way and then you’ll hang out together every month or every three months. Everyone’s on their own in some way, everyone’s always hustling, there’s always something going on. And you have to…the rent is high, it costs a lot to eat there, and you’re always doing something new or going to some party or this or that. We didn’t have a chance—writing the second album, we had no money. We were living off ramen noodles. Some days we couldn’t even just go to a bar and afford a beer. It was definitely a tough place. A change and a reality smashing you in the face. That was a part of it. But that also brought…we’re on our first single, and what it’s done for us already is more than our whole first album with both singles. Yesterday we were at T.G.I. Friday’s and it came on.
SH: I think the really beautiful thing about that is, if we hadn’t had that time where we had no money and now…it’s not that we have money, but things are going well.
DB: Everyone’s our friend, everyone’s giving us good deals.
SH: The most beautiful thing is that you appreciate it a lot. I think if it had just happened after two months, I don’t know if we would appreciate it that much, because…David said it was a “reality smash,” it wasn’t even a reality check. You’re just like “Holy shit, I could lose this thing that I’ve been wanting my whole life and am so close to getting.” And then when you suddenly—
DB: That’s when you also realize how much work has to go into it. Because you do it out of love, of course. And you have something…it’s one of those unexplainable things, but they mean everything. We came out of it, we came out of it stronger.
Levity Ball: What was it about Harlem that inspired the song and title?
DB: We don’t really overthink stuff, to be honest. We do, but then it just reaches a point where we’re kind of on the edge and we’re like “Whatever.” Somehow it always pieces and puzzles together to make sense in some way.
Levity Ball: Did you spend a lot of time in Harlem or have a spot there?
DB: Not really, it was more like…we never really experienced New York, and we were always in Williamsburg and Bushwick and that area. Every now and then we’d go into the city, but we were on tour so much. Harlem, we’d never been to. There was a house party with some friends, and there was a girl from Harlem, and…[laughs]…the rest became a romantic adventure. It’s a mix of that. It’s different elements.
SH: Different inspirations. The reason that that song became the main song and the album title, is because we already had the song that was most likely going to be the second single, and we wanted one more song that kind of summed up things a little bit. When we wrote “Harlem,” it was that song. Everything changed from there. In some ways, it was the key song for us that we had to write that we took a long time to write.
Levity Ball: Who are you excited to be touring with on Uproar?
LV: Duff McKagan. Walking Papers. Guns ‘N’ Roses bass player? That’s insane. I’m excited about a lot of the bands. I’m into Circa Survive and Coheed & Cambria. I think it’s going to be a fun tour. It’s a good mix.
DB: We’ve had about a month break from touring. We’ve done individual shows, we’ve done some one-offs and acoustic shows. We went nonstop from January to a month ago, and this is our first tour since…it’s always a little hectic. We’re going to try something different, play some new songs. We only have 25 minutes, but you have to make the best of it. The first few days we have to nail all that stuff, but we’re so excited. This is what we live for, just writing music and touring. That’s what we want to do.
Levity Ball: So you’re already thinking about the next album, too?
SH: Yeah, absolutely.
DB: We don’t have anything solid.
SH: No, we just have ideas.
DB: We’ve been really inspired with all the positive stuff that’s been happening. It kind of sparked something in all of us. We probably won’t use any of it. You never know. When that album comes, it’ll turn out to be something completely different. Just the spark of wanting to create is a good sign.
Levity Ball: What are you guys listening to these days?
SH: I love a lot of the bands…I really like Imagine Dragons. I think they’re an awesome band. A lot of the bands that are on the charts with us, that we have actually gone on to meet and become friends with them. I was driving home from a friend’s place in Long Island, and I was thinking about how we’d listened to everything from Pantera to Pennywise to Rihanna to Snoop Dogg, or Snoop Lion. We just love music. He had a huge obsession with Ke$ha! [points to Louis]. [laughs]
LV: She’s great, man! She’s great.
SH: I would say if I had one flaw, but of course I have a lot, but when it comes to listening to music I listen a lot to songs and less to albums than I used to.
LV: I think that’s a common thing.
DB: I think from my dancing…I always just got mixtapes. I never even knew who the artists were. I never knew that I was in love with Rage Against the Machine or whatever. I was just like, “This song, I love. I’ll breakdance to it.”
Levity Ball: So you started out as a dancer? I noticed in your videos you dance quite a bit.
DB: That was my background. [feigns pretentious artist voice] I’m a dancer!
Levity Ball: When did you gravitate more towards singing?
DB: I always had it there in the background. In all honesty, this could just be me trying to make it seem like it’s more than it is, like we all like to do as people. I think it was sort of my way with communicating with music. Whether you’re singing or dancing or this or whatever, they all sort of coexist in some awkward way. When I was really young, I was thrown in a ballet class, and I remember getting teased for that. But I loved dancing. I never saw it as that. To me it was just, “Oh, you can move around and this and that.” I quit that straightaway after, but then I wound up going more macho with breakdancing and popping and becoming one of the best at it in my area. Music was always the drive, I just didn’t have the environment and the means for it. I didn’t grow up in an environment where people had instruments, none of my friends did it. The minute I started dancing for artists, I began making friends who were artists or producers, and when that was around I just did it. It just came naturally.
Levity Ball: You were both sort of solo artists who were working together originally. How did that end up coming together?
SH: We weren’t really solo. We were just two musicians who hadn’t found our way [laughs]. But we wanted to do solo records. I wanted to do a piano solo kind of project, and David wanted to do a little R&B inspired project.
DB: Like Funkadelic, kind of.
SH: If it’s one thing neither of us know how to do, it’s produce in a certain direction. We were like, “Oh, sure, we can make you a R&B song.” And in my head I’m like, “I’ve never heard an R&B song. It’s the furthest thing from what I listen to.” I’ve always loved either the Doors or those kind of things or something where you can really head bang and go crazy. When we wrote those songs, they had nothing to do with anything we wanted them to be like. We didn’t even know that we might have material for something that might end up being a band. But it’s just funny how when I look at it now and I just visualize…it’s really all of us who are like, “Oh, you want to do that? Sure!” and yet we never think about “Oh, that’s going to be really, really hard to do.” It’ll get good, but it might get good completely far away from what we intended it to sound like. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a funny thing to think about.
Levity Ball: Were you always a drummer, Louis? How did you wind up joining the band?
LV: I’ve been playing drums since I was three years old. My dad and my grandfather were drummers. I was kind of just gigging out, hired gun stuff, different artists. I was opening up for Justin Bieber in another band, and I met our friend, who lives with them, he’s a videographer. He was out with them doing their video stuff when their old drummer was leaving and that’s how I found out about them. And I left that whole world to join this world. But it was definitely the best decision.
DB: And he came at the hardest time as well.
SH: And stuck. Which means that it’s a good thing.