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Interview: Young Rising Sons Talk New Jersey and SXSW

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

CHARGED.fm caught up with the band after a SXSW set to talk about their live sets and their home base.

Interview: Young Rising Sons Talk New Jersey and SXSW

If you haven't heard of the band Young Rising Sons, chances are you will soon enough. It took a little while, but the New Jersey band, comprised of Andy Tongren, Steve Patrick, Dylan Jackson Scott and Julian Dimagiba, is really on the upswing after an EP that got them a ton of attention last year. The self-titled EP contained their breakout song "High" that is nearly impossible to get out of your head.

Seriously, listen to this song and try not to hum or sing the chorus. Resist the urge to whistle the intro. Fight the temptation to play it on repeat over and over again. And, most difficult of all, try to listen to it and feel depressed after. This is an earworm that leaves you feeling fresh, invigorated and ready to live life to the fullest. There's a very good reason the song has gotten almost three million plays on Spotify.

We saw the band close out the UMG Showcase at SXSW, where they had everyone jumping around and dancing to their infectious pop-rock, and had the opportunity to talk to Andy and Steve afterwards about their live show, the best performances they've ever seen and their home base of New Jersey.

CHARGED.fm: Andy, great show! That was fantastic. What’s your mindset going into a live performance? You guys did your little ritual beforehand, then you guys just kind of blast into it. What are you guys looking to do when you play live?

Andy Tongren: That’s the first time we’ve actually done the ritual on stage. We usually do it in the green room and then come out, but there’s not much of a green room here today! Honestly with our live set, I think it’s almost a little bit of a juxtaposition between our recorded music. We write pop songs, but we’re a rock band. We want to really capitalize on the rock aspect of our music when we play live, and I think it’s a little bit of a lost art form in today’s music. We’re really into classic rock, and we love the energy that performers brought to the stage then. We really try to bring that same type of energy every time we play.

CHARGED.fm: So you guys are working on a full-length release. What are you guys maybe doing differently or is there anything different about the process of this full-length than just the EP?

Andy: Yeah, definitely. The EP, when we wrote it, we were kind of in the midst of signing to Interscope. And we’ve been a band for over five and a half years now, so a lot of things we did prior to that didn’t work. At the time we were writing the EP, things were starting to kind of change, and we could feel it. Our luck was kind of turning around a little bit. So we really kind of capitalized on that when we wrote the EP. It’s a lot of feel-good songs.

But with the album, we wanted to dig a little bit deeper and cover the entire human perspective, because it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, you know? So I don’t want to say that the album is gonna be dark and depressing, but it definitely gives more insight into the grand scheme of human emotions.

[Drummer Steve Patrick joins the conversation]

Steve Patrick: When we were writing the EP, we weren’t signed yet, we weren’t anything. We were still a new band, but we started having people take notice of us and start believing in us. I think a lot of the songs, you might have already just said all this, were kind of based around that, that thought process. And now we’re reaching to write the whole record, and we wanted to explore more of just who we are as people. We go through bad stuff just like anybody else. We go through some really awful stuff, some happy stuff, some crazy stuff, so we wanted to capture basically every corner of that on the record. We’re trying to make a more full-bodied emotional work.

CHARGED.fm: We’re all about live events and very much an events-based site. We like to ask artists what your signature live performances are as a band and then the best live performance you’ve ever been to in person?

Andy: Honestly, SXSW is almost a perfect example of what we try and do. We play every show as if we’re playing it in an arena and try to bring that energy, whether it’s to five people or 5,000 people, we just try and stay consistent. It’s easy to do, because we love playing music, and that’s the bottom line. That’s why we do this!

Steve: As live performers, we try to bring back that old-school like The Who just blowing up your drum kit. We grew up on that stuff and we love rock’n’roll music. Even though we play more pop-oriented rock music, we want to bring back that old-school vibe of just going up there and bringing the energy levels to the next level and going mental up there. That’s how we leave an impression.

CHARGED.fm: And favorite shows you’ve seen in concert?

Andy: The first concert I ever went to was The Rolling Stones. Jagger had just this crazy catwalk where he just totally schmoozed and was just Mick Jagger. It was amazing. I will always remember that performance, and I think we try and make our performance a little homage to what those artists have done.

Steve: That’s way cooler than any show I’ve ever been to! Rolling Stones are like next-level awesome. I recently saw The Killers, and they are just such a great live band. I saw them play, and it was so different. I feel like so many bands come on with just this pretentious rock vibe, like we even do sometimes. They walked out, played their first song with the lights on in the entire arena, and just did not care. Bare bones. Brandon Flowers just started the song on the piano and everyone came in. It blew me away, it was such a great performance.

CHARGED.fm: I saw them at Lollapalooza a couple years ago. I figured I would catch some of Nine Inch Nails first and then make my way over for most of their set. They started with “Mr. Brightside”.

Andy: That’s a ballsy move!

CHARGED.fm: I know! And when I get over there I’m waiting for it the whole set, and it never comes! I saw my buddy afterwards and he goes, “Yeah, they led off with it!” It was pretty wild.

But here’s my last question for you guys. You’re a New Jersey band. I am a very recent resident of Jersey. I’ve lived in Hoboken now for three years, but I have had a very limited Jersey experience.

Andy: That’s because you’re in Hoboken!

CHARGED.fm: Exactly! That’s why I call it the Sixth Borough of NYC. So what am I missing, what do I need to experience New Jersey?

Andy: You need to see a Bruce Springsteen show in Asbury Park. It doesn’t happen often, but that would be it.

Steve: They happen kind of organically. Bruce is the kind of guy where we have so many friends who have experienced just sitting in a bar and he’ll pay for everyone’s drinks or just start singing a song with a random guy. He’s just that kind of guy.

Andy: He makes random cameos, and I think that’s kind of the New Jersey attitude in the music scene, that blue collar mentality. You can’t hide in the shadows. You need to be out there.

Steve: Asbury in general is awesome. There’s good food, it’s just a lot of fun. We’re from Red Bank, which is a little more I guess bourgeoise, a little less hip, but they have awesome bars and awesome food there as well. Surf Taco is a very New Jersey thing I think, right? No one else has Surf Taco. I feel like it’s different for Andy. I grew up there, and I love it to death. He kind of got the better experience of coming and experiencing everything for the first time.

Andy: I’m from Ohio, I grew up in Columbus, and I moved to Jersey like five-and-a-half years ago. Coming into Jersey, we didn’t have a Bruce Springsteen in Columbus. We didn’t have anything like that. So coming into that culture where you go to a bar in Sea Bright, and everyone your age is just screaming Bruce lyrics at the top of their lungs at two in the morning, it’s just so amazing! It’s such a cool culture to be thrown into and immersed in, and we didn’t have that growing up. And then the beach!

Steve: Yup, the Jersey Shore. Not the show, the actual shore. Love the Jersey Shore

CHARGED.fm: I haven’t been down to the Shore yet.

Steve: Oh you gotta come down. We live right on the beach, our apartment is right there! We’ll slather you with sunblock, put an umbrella out and hang out for a little bit.

CHARGED.fm: Sounds like a plan!

New music is on the way soon from Young Rising Sons, so be sure to look out for that and their new full-length album.

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