Indie alt-rockers New Politics made a splash on the Billboard charts with their 2013 hit “Harlem.” Now, on their third studio album, Vikings, they’re back with the same high-energy, can’t-get-’em-out-of-your-head bangers – and PEOPLE has an exclusive first listen!
The Brooklyn-based trio – lead singer David Boyd, guitarist Soren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio – will release Vikings Friday and will hit the road for The Wilderness Politics Tour in October. PEOPLE talked to frontman Boyd about the album’s title inspiration (he and Hansen are originally from Denmark), their sound and more.
What was the thought process going on in this album after all the success with ”Harlem”?
It honestly really helped – at least this was definitely a quicker album to write. I think [sophomore album] A Bad Girl in Harlem really gave us a sound, like the New Politics sound that we were looking for that we didn’t really find on the first album. It really established the sound that was easier to just write songs in general, and the funniest thing about it is it’s not even that we were thinking about that sound when we were writing. It just broke without intention of writing the new album – we just had time in the back of our bus on tour, and we ended up just writing a ton of songs. It just worked out perfect with everything coming out of A Bad Girl in Harlem and stuff, so it was a very natural process.
This is your third album now, but the ”Harlem” single crossed you over to a new level in terms of chart success – were you nervous going into writing because some people knew you just because of that song?
Yeah, absolutely. We’re still very new to this, but there’s always a little bit of that in the back of your head. I don’t think we can really help it because I mean, it’s also at the same time, you pour your heart and soul into it and sure the people that are going to like it and get it will get it and the ones that don’t, don’t. There’s only so much control you have on it, but yeah we were definitely afraid, and we also tried a lot of new things. We’ve been experimenting and learning and growing so much as musicians. Every day this has just become our lifestyle so we think, dream and breathe it every day.
Along with that, also we hopefully developed for the better and on this album we just wrote without thinking you know, this has to be a hit or this has to be a single or this has to be ”Harlem” or this has to be this, we just wrote songs where we were reflecting where we were right now. The thing that was most relieving is there was no writer’s block. We just wrote. It was flowing out of us, which is a really good sign and I think that had a lot to do with how good ”Harlem” did and ”Tonight You’re Perfect” and that whole change that we felt and saw in our life from venue sizes and fans and all those sort of things added to it, but now that the album is done this is where I get nervous.
You said you found your sound with the last record. What do you think your sound is?
It’s also a hard thing – it’s our songs, there will always be a reflection of us, so I think that will always be there. We’re not like: “Oh, it has to be a dance song,” or “It has to be a punk song” or “It has to be a pop song or rock or pop-rock or grunge” or whatever. We don’t put that much focus on the sound and production universe, you know, we just write a song and whatever resonates comes, if it works for the song we go with it, we don’t think too much of what’s right and wrong.
We’re so diverse in our liking of music, and I think it shows in our music besides who we are. We would definitely be like an alternative-modern-rock-pop thing that we do.
Obviously two of you are from Denmark. Is that where the title came from – like, you’re coming to the U.S. to conquer the charts, or something?
I think it means different things to us. When I look at it I think it started a little bit as a joke, you know We get lost in translation a lot, and we’ll say a few weird things sometimes I think and we just joked about as vikings. Louis is American, the drummer, and he kind of joked about it like “I’m with these vikings” in interviews and whatnot. Our managers loved it, so we went with it, but you know we don’t overthink stuff; it’s not like a serious and all planned out and aligned with the stars and stuff.
We just go with it, and it’ll probably mean something else in a year from now, but for right now it’s not very seriously thought out. To me personally, it also is a little bit holding on to a nostalgic thing or me trying to hold on to what I have left of Denmark ’cause I haven’t lived there in five years, so it’s probably also maybe a little bit of something I’m holding on to.
You talk about New York in several of your songs. How has the city influenced your songwriting?
New York is definitely an inspiring place. I remember moving over there still to this day, and it’s a melting pot of everything and anything, and there’s so much life. I’m sure for any tourist that has been there they know that just walking around in a day. You’re just exhausted, there’s so much to take in, so much going on and when you live in New York, that’s just a normal thing, and I think along with that it’s just a melting bowl of culture and the American way of “anything is possible,” and we all are individuals and you’re different and independent and your way of thinking – that whole independent and be-yourself type of attitude is very alive, and I think it’s a very inspiring city.
It reminds you that anything is possible. I mean if you look at those buildings, it’s pretty wild. I find it pretty inspiring, and there’s so much music and culture and fashion and amazing food, it’s wild. I love it. Definitely one of my favorite cities.