By Molly Van Engelenhoven
On Thursday, I made the trek down to Salt Lake City in the pouring rain with my tireless companion Taylor Hicks for The Other Side Tour: It’s Awake, Darksiders, The Relapse Symphony, Eyes Set To Kill, Get Scared and New Years Day. After being ejected from a mosh pit during The Relapse Symphony’s set and welcoming back the Utah-born Get Scared, New Years Day, the headlining band, was up.
One 45 minute set later, filled with head banging, being showered in fake blood, guitar string splitting and screaming my head off, my ears were ringing, my throat was burning and my heart was full of the rush of adrenaline only rock and roll can give you.
I was then invited into the New Years Day tour bus to have a chat with its two guitarists, Jeremy Valentyne and Nikki Misery. Don’t be fooled by their unconventional outward appearance, they’re some of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Their bus was decorated for Halloween – complete with pumpkins, skull shot glasses and “Trick-or-Treat” banners. It even smelled like a pumpkin spice latte.
Molly: Since its Halloween, what’s your favorite scary movie?
Misery: I’ve always liked the old black and white classics, like the old universal horror monsters – Frankenstein, Dracula, the mummy. They always have these really creepy laughs in there. It’s not so much suspenseful and scary, there’s just something about it that always seems creepy, especially with old vintage movies.
Valentyne: Nosferatu, all the way.
Molly: Have you ever actually broken a guitar before?
Misery: Oh yeah. With the way I play…or…try to play, it’s constantly with a nihilist attitude, with a little bit of destruction.
Valentyne: If you haven’t broken something on a guitar you’re doing it wrong.
Molly: I’m interested to get your guys’ opinion on this. Even though you’re not women, you’re in a band fronted by a woman [Ash Costello]. Sexism is a really big problem in the music industry. What do you think would be the best way to solve it?
Misery: I just think more girls need to stand up for themselves and be out there. They had the whole “riot girl” movement in the 90’s with Bikini Kill and Nashville Pussy. There just need to be more women out there. Like Joan Jett and Blondie. Of course, guys are going to always to try, you know, put them down, but we just need more of them. More girls don’t want to get up and play and want to be fangirls. In this kind of scene, we need more of that. Rock and roll is supposed to be about liberation and standing up for yourself and I think a lot of people forget that.
Valentyne: I think it’s not an issue of there’s not enough of them. I think the majority of them, just like the majority of guys in music, it’s just that there’s more guys in music so it’s not talked about as much – they don’t give it all they got. They don’t have the balls…well, literally. But in a way of like, they’re not going up there with middle fingers up there, they’re going up there being all girly and you need to go up there and kick a**, not get you’re a** kicked.
Molly: Ash [lead singer] has talked a lot about how she used to be really shy. It takes a lot of confidence to get up on stage and play a show every night. Do you have any advice regarding building self-confidence?
Misery: To be honest, no. I think as an artist or a musician, we are all pretty emotionally messed up and that’s why we do this. If we weren’t so disturbed or messed up in the head we’d be doctors or lawyers or some other sh*t like that. I think to be a true artist you have to have some kind of mental disorder in the first place. Confidence with going on stage comes with the reputation of constantly doing that, where it almost becomes nothing, but at the same time, it never becomes nothing.
Valentyne: For me, I’m still shy. I think when it comes to the stage, I use my insecurities and my shyness to bring out my performance. It’s me putting myself out there, going like “Yes I’m shy and insecure, look at me.” That, to me, is like the best way to get it out. Even when I get offstage I’m still super shy, but onstage it’s different.
Molly: Chris Motionless [the lead singer of Motionless in White], who I know you guys are good friends with, made a Tumblr post saying that he really hated it when his fans told him that he “saved their life.” [Original post can be read here, be warned, it contains strong language http://chrismotionless.tumblr.com/post/68612813830/recess-is-over] What is your opinion on this issue?
Misery: I get that a lot, and, to be honest, I feel the same way. I’m not there pulling someone away from anything, so obviously I didn’t save their life. Hopefully we can inspire that kind of courage with our music. Music has done that for me. Growing up listening to punk rock made me stronger as a person, made me open my eyes to what’s really happening in the world. But when kids come up to me and say I saved their life, I think they’re taking responsibility off themselves and that’s what you should do is take responsibility. You saved your life. Every day you wake up in the morning, that’s your strength. You’re doing that, it’s not me. Yeah, music is the soundtrack to your strength and your life, but you’re the one that’s ultimately doing that. I completely agree with him [Chris].
Valentyne: I’m going to give an answer to this that’s probably not the best. I’m tired of kids in this generation being like…really wimpy. If you someone makes fun of you, hit them in the face. Straight up. You’re going to go home and hurt yourself anyway, you might as well get hurt standing up for yourself.
Misery: Facts. When I was younger and someone talked sh*t to me, you would f**king throw a fist. I got beat up all the time, but you wouldn’t see me cutting myself.
Valentyne: You don’t want to advocate violence, like, violence isn’t the answer, but at the same time if you’re going to hurt yourself, then go down fighting. That’s what life is.
Misery: I kind of feel like people just saw that My Chemical Romance DVD where he’s [Gerard Way] like “Yeah when kids say we saved their lives that means a lot.” And now all of the sudden they constantly say that to everything. No, you do that yourself. I’m here, in a van, sleeping in my own sweat. You guys are doing that yourselves. I had to live through that, now you’ll live through that.
Molly: Your newest album, Malevolence, marks a big genre/sound transition for the band. Did you make a conscious choice to go more metal, or did it just kind of happen as you were writing?
Misery: I’ve never seen us as a metal band or going more metal. I just think of it’ as Ash’s emotion. She describes how she’s feeling and that’s what comes out musically. Whether it’s metal…punk…whatever people want to label it as, it’s all just rock and roll. And if the response is to get more angry, that just has to do with like what we’ve dealt with, from this album to the last, with people leaving and people stabbing us in the back and stuff like that, the lies that built up, the betrayal of people that were our close friends…that’s how we try to make those feelings sound through an instrument. But metal, or whatever genre, we don’t see it that way.
Valentyne: If it sounded like Victim to Villain and Ash felt differently, it wouldn’t be true art. If she’s mad, then we make something mad. If she’s sad, then we have an album full of ballads. You need to write what you feel or it’s not real. People don’t understand or relate to it if it’s just fake. So who knows, our next album could be…reggae.
Molly: I’d listen to that. That’s all the questions I’ve got for you, thanks so much for talking to us. You guys played a great show.
Misery: It’s so weird because whenever people say this. It’s so weird, when you start a band…you never think that people will actually come see you play. We’re just these punk and rock and roll kids.
Valentyne: We’re just a bunch of losers that got made fun of in high school.
Misery: We’re pretty much the same as anyone else. There’s really no difference except for the stage we’re on. And really, that doesn’t make us any different. Anyone can do that. That’s what punk rock always taught me. You don’t have to know an instrument, you just get up, play, sing your heart out and do what you want. Have something to say that people will want to listen to. If people do, that’s awesome and if people don’t, you went up and did it anyway. There’s no real failure with music as long as actually you go up and put your heart into it and do it.
Valentyne: That’s with anything in life. Even being a doctor or a lawyer you need to (*Shia LaBeouf voice*) JUST DO IT. That’s the whole thing. When you do something you don’t have your heart in, then it’s like (*Shia LaBeouf voice*) WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. Like what you guys are doing right now. You’re just doing it. You’re interviewing people.
Solid life advice from Nikki Misery and Jeremy Valentyne of New Year’s Day. Their show was mind blowing – if you ever get the chance to go see them, absolutely do it.
I would also like to give a quick shout out to my good friend Taylor Hicks, who helped me with conducting this interview.