We recently had the chance to catch up The New Division frontman John Kunkel to chat about the band’s inception, 80s influence on a new generation, their album and more! Check out this fresh overview of the buzzing LA based 4 piece below.
B3SCI: Tell us a little background on The New Division and how the band came to be?
The New Division: It started off originally as a one-man project back in 2005 that later turned into a full band. Janzie, and I (John) met each other in college, and about a year later we ran into Brock (guitars) who was shortly thereafter added to our roster. We went through about 2 or 3 drummers before we decided that they weren’t good fits. About a year later we met Mark at a show we were playing. At the time he was just a fan, but we had a really good conversation on the night we met him and asked him to join the band about 2 days later.
B3SCI: The band definitely has some stadium ready anthems on your recent Night Escape release. Is there ever a big picture in mind when you write?
The New Division: I think with New Division our songs always aim at being a bit epic. We try to approach each song with that type of mindset.
B3SCI: There also seems a bit of a hybrid of both traditional rock band and electro collective. To you, what constitutes that perfect balance between rock and electronic pop music?
The New Division: I think having a lot of the main arrangements be electronic, and then adding a guitar sounds perfect. It’s not done as much as I’d like it in today’s music, but I think its going to become more and more popular.
B3SCI: Let’s talk about the 80s. U2, New Order, Depeche Mode…Joy Division, etc. How do you see The New Division in relation to this iconic pop sound?
The New Division: I think we’ll always be connected in one way or another to our early influences, whether in the songwriting process, or in the production of the sound we’re aiming for, but we don’t focus on trying to be like them. Whenever you write, the influences will show their way into the songwriting process, and depending on the song style.
B3SCI: How do you feel the internet and blogosphere has contributed to the evolution of the band and its unique sound? Do they add anything to the iconic style of 80s music for a new generation?
The New Division: It’s been a major blessing for us, we probably wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of the dedicated blogs and websites who take the time to write about our music. I think its great that we can find about new artists via the Internet and it allows for a resurgence of stuff we may have missed, or never been able to find 30 years ago.
B3SCI: Night Escape showcases some of your strongest work to date. How would you best explain the evolution of The New Division on Night Escape from your earlier releases and debut LP, Shadows?
The New Division: After releasing Shadows there was a period of time where nothing was happening, and then all the sudden songs were being written again. By the time we started writing for Night Escape, a year or so had gone by and we had actually thrown away a large batch of songs, all because they sounded too much like they belonged on Shadows. The plan wasn’t to write a new EP originally, but since we’d just gotten rid of what could’ve been the follow up to our debut LP we decided it was appropriate to write a batch of songs of that would help transition and showcase a new sound, a new direction. Those songs later turned into Night Escape.
B3SCI: Is there a particular track on Night Escape that you feel especially proud of as a band? Something that you feel could hint at future directions and inspirations for The New Division?
The New Division: I was really proud of “Night Escape”, the track. It wasn’t the song that got the most praise, but I felt it was a huge achievement. In terms of a hint of our future direction, “Kids” is probably the track that sounds more like our new material.
B3SCI: How has the formation of your own independent label, Division 87 Records, affected the bands approach to music? Has it contributed any to your growth musically and professionally?
The New Division: It hasn’t really affected that too much from what I can tell. We still have to finish our album! Maybe then we’ll find out. So far its been exciting to see the support we’ve received from our close friends and contacts that are helping make this dream come true.
B3SCI: Given a history of both original tracks and remix projects from The New Division, what is it about a New Division project that consistently defines it as something undeniably yours?
The New Division: Probably the blend of the 80s nostalgia with a modern edge!
B3SCI: When the members of New Division aren’t making music, how do they bide their time? Also how do the member’s projects contribute to the musical growth of the band?
The New Division: We all work full time day jobs, so it’s really not the ideal band picture where you see four guys making music in a studio 12 hours a day. It’s more like we work from 9-5 and any chance our schedules align we get together. Other than playing shows, its hard to get us all in the same room. Brock’s a bar tender, Mark works with the elderly, Janzie juggles about 3 jobs, and as for myself, I work doing PR for a nonprofit. Other than that, we’re all prolific writers so the way I see it, the more we write for other projects, the better for The New Division when we get together. The only thing that’s allowed us to progress over the years has been practicing and practicing writing songs.
B3SCI: You have a couple shows on the books for early 2013, when can fans expect The New Division to be performing in a city near them?
The New Division: It’s hard to say considering we’re a “poor” band. We have to really build up our fan base in 2013 before we can even think about touring. Hopefully though in 2014!
B3SCI: What does 2013 hold for New Division?
The New Division: We are prepping up to release the follow-up to Shadows, which we’re really excited about. That’s really our main focus for 2013.
B3SCI: What are you heading for the next time you enter a record store?
The New Division: I’ve really been wanting to buy Interpol’s 10th year anniversary of TOTBL.
B3SCI: We’re hooking you up with a free ride on our B3SCI time machine. Where are you guys going?
The New Division: Probably to the 1920s, seems like they had some good times.
The New Division – Pride
The New Division (Facebook)