When is a Danish band not a Danish band? When the majority of its success and career has been spent stateside. For New Politics, the opening band on this year’s KJEE Summer Roundup, that means New York City, Bushwick side in particular. But even then, this trio — two Danes and one American — haven’t had too much time to stay in one place.
“We’ve had a total of three weeks off since the album dropped,” lead singer David Boyd says. “I just looked at the schedule yesterday, and we’re booked until December 21 without a break.”
Their second album, “A Bad Girl in Harlem” has rocketed into the pop consciousness with the success of their first single, the immensely catchy “Harlem,” which blends a “My Sharona” riff with a power-pop chorus. The video, which finds the band goofing off in Harlem playing basketball and attending crowded house parties is infectious, and shows that New Politics is infatuated with their new country. (Their very first single in 2010, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” has the Pixies and Nirvana oozing out of every pore.) The new album could be called a love letter to New York and America. When Mr. Boyd hears that, he lights up. He’s still learning some American-English stock sayings.
“I really like that!” says Mr. Boyd. “That’s a really good phrase. I’m gonna steal that from you.”
The new album tends towards the pop-punk sound, similar to their KJEE Roundup fellow bands Atlas Genius and Blink 182, even though the latter’s specific genre is something the band didn’t hear back in Copenhagen. When asked about their sound, Mr. Boyd says, “We don’t really have a genre. We just like everything.” That explains how many of the songs on “Harlem” incorporate New Wave and electronic sounds as well.
Mr. Boyd says that he’s “mystified by the American music charts, which pigeonhole genres.” In Denmark, there’s just one chart, which means that Mr. Boyd and his friends grew up listening to anything and everything.
He’s also aware, now that he’s in the music business full time, that he didn’t have a traditional upbringing. No house full of music, no dreams to be a rock star, no cool older brother with a record collection to raid. Instead, Mr. Boyd was into theater and dance, his memories of music tied in to whatever song he performed. He’s busy now discovering what those songs were. He also admits that he’s met many famous musicians since being in the States, but has no idea who they are.
Guitarist Soren Hansen does, and he’s been saving Mr. Boyd from a few embarrassing moments. The multi-instrumentalist, singer, tinkerer and engineer met Mr. Boyd when he was engineering a song Mr. Boyd had been hired to sing. Over lunch they bonded, starting writing their own songs, then sat on them, not knowing what to do. Months later they entered the songs into a national band competition, won, and with their temporary drummer in tow, went on tour. It was six months into this brand new life that their drummer left — he had no idea the band would be this successful — and New Politics grabbed a new drummer, Louis Vecchio, a friend of a friend in their adopted home town.
In November, they’ll get to play Denmark, which is just discovering the band. Sounds like there might be a lot of Danes saying, “I knew them when” on their return. “Yes, and a lot of them will be our friends and family,” laughs Mr. Boyd.
At the moment, the band is enjoying the hectic schedule, which brings them back to Santa Barbara for the second time. Last time they played a small show at UCSB’s The Hub with Neon Trees. “I do remember a lot of beautiful women,” recalls Mr. Boyd.
Which brings us to Mr. Boyd’s current culture shock: American females.
“You don’t approach women (at a party) in Denmark; they choose and approach you,” he says. “So when we first started going out here, we spent a lot of time just waiting for a sign … We were at that house party (in the “Harlem” video) and a girl told me I was hard to get. I told her I didn’t know what she meant. I’m just starting to understand it now.”
KJEE Summer Roundup Blink 182 with Atlas Genius and New Politics
When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St.
Information: 962-7411, www.sbbowl.com