Interview From June 2013 Vandala Magazine – Interview and Story By Bag
While on the high of releasing their best work yet through Century Media Records, and preparing for a summer of complete debauchery on the Warped Tour with some of their all time favourite bands, bassist Anthony Barro took time from his busy day to explain all the madness that has been brewing. From touring in a dark, unventilated U-Haul trailer to helping young fans deal with bullying, New Years Day has been through and seen it all. Peak through their adventurous lives and may we all transform from Victim to Villain.
Your brand new album, “Victim to Villain” is coming out on June 11th, and then you guys are hopping on the Warped Tour. What are you doing to prepare yourselves for such a busy summer?
Anthony: A lot of rehearsals, spending as much time as we can in the studio running through each song over and over again. This week we are focusing on the music video, so not as much practicing, but when we do we are working through every little detail, getting ourselves mentally and physically ready. I just started packing yesterday, I just got a rush of excitement, which helps me mentally prepare. What’s the situation on the upcoming music video? Anthony: We are working on it this weekend. It’s super DIY so we literally have to do everything ourselves, so Ash is running around these next few days, putting everything together, renting set stuff, making costumes, etc.
What was it like growing up in Diamond Bar, California?
Anthony: Very suburban, most people would consider it “high class,” the majority of the city is fancy, rich mansion homes. I don’t live in that portion. I live in “not the super rich” part. It’s called Diamond Bar for crying out loud, people expect diamonds on lamp posts, but it’s not that high class, it’s pretty chill.
How did you discover a passion for music?
Anthony: I’ve always been musical. I grew up playing sports, but there was always a part of me that loved performing. I’d act in school plays throughout elementary school and middle school. A part of being an athlete is going out there and performing. It was always something that I wanted to do, and was always into music. My older sister took me to a local concert venue, called The Glass House, and saw Goldfinger play. I was just blown away by the whole experience of people on stage rocking out, going insane, then I realized that I had to do this. After that I picked up and taught myself drums, guitar, singing joined some bands and eventually ended up in playing bass for New Years Day.
Did you play in bands before New Years Day, what kind of music?
Anthony: Definitely a lot different, but similar as well. My first band was a pop punk band when I was around 15 years old. This was a time when Drive Through Records was on the top of the world with bands like Blink 182 controlling the world, The Ataris, Goldfinger, New Found Glory, all these bands were accessible to me, and just loved it. So my first band was very much like that. I played drums, it was super fun. I had another friend who inspired me to play guitar, gave me a guitar to play, and taught myself. In my second band, I played guitar for a regular rock band, then after high school I started a ska band because I always wanted to play in a ska band with horns, that was my favorite style of music. From there I got into New Years Day. Our drummer Russell was actually in my ska band, that’s how I met him. He actually left first to join New Years Day, then eventually took me with him
Anthony: We’ve always been very DIY. We’ve always written everything ourselves. Even with the EP, The Mechanical Heart, we recorded that ourselves. Actually, Russell and I recorded a lot of it here in my bedroom, and his room. The writing process for this was with a producer and it was way different than what we were used to. We came into the studio with a ton of material already written, whether it was an instrumental song, or just some riffs, ideas, some of them were completed. We had accumulated that over the past year, did some writing on the road, some writing at home then we just brought it all in to Erik Ron, and presented it to him, so we could all pick out parts and choose the best songs to go on the album. We spent a couple days doing that, started to lay down some rough takes of things to see how they went together. It was difficult to pick out the right ones, but that was definitely different. We collaborated together as a band, even if the writing of a song would start off with one person.
Before, it was just Ash, Russell and I writing and if we three were happy with it, we were good, recorded it and released, but this time there were a lot of heads in the mix, a lot of people to please, but in the end everyone was satisfied with it, which makes it even more special because we all love it.
Now that you’ve gone through the DIY route and working with a producer, would you work with a producer again in the future?
Anthony: Absolutely! It’s crucial for bands to do. You can do it all yourselves, our EP was pretty successful, but when you hear this new album you can hear the maturity, you can hear that everything came together better. It’s not all over the place, it’s more directed, and I think it’s necessary for bands to realize that at some point you need someone to come in and direct you where to go, and help you reach a wider audience. However, I’m not saying that these are not our own songs because we wrote every part of that, but having him in the room guiding us along was the best thing. For sure, from here on out I’d love to do another record with Erik. It was amazing working with him, he was the only person that we’ve worked with that really understood what we wanted to do.
You just released a new single featuring Chris Cerulli of Motionless in White, how did that collaboration come about?
Anthony: It was kind of pieced together. We recorded it with Erik and wanted to have a guest guy vocalist. We had hired another guy before Chris to sing the part and he helped putting it together. For a while we had a guy from another band that was just as relevant as Motionless in White and he got kicked out of his band, so we contemplated whether to keep him on the record. Ashley had the contact to Chris, he liked what we were doing, came out and agreed to sing on the song, so it wasn’t a co-write with him, he just came in and laid down the parts. However, the difference between his version and the original is like night and day, so much better with Chris. He just fit the song so much better, and with some of the stuff he was improvising with in the studio, it was what the song always should have been.
The album title is very strong. However, it’s easy to read and interpret it as being a revenge theme. What is the real message New Years Day is trying to send out there?
Anthony: It doesn’t not represent revenge. I don’t want people to think, ‘people are bullying me, now I have to go seek revenge,’ that is not a good message to send. Honestly, I think revenge could be a bad thing. In the news you see people killing each other, bombings, bombings during marathons, shooting up schools, that’s what revenge is. “Victim to Villain” is more about accepting who you are.
If the world is going to pin you as a bad guy, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You don’t have to do bad things, you just have to own that. This is you, this is who you are, maybe it’s not the world telling you this, maybe it’s just you, ‘I’m this person, this is who I am, this is a quality about me that people don’t like, but it’s me and it’s true to myself, so I just have to learn to accept and learn to love it.’ It’s about the transformation. It’s not about literally being a villain, it’s about going through that change in your life, being okay with it and moving on.
The band is very outspoken about being against bullying which is great, do you guys get a lot of fans reaching out to you?
Anthony: Yeah, they definitely do reach out. It’s definitely a blessing, but it’s also a curse. It’s very flattering to get tweets, and messages on facebook, and chatting.. all day, everyday, kids asking me for advice, or they just need to vent. I’m glad that kids want to reach out to us, but at the same time, this is my job, I’m just a musician that writes songs, likes to tour, play music, and get my voice heard. I’m not a therapist, I’m not your parents, it’s not my job. At the same time, it’s my duty. Our duty as the band. With each member, kids will latch on to us, they’ll come find us when it comes to the music, and the lyrics, but then all of a sudden.. we’ve been at shows where kids will literally come up to us crying, they’ll show us their scars, and say “look, this is what I did,” and kind of force us to react in the moment and then consult with them, console them. It’s not what I set out to do, but it comes with a territory, we definitely do our best to be there for the kids.
What bands are you excited to see every night on Warped Tour?
Anthony: I know I’ve dropped their name three times already, but my favorite band in the world, Goldfinger is playing. They are the first band I’ve ever seen live, they are the reason I started playing music, and now I’m on a tour where they are on it! It’ll be just for the first week of the tour, but I can tell, for that first week I’m gonna be glued to the stage, rocking out because this is like a dream come true. I’m gonna have my laminated pass, sneak backstage, go on stage and use it to my advantage, rocking out to them everyday. I hope to meet them as well. Another guy who’s on tour is Matt Embree, he’s the lead singer for Rx Bandits, they’re probably my second favourite band for life, he’s doing an acoustic west coast run as well. Pretty much all the bands that I looked up to when I was an impressionable youth growing up is on this tour, so it’s definitely a dream come true for me, it’s so surreal. Although I guess I get to do interviews over the phone and make music videos, I’m still just a regular dude who geeks out about music and is a fanboy himself, so it’s an honour to be playing with those guys. Then of course, The Years is a band that I love watching, The Aquabats, Real Big Fish, My Ska Heart, there are just so many bands on this tour that I’m very excited to tour with.
What new song are you most stoked on playing live every night?
Anthony: Honestly on this Warped Tour we are gonna play a lot of new stuff, which I’m super excited about because this album kicks ass. Angel Eyes, now that it has been released I think a lot of kids are gonna be liking and wanting to hear that one and we are definitely excited to play that. Throughout our rehearsals I think my favorite new song is Bloody Mary. It’s the third song on the new record, that song is my favorite I’m probably gonna lose it playing that song every day.
You guys have video blogs of awesome tour stories on your YouTube page, what was the one story that you’ve continued to share in the real world, so people at home can start checking these out!
Anthony: We had to ride for a week from Seattle all the way back to Southern California in a U-Haul truck that seated three, and we had seven people, so most of us had to sit in the back of the U-Haul. That’s where you put furniture when you move, it has no ventilation whatsoever and one little tiny light for a thousand miles.
You guys broke through as up and coming artists quickly on myspace, which social media platform has been the most helpful for you as an artist?
Anthony: Hands down, it’s gotta be Twitter. More people are present there. I have 2 or 3 thousand followers on there, I don’t even know how because I never tweet. On Facebook, I post things all day every day, I’ve got about a thousand friends. People are just on twitter and are more interested in your short little ideas. Even me, if I hear that there was some earthquake, or explosion somewhere, I don’t go to google, I go on Twitter and Facebook.
With our generation of ADD internet culture, how do you stay in everyone’s radar and make sure you are keeping your audience interested?
Anthony: Having that social presence on Twitter helps people keep interested, especially with platforms such as Instagram, people can visually see us, they need to be stimulated in so many different ways besides the music. All our fans follow us and Ash on Instagram, she’s always posting things with her out and about, what she does, places she’s going whether it’s an award show, or a concert. The way that she looks and presents herself in society, people latch. That all helps keeping bands present because kids are very visual with everything now. It’s not just the music, it’s about the visual as well. We try to be our best with the music videos and with our episodes that we’ve released recently, trying to paint a picture of our band instead of being just about the music, it’s also about the picture.
Anything else you want to tell the people out there?
Anthony: Definitely grab a copy of Victim to Villain. We poured our blood, sweat, tears, souls, sh*t, piss into it and we couldn’t be more proud!
To find out more about New Years Day and details on their Tour Dates www.facebook.com/nydrock www.twitter.com/NYDrock www.vanswarpedtour.com
For Videos from New Years Day - www.youtube.com/CenturyMedia
Grab “Victim To Villain” along with some cool New Years Merchandise - www.cmdistro.com/Search/new_years_day and www.districtlines.com/New-Years-Day