Q&A: New Rules discuss TikTok fame and their boy band identity

WSN sat down with the U.K. and Irish boy band to talk about their new song, music tastes and favorite type of pasta.

Julia Diorio, Contributing Writer

Not to be confused with the Dua Lipa song, New Rules is everything you’d want from a United Kingdom-based boy band. Alec McGarry, Nathan Lambert and Ryan Meaney first broke out into the music scene with their two singles “Call It” and “Fix Somebody.” 

With TikTok hits like “Pasta” and “Emily,” the band capitalized on quarantine boredom to expand its online fanbase. The group even postponed releasing “Emily” in favor of another song called “Problem,” which was only available to fans who first donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust — now called Blueprint for All — on June 10, 2020. Soon enough, their talent earned them the spot as the opening act on “Little Mix’s LM5: The Tour,” and they haven’t looked back since. 

The members sat down with WSN to answer questions about their identity as a boy band, their newest single, “Late in the Evening,” and tour life.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

WSN: New Rules has not shied away from being labeled as a boy band. What would be the best thing that comes with that label and something you could live without? 

Alec McGarry: I think just the fans. There’s really not a fan in the world that is better than a fan of a boy band. You’ve seen how that carries forward with One Direction. Now with Harry Styles fans. They’re unmatched — just the way that they turn up and show up for the artist that they love. It’s really nice to be part of that community and encourage its growth. It’s pretty special. 

Nathan Lambert: Same with BTS and their fans.

Ryan Meaney: I think the worst thing sometimes is that people sometimes assume that you can’t really write or play an instrument. People are like, “Oh, so you take your tops off and dance?” and other sorts of stuff. And we can if you want — but no, we’re not that sort of boy band. 

WSN: What would you say has given you the most exposure, having your song “Fix Somebody” played on Love Island or your current TikTok presence?

Meaney: I’d say probably TikTok. My answer might be different if Love Island had played us every year since, because that was around three years ago now.

Lambert: You know what’s funny, though? Because Love Island is getting bigger and bigger, people keep talking about it. We got played a couple years ago, but it was quite a big moment in the show, and I think people remembered it.

McGarry: I’m seeing a lot of people from the United States watching Love Island this year.

Meaney: It is interesting because we get stopped quite a bit in airports and places like that, because people see [Alec] first and say, “That looks like the guy off TikTok.” Then they see me and Nathan beside him, and they’re like, “Okay, it’s definitely them,” and they come up to us, which is pretty cool. 

McGarry: We’re not in the formation though. We need to get in the little triangle. 

Meaney: They think you’re smaller though. 

McGarry: They always think I’m really short when actually I’m just sitting down in the videos. 

Lambert: He is short, though. He’s way shorter. Actually standing up right now. 

WSN: To keep going about TikTok, its marketing has really changed the music industry. You’ve spoken about taking inspiration from songwriters like Hozier and John Mayer —  which, John Mayer is not too popular right now. I’m curious about what has changed to accommodate the 10-second viral clip that has most songs gaining traction nowadays. Are you trying to look to new artists for inspiration or different processes? 

Meaney: I think we’re into the same sort of stuff. I think all three of us — not saying that we’re traditionalists where music was two years ago — but I think we probably do tend to find and get stuck on an album of an artist we loved before TikTok. 

Lambert: I think a lot of people are writing songs for TikTok. We’ve definitely gone into some songs thinking, “Would this work with TikTok?” And I think it’s important to think like that nowadays because of how important and powerful it is, but I don’t think ultimately it should change the music.

Meaney: It’s amazing, because I think we discover artists we don’t expect to love on TikTok in a 10-second video. So then you go into the album, and you’re like, “Okay, this is my new favorite artist.” I don’t know if it really changed what I look for in music so much. I think it’s impacted music — sometimes I see a song on TikTok and I’m like, “Oh, that’s just meant for TikTok.” 

McGarry: A lot of new artists we look up to are releasing music nowadays — like Paolo Nutini and Ed Sheeran — and it’s interesting to see how they are adapting to the new way of people consuming music. We’ll probably follow that because we’re fans of them, because they make songs that are timeless. If their songs came out again today, they would still be massive. We want to write those kinds of songs as well. And that might be a song that is more geared toward TikTok. Who knows? I mean, it’s constantly changing.

Meaney: Disclaimer: we are Swifties.

WSN: You have toured with some amazing artists —  Little Mix, Picture This and Julia Michaels. How has your experience as an opening act influenced your decision when choosing your own supporting acts — for example, Haley Joelle for the upcoming U.S. leg?

Meaney: When we go on a support tour, we love getting people pumped for the headliner. Obviously, it is a live show, so we like to see people who have songs that really connect with people in that setting as well. 

Lambert: That’s the thing — we’re trying to put on a show. And the opener is a big part of that, so we pick people whose music we like and we think that the fans would like as well. 

McGarry: Something we’ve been testing out for the next few shows and tours in America, then the United Kingdom, is finding openers from the city we’re playing. We find local talent that we’re into and bring them on for a couple songs. It’s like, “You’re good. Play a show.” 

WSN: You’ve played with the double entendre of the Dua Lipa song “New Rules” a lot on your social media. What were your original thoughts on the song with the doubling-up thing? Was it something you knew you wanted to capitalize on? 

McGarry: I think we kind of expected it and welcomed it, really.

Meaney: We thought more people were going to make the joke and the comparison, but they really don’t. For a while, we didn’t go near it because we thought it was good that people don’t make the comparison. But I think after being a band for a year or two we thought it actually might be quite funny if we lean into it. We have some merch with puns. 

Lambert: Ask her. She might be pissed, but we’ve grown to quite love the name.

WSN: In your new single “Late in the Evening,” the verses talk about all the little things that you miss the most. What are some examples of some things you miss from home when you’re on tour?

Meaney: If I don’t bring Irish food on tour, then I miss that. And Barry’s Tea you can’t get in most places. 

Lambert: If we’re in America, definitely tea. And a hot water bottle. I’m such an old lady with this, but I do like having a hot water bottle on me at all times in the winter.

McGarry: A kettle and Kerrygold. I also have seven dogs back home. Well, two are my grandmother’s, but she basically lives at our house anyway.  I miss them when I’m not home with them. 

WSN: “Pasta” has racked up over 17 million streams on Spotify. What is your favorite pasta to eat? 

Lambert: I love linguini. You can’t go wrong with it.

McGarry: Never really order it if I’m at a restaurant, but I do like ravioli because it’s quite comforting. Give me the formuoli. 

Meaney: We used to say rigatoni, but that’s changed. Rigatoni is very good.

WSN: On the very bottom of your website, there is a button. It says “don’t click the button,” and when you press the button, there are lemon emojis. What does that mean? 

Lambert: We had a game called “don’t drop the lemon” that we used to play on tour because in the early days we were doing a lot of promo, a lot of late nights and we were clearly going mad. So we had this game where you threw a lemon at someone, and if they didn’t catch it, something bad would happen. You don’t know what it is, but something bad would happen. 

Meaney: Don’t drop the lemon. The fans loved it. 

McGarry: We started selling foam stress lemons. 

WSN: You guys just released a snippet a few days ago of a song about a girl in New York. So are you going to play the song at the New York show? 

Meaney: I’ve seen some requests. And now you’ve asked that, so we might have to. 

Lambert: We weren’t planning on it, but maybe we should.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected].