This feature was originally posted on Highlight Magazine in March 2019.
New York natives Young Culture have been gaining praise and attention in the alt-pop/rock scene over the past few years for both their quality songwriting and high-energy live performance. With the release of their latest EP, (This Is) Heaven, this past January and a tour spot on Seaway’s upcoming headlining tour this spring, 2019 is set to be the biggest year yet for Young Culture. We recently chatted with Alex Magnan and Gabe Pietrafesa about the band’s history, the writing and recording process behind (This Is) Heaven and their upcoming tour plans.
After meeting in middle school and playing in bands together, Alex Magnan (vocals) and Gabe Pietrafesa (guitar) eventually decided that they wanted to do something more serious in music, creating a project that was originally called “routine”.
“I [Gabe] never played music until I met Alex, he taught me some chords and we’d do some acoustic open-mic stuff as kids. With [our]old bands, we got pretty involved in the local scene in Albany, but once high school rolled around, we took everything pretty serious.”
As time went on, their musical project snowballed, leading to both a name change and Alex and Gabe working with producer Sam Pura (The Story So Far, Basement). The end product was Young Culture’s debut EP, You, that was released in 2016. Following the release, Nick Cavin (drums) and Troy Burchett (guitar) joined the project, completing Young Culture as we know it today.
Since the release of You, and 2017’s EP Blue, things have anything but slowed down for the quartet. Touring religiously over the years with the likes of Like Pacific, Belmont and State Champs, Young Culture have grown up on the road, gaining a dedicated fanbase along with the way with their infectious pop hooks, gritty guitar riffs and, yes, even their witty stage banter and hilariously relatable tweets.
This past January, we saw the band’s third EP, (This Is) Heaven, that was both received warmly by critics and was on heavy rotation for alt-pop/rock fans. However, as their newest release in nearly two years, the band had to tackle the challenge of putting out a more mature collection of songs that would still resonate with fans while also attracting new listeners. For Alex, (This Is) Heaven brought along new ways in which the band write and record, far different from what they experienced during their high school days with You.
“This was the first time that Nick and Troy were involved in the songwriting process and it made all of the difference. Usually, I’ll start a song on an acoustic guitar and vocals, pretty bare-boned, and then I’ll bring it to the guys and we will take it from there.”
Working with producer Sam Guaiana (Silverstein, Like Pacific) in Toronto, Young Culture found time in their busy schedule to write and record, spending time in the studio for what collectively ended up being 12 days. In the end, the finished product is something that Gabe believes “really helps establish Young Culture’s sound”.
(This Is) Heaven went on to debut at #22 on Billboard’s New Artist chart and at #55 on Billboard’s Indie chart, an accomplishment that Gabe shared Young Culture had set out to achieve while they were in the studio.
“Charting was a big goal and I told the label right when we finished recording that this EP would chart. And it did!”
As we venture into springtime, it’s hard to believe all of the things Young Culture have already accomplished and the year has barely started. Next month, they will be hitting the road with Seaway in North America alongside Free Throw and Heart Attack Man, a stacked tour that will bring in hundreds of fans in each city. As their biggest tour spot yet, Young Culture are excited for what the next two months will bring, Gabe promising that fans will get anything but a normal set from the New Yorkers.
“[You’ll see] high fives, catchy tunes and if I’m drunk enough, I might even crowd surf!”
Along with the new material off of (This Is) Heaven and their upcoming tour with Seaway, Gabe and Alex teased even more things to come from Young Culture in 2019, including beginning the early stages of their first full-length release, setting the tone for the band that seemingly came out of nowhere just under three years ago.
“[We’ve] got new music, new merch, more shows, everything under the sun, baby! YC is taking over!”