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15th February 2023

The New Rules of pop music

What is the place of boybands in modern pop? The Mancunion chats to band New Rules about touring, their recent single and the importance of music.
The New Rules of pop music
New Rules live in Manchester Club AcademyPhoto: Joey Sievert @ The Mancunion

English-Irish trio New Rules, composed of Nathan Lambert, Alec McGarry, and Ryan Meaney, boasts an acoustic sound which effortlessly fills any venue. The band members started out busking and writing songs individually before meeting online and beginning their career as a band in 2019. Since then, they have supported big names like Julia Michaels, Little Mix, and Picture This on tour and played over 40 headline shows across the US, UK, and Ireland.

Their most recent UK tour in January saw them playing shows in iconic venues including Manchester’s very own Club Academy. They have released multiple bodies of work, the latest being their Mixtape Go the Distance, followed by their recent single ‘Late in the Evening’.

The idea for ‘Late in the Evening’ was brought to the trio by Jamie Scott (One Direction, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran) who has worked as executive producer for the band previously. They had the finished song for around a year before releasing it: “We always loved the song, we just wanted it to be the right time for it”, Ryan says, adding “we want to make sure that songs that follow up on each other, compliment each other, work together, come out at the same time”, hinting that there may be more music on the way. The track centres on “the idea of desperately trying to win someone back”, with heartfelt verses and an anthemic chorus, sparking the desire to spread one’s arms and simply float away.

Picture: New Rules live in Club Academy – Joey Sievert @ The Mancunion

The band recently recorded an acoustic session in Maida Vale studios for BBC Radio 1’s Future Pop with Maia Beth, showcasing their sound to a wider audience. Besides their own tracks ‘Emily’ and ‘Late in the Evening’ they also recorded a cover of Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Pointless’. They played the cover during their show in Manchester Club Academy, which was received by an enthusiastic audience, singing along with phone torches in the air.

During their live shows, each of the band members plays an acoustic guitar and sings parts of every song. For their first tours, the group had a drummer, as well as electric guitar and bass, but on recent tours, they have transformed their set into an entirely acoustic one. When asked why, Ryan explains: “In a way for us the concept of New Rules is three singer-songwriters, three buskers, who all sing and all play, but when you put it together it feels fresh like we haven’t seen before”.

This is where New Rules have found their niche in the live music scene – an acoustic trio with a truly powerful sound. “The superpower is that we could break down this band into just three acoustics and three vocals and it still sounds like a full sound – it still sounds like New Rules.”

“I definitely feel like we’re more present on stage now […] I think recently as we’ve become more comfortable, we’ve been able to enjoy it so much ourselves and that comes across, the crowd enjoys it more, and they’re just better shows for it”.

The acoustic nature of the live set however does not result in a low-energy show. On the contrary, the energy in Club Academy is high even before the band comes on stage and multiplies during the set as the trio plays fan-favourite songs such as ‘Happy Ever After You’, ‘Fix Somebody’, and ‘Really Wanna Dance With You’.

Picture: New Rules live in Club Academy – Joey Sievert @ The Mancunion

The set also contains an unreleased song, ‘Not Alone’, dedicated by the band to their fans. When introducing the song, Alec speaks not only of the bond between the band and the fans but also of the support among fans. During the song, the connection between every person in the room is palpable.

When asked about playing unreleased songs on tour, Nathan comments: “If we play a new song on tour, it doesn’t mean we’re going to release it, it just means we’re testing the water a little bit and seeing how people react to it”. Well, the crowd’s reaction to ‘Not Alone’ was unequivocally positive, and fans are certainly hoping that the song will come out soon.

Talking about plans for the year ahead the group does not commit to any plan but mentions that they would love to play shows across the US and Europe and tease that there will be “lots more music”. “We’re just massive music fans, it’s what we think about all day every day.”

When asked about the relevance of music, Alec says:  “Music is a language that connects people, it brings people together, it is a source of so much love and energy […] you saw it last night [in London], there were people from the United States, there were people from Spain, there were people from Germany, from all over the place and they wouldn’t necessarily be able to talk to each other but they can all connect through the same thing, which is music and a good time – and there’s not a lot of things that can do that, it’s very special”. It is this awareness of why music is important that fundamentally sets New Rules apart from other artists.

With their unique acoustic sound and unparalleled energy, New Rules are certainly ones to watch out for.


Pre-save ‘Not Alone’ here

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