Ashes to Ashes

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The bewitching frontwoman of New Years Day, Ash Costello, exorcises her demons in the spotlight.

Photographs by Brinson + Banks
Hair, makeup and styling by Ash Costello

“Tattooing is very therapeutic for me,” declares Ash Costello, frontwoman for aggro-goth metallers New Years Day. “I’m always going through something in my life that I need to overcome, and I found that when I get a tattoo and focus all my energy on getting through the pain,  coming out the other side, I always feel a lot better.”

New Years Day certainly allows the bewitching singer to exorcise her inner demons. The band has been touring constantly in support of their last album Malevolence, a heavy slab of their signature hard rock that they originally labelled “Hauntedmansioncore.” They are currently at work on material for the next album, and while fans await that, they will be able to indulge in The Haxans, Ash’s side project with Rob Zombie guitarist Matt Montgomery (aka Piggy D.), which sounds like what would happen if Gomez and Morticia Addams time-warped to the ‘80s and made dancey goth tunes. Their debut drops in January 2017.

“We just wanted to do what we like and had this idea of being, like, a goth Ike and Tina Turner with this dark aesthetic but getting people swinging in their seats,” explains the red-and-black-haired vocalist. “It’s taken us a while to figure out what that sounds like, and it seems like it’s coming together now.” She feels fortunate to have two outlets for two sides of her. “I can have that therapeutic aggression and can also have that willy-nilly silly fun time where you get to dance in a room and groove.”

Whether light-hearted or more serious, Costello has always been tapped into her dark side. She says that Ouija boards were a normal thing to have out at family time, and her grandmother had crystals around the house and claimed she spoke to ghosts there. “She would give me spell books when I was younger if kids were picking on me at school,” recalls the singer, who got teased for looking like a witch. “I’ve always grown up around it so it’s pretty normal to me, which is kind of crappy at the same time as I’ve never experienced anything that crazy supernatural, unfortunately. I would love to have a ghost encounter, but I’m not that lucky.”

One might think the word “Believe” inked on her right forearm refers to ghosties, but it actually was tattooed there a decade ago when the band first started and she hoped for great things. When discussing the ink on her right side, she says, “I like to call it a garage sale on my right arm because it’s not one full, coherent sleeve, it’s a bunch of snapshots and moments and memories from my life in the last 10 years. And none of it really goes together.”

The gardenia in the style of a swirl refers to the major influence of Costello’s grandma and the fact that her house was covered in gardenias. “That’s my favourite flower and my favorite smell, so I got that on my shoulder,” she says. “We get a lot of tour tattoos. We always get drunk, and if there’s a tattoo shop nearby or a tattoo artist at the venue, we get hooked up. I have a bunch of matching tattoos with the band members now that are just spread out everywhere. I’m from Anaheim and I’m a big Disney girl, so I have a Mickey Mouse on my “Believe” arm. I got that when I was first starting the band because I just had to keep believing it was going to go somewhere. We also have nooses because we said we are going to ‘hang out forever.’ I have 10-31 on my knuckles because of October 31, Halloween.”

While she is unsure whether she will start inking the left side of her body, her right thigh has become the beginning of her horror movie leg. Captain Spaulding (House of 1,000 Corpses) is on her upper right thigh, and coming next will be Pennywise (It), Twisty the Clown (American Horror Story), the Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and as many evil clowns as she can fit. Further down her leg will reside villainous icons like Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, and Leatherface. She recently got bat wings on her neck and has plans for getting the words “Everyday is Halloween” on her knee.

Speaking of fluttering denizens of the night, Costello’s company Bat Royalty makes handbags, dresses, shirts and shoes, the latter of which have been flying out of stock. “I thought some people would like them, but we cannot keep them in stock,” she exclaims. Over the past year, they sell out within 24 hours of being restocked at their online store. “It’s not 50 or 100 pairs. It’s thousands of pairs and they go in a day. I don’t even have more than one pair because they get sold so quickly.” The shoes should be stocked in Hot Topic around now in a few different colours.

A lifelong horror fan initiated into a steady diet of chiller thrillers by her trad goth uncles (“total Robert Smiths”), Costello loved the recent Netflix hit Stranger Things and lists the film Creepshow 2 and TV series Tales from the Crypt among her favorite fear fare. She also adores old school horror icons.

“Although I didn’t think a lot of the Nightmare On Elm Street series was that great, Freddy in general is the scariest horror movie villain there is,” says Costello. “I love Hellraiser. Pinhead is one of my favourites. There are some really messed-up ideas in there, and I loved it as a kid. Leatherface. Texas Chainsaw is a classic. As far as new horror movies, I really love everything Eli Roth does. I know a lot of it is just torture porn, but man, it really gets me. I loved Green Inferno. I had to take a break from watching it because it made me feel queasy. It’s been a long time since a movie made me feel kind of sick. I love the Saw movies. I like torture movies. We actually filmed part of a music video where they filmed the torture scenes of Hostel. It was legitimately a pretty scary place.”