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Once being self-categorized as “Hauntedmansioncore”, female-fronted New Years Day goes pop-metal, ushering fun and dark, heavy riffs, while maintaining a vivacious and down-to-earth persona. With the band’s newest album, “Unbreakable,” NYD reveals a lighter, even more enticing side to them.

“Our last record was very serious and dark and this is a lot more fun,” says New Years Day founder and lead singer, Ash Costello. “We set out to make a pop-metal record and we nailed it.”

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Before embracing the electric and melodic side of pop-metal, the members of NYD had started the “Hauntedmansioncore” genre, through their similar outlook on growing up going to Disneyland.

“There’s this juxtaposition of this fun, happiest place on earth, but there's a dark underbelly to Disneyland that I was always fascinated with,” Costello said. “Like where was Walt Disney's severed head?”

As New Years Day’s musical style evolved, so did their leap of faith with the production side. When Costello first expressed that she wanted to “make a poppy metal album, it was hard for a lot of people to understand.” This included potential writers and producers.

“I eventually found the right team who really understood it and helped me make it a reality and took it to the next level,” she said. “Hiring two producers instead of one is unheard of in the musical world. What I've found is with any producer, male or female, they know what they're doing and they don't want other people to touch it. It's an ego thing.”

While normally there are multiple songwriters on an album, having two producers is atypical, because aligning and weaving multiple visions into one is difficult to execute. However, under the work of producers Mitch Marlow and Scott Stevens, “Unbreakable” achieves this.

“You would think weighting the heavy metal guy and the poppy melody guy both together would be more of a battle,” said rhythm guitarist, Nikki Misery. “But it worked out like magic.”

Costello says “Unbreakable”’s musical parents are Pantera and No Doubt.

“But like ‘Rock Steady’-era No Doubt,” Costello said. “With the poppy elements, a lot of the songs are very danceable while still being happy. Like who wants to dance to metal music? How does that happen? Somehow we created it.”

Austin Ingerman, lead guitarist, added, “This is cool for us because we can tune super low and have these heavy riffs, but at the same time, we get to play metal while appeasing everybody.”

An appreciation for thick, amplified distortion is one of the main characteristics that connects all metalheads. Starting at Warped Tour in 2010, to touring all over the globe, NYD says they have made unforgettable friends and connections along the way.

“Our favorite band to tour with is Halestorm. Definitely,” said bassist Frankie Sil. “At the end of the second or third leg, we pulled a prank and toilet papered the entire stage while they played.”

Costello added, “It's like family out there.”

Aside from pranks, and “quite a few shots,” New Years Day’s surprising pre-show rituals include pop dance parties.

Costello says these parties consist of “a lot of Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, and Usher.”

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

While these musical tastes range from retro to old-school punk to industrial goth, Costello’s most wanted pre-show songs to cover would be Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River.”

“It’s funny because at first it would start off as a joke, but like, a good song is a good song,” Misery added. “Plus, when you listen to so much heavy music when you're by yourself, the last thing you want to hear is something heavy. Our musical tastes are so far wide and beyond.”

Costello says that expressing that darkness leads to a healthier and lighter being.

It's basic psychology 101. If you repress your feelings and your demons, you're probably going to end up being a serial killer,” she said. “Definitely being one with the demon is healthier. You have to feed the monster.”

While the pop and metal worlds emanate an unexpected overlap, the counterculture umbrella familiarly includes the tattoo world.

Costello’s favorite tattoo is her crow from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” which she read “until the book fell apart.” While the self-proclaimed video game nerd is in the middle of a horror movie-themed leg sleeve — including the original and new Pennywise, Captain Spaulding, and Leatherface, whom she says are all of her “daddies” — the members of New Years Day have matching symbols for their fourth studio album, “Malevolence.”

As New Years Day revels in their newest album release, the band reflects on the icons that had believed in them from the start. The first being Marilyn Manson, whom the members of NYD had each idolized growing up.

“He hand picked us to open up on his tour, and that was a huge ‘Holy shit, we're there’ moment,” Costello said. “Our manager at the time surprised us with it, and it was like 10 Christmases rolled into one.”

The second being Alice Cooper, who said New Years Day was going to be the next big metal band.

“Alice Cooper's my granddad,” Costello said. “He doesn't know it, but he is.”

New Years Day’s parting words on the new album are: “Buy it. Listen to it. Steal it. Download it. We don’t care, we just like that people are listening.”