Commentary

New Politics' buzz just keeps building

Originally Published: July 14, 2010
By Matthew Glenesk | Special to ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Across the street is a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Next to it, a funeral home.

[+] EnlargeNew Politics
Courtesy of Alan Ferguson Danish rockers New Politics (from left, David Boyd, Poul Amaliel and Soren Hansen) are in the midst of a 30-city U.S. tour through Aug. 18.

Leaning against the brick exterior of the 414-capacity venue he and his band, New Politics, are scheduled to play in less than two hours, David Boyd plops down on the hot cement on a balmy, 90-degree day.

He says he's living the American dream. Few would argue.

Less than 18 months ago, Boyd and Soren Hansen wrote music as a hobby. But that all changed with a Danish national radio talent contest (Denmark's "American Idol," if you will).

With drummer Poul Amaliel in tow, New Politics was one of four winners among the 972 competing bands, piquing the interest of European record labels. But the Danish rockers decided to take their high-energy act stateside and moved to Brooklyn, signing with RCA Records in November.

New Politics' self-titled debut album (iTunes | Amazon) was released Tuesday, and its single "Yeah Yeah Yeah" has been getting steady radio play on rock stations nationwide and was chosen as the theme song for the Dew Tour 2010 and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross tour.

Standing outside New Politics' second stop on its 30-show, cross-country road trip, a friend yells to Boyd as a Jeep pulls into the parking lot, music blaring.

"You're on the radio!"

"That's the first time we've heard ourselves on the radio," Boyd nonchalantly says. "That's kind of crazy. It has been such a wild ride."

First radio listen aside, The Life sat down with Boyd, the band's lead singer, and talked about a number of things ranging from socialism to ABBA, as well as how a decision to give up on soccer might have indirectly led to the band's creation.

The Life: I understand you're a big soccer fan.

Boyd: Yup.

The Life: Did you get a chance to see the World Cup final [on Sunday]?

[+] EnlargeNew Politics by New Politics
RCA Music GroupNew Politics' self-titled debut album just came out Tuesday.

Boyd: We were in the goddamn car, man, but we had the Internet, and I found it on the radio and was able to follow. I was text messaging with some of my friends in Europe that were telling me what was happening. We didn't know that they were playing it on the radio until the end of the second half. And we were listening to it for 10 minutes and were running late, and we had to do a sound check, so we had to go. Our tour manager turned it off, and we were like, "Shoot!" and loaded into the van.

The Life: So when did you find out who won?

Boyd: Just as it happened. I just kept looking at my mobile while we were doing our stuff, and messages were coming in.

The Life: Were you disappointed with the Danish effort this World Cup?

Boyd: Yes, of course.

The Life: How did you guys watch the crucial Denmark-Japan game? Did you get a chance to watch it live as a group?

Boyd: Yeah, we did; we watched at a bar in Brooklyn. It was pretty disappointing. Japan played good; they were quick. You kind of also expect that. In the World Cup, there is always a team or two that kind of surprises. A team or two that are lucky to make it to the finals or semifinals, not that the Japanese made it that far, but they surprised.

The Life: Like the Danes in '92?

Boyd: Yeah, we won Euro 92. That was when we had a good team.

The Life: But you didn't even qualify; you got in when the Yugoslavs got thrown out.

Boyd: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. I was just talking about that with someone on a rooftop where we live in Brooklyn. We were talking about that. And then they were asking the same question whether or not we were disappointed with this Cup. I wouldn't say we're disappointed.

This year I was going for Denmark and I was going for the United States because I have an American passport and I'm living here now. America has been picking up on soccer, and they're doing good, surprisingly. They're getting better. You can see the energy. It was awesome to see. All the bars that I went to were packed. People were following it and picking up on it. … As far as me, I'm also picking up on a bunch of other sports here. The one I haven't really learned yet is baseball.

The Life: They say that's the toughest one to learn.

Boyd: It is. But we like basketball and football. We haven't picked any teams yet, and we're trying to learn it because we love sports in general. Also with our music, it's so active and energetic, with the dancing and all that. We have that in us. We're athletic.

[+] EnlargeBrian Laudrup and Michael Laudrup
Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty ImagesBrian Laudrup, left, and Michael Laudrup, who played soccer in the 1980s and '90s, top David Boyd's list of famous Danish athletes.

The Life: Speaking of your dancing and acrobatics, you guys are kind of building a reputation as a must-see, high-energy show. And you talked about being athletic; are you drawing from any other sporting experiences?

Boyd: I originally played soccer when I was young. That was kind of my big dream -- to play soccer. And I was frankly good at it, very good. Some of my friends played on the national team, like Under-16 and stuff. We were in good leagues for those ages. I was extremely good, and I'm not just saying that to brag. I played midfield and scored a lot of goals. I was good at passing, opening the game and dribbling. The ball was like tape on me.

The Life: So what happened?

Boyd: I found out about dancing and really fell in love with it, and the guys that I hooked up with made a living off it. I always liked dancing and music in my day-to-day sort of life. I was always impressed with physical movement, and it kind of just gave me an adrenaline kick.

And as far as it affecting soccer, if you get into one thing, all your energy goes into that and you kind of have to choose. You get to a point or an age where you have to choose one thing because you also have to think about paying rent. I chose dancing because it was also something that allowed me to express myself through art.

The Life: And the music just came naturally?

Boyd: I started doing music six years ago. I would write music as a hobby. About four years ago, I bumped into Soren, the guitarist-vocalist, and we would just write and produce music whenever we were free. It was purely a hobby. We didn't know where we were going to take it, where we wanted to go with it.

After writing three years, we had a ton of songs and all this stuff lying around. "Is this just what we're going to do, write songs?" And then I read in the newspaper about this competition that they have on national radio where they try to find the next big thing. I was like, "We have nothing to lose. Let's enter this. The worst is we get a no."

So we entered this competition, sent in two pictures and two songs, and got called back about four days after and they were like, "We love this. It's original, it's new, it's different, it's fresh. We want you guys in the competition. You guys have made it to the first round. Eliminations are going to be here. You're going to play at this venue; how many people are you?" And we're like, "I don't know."

We weren't even a band. We honestly didn't know if we were going to go through. We were one of 972 bands, and we have no experience. From where we met to now where all this has happened, it's pretty much like a dream and an unreal story.

The Life: Can you believe it all happened so fast?

Boyd: We've been a band going on a year and four months.

The Life: And already broken into the American marketplace, which for a European rock band isn't easy at all.

Boyd: Oh yeah, this is redonkulous. This is so surreal. We have to pinch ourselves often. We're like laid-back people. We're grounded. We're so fortunate and grateful that even this is happening. And this is just the beginning. We were also lucky to some degree; we were at the right place at the right time, with this attitude kind of like taking our surf board and jumping on a wave, seeing where we're going.

The Life: Back to sports, so what do young Danes play? Because you're not very good at hockey it seems like the Swedes …

Boyd: … and the Finns …

The Life: OK, so you know where I'm going. Why are the Danes the little sister of Scandinavian hockey? What do you play instead?

Boyd: Handball. They are very good at handball. Handball and soccer are the main two sports.

The Life: Anja Andersen, isn't that the famous temperamental handball player from the 1990s?

Boyd: Yeah, exactly.

The Life: I hate that I know that.

Boyd: Why? The girls are amazing. I honestly don't play or watch handball, but Poul, our drummer, used to play handball, and he knows about it. But I mean, we all know about it because it's in the culture, but it's not something I ever got into. It wasn't really my scene.

The Life: So who's the most famous Danish athlete? Besides Anja Andersen, of course, because she's got to be up there.

[+] EnlargeAnja Andersen
AP Photo/Claus FiskerYouTube has many highlights of hot-tempered Danish team handball legend Anja Andersen.

Boyd: (laughs) Yeah, I think she is. She would definitely be up there. We're also good at biking, like Tour de France stuff. But I don't know; for me, it would probably the be the Laudrup brothers, Brian and Michael.

The Life: I was thinking of a blond, tall goalkeeper from Manchester United …

Boyd: Ah, [Peter] Schmeichel. Yeah, that would have worked.

The Life: We don't hear of too many Danish bands. Who are some of your influences?

Boyd: Scandinavia is different than the rest of Europe. France, Germany, Italy and Spain are very patriotic still to their own cultures. But Scandinavia, we get all the American news, all of the TV series, all of the films. And they don't translate them.

Sweden, Norway, Denmark and even Iceland as well, we're just raised with a very close relation to the Western way. We're raised with the same music. If it was mainstream, rock, pop, R&B, whatever, it's there for us. And it's there in a similar way.

We're very inspired by the U.K. and American scene, and you can probably hear that in our music. There's a bit of Blur, a bit of Nirvana, Pixies, Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, and then there's that very Scandinavian pop sort of melodic element to it, which Scandinavia is known for its melody. ABBA …

The Life: I was going to let you say ABBA.

Boyd: So us growing up, being artists and into music, this is like so unreal. This is like a dream. It's kind of the American way of living, which means so much to us.

One thing that Scandinavia has is a sort of socialistic ideal. It's hard to explain. You pay a high tax rate because education is free, dental, doctor and all that kind of stuff, so basically that makes you not more than anyone and not less than anyone. And also you cannot think outside of the box, or you're considered different or weird or something.

The Scandinavian way of being and thinking is you cannot think you're more than somebody else. You always get pulled down. It's a cultural thing. Arrogance is not accepted, so you can imagine how that is with art and new ways of thinking.

The Life: "Yeah Yeah Yeah" is the theme song for the Dew Tour; are you guys into that type of scene?

Boyd: I love extreme sports. When we got that, I was like, "This is awesome." I love skating, BMX, motocross. All that kind of stuff, I love it.

I wish I would have gotten more into it, but you know my focus was always on breakdancing. But a lot of the breakdancing competitions in Europe get done at huge urban extreme sports events. In the U.K., they have the Urban Games sponsored by Sprite, which isn't Mountain Dew, but it's like the same, a lemony soft drink. But they have this annual festival; it's crazy.

If we get big enough and famous enough, I can go in and host some of those extreme sports things or perhaps a breakdancing contest.

The Life: Would you put yourself in that competition?

Boyd: Oh, I don't know. I'd have to practice. All of my friends still do it. I know a lot of the best dancers. A side of me wishes I can go more into it and maybe I'll find time to do it. But I really don't practice. All the basics and foundation is in your blood like old-school skaters. I'm always willing to get down; no doubt about that. If there's music, what else could you do?

Matthew Glenesk is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis.