Vibrant pop punk outfit Young Culture made their way from their hometown of Albany to Rochester on February 17 for the first night of their coast to coast tour. They’re on the road promoting their sophomore EP, Blue, which was released in the fall. NYS Music met up with founding members Alex Magnan and Gabe Pietrafesa just before their show at Vineyard Community Space to talk about the release, tour, the importance of support from friends and family, and the game called Odds.
Paula Cummings: You’re on tour for your new EP. Tell me about Blue.
Gabe Pietrafesa: We recorded last January, about a year ago. We went out to Always Be Genius Studios in Indiana and recorded it with Seth Henderson and Derek Discanio from State Champs. We were there for eight days, did five songs. We had a blast. Now it’s out and it’s going good. The shows have been really great, and the songs are where we want them to be.
Alex Magnan: It definitely felt like a good follow-up to our first EP You because that one we recorded when we were pretty young. We were 17/18 when we recorded Blue, so it’s just more mature than the last one. It felt like the next step.
PC: You recorded with Derek from State Champs. They’re from your hometown of Albany, right?
GP: We’re homies with the State Champs guys. Derek actually worked with us on our first record, too. He’s a friend now and he’ll come to us with ideas or we’ll come to him with ideas. He just wants to be part of what we’re creating because he’s been with Young Culture from day one. State Champs has been a big thing in the Albany scene.
PC: Also important are supportive parents, and I’ve heard that you guys have an awesome band mom.
AM: Both my parents, Mike and Gina, are the greatest souls ever. They just love everybody and they really are into what we’re doing. So they’re very supportive of it. Every time before we leave for tour they always make us mad food, a big breakfast and food to take.
GP: And any time we have friends’ bands, like if Rarity was in town, they’ll have them over, let them stay and do their laundry, cook them food. They go out of their way. They’re great people.
AM: I feel like they were never doubtful about it. When I was like “Mom, Dad, I want to do music,” they were like, “This is the right move, but if you want to do it, you better haul ass and be 100% about it.” They pushed us to keep doing what we’re doing, which is pretty unorthodox. A lot of parents don’t do that.
PC: You spend a lot of time on the road. I hear you like to play a game called Odds.
GP: So the rule for Odds is… I’ll use (friend and cameraman) Danny as an example. I’ll think of a crazy task. I’ll be like, Danny, what are the odds that every photo you take tonight you have to close your eyes. Danny will be like one out of ten. And Alex will count us in like 3, 2, 1. And then we both say a number between one and ten, and if we both say the same number, then he has to do it. If I said four and Danny said six and it adds up to ten, then the odds are reversed, and I have to do it, and he won’t have to. We’ve done some pretty stupid odds.
AM: It’s like you’re on the road in a van a long time with a bunch of dudes and you’ve got to keep things interesting sometimes. So we’ve gone to some extremes.
GP: We make an agreement that we don’t do odds for the show. We don’t do anything that’s going to mess with it. That’s a big thing. One time we were doing the drive from here to Texas, and it was insane and we were really bored, and there was a cup of Alex’s pee and someone odds me to drink a sip of it. I didn’t think it would happen.
AM: Needless to say, we’re more than friends now. We’ve done some outlandish stuff.
GP: One time we had our manager Joe go up to someone after their set and say, “Good set. Not great, though.”
PC: You’re ending this tour with a hometown show. How psyched are you for that?
GP: So stoked.
AM: We’re going to try to sell that one out. It’s going to be at a venue called Lucky Strike Social. All the openers for it are friends of ours. The Maloy Brothers, who have never done a full show are going to be the openers. And then we have Perfect Scores. And a band called Viewpoints – they’ve been doing this as long as we have.
GP: It’s going to be two weeks of us playing shows, and then we get to come home to a big hometown show. We haven’t done a hometown show in like six months.
AM: That’s the best way to do it. You come home and end tour with a bang.
GP: We’re playing so many places we’ve never even been to.
AM: I was excited to come back to Rochester.
GP: It’s cool because not only do we get to play music, we get to travel the world.
AM: What better platform to travel than music.
GP: It’s a lot of fun.
Catch Young Culture on their remaining tour dates:
Feb. 23 – Los Angeles, CA – The Vibe
Feb. 24 – Lake Forrest, CA – Rushbar
Feb. 25 – Santa Anna, CA – 4th Street Market
Feb. 26 – Phoenix, AZ – The Rebel Lounge
Feb. 27 – Albuquerque, NM – The Jam Spot
March 1 – Indianapolis, IN – Hoosier Dome
March 2 – Cleveland, OH – Euclid Tavern
March 3 – Erie, PA – Basement Transmissions
March 4 – Albany, NY – Lucky Strike Social
Photos by Danny DeRusso. You can find more of his work at Danny DeRusso Photography.