The party vibes are strong with You Had To Be There, the latest release from New York’s next pop-punk stars, Young Culture. Released through Equal Vision Records, it’s ten songs of pure bliss with little let up in pace and pop.

The trio has been building their brand of catchy, crafted-for-the-party tracks over the pat few years with breakout songs like “Holiday in Vegas” and “Drift.” The new release builds off that established sound, each song smoothly produced, catalyzed by catchy lyrics and the vocals of Alex Magnan.

It’s that early 2000s sound- The Starting Line, New Found Glory and the like- but better. Young Culture is pop-punk to the core, but the edges are smoother. The sound is more inviting.

And the band is doing huge things, including cross-country tours and being an example for an underrepresented sector of the scene. We talked about all of that and more with Alex.

I want ask about tour life. You are on one now and right when it’s done, you join State Champs and that crew for a stretch. How has that been?

So far so good. It’s been incredible and we feel really fortunate we are able to do it. We love seing people come out.

How does it feel for the album to be out?

It feels incredible. You Had To Be There, something I really like about the album is we went into it and wanted to make music we like. Applying things we learned over the years in a very nonchalant manner.

What was the process of creating You Had To Be There like?

We knew we were going to record an album in 2022. We spent the whole month in January in Toronto and Canada with our producer and recorded the whole album. We actually went into it with a lot of songs and used none of them. We wrote the whole album from scratch. So when we actually went to record, most of the songs had been written right before we entered the studio.

You guys did such a great job of taking what songs like “Hum” And “Holiday and Vegas” do well and just magnifying and building off of it.

I kind of feel the same way to. And am really proud of it. We wanted to take what we were already doing and make it bigger. Make it better.

“Kinda Over It” is such a great track. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but can you tell me what that songs about and what the creation process was like?

I think that when it comes to writing lyrics and songs it is, especially lately for us, a pretty collaborative process. We start writing songs without being like ‘hey we are going to write a song like this’…we like to start writing and see where it takes us. We were just started writing about what we were feeling. Maybe there is breakup song element there. But it kind of came together in a natural way.

I love the bridge on “Good Karma.” Can you tell me about that and then that huge chorus where you guys really, I feel like, let your vocals and the drums rip.

That song is one that we wrote about New York City and stuff. And it just kind of a love song to New York City. Because we all really like it there. That state is our home. And that bridge part, that one had Joe Taylor from Knuckle Puck. He was a great addition to the song and really made it stand out.

You Had To Be There feels like a great mantra for the band.

Yeah the album is called You Had To Be There and I think one thing that is really a takeaway form Young Culture is we make everything community based. You Had To Be There is kind of like the telling of that and who we are. And when you miss something it’s like you had to be there. We wanted the album to feel like a party. We had a lot of Easter eggs and other voices on the album. It is supposed to be a big party.

It’s such a great album from start to finish. Any other songs you’d like to bring up?

My favorite one is going to be the last single released, “Not In Love.” I honestly I really like it…it has that perfect mix of pop and pop-punk and alternative rock. We wrote that one as one of the last songs in the studio too. When we were writing it, I remember thinking I don’t like this…but somewhere along the way we started playing with it. It got switched up and became my favorite one. It is encapsulating of the creative process. If you give time and patience it can be something you didn’t think it could be. “Different Now” it’s Gabe’s (Pietrafesa) favorite song. I feel really special because I got to write that with one of my favorite writers, Jesse Barrera. He is also a Filipino singer. I got to write that song with him. And it was so natural.

That representation is so important for the scene.

It’s so huge. It is something that I haven’t seen a lot. And I see more and more people who are Asian American and Pacific Islander. And I have more and more kids come up to me and say “wow I haven’t had anyone who looks like me do it.” And to have someone look up to me like that feels amazing. I know other bands- Meet Me @ The Altar, Magnolia Park and Pinkshift- all these bands being an incredible example of what you should be as a person of color and having that example for people who have never felt comfortable in the scene.

What are some of the major themes on this album?

I feel like as far as lyrics it has aways been a trend. A lot of people like having an overall lyrical theme. But we have never been a band like that… we like making songs and experimenting and doing different things. But the overall theme is having a good time and not taking it seriously and having fun. And overall, it feels like a party. There aren’t many slow songs. High energy. Good times. You could throw it on in the car and it is road trip type music. 

You guys went on, what I thought was just the most awesome lineup with Broadside, First and Forever and Cherie Amour. What did you gain from that.

First off, that was the first opportunity we had where we were direct support with a band (Broadside). We have always felt kind of like the underdogs. And in ways it is like that and other ways it’s kinda crazy when others ask us for advice. The takeaway from that is like we get respect and credit for how hard we are working.

Yeah being a headliner or main supporting act on a tour, how is that different?

Difference is the people coming to the shows are 100 percent there for us and the bands who are touring for us. And that’s a crazy feeling because that is like these are the people who are here for us and supporting us…there they will be there popping up for us. Whether its ten or 100 people.

Outside of music, what is the band into. What are you guys passionate about?

I mean like in general, we are just out here. I think the overall message is spreading positivity and unconditional love. We are really a band that wants to harp on accepting everyone. Not being judgmental. Especially in a scene like this, you have little spots where people can be gatekeepy. We want to know that everyone and everybody has a place here at one of our shows.

Can you describe your band dynamic? Watching you all live, the chemistry is clear and you seem to have lots of fun together.

Oh yeah, 100 percent. That’s what makes this thing work. We really are all just best friends. And that is first and foremost. We really just love spending time together. That is what really keeps it going and so natural. We have such a love for each other and wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. What you see on stage is really what happens off stage as well…we are going to keep doing the damn thing.

The photo is courtesy of Young Cuture.

You an follow the band HERE.

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