DDW sits down with electrifying trio New Rules to discuss all things inspiration, aspiration and everything in-between.
There’s something undeniably charming about the UK/Irish sensation, New Rules – a vibrant trio who are making waves with their infectious music that make us reminisce on the good old boyband days. With a sound that’s in equal parts bouncy and relatable, the band is fresh off the heels of their latest single, “NOPE!”, which recently premiered on BBC Radio 1’s Future Pop and is now available on all streaming platforms.
New Rules’ journey is one filled with passion and dedication to their craft. Hailing from different corners of the UK and Ireland, namely Dublin, Hertfordshire, and Chelmsford, the trio initially connected online, bonding over their shared love for making music and crafting original material. Fast forward to today, and they’ve become a powerhouse in the music industry, blending singer-songwriter soul, rock ‘n’ roll spirit, and a whole lot of personality into their stadium-size sound. Their impressive journey includes touring with renowned artists like Julia Michaels and Little Mix, and the viral success of tracks like “Pasta” and “Emily.” With an ever-growing fan base and a string of hit songs under their belt, New Rules are poised to leave an indelible mark on the music world.
DDW had the pleasure to sit down with them to discuss all things inspiration, aspiration and everything in-between.
Can you share a bit about your musical journey? What inspired you to pursue a career in music, and how did your journey as an artist begin?
Ryan – ‘We have a lot of similar music tastes. We love a lot of singer songwriters and we bonded over
when we all met. Ed Sheeran is a big one obviously, being three guitar players and singer songwriters. And then just a lot of bands really.’
Nathan – ‘We all grew up listening to similar stuff like Ryan said. I think the reason we got on when we first met was because we all started the same way, busking on the street on the weekends.’
Ryan – ‘I think Nathan still wants us to be a Beatles tribute band at some point…I think since we met, we all wanted to have that singer songwriter thing run through our music but also just fun live shows because that’s what all our favourite bands do.’
Every artist has a unique musical identity. How would you describe your signature sound, and what elements or genres have influenced your style?
Alec – ‘Like Nathan said we all came from a similar background of busking, all started out on acoustic guitars. Acoustic is where we originated from and kind of built on that. Theres always an acoustic tone to a New Rules song but its all pop. We’re just big fans of pop music.’
Nathan – ‘Sometimes a bit of country slips in there. We do listen to Country music sometimes.
Alec – ‘A mate of ours put us onto some Country music a few years ago and from there we got hooked. We get into obsessive phases. Every song we ended up writing from then on had a little twang to it.’
Nathan – ‘Also the songwriting in Country is just amazing and we really appreciate it. It’s a treat to listen to.’
Ryan – ‘One other thing as far as signature sound goes, is that we were all singer songwriters when we met and lead vocalists. It’s really cool when we all sing together, and you can hear our harmonies. It’s three very different voices but when they come together it works well. I think when you hear our harmony parts, you can tell it’s us. Someone messaged us when we had a song on Love Island ‘Old Days’ and they said I could recognise those luscious harmonies anywhere.’
Walk us through your creative process. How do you typically approach writing and composing new music? Are there any specific rituals or habits that fuel your creativity?
Alec – ‘We write with a lot of different people. We cowrite in most of our sessions, that’s how we do most of our stuff. The three of us writing together seems to be when we get our best stuff because we’re all very confident and comfortable around each other. So, if you can imagine a blank wall, we’re all just throwing stuff at it to see what sticks. Not afraid of anything, like what do you think about this, and this and this – it just rolls very nicely.
Nathan – ‘There’s no rituals though. Just throw shit at the wall. Actually, that is the ritual. That’s the way to do it.’
Music is a dynamic art form. How have you evolved as an artist since your early days, and what pivotal moments or experiences have contributed to your growth?
Ryan – ‘We listen back to our old music every now and again, I feel like most artists are the same and you don’t really listen to your old stuff. But when they do come on we’re like oh, we’re proud of that one. I don’t think the core foundations of what we want to do have changed massively, just we’ve matured a huge amount and I think you can hear that in the music.’
Alec – ‘Starting out we all had different things to say, so it was about finding a way to make something we could all relate to and that everyone else relates to. What started out as just throwing stuff at the wall, now has a bit more intention behind the songwriting now. Just paying attention to what we’re saying a bit more…which is nice.’
Ryan – ‘I think touring does that a lot as well. We always find that when we come back from a tour, we’ve learned so much and we want to do something else with the music and maybe we want to do something else about the way we look or how we present ourselves or what we do online. The Little Mix tour was a big learning experience, area tour and then our headline tours were big. We’ve been to the Philippines and Mexico which was great for learning more about us as a band and I think we carry that with us.’
Collaboration often leads to exciting new musical directions. Are there any artists, producers, or songwriters you dream of working with? How do you think a collaboration might impact New Rules’ music?
Nathan – ‘It does make a huge difference. As Alec said we do co write with other writers and work with producers and there’s a lot of people behind the scenes in music who we’re massive fans of and always pay attention to their writing and what they’re doing. There’s a lot of producers who we’d love to work with – there’s a guy call Jon Bellion who Ryan is a huge fan of particularly.’
Ryan – ‘You can do The Beatles tribute band and we could also do Jon Bellion tributes on the side – we wouldn’t get any bookings…’
Nathan – ‘There’s a lot of producers we’d love to work with. Artist wise, I suppose it’s people we’re fans of, Ed Sheeran would be amazing but there’s a lot of smaller artists who we’re big fans of.’
Alec – ‘It would be sick to have
play on a record of ours one day. It’s also not unrealistic, a lot of pop artists and have John Mayer playing on their songs. We once had his drummer Aaron Sterling play on one of our records which was the closest we’ve got to touching him…’
Ryan – ‘Yeah that was cool. Lizzie McAlpine we’re massive fans of, Noah Kahan we love what he’s doing at the moment. I think people like that. We’re just conscious of whoever we work with, how they can complement our sound as well, because we do feel like we have a strong unique sound but it’d be cool to see how they can enhance that.’
New Rules’ lyrics often delve into unique themes. Can you discuss the concepts or emotions you enjoy exploring in your songs? What messages do you hope your audience takes away from your music?
Ryan – ‘They have to be about food…’
Alec – ‘I think relatability is really important. I think for us, we’re really lucky we have a fan base who care about what we have to say, so it’s really important that we stay stuff that’s not only for us but something they can relate to and find themselves in. It’s really nice that they seem to a lot of the time. We just put a song out called ‘Old Days’ which resonated with a lot of people, and I’d say that’s the most important factor.’
Nathan – ‘There are a couple of things we look for when we’re chasing lyrics – is it real, is it fun, is sometimes the question we’re asking and is it unique, have I head a lot of people say this exactly like this before or not. I think if you’re looking for those things, you’re on track to find a New Rules song.’
Ryan – ‘There’s one more thing I think, could we hear the crowd singing it back. That’s a big one for us when we’re writing. You do notice when you go and play shows there are certain lines and certain topics that stick with our fans, and we want to give them as much to shout about as possible.’
Live shows are a significant aspect of an artist’s career. How do you approach translating your music to the stage? What do you enjoy most about performing for a live audience?
Alec – ‘When we’re writing something it’s not always like oh this lyric has to be really deep and meaningful, it’s like what is going to feel great to scream out live. That was kind of the thought behind ‘Nope’, it’s going to be a really fun song to play live and has a lot of energy. That title and that lyric is going to be something is going to scream when it comes around. Going back to what we were saying about the three of us starting out on acoustics busking, we like breaking the set down halfway through. Ryan is on bass, Nathan is lead guitar, I’m on rhythm and we have a drummer and it’s really energetic, and then halfway through the set we like to strip it back to what we came from. Three acoustics, three voices nothing else. It’s something we’ve started incorporating into the set and it’s a part that feels a bit more intimate, we can interact with the crowd a bit more and it’s a bit of breather. We can afford to show off a bit, our harmonies and the stuff we really love doing. The muso stuff that we’re probably into a little bit more than the fans are.’
Ryan – ‘I think it’s nice to show a different side to the band and make the show interesting as well. It may sound silly but the bits where we’re not playing and we’re interacting with the crowd, especially on the last tour because it was acoustic, we were doing so much talking in between and getting stories from fans and it was just a really nice atmosphere in the room. Even as the rooms get bigger, we’d like to retain how much interaction we have with the crowd.’
Fans often feel a personal connection to artists through their music. Are there any stories from fans that particularly touched you or highlighted the impact your music has had on their lives?
Alec – ‘Scarred us is a better word. We used to do this thing before a song called ‘Cheers’ on tour, where its like your worst relationship story, because the song is about a breakup. So we ask what’s your worst experience with an ex, and this one girl in Limerick pipes up and she says ‘once I was getting heated, in a sexy way, with my boyfriend and I was about to go down on him and thought it would be funny to put on the Smeagol voice from Lord of the Rings, and call his piece my precious in the voice’ and then he kicked her in the face and left and never spoke again. The crowd loved the strory, and the song went off after that.’
Nathan – ‘It is amazing – when we put out new music that fans will get a tattoos of the song and show us on tour, which terrifies the shit out of me as well.’
Ryan – ‘It’s a lot of responsibility’.
Nathan – ‘We get people a lot just saying how much a song means to them, and messaging us on Instagram saying how much it got them through a breakup or a tough time. Sometimes, being in a band it’s easy to forget that that is why we’re doing this. There’s a lot of reasons, but it really does matter to a lot of people.
Ryan – ‘There was one more, when we were playing ‘Pasta’ for the first time and when the front row heard the first line they laughed and then by the end of the song they were crying. That was a good one and will stick with us. We were nervous about playing that song, for obvious reasons but we put that song out because of how well it went down with the crowd. That’s another thing we love doing, testing the songs out. And they affirmed that for us.’
Looking ahead, what are New Rules’ goals and aspirations as an artist? Are there any new directions you’re excited to explore in your music, or any milestones you’re aiming to achieve?
Nathan – ‘If a song blew up on TikTok tomorrow we wouldn’t be complaining…’
Ryan – ‘Pasta’ in China is doing well right now – so maybe short term goal…go to China. I think generally it’s just to keep doing this for as long as possible. It’s amazing that we get to do this, and these fans have been with us for a couple of years now and they’re not showing any signs of stopping.’
Alec – ‘I suppose a goal is to play arenas at home and across the seas, but we have Islington Assembly Hall in October sooooo come on down. It’s an arena of sorts.’