Andy Tongren of Young Rising Sons on ‘Taking the Next Step Forward, and Getting a Little Crazy’

The pop, alternative rock music of Young Rising Sons finds a way to brighten up your life, from Andy Tongren’s soulful vocals that deliver meaningful, optimistic lyrics to the catchy melodies and choruses that encourage you to sing along. Their songs are punctuated with quirky synth sounds, impactful bass lines and head-banging drum beats that add that extra element of intrigue. The band also has a knack for slower, heartfelt songs that get your emotions flowing.

This Red Bank, New Jersey-based trio is Andy Tongren on vocals and guitar, Julian Dimagiba on bass and Steve Patrick on drums. Their relatable songs inspire listeners to find their inner strength and live life to the fullest.

You are bound to have heard their catchy, hopeful song “High,” which played on the radio in 2014. Or, maybe you saw Young Rising Sons perform at Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware in 2015. Along with “High,” off their debut self-titled EP, they released The Kids Will Be Fine EP a year later, which features their rowdy track “Fucked Up” and four other memorable songs.

Most recently, Young Rising Sons released the powerful Undefeatable +2 EP in 2016, followed by the sincere single “Carry On.” They are currently working hard to finish their first full-length album, which will be released on Dirty Canvas/Interscope Records. Their debut album is guaranteed to give listeners a surprise.

Since their interview with The Pop Break back in 2015, much has changed for Young Rising Sons. This time around, we had the chance to interview front man Andy Tongren to discuss how they’ve evolved as a band over the last two years, their song “Undefeatable,” the recording process of their upcoming full-length album and what it means to be a part of Young Rising Sons.

The most dramatic difference between 2015 and now is that their guitarist Dylan Scott decided to leave the band to pursue his own dreams. Tongren reflects on this and stresses that there’s no hard feelings between them. He explained that when Scott left, it presented new challenges for them and they had to figure out what to do next.

“I think that’s when you learn the most about yourself, when you’re facing adversity and you have to overcome certain things,” Tongren said. “Not only in the sense that it challenges us in terms of trying to find our sound or decide what we wanted to do, but even just as simple as learning to play more instruments and be more proficient in what we do.”

They call it addition by subtraction, so while they have one less band mate, they make up for it with additional instruments. Now, Tongren plays the keyboard, Dimagiba is in the process of adding a keyboard, and Patrick plays an additional drum pad.

“When people saw us live after Dylan left, we wanted them to still be amazed that we could do what we’re doing on stage,” Tongren said. “We wanted to add more elements. When you’re in a time like that where you’re re-piecing everything, it just forced the three of us to really put our heads together more than we had in the past.”

Now, they’re more focused on being themselves and less into how they come across to people on the surface with their appearance. Instead, they like to emphasize the sincere spirit of their music that’s conveyed to listeners.

“We’re the type of guys where ‘what you see is what you get,’” Tongren said. “What we put out there is what we want to get in return, which is good vibes and positive energy.”

Young Rising Sons has also been concentrating their efforts on becoming better musicians and songwriters. As a result, Tongren believes that they’re starting to figure out who they are as a band. They’ve been challenging themselves to dig a little bit deeper into their feelings, as more people will connect with that.

“It’s really important to be vulnerable,” Tongren said. “That’s what music is about. You write music to express yourself and we’re getting back to that and just being very honest with our music. I think it starts with being honest with yourself and knowing who you are.”

In their song “Undefeatable” and its video, knowing who you are plays a vital role in how you persevere and overcome obstacles. This song is about Paralympic Track & Field athlete Lacey Henderson, whose right leg was amputated when she was 9 years old. The video shows her journey, from the diagnosis of her leg tumor, to pushing through physical therapy and training for the Paralympics. Her determination helped her become the current American record holder for the long jump and 200m sprint.

“I just think the video perfectly captures the meaning of the song in that when you face adversity, that’s what defines you as a person. It’s not the obstacles that you face, it’s how you face them and beat them.”

Young Rising Sons has taken the vigor and perseverance of “Undefeatable” and applied it to the writing and recording process of their upcoming full-length album. Earlier in the year, they worked with different producers in Los Angeles and it gave them the chance to get out of their comfort zones to test out new sounds and learn more about songwriting. The most exciting part about this experience is that they came home with a new batch of songs that they’re currently working on for their new LP. As Tongren said, they’ve had a lot of fun putting their own twists and touches on the songs, and it helps to convey their personality.

Tongren reflected on the studio process that they went through in LA and said, “When you’re in a writing session, generally it’s a day – or two or three days tops – when you’re in with one person at a time and it’s tough to really dial it in all the way. That’s where we’ve been the past couple weeks and it’s been really exciting to lock these songs in and make them more ‘us.’”

Fans might listen to their most recent single “Carry On” and wonder if it shares similarities with songs they’ll be hearing on the upcoming album. Although “Carry On” foreshadows some of the themes explored on the album, sonically, they’re going to a completely different place. In other words, fans are in for a surprise.

“We’re ready to take a step forward and get a little crazier—put something out that people aren’t expecting from us,” Tongren said. “It’s definitely a departure from what we’ve put out in the past, but at the same time, it encompasses the core values of Young Rising Sons. It’s important to us to not completely depart from our sound, but we definitely want to branch out and progress. I think fans will dig it.”

Young Rising Sons is hard at work on fine-tuning these songs, which requires a lot of time and patience.

“We want to make sure that we do these songs justice and get them to where they need to be so that when we do start putting them out, we can put 100% of our effort into getting on the road and seeing our fans,” Tongren said.

If you are an avid enthusiast of Young Rising Sons, you might know that they live by the motto “friends first, band mates second.” It’s all about the strong bond that they share and Tongren expresses that being one of the Sons is very special for him. This is the only long-lasting band that he’s been a part of, and it’s been 8 years already. It feels like a family to him, and it extends to their fans.

“The most exciting thing for me is to watch our fans becoming friends with one another—even if they’re on opposite coasts of the United States,” Tongren said. “It shows that there’s something within us that makes us want to connect with each other. It’s cool to see people making friends and building a family together by way of our music. That’s been my favorite aspect of it.”

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.