Danish as F*ck
Fall Out Boy, Culture Shock, and Beating the Odds with David Boyd of New Politics
Words and Photo by Ken Grand-Pierre
Dreaming is a universal aspect to life that shifts throughout our lives. Sure we’ve all dreamed of being in a foreign city, playing musical instruments to a sold out crowd; but how many people ever truly consider pursuing that? Danish punk band New Politics are a group of young men who not only followed their dreams but took incredible risks to do so. Entering a new land to chase a dream is far from an easy thing but the guys of New Politics have certainly made dream chasing a grand skill. A few days back I got to sit with frontman David Boyd about the difficulties his band has faced and why New Politics have remained incredibly optimistic in the face of uncertainty.
While reading up on you guys I learned that you were original a solo artist before being in a band, as well as Søren Hansen. What made you guys want to form a band and what made you think that would be the best course of action?
David Boyd: In a funny way I think it was a lot of desperation, though we probably weren’t aware of it at the time though. It’s funny because the process of the album we just did makes me think that a lot of great things in life happen when you let certain things go wrong and I bring that up because I ultimately think that is how we formed this band, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. We’re still piecing it together, this band and what/how we want to create but we do want to do more and are aiming to do more. Luckily we’re growing bigger and bigger.
How did you go about choosing what songs would make it onto your debut album?
David: It was mostly out of frustration because we lived with the songs for such a long time and in turn developed as people with the songs. It got to the point where we wondered ‘What are we going to do with these songs?’ Our friend’s families thought they were great but we weren’t sure that was enough and we really wanted to challenge ourselves with strangers. We needed someone who didn’t know us to hear what we were doing and to say ‘That’s good.’ I think for us as a band that was more important then anything else at that time (the first six months of being in a band). It was kind of our only hope when we entered this competition in Denmark that we won right after starting the band, we wanted feedback of what was working and not working rather then just winning the whole thing. I think that outlook worked in our favor and helped us a lot when it came to signing with RCA, moving to America, and touring that first album.
And now we have a second album out and three years has passed since we first got together. It’s been a crazy ride.
How did your local music scene influence you guys when you first got together? Do you feel as though you guys were energized by it or that you were outsiders to the scene?
David: Denmark is kind of funny when it comes to that. I came from a theater-oriented world and music was more of a hobby at the time, I’m really not a professional musician or good with instruments at all hahaha but I do know what I want and what I don’t want and I love to write and learning about melodies so getting into music felt like a very natural thing. But in terms of being part of a scene it’s weird because in Denmark it feels at times as though nothing is really original yet people are constantly forming new ideas. Like our country is so small that all our influence (music/media wise) comes from either the UK or America. We feel incredibly inspired by American culture more then anything else but in Denmark we kind of embodied that with a desire to re-arrange those influences and change them, I think that was a very specific thing back there.
Denmark is filled with great musicians, writers, and composers but for us I think we felt a little out of element because we wanted to focus more on being Americans honestly hahaha. But after being here for a while I noticed that it’s quite similar here, that a lot of Americans our age don’t aim to be ‘American’ or aim to be influenced by American things so I think it’s a really natural thing overall, to break away from what you’re familiar with to create something new.
Hahaha this industry is a tough one to nail honestly. Coming here really taught us that when it comes to being a musician that it can feel like there’s not a lot to do when you’re not playing music but that you have to learn how not true that is. That’s been a massive challenge; learning that there’s more to being a musician then just playing music. It’s something we’re always trying to keep up with and do better with. It’s a lot of hard work but it is ultimately what we came here to do. But to fully answer your question; the music scene in Denmark is great and we loved it but I think it’s obvious that it wasn’t for us because we ended up leaving the second we could hahaha.
What was it that made you guys choose New York over anywhere else in the states? Was it a very conscious choice to come here?
David: Oh yeah it was a total no brainer. To us being in New York was on the same level as winning the lottery. That’s a weird thing to say because I feel in New York people work harder then anywhere else and that the work is never ending but in terms of value I’d say being in New York is the same as winning the lottery and that’s what we always reminded ourselves with when things were rough for us here. I mean in Denmark there’s only five million people in the entire country, and to come to New York where there’s so many people….I mean…its incredible.
The opportunities to meet people, do festivals with bands you idolize, and to tour with bands such as Fall Out Boy and Thirty Seconds To Mars…it’s just nuts to think that all of that could be possible by being here.
Every country has it’s plus and minuses so I don’t want to get to comparing the two but in Denmark there’s this mindset of the more money you make the less grounded you are, kind of like you’re the same as everyone else. It’s meant to be a humbling thing but it kind of keeps you down from doing big things. But in America the whole idea of being here is to think outside of the box and do whatever you want, and enjoying the fruits of it. I think when it comes to music that’s very important, being able to enjoy the success of your hard work and in Denmark it’s very hard to survive that way.
When you guys first came here to New York can you remember what your first week was like?
David: Well there was a bit of culture shock and it’s still happening with us. Our first couple weeks here were really tough for us and I can still remember my first day here. It was late October or early November and we had our first apartment in Williamsburg, I took the train right after landing from the airport and went right to Williamsburg, insanely jet lagged but alert of my surroundings. I remember looking around and thinking about how ghetto and gritty everything looked, something about it just switched a weird vibe in my head. My girlfriend at the time gave me a map to find the place and I remember walking around with my bags and there was a moment of ‘…where am I?’ like it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe but I think anyone who moves to a new place experiences it and doesn’t ever really expect to (experience).
Luckily though we ended up loving the area of Brooklyn we were in. The band and I went right into writing and recording the album right away. In fact we worked so much and so hard that it was almost as though we blocked out the chance of culture shock to really hit us. It hit us that we really didn’t know New York because we kept touring and putting our energy into the music, it was like we really never had a chance to reflect on the massive move we made and take in our surroundings properly. So two years after moving to New York I started writing the second album and that’s when the culture shock really hit us. We ran out of money, were alone in America, and needed to write a second album. There were so many things that hit us in those times of desperation, and the fact we didn’t know anybody made all the small things hit us even more; cultural differences mostly. Like really small things like difference of food and trying to approach woman (after losing your girlfriend for being on tour)….it was all a massive learning curve. It was such an emotional and hard time, but luckily the second album has been a big success and that’s alleviated a lot of the hard ship we’ve gone through, not exactly in money but just being able to do what we love more and more.
One of the best things about America is that once you’re successful you actually feel it inside of you and you see it in you’re surroundings, as opposed to Denmark where there’s a strong sense of ‘ok that’s nice, get back to work.’ Like in Denmark your life just doesn’t change as much as it would here. That’s also brought in some more culture shock but luckily so much good is happening for us and we’re working harder then ever before. It’s made a lot of doors open, doors that confuse us at times because we’ll go ‘oh my god, I can’t believe we can do this.’ It’s a strange feeling but a great one.
From your live shows I could tell you guys were a hard working band, and after hearing about how hard you guys have worked it makes me wonder; has there ever been a band or musician you guys saw live or who had a strong work ethic that you guys admired and took away from?
David: Not really, the whole process and experience we went through was more inspiring to us then anything else. It’s been such a tunnel vision type of life for us that we’ve never really reflected or had a chance to look into someone else’s way of doing things. I will say though that the closest thing to that would probably be the bands that we’ve toured with and the people at radio stations we’ve met, especially them because they’re people who literally dedicate their lives just to music. In fact, the whole industry has affected us in a lot of ways that has made us reinforce the way we work and view things.
Like getting to hear stories from Thirty Seconds To Mars and Fall Out Boy really put a lot of things in perspective for us. I mean both of those bands have been at it for over ten years and they work incredibly hard to be where they are, there’s never been a moment where they were handed things and when you sit in a room with them and hear them talk it really hits you how much of hard workers those guys really are. It’s very nice to know that anything is possible as long as you work hard at it. All of the work we put into the band comes natural to us because the only thing we care about is getting better, and being with those bands really was an inspiring experience in relation to working hard.
The fan reaction really must be inspiring. I felt that a lot when you guys supported Twenty One Pilots, you guys clearly won over a lot of fans that night and it was incredible seeing how frantic and raw your performance was; even with being a support act for a show. That experience leads me to wonder; how did your live shows become what they are?
David: I never really thought about that actually, as weird as that sounds. It’s a little mix of everything we’ve been talking about honestly. I kind of always looked at it as an opportunity, playing live. I think of it as; this is our heart and soul and we’re going to put it out there for the world to see. We know that live shows are something not everyone can get into when they don’t know who you are but we see it this way; all we can be is ourselves. When we’re on stage we just let go of everything and try to let our excitement towards our music come out in how we perform. That excitement is what we want the crowd to see and get taken by. Mostly we just hope we do a good job with that haha.
From my opinion you guys have been doing very well. Even when I saw you guys supporting Fall Out Boy it was great to see how you guys won the crowd over. It was a crowd of three thousand people who ONLY wanted to see Fall Out Boy but you won them over, that’s incredible.
David: Thank you so much, it’s very great to hear you say that. There’s a lot of stuff coming our way and we really just want to keep playing and doing great things. I was really nervous with that show specifically, especially since they had been gone for so long. It was their first comeback and every show sold out in minutes, I mean something to remember is that shows like that (that have a thousand or three thousand people attending them) is that they’re intimate for a band like Fall Out Boy. So when you open for a band like that at venues like that you can really feel the excitement from the crowd in the air the whole time, so much so that it’s impossible not to get nervous by it, at least I think so haha. But nights like that really make us want to push ourselves even more. The Fall Out Boy guys really supported us and would let us know how much they liked us. That tour just made a lot of good feelings come about.
That’s really great to hear and I can tell at Terminal 5 that you guys definitely won over a lot of fans. When it comes to crowds; how do the crowds in the US differ from the crowds in Denmark? Also since we were talking about similarities before; how are they similar as well?
David: Some of the things I learned with music is that it’s universal and that it really does break down barriers with language and culture quicker then anything else. Music doesn’t have a language or need one. In this day and age you really don’t have a genre, by that I mean it seems more so then not that the only thing that matters is if a song is good or not. It’s all about feeling and how you can relate to a song, and I think the age we’re living in is a clear cause of that.
I mean people from all over the world can communicate with each other easier then they were ever able to before and the compartmentalization of genre’s is just something that’s dwindling more and more every day, I mean I can take out my iPod now and it’d probably stun people how much different genres of music are within it hahaha. It interests us how a lot of the times we think we did a bad show but the crowd still thinks it was great and takes to us in a strong way. To be honest when it comes to the crowds of different countries the sense of music being universal is only reinforced.
I have one more question but before I ask I want to say thanks for taking part of this. You guys are brilliant and seeing you guys live really has made me excited about live music in a way that hasn’t happened in quite some time, so thank you.
David: Thank you man, hearing that means so much.
When it came to coming up with a Bad Girl In Harlem, would you say the songs were more reflections or exertions of the experiences you guys went through?
David: I’d say it was completely an album of reflection, quite a 100% that album is just us looking back on things we’d been through, dealt with, and trying to deal with it all. We all lost girlfriends and had heart ache of wanting people to understand us, what we wanted, why we moved to New York, the whole album is just us trying to deal with everything and also comprising the things we’re going through to make music and be a band…. its all a lot to deal with. All of those things and the hardship really shaped this album and us as people as well.
It all boils down to honesty, when it comes down to it an album should be a collection of where you are now and that’s what I wanted to do with this album and I think we nailed that on this album.
TheWaster.com | NYC